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Solana-Osom-Saga-Smartphone-thefutureparty

Solana mints a… phone?

Solana-Osom-Saga-Smartphone-thefutureparty
Solana // Illustration by Kate Walker

Solana mints a… phone?

 

The Future. The Solana blockchain and privacy-focused tech company Osom are building a smartphone created with the Web3-enthusiast in mind. The company looks to bring the power of crypto natively into a mobile device, which may give Solana the chance to create an ecosystem that makes privacy and decentralization easy enough for anyone to use.

Mobile blockchain
The Verge reports that Solana is getting into the smartphone business.

  • The blockchain is partnering with privacy-focused tech company Osom to develop a mobile phone called the Saga.
  • It’ll be available early next year and cost $1,000 (pre-orders are already open for a $100 deposit).
  • The device has pretty much all the specs you would expect from a top-tier smartphone. It also includes support for decentralized apps built on the Solana blockchain — crypto wallets, NFT projects, and all things Web3.
  • The phone has backing from top Solana marketplace Magic Eden, wallet maker Phantom, and crypto exchange Orca.

Additionally, Solana announced a decentralized app store called the Solana Mobile Stack. The store will run natively on the Saga and be available to other Android device-makers.

Plug and play
One of the biggest hurdles to more widespread crypto-tech adoption is that it’s stuck to an ecosystem of laptops and desktops. Solana CEO Anatoly Yakovenko said the Saga is part of the company’s mission to make crypto “go mobile.” At the same time, Osam CEO Jason Keats pressed, “the world needs novel hardware companies to support the future that is Web3.” With smartphones acting as game devices, payment wallets, and everything in between, it’s the perfect Trojan Horse for decentralized applications.

But there are also plenty of other companies in the game trying to make pocketing crypto another action item on your list of things to do before heading out the door. Jack Dorsey’s Block is developing a Bitcoin hardware wallet, while streetwear icon Bobby Hundreds partnered with Ledger on a hard wallet to protect digital assets.

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Meta stocks up with virtual fashion

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Courtesy of Meta

Meta stocks up with virtual fashion

 

The Future. Meta is launching an Avatar Store, giving users the ability to outfit their digital selves with virtual fits from brands like Balenciaga and Prada. Coupled with Meta’s new creator-monetization tools, the company may be trying to build a working, democratized fashion economy that can be transported into the metaverse. Could Meta be the future mall of the metaverse?

Avatar chic
Meta is getting fashionable.

  • Input reports that Meta’s Avatar Store will be stocked with virtual pieces from Balenciaga, Prada, and Thom Browne.
  • The attire will be accessible on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.
  • More brands will become available in the coming months, including ones that exist only virtually.

Meta says allowing creators to monetize their own designs is the next step as they’ve allowed users to create avatars since 2019 and with free virtual clothing to outfit them. Don’t call it Facebook’s Etsy.

Gather ‘round the Marketplace
The Avatar Store is part of Meta’s larger push into the creator economy.

  • It announced yesterday a Creator Marketplace (like TikTok’s) on Instagram that allows brands to find creators they want to collaborate with on content.
  • It’s also expanding its NFT test on Instagram, with a test coming to Facebook in the near future, according to TechCrunch.

It’s not hard to imagine that each of these separate features could coalesce into something exciting for virtual-clothing creators. Prepare for a future where an up-and-coming virtual designer is tapped by a legacy fashion house to make clothes for them, and do streetwear-like limited drops as NFTs — making even more money for everyone involved.

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TikTok and Instagram try to curb user addiction

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Illustration by Kate Walker

TikTok and Instagram try to curb user addiction

 

The Future. Both TikTok and Instagram are rolling out features to help address users’ well-being, hoping to break a cycle of addiction on their platforms — even if the content they’re looking at isn’t necessarily harmful. If the new features prove successful, it may lead to the platforms seeing a decline in usage but boost user satisfaction enough to repair their poor mental-health reputations.

Detox notification
TikTok and Instagram are exploring ways to interrupt your endless scroll.

TikTok

  • The platform is rolling out two new features — a daily screen-time limiter that prompts users to take a break and a screen-time dashboard so users can see a detailed breakdown of their day on the app.
  • Users can set the daily limit themselves, but those between the ages 13 and 17 will automatically receive a notification if they’ve used the app for more than 100 minutes in a single day.

