The good, the bad and the quirky…
2010 was a landmark year for digital, with iPads, Old Spice, Angry Birds, Chatroulette and Wikileaks becoming buzzwords, while standout company Facebook went ‘Places’, got its own movie and found its CEO becoming Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Netimperative looks back over the past 12 months to find the events that helped shape the digital industry as it heads into 2011…
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Google in China: Hackers, politics, strategy and new security patches for Internet Explorer
Google has stressed it wants to continue to have a strong presence in the Chinese market, following its threats last week to pull out of the country altogether, amid security concerns and a sweeping cyber attack. CEO Eric Schmidt spoke to analysts after the Q4 results were announced, saying Google remains “quite committed to being in China.” But he reiterated that it would stop censoring its search results there, in “a reasonably short time from now”. Meanwhile, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has called on authorities in Beijing to investigate the recent cyber attacks on Google. She said all companies should refuse to support “politically motivated censorship”.Google claimed hackers attempted to infiltrate software coding and access email accounts of human rights campaigners. But Chinese vice-foreign minister He Yafei reportedly told state news agency Xinhua that the row between the state and Google should not be “over-interpreted”.
Apple buys mobile ad network
Apple has acquired Quattro Wireless for a reported $275m, as the iPhone maker looks to challenge Google in the mobile advertising arena. Quattro announced the deal in a blog posting Tuesday by Andy Miller, now vice president of mobile advertising at Apple. Sources indicated Apple would pay $275m for Quattro. Quattro is a competitor to AdMob, which Google agreed to acquire in November for $750m. Quattro’s advertising network spans mobile websites and smart phone applications.
Google starts selling first-ever mobile handset ‘Nexus One’
Google has finally launched its much-anticipated smartphone, Nexus One, which aims to rival Apple’s iPhone. The device, made by Taiwanese company HTC, will be sold through Google’s website from today and initially be available on T-mobile in the US followed by Vodafone in the UK in the first quarter of 2010. A Vodafone spokesman said it was the first operator to “bring the Google phone to the UK” but stressed it was a “non-exclusive agreement”, meaning that other networks could also offer it soon.Direct from Google the sim-free handset will cost £331. Google said the phone would ship from launch day.
Ford launches first ‘Twitter car’ with web apps
Ford has unveiled new technology that could allow drivers to use Twitter, stream online radio and search the web from behind the wheel. The technology, Called MyFord Touch, the system is powered by Ford’s SYNC technology and has been designed with Microsoft. The applications include Wi-Fi connectivity for up to five users in the car, text messages or tweets read aloud to drivers, and the ability to stream internet radio. Voice recognition could also allow drivers to compose and upload tweets, although safety concerns rule this out on early models. As well as the entertainment and phone controls, drivers will be able to operate the car’s temperature systems and sat-nav through the MyFord Touch system.
UK government data: Open access for developers at data.gov.uk
The government is today launching data.gov.uk, a website it hopes will enable developers to create new applications by offering free access to data collected by public bodies. The site will offer reams of public sector data, ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures, for private or commercial use. The target is to kickstart a new wave of services that find novel ways to make use of the information. World wide web founder Tim Berners-Lee, was hired by PM Gordon Brown in June 2009 to oversee the project. Commenting at the launch, Berners-Lee said: “It’s such an untapped resource. Government data is something we have already spent the money on… and when it is sitting there on a disk in somebody’s office it is wasted.”
Facebook and Nielsen offer ‘Brandlift’ analytics to UK advertisers
Facebook and The Nielsen Company has launched Nielsen BrandLift in the UK, a web analytics system that uses Facebook polls to measure the effectiveness of online brand advertising. The move follows the products US launch in 2009, and marks the first product available outside the US from Facebook’s and Nielsen’s global, multi-year strategic alliance. The alliance, formed in September 2009, is designed to help marketers better understand the value of the Internet in the overall marketing mix. Nielsen BrandLift uses opt-in polls on Facebook to measure the impact of advertising on consumer attitudes including brand perception, ad recall and purchase intent. So far, more than 70 studies have been conducted in the US across the FMCG, Retail, Media & Entertainment, Technology, Telecom, Financial and Automotive sectors.
Google’s Gmail privacy challenge: ‘private’ contacts become ‘public’ social media friends?
Google is to make changes to the privacy settings on its new ‘Buzz’ social network amid concerns over privacy, after it emerged the network creates a profile for new users by drawing on their Gmail contacts.Early users of Google Buzz had complained that they found the settings too complicated, especially the ones that relates to privacy.Privacy advocacy group the Electronic Privacy Information Centre’s head Marc Rotenberg said he would lodge a complaint on the network’s practices with the US Federal Trade Commission, adding: “People are surprised that Google treated a private [email] contact list as a public ‘friends’ list.”In a blog post on Thursday, Google acknowledged that it was difficult to make a user’s list of followers private.
Pepsi ditches Super Bowl TV ads for $20m social media charity giveaway
Pepsi is to ditch its iconic Super Bowl ads for the first time in 23 years, putting its cash into a social media charity project instead. The drinks brand has launched the Refresh Project, an online cause marketing campaign that asks readers how the company should give away its $20m grant money. The project began yesterday (February 1), letting readers vote to give grants to a number of health, environment, culture, and education-related organisations. Pepsi plans to give away multiple grants each month, including two $250,000 grants, 10 $50,000 grants, and 10 $25,000 grants. Visitors are also encouraged to submit their own organisations and grant ideas.
Facebook ditches Microsoft banner ads- but makes Bing default search engine
Facebook is to ditch Microsoft’s banner ads in favour of its own, but is now using Bing to power its site search engine, as the two companies overhaul their 2007 search ad deal. The move comes as Facebook has made a number of changes to its social network to mark its 6th birthday, with a new homepage layout that focuses on status updates, games and chat. Microsoft acquired a 1.6% stake in Facebook for $240 million in 2007, valuing the social network at $15bn. As part of the restucture, Microsoft will no longer be responsible for display ads on Facebook. Facebook claimed that its own display adverts – which can target viewers based on personal information – are better suited to the site than Microsoft’s alternative.
iPhone misses out as Adobe brings Flash video to Android phones
Adobe has made long-awaited updates to its Flash video player to support Google’s Android phone platform, but iPhone users will still miss out. Adobe Air applications, which will soon be available for Google’s Android operating system, are already used for a wide range of tasks. Adobe, whose Flash software delivers most video viewed online and made YouTube possible, also said it believed Apple would eventually bow to market pressure and include Flash on the iPhone and the new iPad tablet computer. Apple has until now rejected Flash on these grounds, and has also said Flash is “buggy,” blaming it for instances of its Mac computers crashing — although almost every other device manufacturer, including hundreds of brand names — supports it. On Monday, at the start of the week-long Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Adobe unveiled Adobe AIR for mobile devices, which provides developers tools to create Flash applications to be delivered through application stores for a variety of devices.
