Samsung Jay-Z Pair Up, Knewton Houghton Mifflin to Revolutionize Teaching, $rev Entices App Developers, Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl

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Top Story: Samsung and Jay-Z to Join in Multi-million Partnership

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What happens when two superpowers from different industries pair up? We are about to find out. American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur Jay-Z and Samsung, the current leader in the smartphone market, are said to be in talks over a $20 million collaboration deal.

The massive deal reportedly involves a streaming music service. Whatever the terms may be, the deal is a massive move for a man who once famously asserted, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”

This seems to be just one in a number of power moves Jay-Z has been making lately. Apart from dissolving his share in the Brooklyn Nets to establish talent agency Roc Nation Sports, moving his record label Roc Nation from Sony to Universal Music Group, and launching Philadelphia music festival Made in America, Jay-Z also managed to make time for executive producing the soundtrack to blockbuster movie The Great Gatsby.

However, celebrity brand partnerships do not always pan out. Remember how Grammy-award winning singer Alicia Keys signed on to be Blackberry’s global creative ambassador and tweeted out the news via her iphone? Not to mention, the music streaming space is pretty crowded as of late.

Why might this collaboration work?

The tech giant and rap mogul both exemplify the rags to riches narrative. Samsung started out as a business selling food to China while Jay-Z started out “moving snowflakes by the O-Z.”

Both are not afraid to back down from a fight. Growing up in Brooklyn and making his name in the rap game, Jay-Z has had his share of tough times and confrontations. And who can forget what Samsung was up against before coming out on top as the company with the most smartphone sales.

Both are used to being challenged on the basis of intellectual property. While Jay-Z was feuding with the likes of Nas, Samsung was facing its own battle with Apple in federal court.

Only time will tell what may come of this partnership. Samsung will host an event in London on June 20 – perhaps we will get a taste then.

What do you think of this partnership?

 

Tool of the Week: Knewton and Houghton Mifflin Team Up to Pioneer Teaching

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Knewton, an adaptive learning company, has partnered up with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to bring online education to millions of students (about 5 million by the end of the year to be exact). Knewton’s technology features a software program that tells teachers and parents what the student knows “down to a percentile”.

The technology works by dividing lessons into building blocks and subsequently, measuring the students’ performances as they process the information. The company’s vision is to help teachers deal with large classroom sizes in order to more effectively tailor lessons to the needs of each individual student.

The company’s first program will be a “personal math trainer”, which will allow HMH to gain a better understanding of how well students in each age group learn math best. The software has been tested at the university level as well. Arizona State University, University of Alabama, and the University of Nevada have all experienced improved pass rates, accelerated completion time, and reduced dropout rates as a result of using Knewton-powered versions of online remedial math courses.

However, as with any new education-based technology, Knewton must overcome obstacles such as teacher training, basic connectivity, and hardware costs. Furthermore, there is the issue of privacy.

Adaptive learning involves a private company gathering and aggregating detailed and sensitive information about children’s identities as well as their mental capacities, aptitudes, and weaknesses. Knewton and HMH have promised to protect students’ personally identifiable information, but some of the details regarding this issue remain to be settled.

Knewton and HMH hope to be at the forefront of a new way of teaching. By teaming up with HMH, Knewton can maximize core curriculum materials that are widely used in schools. According to Knewton’s CEO Jose Ferreira, the company’s overall goal is to create the world’s most valuable repository on how people learn, and with $54 million raised in funding, they are well on their way to do so.

What do you think of this new way of teaching? Would you want your schools to use this software program?

 

Under the Radar: Box Launches $rev to Entice App Developers

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Online business data storage and management company Box launches the “$rev” program, a plan to incentivize developers to produce apps that paying customers will like. The program involves Box splitting revenues with its app developers, which the company hopes will result in higher customer satisfaction rates. According to Box’s VP, Chris Yeh, “it’s all about how users are enjoying our products and using them or not.”

The $rev system will generate revenue for the developers based on app usage rather than sales. Box will end up paying its developers 15% of a Box seat price, which amounts to the monthly fee a user pays to use Box. The system differs from other app stores’ software-as-a-service providers. Google Apps Marketplace asks app vendors to pay $100 up front, and that’ all. On the other hand, Box’s model goes beyond the simple pay-per-download by rewarding partners based on a detailed analysis of which add-ons are actually being used.