Instagram

  • The platform is rolling out a feature that “nudges” users away from content on the Explore page they’ve looked at for too long, offering a selection of different themes that the user can “choose to explore next.”
  • Instagram will send the nudges even if users aren’t fixating on something considered harmful — it just wants users to break the cycle.
  • The platform is also testing a “Take a Break” feature to get users off the app… if even for a little bit.

In announcing the new features yesterday, both TikTok and Instagram were strangely in-sync on their reasons for the rollouts. In a blog post, TikTok said that a recent study with the online-safety group Internet Matters found that users (especially teenagers) have a better experience if they feel in control of their online behavior.

Meanwhile, Instagram pointed to a study that found that 58.2% of users felt nudges made their app experience better “by helping them become more mindful of their time on-platform.” Again, it’s all about the feeling that they’re controlling their experience, not the app controlling them.

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Amazon opens the piggy bank for live-shopping influencers

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Amazon live // Illustration by Kate Walker

Amazon opens the piggy bank for live-shopping influencers

 

Future. Amazon Live (the e-commerce giant’s version of QVC) is offering thousands of dollars in guaranteed money to influencers who will leave TikTok or YouTube to work exclusively for the service. But with many influencers turning the gig down because of Amazon’s lack of a social media incentive to do the livestreams, Amazon Live may consider integrating Twitch (which Amazon owns) into the feature to solve the problem.

Viral QVC

Amazon wants stars, not just for its Prime Originals but also for its Amazon Live service. Per Input, Amazon has been offering top dollar to woo influencers.

  • TikTokers with roughly 100,000 followers were offered up to $9,000 per month if they livestreamed for at least 300 minutes over five sessions and generated more than $22,000 in revenue.
  • The same deal was offered to a YouTube influencer, but they had a million subscribers.
  • On the lower end of the spectrum, some influencers were offered $4,000 for four hour-long livestreams (or $2,100 for an hour and a half).
  • These deals were on top of the 1%-10% commission rate the influencers would receive on sales.

While the upfront money is nice, many influencers have been turning down the deal for one key reason: there’s no social aspect or incentive to the live-streamed content. On TikTok and YouTube, the popularity of livestreams has the potential to grow their followings… which could lead to even more money down the road.

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Invader turns traveling into an art-installation quest

invader-travel-photos-art-ar-app-flashinvader-thefutureparty
Flashinvader // Courtesy of Invader

Invader turns traveling into an art-installation quest

 

Future. Invader, an anonymous street artist, has been installing tiled-renderings of little aliens for over twenty years… and is now scoring a new legion of fans through an app that gamifies people going outside to find them. Even though Invader’s goal was to get people off of their screens, his success could actually be great news for the AR industry — here’s proof that tying tech to the physical world can bring out the best in both.

OG AR

Who needs the digital art of AR to gamify your life when Invader has been creating the real thing for the past 24 years.

  • The artist has been tiling mosaics of the classic arcade game Space Invaders on buildings, bridges, and other structures throughout Europe, North America, and beyond.
  • But how many aliens are we talking about here? According to Bloomberg, 4,056 mosaics (and counting) across 80 cities.
  • While his art has been a hit with travelers for decades, he minted a new following with the release of his app FlashInvader. In it, users are awarded points for finding his pieces.
  • Since the app’s launch in 2014, it has signed up 223,000 players (adding 1,000 new players per week) who have “flashed” over 14 million total invaders.

Invader has started to branch out his artwork, building characters from Pac-Man, Mario Brothers, and Q*Bert.

Tech tonic

While Invader has used an app to supercharge his popularity, the ethos behind his mosaics is still about getting people off their phones and out into the real world — what Bloomberg’s Sophie Stuber calls a “street-art revolt against tech.” Most of his works are installed without permission, but none of the building’s owners seem too upset. France’s justice ministry even admitted that “some works become real popular attractions, leading to specific tourism via routes in certain municipalities.”

In his home base of Paris, the invaders can be found in bookstores, bars, and museums. The artist said he hopes his pieces take people “to parts of the world they would otherwise never visit, and on a more local level, to neighborhoods or back streets where no one usually goes.”