SeeSaw launches TV site in UK
SeeSaw, a free online aggregation service offering a selection of UK broadcasters’ content, has launched after completing beta tests. So far, SeeSaw has signed content partnership deals with BBC Worldwide, Channel 4, Five and several major independent production companies. However, the company could not ink a deal with ITV. SeeSaw is completely funded by advertising with Ikea and Kraft among the advertisers that have already signed up. The service has been trialled by 20,000 people during its beta phase. It will go live with over 3,000 hours of content. SeeSaw’s owner Arquiva hopes to cash in on the growing trend of viewers watching back catalogue shows online via each broadcaster’s own website. Born from the ashes of Project Kangaroo, the joint venture between BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 that foundered on regulatory disapproval, SeeSaw is powered by Kangaroo’s technology.
Microsoft – Yahoo search ad deal gets greenlight
Microsoft’s planned partnership with Yahoo! has now been given the go-ahead by both US and European regulators, paving the way for a new search ad initiative aimed at rivaling market leader Google.Since getting the green light from European regulators yesterday, both groups are now planning to begin integration in the “coming days”. Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz described the deal as a “breakthrough search alliance”, while Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said: “I believe that together, Microsoft and Yahoo! will promote more choice, better value and greater innovation to our customers as well as to advertisers and publishers.”
Yahoo ads target Nectar customers based on shopping habits
Yahoo has partnered with Nectar, Sainsbury’s loyalty card scheme, to provide targeted advertising for brands. The program is called Consumer Connect, and mirrors a scheme called Consumer Direct that Yahoo has been running in the US since 2003. The aim is to combine Yahoo’s online purchasing data and Nectar’s consumer spending data together to allow brands to target their digital advertising. According to reports, Cadbury has already signed up to the program, along with five more FMCG brands. 20,000 ‘sample’ Yahoo and Nectar customers have opted to be part of the trialling of the scheme. Their buying behaviour will be measured to make sure the resulting advertising is targeted correctly.
Microsoft forced to give IE users option to switch to rival browsers
Microsoft is to give IE users the option to switch to rival browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Opera or Safari, as part of new competition rules. The move follows a legal agreement between Microsoft and Europe’s Competition Commission in December 2009. Starting from March 1st, Microsoft will let Windows PC users across Europe install the web browser of their choice, rather than having Microsoft IE as a default. Figures suggest that over half the world’s internet users have IE. Testing for the update is already underway in the UK, Belgium and France.
BBC to cut websites by half
The BBC is planning large scale cuts in its online, television and radio services reports The Times. The plans have come to light following Director General Mark Thompson’s strategic review of the broadcaster’s remit and services, due to be published next month following sign-off from the BBC Trust. The review seems designed to appease concerns from both commercial rivals and politicians and was drawn up by the corporation’s director of policy and strategy, John Tate – a former head of the Conservative policy unit and co-author, with David Cameron, of the party’s 2005 manifesto.
Bigmouthmedia merges with LBi
Search engine marketing firm Bigmouthmedia is to merge with marketing agency LBi International, to create the largest marketing and technology agency in Europe. The deal was made through Bigmouthmedia’s holding company Obtineo, a combination of Bigmouthmedia and EU40m of new capital which will expand the combined entity. The merger will combine LBi’s digital media, marketing, communications, design, brand and technology services with Obtineo’s SEO marketing to meet customer demands within on agency. The board of LBi International and Obtineo unanimously agreed the deal to merge yesterday morning. It is expected that the deal will be completed in July and will trade under the name of LBi.
French Connection launches webcam dating competition on Chatroulette
French Connection has launched a competition challenging men to get a date on controversial webcam site Chatroulette, as part of its ‘The Man, The Woman’ campaign. Recently launched, Chatroulette connects users at random from around the world via webcam, text and images. The site has attracted criticism as some people have been exposed to rude or inappropriate behaviour while chatting on the site. The clothing brand is hoping to cash in on the buzz around Chatroulette by hosting a competition asking men to set up a real date with a girl on the site. Entrants are required to copy and paste their discussion into French Connection’s comments section, with the best response being awarded £250 in shopping vouchers at the clothing store.
Apple sues Google’s mobile handset maker HTC for ‘copying iPhone’
Apple is taking legal action agaianst phone manufacturer HTC, the company behind Google’s Nexus One handset and other Andriod-based smartphones, for allegedly using patents and technology seen in the iPhone.Apple claims the phone manufacturer has infringed 20 iPhone patents, using the company’s “underlying hardware and architecture” for its own phone models. Sales of HTC handsets that use the techonology could be blocked in the US if Apple’s lawsuit is successful, though not in the UK.Although Apple has not named Google in the suit, many of the named patents relate to operating system processes. Google’s Nexus One handset is expected to launch in the UK in April. HTC responded saying it has only just been made aware of the legal action and is investigating the claims.
AOL sells affiliate network Buy.at to Digital Window
AOL has sold its affiliate marketing business Buy.at to UK affiliate marketing network Digital Window for an undisclosed sum. Digital Window (formerly known as Affiliate Window) has acquired Newcastle-based Perfiliate, which runs Buy.at. The deal will see Digital Window and Buy.at combine their technology and serve customers in territories such as the UK, USA and Scandinavia. Perfiliate’s clients include the AA, Barclays and Marks & Spencer. Digital Window CEO Kevin Brown said “This transaction forms a group that offers the best and most comprehensive affiliate marketing services in the UK.” AOL purchased Buy.at in 2008 for a rumored $150m.
Orange and T-Mobile merger gets green light
The proposed merger between Orange and T-Mobile in the UK has been cleared after the Office of Fair Trading withdrew a request for an EC investigation. Having investigated the merger, the EC decided that it could see no direct competition concerns relating to providing services to end users, or consumers, or the wholesale telecoms market. The European Commission has cleared the way for T-Mobile and Orange to merge its operations in the UK after receiving advice from a UK consumer body that it will “not now have an adverse impact on competition within the UK”.
Facebook ‘overtakes Google’ as most-visited site in US
Facebook has become the most-visited site in the US after overtaking Google, according to new data from Hitwise.The popular social networking page toppled the search giant after accounting for 7.07% of all US web traffic compared to Google’s 7.03%. However, the research did not include other Google services such as Google Maps, Gmail and YouTube. “It’s definitely a big moment for Facebook, even though they beat by a small margin,” News.com.au quoted Hitwise’s Matt Tatham as telling CNN. “People want information from friends they trust, versus the anonymity of a search engine.”
Google tests internet search on TVs- report
Google and Dish Network are testing a search service that would enable users to find video content on conventional TV and on the Internet, according to a news report. The Wall Street Journal reports that the test will use Google’s Android software. The trial could help Google determine whether TV viewers would favor Web-like searches over the use of remote control searches, which usually involve the use of menus and much clicking around via a TV’s remote control.