The goal is for Box to integrate and partner with developers as well as reward higher-quality enterprise app development. The company hopes to make it easier for mobile developers to come up with apps for iOs and Android software-development kits that include codes for key functions such as accessing files within Box and implementing single-sign-on support. Box has managed to increase its number of enterprise developers from the low thousands to more than 25,000 in the past two years. OneCloud, Box’s mobile cloud hub that allows users to work in any of the platform’s apps, now has more than 500 apps as a result of Box’s new partnership with developers.

Do you think this will be a successful venture? What apps do you hope will come through this program?

 

Around the Hub: Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl

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Each year, Government Center is the host to the ever popular all-you-can-eat ice cream event, the Scooper Bowl.  Each year the event raises money for the Jimmy Fund, the fundraising subset of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

In its 31st year, the Scooper Bowl is still a widely loved summer activity throughout Boston. This year’s sunny weather and gracious volunteers made it successful as ever. Over $450,000 was raised during this year’s event for cancer research, making it the most successful year in history. To date, the event has raised more than $3 million.

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This is the nation’s largest event of its kind, lasting for 3 days and scooping out more than 20 tons of creamy goodness, donated by 8 local and national brands.

One of the most popular flavors this year was Hood’s fan favorite, Mystic White Gold. Some of the wackier flavors included cotton candy infused with pop-rocks, cake frosting, and several stellar appearances from the newly popular greek frozen yogurt family.

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People throughout the area were raving about the event on Twitter. With over 50,000 participants, the Scooper Bowl will continue to be a celebration in Boston for years to come.

Did you attend the Scooper Bowl? Which was your favorite flavor?

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iPhone 5, Boston Time Lapse, iOS6, & FB for History Lessons

 

Top Story: iPhone 5 Preorders Reach 2 million in 24 hours

Apple’s iPhone 5 was announced last Wednesday, with preorders set to begin on Friday, September 14th. Within 24 hours, pre-orders had hit 2 million units. This makes the iPhone 5 the fastest selling device in Apple history – and they haven’t even hit stores yet.

AT&T reported that their customers ordered more iPhones from AT&T than any previous model – shattering the record of the previous iPhone 4S by almost double. The Apple website sold out of their iPhone 5 stock within the first hour of availability, and the shipping times were quickly changed from the original September 21st ship date to later dates in September and October. This delay is projected to create higher demand in-store, which means longer lines and more tents outside your local Apple store on the 21st.

Technology analysts are reporting that the iPhone 5 will not only be the fastest-selling Apple product, the fastest-selling gadget of all time. It is projected that 58 million units – $36.2 billion in revenue – will be sold. This factor doesn’t account for all of the extra accessories that are required for the new phone. New cases will need to be purchased, as well as new speakers, chargers, etc. that fit the new “Lightening” connector.

What do you think about all of the iPhone 5 hype? Is the new gadget really worth what the numbers are conveying?

 

Under the Radar: School’s Use Facebook Timeline for History Lessons

Teachers are always looking for innovative ways to teach their students. As our society becomes faster paced, students’ attention spans for textbooks and lectures are rapidly decreasing. An Amsterdam-based school has found a way to use social media as a tool for learning.

Facebook’s timeline allows the user to see the events of a person’s life in chronological order – as if we are recording our own histories. As a class project, students were asked to create a timeline of 4 different historical events – Magellan’s voyages, 20th century inventions, Fashion history from 1950-present and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. The benefit of using a social network for this activity? The versatility. Students can post text, photos, audio, and videos to describe the events in the timeline. They can also comment and ask questions about the material presented – allowing for a more interactive experience.

 

This sounds like an awesome way to learn history to me – what do you think?

 

Around the Hub: Boston Time Lapse

Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of city life that we forget to stop and look around at the beautiful city we call home. This time lapse video gives us a little bit of reminder.

 

 

Tool of the Week: iOS6

 

Decided not to upgrade your iPhone? Well, you can at least update your software. iOS6 will be available to iPhone 3GS, 4, and 4S users on Wednesday. This upgrade comes with a range of new features and much needed updates.

What update am I most looking forward to? Definitely Maps. Turn by turn navigation for the iPhone has been long awaited – and patience is paying off! Powered by Tom Tom, Maps is now equipped with spoken navigation and a new “flyover” feature so you can see your favorite cities and landmarks from the air. With a crisper and clearer picture, panning and zooming will have a clearer response.

A brand new App, called Passbook, will also be joining the iPhone family. This app will certainly be loved by your wallet – as it gives you the ability to store boarding passes, coupons, loyalty cards, movie tickets, etc virtually. Just scan your phone and discard them after use – how convenient!