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Jonas-Brothers-Scriber-text-message-thefutureparty

The Jonas Brothers want to text you with Scriber

Jonas-Brothers-Scriber-text-message-thefutureparty
Scriber // Illustration by Kate Walker

The Jonas Brothers want to text you with Scriber

 

Future. The Jonas Brothers are investing in a newly-launched subscription media startup dubbed Scriber, which allows celebrities to launch subscriptions to exclusive content via text message. With text messaging becoming cool again, Scriber may turn out to be the simplest, most efficient way to keep tabs on what your favorite creators are up to.

Premium DMs
The Jonas Brothers want your number.

  • Nick, Joe, and Kevin are investing in Scriber, which allows celebrities to offer paid subscriptions to share exclusive content — links to secret shows, access to limited-edition merch — to fans via text message.
  • Celebrities just need to upload the content to an online portal, and Scriber will handle all the distribution.
  • The service is launching with all the Jo Bros on the service, with more musicians, actors, influencers, athletes, etc., being added throughout the month.

Fans can subscribe to the membership by simply texting “GO” to a number that a celebrity provides on their socials or via marketing material. The user then just sets up a recurring payment via Apple Pay or a credit card. They can then cancel whenever they want by simply texting “STOP” or “CANCEL” in the same text thread.

Fan service
Scriber CEO Brian Goldsmith said that the company hopes to target the most fervent 1%-5% of fans. While that number may seem small, that’s a potentially huge windfall. For example, the Jonases are offering their subscription for $4.99 per month. Axios calculates that if 1% of the brothers’ combined 50 million Instagram followers signed up, that would bring in $30 million in revenue (they plan on donating half of whatever they make to charity).

Also, by offering the service via text message, the company is working around the Google and Apple app store fees that everyone complains about. Instead, Scriber takes $1 of every subscription fee and passes off Stripe’s 2.9% payment processing fees to the celebrity

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tiktok-creator-crediting-tool-thefutureparty

TikTok introduces trend-creator crediting tool

tiktok-creator-crediting-tool-thefutureparty
TikTok creator credit // Illustration by Kate Walker

TikTok introduces trend-creator crediting tool

 

Future. TikTok is rolling out a new button for users to credit who inspired their content. The feature could finally lift up creators who created viral dances, memes, sounds, or whatever else is taking off on the app. In order to compete, expect other platforms (like Twitch) to roll out their own versions in order to share the love (and engagement) among the community.

First steps
TikTok is giving trendsetters the credit they deserve.

  • According to TechCrunch, the platform is introducing a feature that will let users tag and credit the original creator of a dance, meme, sound, etc.
  • It’s meant to not only give props to the original creator of these viral elements but to also help other users discover their pages and hopefully redirect popularity to them.
  • TikTok is making sure to add prompts in the video upload process to encourage users to use the feature.

When a creator is tagged using the feature, they’ll receive a notification in their app inbox… so if your dance goes viral, prepare for a lot of notifications.

A campaign to influence
The crediting feature can be seen as the result of a major push by creators to spotlight some of the platform’s biggest stars whose work has previously been co-opted.

  • Black TikTok creators went on a dance strike last year, bringing attention to the overlooked contributions of BIPOC creators on the platform.
  • The JaQuel Knight Foundation and Logitech started filing “labanotations” — a score that documents human movement through symbols in specific patterns — with the U.S. Copyright Office for a handful of creators.

Kudzi Chikumbu, TikTok’s director of the creator community, said that the new feature is “an important step in our ongoing commitment to investing in resources and product experiences that support a culture of credit.” In a world where anything can be monetized, building a “culture of credit” could be everything to burgeoning creators.

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Netflix may green-light live streaming

netflix-live-streaming-thefutureparty
Netflix live streaming // Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix may green-light live streaming

 

Future. Netflix is reportedly testing out a live-streaming feature that could transform engagement on its unscripted shows and comedy specials. While it may seem like Netflix is just going after the appointment-based viewing of broadcast TV, the streamer’s experiments with interactive content could turn live programming into audience engagement-driven hits.

Vote and subscribe
After recently announcing that it would introduce an ad tier to its platform, Netflix is getting a little more like traditional T.V., with the potential rollout of live streaming.