Lovefilm begins streaming movie rentals direct to TV sets
Lovefilm has struck deals with Sony and Samsung to stream movie rentals directly to viewers TV sets via an internet connection. The deal is expected to bring more than 2,000 films, to the TV manufacturers’ latest sets, which can be connected directly to the internet. Lovefilm said the deals marks the first of many deals with technology companies, including producers of games consoles and other set-top boxes. The company has so far declined to give pricing plans for the TV distribution service. As part of the deal unlimited LOVEFiLM subscribers will be able to select the service as an icon on the menu bar of their Sony internet-enabled video devices.
Google redirects Chinese users to Hong Kong site to avoid censorship
Google has begun redirecting its Chinese users to its Honk Kong site, following an ongoing row with the government over the censorship of its search results. Google has stopped censoring results through its Chinese search engine. The move has met condemnation from the Chinese government , branding Google’s decision as “totally wrong” and in violation of its promise to abide by Chinese laws. Users in Mainland China will now get access to Google’s unrestricted Hong Kong site, although Chinese firewalls mean results still come back censored. Google threatened to leave the Chinese market completely this year after cyber attacks traced back to China.
Google wins AdWords trademark case
A European court has ruled in Google’s favor allowing advertisers using its AdWords system to use the names of other companies as search keywords. In a landmark ruling this week, the court ruled that this practice does not represent a trademark violation. The court also went on to say that Google’s AdWords program is protected by a European law governing Internet hosting services. “This is important because it is a fundamental principle behind the free flow of information over the Internet,” Harjinder S. Obhi, Google senior litigation counsel for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, wrote in a blog post.
Mobile data ‘overtakes voice calls for the first time’- report
Mobile maker Ericsson has seen its mobile data traffic exceeded the volume of voice calls across the world’s mobile networks for the first time in December last year, according to a report from mobile technology firm Novarra. It also found that global data traffic almost tripled in each of the past two years and forecast that it would double annually during the next five years. A number of operators in Western Europe have already seen data overtake calls. Vodafone, for example, saw data traffic surpass voice traffic in 2008, and it has now grown to 2.5 times that of voice. However, the industry as a whole may not be able to keep pace with the growth.
AOL looks to ‘sell or shut down’ Bebo
AOL is looking to sell Bebo and could shut down the social network altogether, according to press reports. The move comes as the internet company looks to shed loss-making divisions that it considers will not make a significant contribution as it focuses on content, advertising and consumer services. AOL spun off from its parent company Time Warner in December last year. It bought the social network it purchased for close to $1bn in 2008. In a note sent to its employees yesterday, AOL said: “Bebo, unfortunately, is a business that has been declining and, as a result, would require significant investment in order to compete in the competitive social networking space, ” adding “AOL is not in a position at this time to further fund and support Bebo in pursuing a turnaround in social networking.”
Google reveals further plans for ultra-fast broadband
Google has revealed further plans for its forthcoming high-speed fibre broadband network, and will announce the target market for the first tests by the end of the year. The initial trial will cover a group ranging from 50,000 to 500,000 people in the US.The project, first announced in February, will provide 1GB networks in targeted markets as a way of testing open broadband networks. Google will also make its broadband cables open to other service providers.
UK online ad spend grows 4.2% despite economic gloom
The UK internet advertising sector increased revenues by 4.2% to £3.54 billion in 2009, up from £3.35 billion in 2008. Surpassing industry forecasts, online grew last year despite a decline in total UK advertising. Despite the economic outlook and its devastating effect on the advertising industry, online has weathered the storm. The results of the bi-annual IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP advertising spend reflect the inexorable move of Britain’s population online as recognised by the Government’s Digital Britain vision. Records show that, since the dot com crash of 2001, internet advertising expenditure registered growth every year during the noughties.
Digital Economy Bill: Broadband tax axed, illegal downloaders face lifetime web ban
The UK Government’s controversial broadband tax has been dropped, while illegal downloaders could soon be banned for life, as part of a new bill rushed through Parliament this week. The laws were passed in the final push to get the Government’s Digital Economy bill passed into law. The Bill was rushed through during the “washout” period before Parliament is dissolved. The bill was passed by 189 votes to 47 after concessions were agreed that saw the Government dropping a clause which could have allowed it sweeping powers to block sites.A plan by the government to charge 50p month on all copper lines to fund superfast connections in more rural areas was one of the proposals that was cut.
Google sued over Buzz privacy breach claims
Google has been sued by an individual over claims its Buzz social- networking service violated the privacy rights of users of the company’s Gmail service. Buzz, introduced Google in February, automatically displayed to other users the customer’s contacts pulled from Google Gmail e-mail accounts. Google has said it modified the service after customers complained. The complaint, filed April 5 in federal court in San Jose, California, follows a letter last month to federal antitrust authorities from 10 members of Congress. The lawmakers urged an investigation into whether Buzz compromised users’ privacy.
Twitter launches first-ever search ads
Twitter has launched its much-anticipated ad program, as the micro-blogging platform looKs to turn its growing popularity into profit. The new service, named “Promoted Tweets,” will allow companies to place a ess-than-140-character message at the top of pages of search results. Twitter said that it was currently testing Promoted Tweets with a number of advertisers including Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks and Virgin America. Under the program, one “Promoted Tweet”, such as a sponsored message from Starbucks, will appear at the top of a search result page on Twitter for keywords that companies specifically purchase from Twitter.
Google adds site speed to SEO ranking factors
Google is to incorporate website speed as a factor in how it ranks websites in search results. The search engine first revealed its plans to include speed as a ranking factor in its algorithm last December. Now website owners looking to improve their search engine optimisation strategies may need to look at how quickly their pages load as part of their digital marketing campaigns. Despite this, Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts of Google said in a post on the Google Webmaster Central blog that the relevance of each website page is still more important in terms of ranking factors than site speed.
ITV to track online reactions to election debate
ITV is to run online coverage alongside its first live prime-ministerial debate, using ‘sentiment tools’ to show reaction of audience and Twitter users. Audience response to the leaders’ debate between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will be displayed online via a ‘worm’ sentiment tracker. The broadcaster is hosting the first of three prime-ministerial debate tonight (followed by Sky and the BBC later this month). A Twitter tool, created by the political aggregator Tweetminster, will track posts by 5,000 selected Twitter users.
Facebook shuts Lite site after just 7 months
Social network Facebook has shut down its Lite site after running for just seven months. Facebook posted a note on its own fan page thanking those who used Lite, which had been aimed at users with slow or poor Internet connections, and stated that it had “learned a lot from the test of a slimmed-down site”.
