Once around the park, James, and don’t spare the horses.


Smartphone? More Like Stalkphone

From the Boston Globe’s digiguru Hiawatha Bray:

Idle smartphone apps track users

Some smartphone apps collect and transmit sensitive information stored on a phone, including location, contacts, and Web browsing histories, even when the apps are not being used by the phone’s owner, according to two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It seems like people are no longer in control of their own privacy,” said Frances Zhang, a master’s degree student in computer science at MIT.

Zhang and fellow researcher Fuming Shih, a computer science doctoral candidate, found that some popular apps for phones running Google Inc.’s Android operating system are continually collecting information without informing the phone’s owner.

One of the worst offenders? Angry Birds, which “uses the phone’s GPS and Wi-Fi wireless networking features to track the owner’s location, even when he’s not playing the game.”

It only gets gamier from there.


Clothes Encounters with Stealth Marketing

From the New York Times Thursday Styles section:

Who Am I Wearing? Funny You Should Ask.

These strikingly dressed women in front of Lincoln Center during Fashion Week aren’t just budding fashionistas. Some are doiong stealth marketing for street-savvy designers.

Turns out all those pretty women are human billboards.

Today many of them are Web icons, trotting out their finery for scores of fans. But what they are parading as street style — once fashion’s last stronghold of true indie spirit — has lately been breached, infiltrated by tides of marketers, branding consultants and public relations gurus, all intent on persuading those women to step out in their wares.

“These girls are definitely billboards for the brands,” said Tom Julian, a fashion branding specialist in New York City, one of a handful engaged in a particularly stealthy new form of product placement. “People still think street style is a voice of purity,” Mr. Julian said. “But I don’t think purity exists any more.”

Yeah – tell us about it.


Fun and Advergaming

From VentureBeat (tip o’ the pixel: the multi-talented Diana Tan):

Social gaming pioneer Commagere pushes product placement as a moneymaker

Social gaming firms like Zynga are overly dependent on sales of virtual goods. To fix that problem, Blake Commagere, a pioneer of early social games such as Vampires, has created a way for game companies to easily insert product placements into the environment of their games, much the way that filmmakers do with strategically placed cans of Coca-Cola in movies or TV shows.

Commagere’s Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup, MediaSpike, has created what it calls the “first premier product placement platform” for social and mobile games. Developers can easily adopt the platform and connect with the biggest brands who want to reach targeted audiences who usually ignore less-effective ads such as banners. At a time when social games are slowing down, the extra revenue could be meaningful. Adding just 75 cents in revenue per month per user could be a significant increase in revenue for a game.

Or a significant decrease in the appeal of a game?

We’ll see.


John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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