  • According to Deadline, the feature is still in early development, but it would be focused at first on unscripted shows and stand-up specials.
  • The feature could allow for live voting in upcoming competition series, such as the dance-focused Dance 100.
  • It could also be used to capture buzzy reunions of hits like Selling SunsetThe Circle, or Too Hot to Handle.
  • Another use-case could be the Netflix is a Joke comedy festival that takes place around L.A. Some of the sets are already set to appear as specials on the service.

Appointment streaming
The confirmation of a live-stream development shows that Netflix is looking to expand its service offerings, especially as competitors start to scratch at Netflix’s dominance (though it still has quite the lead). While Netflix’s MO has been “watch what you want, when you want,” platforms like Hulu, Peacock, Paramount+, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV+ all already have a live component. And Disney+  (Netflix’s biggest competitor) recently moved the highly-rated Dancing With the Stars to Disney+, which will be its first live show.

Considering that live sports is becoming the new battlefield in the streaming wars, could Netflix jump in with this new feature? Time will tell, but the Formula One series Drive to Survive has been a breakout for the streamer. It’s not hard to imagine that it would want to capitalize on that.

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Twitter rolls out privacy-explainer game

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Twitter Data Dash // Courtesy of Twitter

Twitter rolls out privacy-explainer game

 

Future. Twitter has debuted a computer game that can educate users about how privacy works on the platform. It may be fairly basic, but it could pave the way for companies to gamify all of their fine print (which, let’s face it, no one really reads) and avoid the headaches of users being confused by ever-changing standards.

Privacy player
Twitter is updating the fine print with a new game titled Twitter Data Dash (which you can play here).

  • The side-scrolling browser game, made by developer Mom Pixel, is meant to be an easy way to teach users about the platform’s privacy policies.
  • Players accompany Data the dog through themed levels (ads, trolls, etc.) as you try to collect five bones.
  • Each level also has a button linking players to Twitter’s privacy-setting pages. For example, once players beat the ad level (which has cats wearing ad boards), Twitter gives you the link to where you can turn personalized ads on or off

The Verge reports that Twitter is in the midst of a big privacy policy overhaul — specifically how it communicates that privacy. Twitter says that it’s now “emphasized clear language and moved away from legal jargon” in all its fine print.

Elon Musk’s imminent takeover of Twitter could complicate that though.

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Wordle scores “tens of millions” new readers to The New York Times

Wordle-The-New-York-Times-New-Readers-thefutureparty
Wordle // Illustration by Kate Walker

Wordle scores “tens of millions” new readers to The New York Times

 

Future. Wordle continues its streak as the hottest puzzle game in the world in more ways than one — it’s netted The New York Times tens of millions of new subscribers and potentially hundreds of millions in revenue. Not bad for a game designed by a software engineer just trying to entertain his partner during the pandemic. What Wordle’s blockbuster success may show is that creating a cultural moment, that everyone can share at the same time, may be the best way to generate buzz.

Good guess

The Wordle of the day for NYT is “success.”

  • Three months ago, NYT purchased Josh Wardle’s hit word game, Wordle, for a “low seven figures.
  • Now, the publisher says the game has brought “an unprecedented tens of millions of new users to The Times.”
  • That’s the best quarter in subscriber gains for the Games division.

TechCrunch notes that a subscription to Games costs $5 per month, or $40 per year — so on the low side of both new users and subscription costs, NYT just brought in another $400 million in revenue this year. Wow.

Shared language

So, how did Wordle get so popular? A look at data from Twitter may shed some light.

  • A study published by Twitter data scientist Lauren Fratamico found that, since October, 32.2 million tweets have been about Wordle — mostly users sharing their scores.
  • Those tweets have been seen 6.6 trillion times, racked up 58 million likes, and have been replied to 9 million times.
  • At peak popularity in January (around the time of NYT’s purchase), tweets about Wordle numbered 500,000 a day. They’ve only dropped to about 200,000 since then.

What makes Wordle so perfect for Twitter? For one, it’s  incredibly easy for users to tweet out their daily Wordle grid. And, secondly, everyone is given the same word that they can only play once to get right — sharing scores automatically creates a sense of competition and community.

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