Facebook rated ‘12’ in new UK film-style age classifications
Tibboh, a new internet service provider, has launched in the UK with film-style age ratings to protect youngsters from inappropriate content. ISP Tibboh has worked with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to categorise some three billion web addresses. However, thousands of new ratings will be added every day. Parents select the filter level they require – U, PG, 12, 15 or 18 – on behalf of their children. For example, popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace receive a 12 rating but online casinos and bookmakers’ websites are slapped with an 18 certificate.
Volcanic ash: How did the airlines cope online?
The volcanic ash cloud caused turmoil for the Uk airline industry earlier this month, but how did they cope online? This report from TradeDoubler looks into customer behaviour online during and after the flight restrictions, and looks at the lessons we can learn. Stranded travellers searching in vain for a way home caused disruption in new ways to the web-dependent travel industry. Traffic and conversion trends to all travel sectors turned on their heads, sites crashed and ecommerce staff themselves were redeployed to man overloaded call-centres. In an industry totally dependent on web-based communications and transactions, there are serious lessons to be learned, according to the TradeDoubler Insight team. Transactional traffic to airline sites dropped significantly in the midst of the volcanic ash travel disruption and, due to both confidence and availability, conversion rates halved in many cases.
Over 100 jobs in doubt as I-Level goes into administration
I-Level, one of the UKs largest independent digital marketing agencies, has gone into administration after losing a large contract for government advertising. It is estimated that around £40m, or two-fifths, of I-Level’s revenues came from the Central Office of Information until earlier this year. However, despite teaming up with media agency Starcom to tender for the renewed contract in February, the COI awarded its business to WPP’s GroupM. The agency, led by co-founder Andrew Walmsley and group chief executive Stephen Rust, has now called in Zolfo Cooper as administrator after suffering cashflow problems resulting from the loss of the contract.
UK Election: Facebook reveals results of ‘social media election’
As Brits go to the polls today to vote for the next government, Facebook has key statistics from its own social media election. Facebook has been a substantial platform for people in the 2010 general election, helping to spotlight the role of its 23 million UK users throughout the campaign. Its Democracy UK page now has over 168,000 likes, more than any political party on Facebook. It was launched as Facebook’s key election hub to engage Facebook?s users in the election process.
Google imitates rivals with search results revamp
Google has updated the way it presents its search results, in a bid to make the information more relevant and simpler. The new layout includes features that are already being employed by its rivals such as Bing, Yahoo and Ask. The changes include a touched-up logo, and a navigation panel on the page to refine queries with options to search specific categories such as news, images, blogs and video. The site will also include trending topics, pioneered by the likes of Twitter. So for a hot topic, such as the General Election results, users would be able to refine their search to content posted online within the past 24 hours or past few days.
Orange and T-Mobile merger creates ‘Everything Everywhere’ brand
Orange and T-Mobile have announced further details of their joint venture in the UK, to be called Everything Everywhere, creating the biggest mobile network provider in the UK with 30 million customers. The two brands will be kept separate, with 700 high-street stores in the UK between them and 16,500 staff. The new Everything Everywhere service will combine the two mobile networks offering better coverage for making calls and accessing the web. Plans for the two companies to merge UK operations were first announced in September last year, though attracted the attention of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Google reconsiders facial recognition technology following privacy outcry
Google is debating whether it should launch its new facial recognition technology after criticism about its privacy settings. Speaking at a developers conference, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said the search giant is still debating whether to launch the recognition technology following criticism from privacy campaigners who raised fears that it would be an ideal tool for stalkers and identity fraudsters. Schmidt said he would not rule out its use but said “anything we did in that area would be highly, highly planned, discussed and reviewed”. The company is now reviewing its products and the merit of introducing the controversial technology in light of recent complaints.
Google lets viewers search via their TV sets
Google has officially unveiled its Google TV service in the US, which will enable users to search content on the web and download applications while watching TV. However, there are no plans for a UK launchin the near future. The service will let viewers in the US search and view content from TV providers, the Internet, mobile applications and their own personal content library. Google TV will initially be incorporated into television sets and Blu-ray players manufactured by Sony, with the first products due to launch in the US this autumn.
‘Really useful’ algorithm detects sarcasm on Amazon user reviews
A computer algorithm capable of identifying sarcasm in written text has been developed by researchers, paving the way for more sophisticated communication between computers and humans. The formula could have implications for the way user generated content, such as Twitter feeds, Facebook updates and user reviews, are interpreted by web analytics tools. To test the formula, the research team from Israel analysed 66,000 Amazon reviews for sarcasm, with a 77% success rate. Devised by computer scientists at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the algorithm has been programmed to recognise sarcasm in lengthy texts by analysing patterns of phrases and punctuation often used to indicate irony.
Apple versus Adobe- who is in the right?
Apple’s refusal to support Adobe’s Flash software on its multimedia devices has lead to a bitter war of words between the two companies. Apple claims Flash is “buggy” and prone to crashing, and favours the rival HTML5 format, while Adobe says that Apple’s stance threatens the future development of the web and constitutes a ‘walled garden’ approach. But just what is at stake in this dispute? Who is in the right, and who is going to win? Graham Bower, writer and CEO of Taglab, takes a closer look at an ongoing battle which could sway the course of the digital sector in years to come…
Govt plans for digital Britain: New ministers, superfast broadband and a review of the Digital Economy Act
The new coalition government has put two Conservative ministers in charge of its digital policies. Jeremy Hunt is in charge of the UK’s broadband and Ed Vaizey is overseeing the implementation of the Digital Economy Act. Hunt, the Conservative secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport, will oversee the rollout of high-speed broadband across the UK, the government said on Wednesday night. Parliamentary under-secretary of state Ed Vaizey will work across two departments — the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Times loses market share after online paywall and registration
The Times has seen its market share halve since introducing required registration for its online content, according to the latest Hitwise data. Following months of speculation, News International has finally erected a paywall around the Times newspaper website. After a couple of weeks running two sites, (www.timesonline.co.uk and www.thetimes.co.uk) in parallel, visitors to the former site are now automatically redirected to the latter. Since last Tuesday, users have had to register to read content on the Times website (as well the separate Sunday Times site).
Twitter bans third party ads, prepares commercial roll-out
Twitter has announced it will ban third-party paid tweets in order to better monitor its proprietary advertising service. In April, the microblogging platform unveiled the first phase of its Promoted Tweets service to disseminate information from businesses and organizations to wider user groups. In a blog post, the company said it would now move to block third-party ad tweets that undermine its Promoted Tweets from its timeline. Twitter Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo has said the new ad system will become a key pillar in the company’s plans to turn its popular 140-character social networking service into a money-making operation.