Updates to Phone allow you to choose how you answer your calls (if at all). You can choose the people who can contact  you when you’re in a meeting or taking a nap, and can reply with a text in one click. Also, FaceTime will have the ability to work over cellular networks – so you’ll never miss another call!

Updates to Siri, Mail, Photos, and Safari are also included, as well as an integration with Facebook throughout the software.

I’ll definitely be downloading iOS6 on Wednesday, will you?

 

Social Media College Courses

Nearly all businesses are using social media marketing in their marketing plans. Social media marketing is a hot topic that is increasingly popular. College grads are expected to understand every aspect of social media as they enter the workforce. The problem with this is that many colleges have not established social media courses designed to prepare students for marketing jobs. How are students expected to know the ins and outs of social media marketing, if they can’t take a course focused on the topic? Sure, we all know how to friend someone or tag pictures, but we can’t learn how to market businesses effectively through standard Facebook use. (And that goes for other social media outlets as well) Many colleges are starting to explore the same notion, and are beginning to develop a curriculum centered on social media. Colleges are now starting to realize that social media is not just a trend, and that there is real opportunity for students to learn and excel in future jobs, if they are equipped with an understanding of social media.

Respected business schools, including Harvard and Columbia, added courses in social media to their MBA curriculums. These courses are taught by leading social media experts in the field. This is a great start for social media education, but is it really enough? Without the proper knowledge in undergraduate studies, marketing and businesses students are missing out on an important area of marketing. A lack of social media marketing knowledge can be a huge issue for students entering the work force. I propose that students who are interested in a career in marketing should be required to take at least one social media class in their undergraduate studies; not only would this prepare students for the workplace, but it would help evolve the field.

What do you think? Is there enough social media in marketing programs? Are professors educated enough to teach the subject?

-Becky Greenwood

Boston: The Cradle of Innovation

By @AJGerritson

Boston is a city steeped in history. Outsiders associate us with conservative values, understatement and bare-knuckle street politics.

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What many fail to realize is that Boston is consistently on the forefront of innovation.

This is something I am incredibly proud of as a Bostonian. I believe the city’s current administration has done a tremendous job of pushing initiatives through behind the scenes and I know people will continue to be surprised at what is yet to come.

Here are some examples of how Boston’s leaders are pushing us to the forefront of innovation:

1. Economic Development – Our city boasts an organization called the Boston World Partnerships. This new, non-profit organization created by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and run by Executive Director David McLaughlin, is a first of its kind. Its mission is to raise global awareness of Boston as one of the world’s foremost centers of intellectual capital and innovation, and to offer tremendous competitive advantages to growth-minded businesses. BWP is a public-private partnership with seed funding from P&G/The Gillette Company and the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

The BWP generates high-quality leads for economic growth. Each high-quality lead represents a specific, actionable opportunity to create jobs, attract a business, strengthen an existing Boston business, support entrepreneurship, or enhance workforce development.

To achieve these goals, BWP has created a global community of people who have ties to Boston’s economy, similar to an alumni organization. This network exists around an information-rich website and an array of social media tools, as well as events here and abroad where Boston professionals come together to share ideas, insights, and other resources.

2. Tourism – Do you want to explore Boston’s legendary waterfront, Fort Point area, or Public Garden? How about doing it on a self-guided iPod tour? That’s right, Boston is one of the first cities offering such an experience.

3. Green Initiatives – Have you ever seen a solar powered street sweeper? We got them. We also have solar powered trash compactors on many of our street corners.  Here’s a photo:

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Our city is also the first in the nation to boast green building zoning codes that require all building to be built to LEED certified standards.

4. Education – Boston’s Mayor has led the charge for transforming how we educate our young people. He has done this by pushing for legislation that includes greater flexibility in the classroom including longer school days for arts, music, more sports, and greater partnerships with area institutions to facilitate more learning opportunities. One example is the number of hospitals in the city that are partnered with Boston’s Health Career Academy. This partnership helps young people interested in the growing healthcare field learn on-the-job skills. Our city has also created partnerships between 5 of our universities and our most challenged schools to help aid in educational development.

5. Community – Boston created an iPhone application called “Citizen’s Connect”. This was a first in the nation for service requests. The city didn’t stop there either. They put together a team that the mayor calls the “New Urban Mechanics” that works with different departments to help them redesign how service delivery can be more user friendly and efficient.

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These are only some of the great things that make our city innovative. I would like to hear from my fellow Bostonians as to what they are proud of around town. I would also like to hear from people in other cities about the great innovations that makes their lives better.

Please share!