FutureFive NZ - Is facebook losing its sheen?

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Is facebook losing its sheen?

The team from Social Media NZ looks at a mix of interesting happenings in the digital space once again this month. It’s been a hard one for Facebook with their unchallenged position as the social media kingpin finally showing signs of weakness, as well as dealing with the "Facebook killer” released by Google recently. We also look at new social media friendly camera, the Samsung SH100, that lets you get a bit creative with your photography.
Facebook losing users by the million
Facebook is losing users. Yes, we’re not making this up. According to Inside Facebook’s data service, the online giant lost 6 million users in the U.S. last month, dropping from 155.2 million to 149.4 million. That’s the first time U.S. numbers have dropped in more than a year.
It also lost 1.52 million users in Canada, dropping to 16.6 million - that’s an 8% drop -  and 100,000 each in the U.K., Norway, and Russia. Total Facebook users were still up 1.7% thanks to growth in countries where the social media platform has only recently been introduced, like Mexico and Brazil.
Not too dire you say, but in a month that also saw the release of the long awaited "Google +” platform, you can imagine there are a few nervous executives in the Facebook offices wondering if the shine is starting to wear off in the countries that represent the majority of their users.
Google + - A Facebook Killer ?
Looking at past efforts to enter the social media space (RIP Buzz and Wave), Google has a pretty dismal record of building platforms that resonate with either tech-savvy and regular users. After doing a fair bit of analysis of what is and isn’t working for their social competitors, the Silicon Valley power-house has listened to the feedback from their community and created a platform that might actually work.
Google + is still in beta but the team at Social Media NZ were lucky enough to get an invite to test out this service. It’s being talked about as the answer to the issues Facebook users find in having their best mates, their mum and their boss sharing the same platform and straight off the bat we could already see why it’s achieving the glowing reviews that both Wave and Buzz lacked.
The usability and interface is the first thing that popped out for us. It’s clean and very intuitive to navigate. But essentially, the feeling of Google + is very similar to Facebook, there’s a wall to post updates, you’re able to see feeds coming through from your friends, and you can upload photos and share video content just like on a Facebook profile.
The big difference with this platform is that it allows the user to organise friends into different "Circles”. With this feature, Google’s trying to protect compelling, relevant content from becoming meaningless noise by allowing users to control who in their networks sees each post or update.
Another impressive feature is "Hangout”. A group calling feature that allows you to have spontaneous video chats with multiple people in any particular Circle and a formidable challenger to skype’s paid group calling service.
Something that has garnered surprisingly little attention is Google takeout feature. Addressing privacy concerns that have been raised around platforms like Facebook, this feature allows you to take your data with you easily when you decide to leave Google + or any other Google product. Valuable when you consider how hard it is to exit a platform like Facebook without leaving the past four years of Christmas party photos live for anyone with basic hacking skills to access.
Samsung SH100 a social media friendly camera
The Samsung SH100 is small enough to carry everywhere (conveniently in your pocket) and features a 3” LCD touchscreen.
The image quality is great in comparison to an iPhone 4 or any other top-of-the-range phone-camera and it’s pretty speedy for everyday use and quick captures.
The touchscreen is a little fussy for using with a finger, but the camera comes with a stylus like pen for fine-tuning when navigating the array of features and options this little gadget offers. And there really are a tonne of features, not least of which is the ability for users to upload pictures right from the camera.
Because connecting to wifi networks is a breeze, the Samsung SH100 can upload photos via email, Facebook, Picasa, Photobucket, and Samsung Imaging very easily. However, support for one of the most popular photo hosting sites, Flickr, is absent meaning users have to email their photos to Flickr using the built-in email feature.
What we love the most about this camera is not just the wifi capability, but the additional filters that remind me of Instagram [a photo app for the iPhone] which allows you the user to apply filter effects to spice up your photos. Samsung does a great job of integrating the filter trend into the SH100, and the filters look great!
All in all, we really like the Samsung SH100 though the touchscreen is annoyingly unresponsive. But the wi-fi feature is excellent, the built-in filters are great and the battery life is awesome based on 2-3 days of heavy usage.

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