ITV to stream England World Cup matches online- with dual screens
ITV has unveiled its World Cup coverage plans, include matches streamed live online and a ‘dual screen ‘platform that lets viewers chat and watch replays and stats simultaneously. ITV said the dual screen tool will be based on its popular multimedia coverage of the general election campaign. The initiative, called ITV Live, will allow viewers with laptops to customise ITV.com with a range of interactive elements from a chat service – which can link to Facebook – to polls, quizzes and statistics on teams and players. ITV.com will also be simulcasting matches, with live match streaming and a range of action replays from multiple camera angles.
BBC iPlayer gets personal… and starts linking to rivals
The BBC has unveiled a new-look iPlayer with a simpler interface, higher-quality streams and more personalised content. The media player will also link to content on rival platforms and let users share shows via Facebook and Twitter. The new BBC iPlayer separates TV and radio into sections and makes it easier to share favourite shows through Facebook and Twitter. The iPlayer beta is now live and the corporation expects to launch the full version by the end of June. New features include integration with Windows Live Messenger, a simplified user interface, a more personalised design and other social features. The new iPlayer will also list programmes from other catch-up services including ITV Player, 4oD, Demand Five and SeeSaw, and directly link to the programmes.
Facebook unveils privacy changes ahead of user boycotts
Facebook has unveiled a range of new privacy, as the social network responds to user comments and concerns about privacy. Protesters had been organising boycotts over accusations the site made it too easy for criminals and stalkers to see personal information because privacy settings were too complex. But the site – the most popular social networking site in the world with 500 million members – has backtracked and pledged to simplify settings. Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg officially announced the changes in a blog post.
Google-AdMob deal gets green light… thanks to Apple
Google has won approval for its $750m acquisition of AdMob, after rival Apple’s own entry into the market doused fears the purchase would give the search giant a monopoly of the mobile ad space. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that Apple’s purchase of the online mobile ad company Quattro Wireless in January would mitigate Google’s dominance of the market as more people access the web through their phones and other mobile devices such as Apple’s iPad. The US regulator said: “The decision was a difficult one because the parties (Google and AdMob) currently are the two leading mobile advertising networks, and the commission was concerned about the loss of head-to-head competition between them.”
Google ‘testing Twitter feeds on Adwords display ads’
Google is testing a new tool that integrates Twitter feeds into display ads on its popular AdWords system, according to a news report.ClickZ’s Douglas Quenqua reports that the online media giant has invited a few advertisers to test a new display-ad integration with Twitter. The layout displays the iconic Twitter bird is in the left-hand corner with the advertiser’s latest tweet featured in a box centered in the unit Clickz reports. The ad lets users follow the advertiser on Twitter and will initially appear on sites in the Google content network, the report says. Google has declined to comment on the program.
Government lays adspend details bare in new transparency drive
Detailed information about public spending over the last two years was published on Friday as part of a new government drive for greater transparency. The Treasury said it had taken an “unprecedented step” by publishing data from the Combined Online Information System (COINS) for 2008-09 and 2009-10, describing it as “the most detailed UK public expenditure data ever released”. COINS is one of a stack of government databases which Cameron has pledged to make available to the public in an attempt to make the government more accountable. The Central Office of Information spent £540m on marketing in the year to the end of March 2009, which included £211m on traditional advertising and £40m on digital, according to the COI’s annual report.
New iPhone ad platform gets $60m in pre-bookings
Apple’s new iPhone 4 will be the first smartphone to run the company’s iAd mobile ad network, with 17 advertisers already lined up to target app users on the move. During his keynote, Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, announced that Apple’s iAd mobile advertising network for the iPhone and iPad would debut July 1 with 17 advertisers. The service – which will offer advertising inside mobile apps, initially on the iPhone and iPod Touch – promises to combine the emotion of TV advertising with the interactivity of internet advertising.
BP buys Google ‘oil spill’ keywords- a slick PR stunt?
British Petroleum (BP) has purchased Google and Yahoo search terms in order to influence consumers’ views on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. With the company buying top position in paid search, it hopes to drive users to its corporate response page which attempts to paint a more positive picture of the BP brand. Excluding the paid search listing in the results page, 95% of the listings are very negative. A search in Google for “BP Oil Spill” presents the user with a number of listings that are being very cynical of BP, including YouTube clips of the impact the disaster has had on the local area and its wildlife.
Social networks ‘now more popular than search engines in the UK’
Social networks now receive more UK Internet visits than search engines, with Facebook leading the move towards a more community-driven web, according to new research. The study, from Experian Hitwise, reveals that during May, social networks accounted for 11.88% of UK Internet visits and search engines accounted for 11.33%. May was the first ever month that social networks have been more popular than search engines in the UK.
AOL sells Bebo ‘for just $10m’
AOL has sold Bebo to privately owned investment firm for an undisclosed sum, just two years after buying the social networking site. Bebo could be sold by AOL for as little as $10m. Criterion Capital Partners, a private investment firm, announced that it had bought the business, but did not disclosure the amount paid. However, analysts suspect it to be just a fraction of the price of $850m (then £417m) paid by AOL in 2008. Bloomberg BusinessWeek quotes ‘a person familiar with the deal’ as saying Criterion payed less than $10 million to buy Bebo from AOL.
Twitter tests ‘Promoted Trends’ with Toy Story 3
Twitter is testing a new ‘Promoted Trends’ tool with Pixars upcoming new movie Toy Story 3, as the micro-blogging site seeks new ways to turn its popularity into cash. Twitter already allows advertisers to insert messages into users’ streams through a program called Promoted Tweets, is also exploring the idea of selling its trending feature, which highlights topics popular with its users. The tool lets advertisers insert their own trend to display on users’ home pages, which is highlighted in yellow to alert users that the topic is promoted, not organic.
Chatroulette plans penis recognition software to block web flashers
Web chat site Chatroulette is reportedly developing new software designed to recognize male genitalia in a bid to block the high volume of web flashers that appear on the site. Launched earlier this year, Chatroulettte lets users chat (via IM and webcam) with random people with a click of a mouse. The site has become popular worldwide, but has been plagued by nefarious users displaying their private parts, rendering the site too offensive to be adopted by a potentially wider and more lucrative audience. The website’s founders are planning to add image-recognition software that will filter out shots of male genitalia.
Google takes on Rightmove, enters UK property market
Google UK has expanded into the UK property market by adding additional property search functionality to Google Maps. Google Maps now includes the option to see UK property search results. The service is being run in partnership with a number of estate agents, alongside Zoopla and Trinity Mirror. Tools which allow for detailed search for property went live yesterday on Google Maps. Google said that rather than competing with estate agents, it’s intention is to generate income from advertising which will be displayed around the property results pages. However, a notable absesnse from its list of partners is Rightmove, the current UK market leader in property portals and search.
Project Canvas gets green light from BBC Trust
Project Canvas, the online TV project involving BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4 and TalkTalk given approval from the BBC Trust, providing the project sticks to certain agreements. The news follows the go-ahead by the Office of Fair Trading last month. Concerning a partnership between BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4 and TalkTalk the BBC Trust gave its approval after extensive consultation. It will now review the BBC’s involvement in Project Canvas twelve months after it’s launched to consumers.
Old Spice viral ads break records with 5.2m YouTube views
The Old Spice channel became the most viewed on YouTube last week, after the men’s grooming brand recorded more than 5.2 million views for its viral marketing videos in less than three days.The brand’s Twitter followers grew from 3,000 to 48,000 during this period.”Today could be just like the other 364 days you log into twitter, or maybe the Old Spice man shows up @OldSpice,” the company tweeted on Tuesday.The brand uploaded about 185 videos of one minute duration on Tuesday and Wednesday last week to YouTube, in which the Old Spice model Isaiah Mustafa responded to questions from the Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit communities.
BBC Trust saves 6 Music, cuts online budget by 25%
The BBC Trust has rejected the BBC’s plans to close the digital radio station 6 Music, but has backed proposals to shake up news provision on BBC local radio and cut 25 per cent of the funding for the BBC website. The Trust, which is the ruling body of the BBC, has also backed the case for closing the Asian Network digital radio station. The rulings come from a published response today to the Strategic Review put forward by director general Mark Thompson in March. It is part of a process which will detail the corporation’s plans for the rest of the current BBC charter period, which runs until 2016. The Trust has supported Thompson’s proposals for a 25 per cent reduction in the BBC Online budget.
Apple debuts iAds mobile ad platform
Apple has launched its much-anticipated new mobile ad system ‘iAds’, marking the technology giant’s first foray into advertising. iAds will deliver specially designed ads into iPhone applications built by third-party developers and sold in the firm’s App Store. Apple will sell, produce and host the advertisements, while developers will be able to keep 60 per cent of the revenue generated by the ads that appear in their applications. Apple will keep the remaining 40 per cent.
Foursquare rejects Yahoo bid for $20m funding boost
Foursquare has raised $20 million in a second round of funding, ending speculation that the location-based firm would accept a bid approach from Yahoo. The company has chosen to take the additional venture capital money rather than pursue takeover talks with internet giant Yahoo, which is believed to have made an informal approach. Carol Bartz, chief executive of Yahoo!, in an interview with The Telegraph, strongly hinted she wished to buy the popular start-up, which lets you ‘check-in’ to bars and restaurants’, with a supposed price tag of $80m (£53m). The funding was led by Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Foursquare’s original investors, Union Square Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. The new cash boost puts the value of the firm at an estimated $95m.
Twitter turns to affiliate marketing: offers daily deals via ‘Earlybird’ launch
Twitter has launched an advertising feature for morning people, dubbed Earlybird, letting advertisers offer users exclusive deals on products and events. In a blog post, the company officially announced EarlyBird, which aims to inform users of special promotions that are unique to Twitter and the account. Advertisers who pay Twitter to distribute the offers via @Earlybird will determine the availability and pricing. The offers will be time sensitive, so fast action will be needed from users to grab a bargain before they’re gone. Bargain hunters can also spread the word by retweeting deals.
Google gets lifeline in China: Govt. renews license
The Chinese authorities have renewed Google’s license to operate a website in the country, averting a potential shutdown of its flagship search page in the world’s biggest Internet market. Google said last week that it would stop automatically rerouting users to its uncensored Hong Kong-based search page, explaining that Beijing had indicated it would not renew its Internet Content Provider (ICP) license if it continued to do so. That had prompted speculation that China might use the opportunity to shut down Google’s China search page, which would have been a blow to its other business in the country.
Top 1,000 websites: how many visits do you need?
Your website will need 4.1 million monthly unique visitors to make it into the top 1,000 websites worldwide, and 22 million visits to get into the top 100 with the likes of Facebook and Yahoo, according to new research. Using data from Google’s top 1000 sites list, Internet monitoring firm Pingdom has put together some charts illustrating the ‘long tail’ of websites achieving mass popularity worldwide. The charts indicate the top website, Facebook, attracts about 540 million unique visits a month.
Facebook to launch PayPal-style ‘Credits’ in September
Facebook is set to launch a virtual currency, called “Facebook Credits” in September, letting users trade virtual and physical goods throught the social network. Facebook Credits will become the default online currency for the company, and will use a similar syatem to that offered by eBays online payments firm PayPal. Currently in a test phase, Facebook Credits is likely to be rolled out to all users and developers in September. Credits will be aimed at virtual goods such as games, initially, but will eventually let consumers buy physical goods as well.
Google wins landmark Adwords copyright case
The European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of Google in a decision that could have wide-reaching implications for online advertising. Judges have confirmed that using other companies’ names as online advertising keywords is not an infringement of European trademark law. This news will be a major boost to Google’s revenue-generating Adwords service. The decision follows a long-running battle between Google and trademark owners.
Wikileaks publishes thousands of documents from war in Afghanistan
Online whistleblowing site Wikileaks has published over 75,000 documents containing classified information about the current war in Afghanistan. The documents cover the period from 2004-2009 and reveal a number of inconsistencies with official reports which have emanated from the White House and the US military. Wikileaks logoWikileaks posted the documents yesterday and also leaked them directly to the Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel, all of which have run stories based on their contents. Revelations in the documents include allegations that Pakistani secret service agents have helped Afghan insurgents to sabotage coalition activities.
Facebook takes on Google with Q&A service
Facebook has introduced Facebook Questions, a beta product that lets users pose questions to the social network’s community.The new service introduced Wednesday appears as an “Ask Question” button at the top of users’ homepages. The feature is initially available only to a limited number of people, but the site plans to roll it out to everyone as quickly as possible, depending on users’ feedback. The idea behind the service is to let people tap Facebook’s 500 million users to get answers to questions about any topic, from music and restaurants to where to learn to play the piano and the best surfing spots in Costa Rica.
Microsoft outcry as Yahoo Japan picks Google as search partner
Yahoo Japan has signed a deal to use Google for its search engine and search ad delivery system- sparking condemnation from its global search partner Microsoft. Yahoo Japan will continue to manage its own search page and search service. Yahoo Japan will also continue to run its advertising marketplace independent of Google. Microsoft condemned the deal and said it would result in Google gaining nearly complete control over search and search advertising in Japan through contract, not organic growth.
Games overtake email as second top online time killer- US study
Games have overtaken e-mail as Americans’ number two online time killer for the first time, according to new research, with social networking coming top of the list. The study, from Nielsen Online, found that of the nearly 24 hours of time that Americans on average spent online during the month of June, 23 percent was on social networks and blogs. That is up from 16 percent in the same month a year earlier. By far the most visited social network was Facebook, which recently celebrated reaching half a billion active users worldwide. The site commanded 85 percent of the time Americans spent on social networks.
Google Wave to close down following lack of demand
Google Inc. will end development of its Wave service, which lets users share images and documents, because customers were slow to adopt the technology. Google launched the real-time web collaboration tool at its annual I/O developer conference last year. The company acknowledged that despite huge internal excitement over the possibilities offered by Wave, the tool did not catch on with users. “Google Wave set a high bar for what was possible in a web browser,” wrote Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of operations at Google in a blog post.
Google Acquires Jambool And Social Gold
Google has reportedly acquired Jambool and Socila Gold in a move to add expertise to is rumoured forthcoming new social network. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Google has purchased San Francisco-based Jambool, along with its online payment system Social Gold, for $70 million. Although neither company has commented on the news, technology news website Tech Crunch has cited multiple anonymous sources who have confirmed the acquisition.
Facebook takes on Foursquare with ‘Places’ app
Facebook’s 500 million-plus users will soon be able to track friends’ whereabouts across the US. The new “Places” feature begins rolling out on Wednesday to some users and goes across the US within weeks.The tool help users share where they are, figure out who is in the vicinity, and check out happenings and services within the same locale. The feature will put the social network in competition with the increasingly popular location services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt, which allow consumers to use their mobile phones to keep track of their friends whereabouts and earn rewards for frequenting brick-and-mortar businesses, have caught on among technology aficionados.
Google to buy visual search firm Like.com for over $100m
Google is reportedly set to buy Like.com, a visual search and e-commerce firm, for more than $100m. Reuters quoted a report in Techcrunch saying that Google wants to experiment with a new kind of search technology that appears to be getting traction. Like.com, which was founded by Munjal Shah and Burak Gokturk in August 2004, raised nearly $50m and started applying computer vision and learning technology to online fashion purchases. Like.com, which allows users to search a red high-heeled pump and returns a variety of applicable results, has also launched Covet.com, Couturious.com and Weardrobe.com.
Times loses 1.2 million online readers after paywall
Visits to the websites of The Times and The Sunday Times have dropped by 1.2 million since May 2010, according to new data. The statistics, from ComScore, indicate that the websites of The Times and The Sunday Times dropped from 2.79 million in May 2010 to 1.61 million in July 2010. News International launched its separate Thetimes.co.uk and Thesundaytimes.co.uk websites on 25 May. It made registration compulsory and began redirecting users from the old site on 15 June and started charging for access to both sites on 2 July.
Project Canvas to launch Web TV next year as ‘YouView’ brand
Project Canvas, the on-demand TV service backed by BBC ITV, BT and Channel 4, has offially rebranded as YouView, and is set to launch as a beta test in the first quarter of next year. The site aims to bring video-on-demand programming and services to Freeview and Freesat. From next year viewers will have the choice of a subscription-free YouView set top box that will combine their favourite digital TV channels with the last seven days’ catch up TV, as well as bringing a full range of on-demand services and interactive extras straight to the living room.
Google takes on Skype with free web calls
Google has launched a new tool that lets its US-based Gmail users make free calls to one another via the web. The new feature increases the search giant’s competition with Internet phone providers like Skype. At an event in San Francisco, Google said the new service, which will roll out this week, is free for calls to the U.S. and Canada at least until the end of the year, though there are costs to make international calls to landlines and mobile phones.
Ad watchdog gets tough on web advertising
Companies in the UK will soon have to ensure content on their websites and social network pages comply with rules set out by The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), or face being ‘named and shamed’ as part of a new initiative. From March next year, the rules covering misleading advertising, social responsibility and the protection of children will apply in full to all online marketing by all sectors, businesses and organisations, regardless of size. The ASA’s current remit online includes ads in paid-for space and sales promotions wherever they appear.
Apple debuts music-based social network Ping
Apple made its first foray into social networking on Wednesday with the introduction of Ping, a ‘social music discovery’ service with that runs alongside the latest version of iTunes. The service was unveiled by chief executive Steve Jobs, who touted the site as aiding “social music discovery, and comes as part of iTunes 10, which Apple released today. Ping is like Facebook and Twitter meets iTunes, Jobs said at a San Francisco press event. It’s a “social network all about music and built right into iTunes,” he said.
Google debuts ‘priority inbox’ for Gmail to cut through e-mail clutter
Google has added a new tool called “Priority Inbox” to its Gmail service, designed to help people wade through their overflowing e-mail inboxes. The feature uses formulas developed by Google engineers to automatically figure out and highlight which incoming messages are likely to be the most important to each Gmail user. Users who opt to turn on the Priority Inbox will see their messages separated into three categories. “Important and unread” e-mails will be at the top followed by messages that have been previously stamped with a star by an accountholder. Everything else appears at the bottom.
Facebook ‘social metrics’ help advertisers target your most clickable friends
Facebook has launched social metrics, a new tool that helps marketers understand the benefits of adverts that include social context from people’s friends on Facebook. There is now a new column called “Social %” in the Ads Manager, which shows the percentage of ad impressions that were delivered with social endorsements. Social context is the sentence in the ad that shows people which of their friends have liked or engaged with the Facebook Page, event or application.
Google debuts ‘Instant’ predictive search results
Google has launched ‘Instant’ search results, a new service that starts predicting results as soon as users begin typing. As internet users begin a word, Google’s homepage will move instantly to a page of results that is updated as each letter is typed. Google, which currently answers 1 billion search queries per day, described the move as a “fundamental change” that will save the world’s internet users a combined 11 hours per second, or 111 years per day. The update has been trailed over the past two days with ‘Google Doodles’ on the company’s homepage.
Time spent online: Facebook overtakes Google in the US
US web users are spending more socialising on Facebook than searching with Google, according to new data from comScore. In August, people spent a total of 41.1 million minutes on Facebook, comScore said, about 9.9 percent of their Web-surfing minutes for the month. That just barely surpassed the 39.8 million minutes, or 9.6 percent, people spent on all of Google Inc.’s sites combined, including YouTube, the free Gmail e-mail program, Google news and other content sites. US Web users spent 37.7 million minutes on Yahoo Inc. sites, or 9.1 percent of their time, putting Yahoo third in terms of time spent browsing.
Twitter revamp adds pics and video to feed
Twitter is set to launch a new version of its micro-blogging platform, incorporating picstures and video posted by users into its feed. The popular social network is hoping the revamp- the first major update in its four year history, will encourage users to stay on the site for longer, ramping up its appeal to advertisers in the process. Some users will start seeing the new look as soon as tonight, though the company says on its blog that it “will roll out as a preview over the next several weeks.”
Online piracy: Copyright holders and ISPs to bear cost of Digital Economy Act
The UK Government has outlined its plans to enforce its new Digital Economy Act, aimed at cracking down on online piracy. Under the new scheme, copyright holders will pay 75 per cent of the costs associated with tackling online copyright infringement, while internet service providers will shoulder the remaining burden. Comsumer groups have warned such a move could push up the price of broadband. Commenting on the move, the minister for communications said the costs Ed Vaizey, The costs of policing the Digital Economy Act are “proportionate, despite protests from internet service providers who argue the ruling will push up the price of home broadband connections.
Blockbuster files for bankruptcy protection as online rivals soar
Blockbuster has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US, as the one-time market leader in DVD rentals struggles to keep up with online competition such as Netflix and LoveFilm. The move will mean Blockbuster will be able to keep its stores and kiosks open as it reorganises. Increasingly, people are watching movies via video subscription services like Netflix in the US and LoveFilm in the UK. In a submission to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York on Thursday, the company said it reached an agreement with bondholders on a recapitalisation plan.
AOL buys TechCrunch in ‘$40m deal’
AOL has bought TechCrunch for a reported amount of $40 million, as the struggling Internet giant looks to boost its audience and ad revenue with one of the most influential blogs in the technology industry. AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong joined TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington onstage Tuesday to make the announcement at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. Arrington, 40, has become one of the best-known journalists in the technology field, setting up TechCrunch in 2005 to chronicle the rise and fall of young technology companies.
Blackberry unveils iPad rival ‘Playbook’
Blackberry maker Research In Motion unveiled its much anticipated tablet computer that it hopes will challenge Apple’s iPad. The tablet, named BlackBerry PlayBook, has a seven-inch screen and dual facing cameras.
The device also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but needs to link with a BlackBerry smart phone to access the mobile network. “It’s ultra-mobile and it’s ultra-thin,” co-chief executive Mike Lazaridis told the developers, who responded with intermittent applause. “PlayBook delivers a no-compromises web experience,” he said.
Twitter drops Earlybird deals to launch ‘Promoted Accounts’
Twitter has introduced its latest efforts to monetize its popular micro-blogging platform,, with a new scheme called Promoted Accounts that will let companies pay to be included in Twitter’s “Who to Follow” lists. The company also said it will phase out its @earlybird deal feed in favor of its promoted products platform. Promoted Accounts builds on the company’s existing Promoted Tweets platform, which it introduced in April. With the new addition, companies could pay to be included in the “Who to Follow” suggestion lists Twitter displays to its users. Like Promoted Tweets, Twitter would serve up relevant Promoted Accounts based on your Twitter activity and preferences.
Internet Explorer Use drops below 50% for first time
Internet Explorer’s share of the worldwide browser market has dropped below 50 per cent, according to new data. According to StatCounter findings, in September, the Microsoft browser’s market share was 49.87 per cent – down from 58 per cent this time last year. It has even dropped to 40 per cent in Europe, yet IE still narrowly dominates the market in North America at 52.3 per cent. This fall has been coupled with a rise in both Firefox (31.5 per cent) and Google Chrome (11.54 per cent). Chrome has jumped from 3.63 per cent this time last year.
Angry Birds comes to Android: GetJar App store crashes due to demand
Mobile app store GetJar has exclusively launched the full Android version of the popular Angry Birds game for free, funded by advertising. The move means GetJar becomes the first distributor of the game, ahead of the Android app store. As a testament to the game’s popularity, the huge volume of traffic to GetJar following the announcement took out the store’s servers within minutes. Despite this, Angry Birds was downloaded almost 95,000 times within the first three hours on Friday.
Police Tweet all 999 calls to protest Govt. cutbacks
Greater Manchester Police have completed a Twitter hashtag campaign, as a means of protesting Government cutbacks by revealing the sheer number of incidents they face in a single day. The project, which began at 5:00am Thursday last week, revolved around the Twitter account GMPolice tweeting every incident it deals with over a 24 hour-period, accompanied with the hashtag #GMP to help users search and share their comments.
Google’s ‘driverless’ cars complete US roadtrip- with a little help from humans
Google has developed cars that can drive themselves, testing seven such automobiles on 140,000 miles across the roads of America, in a move that could one day revolutionise the transport industry. Google said that the seven Google cars have driven 1,000 miles without any human intervention, apparently the 140,000 mile number includes occasional human control. These cars are a modified version of the Toyota Prius, and there is one Audi TT as well.
Orange and T-Mobile customers share coverage with ‘Everything Everywhere’ brand launch
Orange and T- Mobile have finally unveiled their ‘Everything Everywhere’ brand, following the merger of the two mobile networks last year. The launch, dubbed the ‘big switch-on’ allows the company’s combined 27 million customers to access coverage on both networks, and is backed by a £4m advertising campaign. Orange customers are now able to make calls and send texts on the T-Mobile network and T-Mobile customers are able to do the same using the Orange network.
Top Facebook apps caught ‘leaking data to advertisers’
The top 10 applications on Facebook have all been transmitting user data, including access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names, to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking firms, according to a news report. The Wall Street Journal investigation found that the issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The Journal found that all of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting users’ IDs to outside companies, including well-known games such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars and Texas Hold’em.
Google admits to copying email and Wi-Fi passwords from Steet View cars
Google has admitted to copying household computer passwords and emails while gathering images using its Street View cameras, adding that it is determined to learn lessons from the mistake. Google collected information from wireless networks while its vehicles drove around residential streets taking photographs for its Street View mapping product, which launched in 2008. Computer passwords, emails and web addresses were copied from private households which did not have encrypted wi-fi access. Google said the personal information was collected inadvertently.
Android ‘overtakes iPhone ad revenue’
Google’s Android ad revenue has surpassed that of Apple’s mobile devices, despite the iPhone accounting for more ad impressions, according to new data from ad network Millennial Media. The study found that while the iOS platform remains the forerunner in terms of total market share, Android ad requests have grown 1,284 percent since January of this year while requests on iOS have only grown by 18 percent in that time period.
Ask ditches search for community answers
Ask.com is cutting 130 engineering jobs and outsourcing its search technology, as the internet icon finally concedes that it cannot compete with Google and Bing in the search market. In a move similar to Yahoo, which recently outsourced its search technology to Microsoft, Ask.com will stop working on its search algorithm and instead hire a third-party company to provide that technology. The company is laying off engineers based in Edison, New Jersey, and in China, althouth it has not disclosed which companies it is approaching about a search partnership.
Internet worth £100bn a year to UK economy
The internet is worth £100bn annually to the UK economy, comprising 7.2% of the gross domestic product, which is expected to reach 10% within five years, according to a survey commissioned by Google. The figure represents a higher proportion than the construction, education and transport industries. The share is also likely to grow to 10% by 2015, putting the internet’s contribution on a par with the financial sector. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said 60% of the £100bn came from ‘internet consumption’ – via online shopping and the cost of devices and connections to access the internet.
Apple to bypass networks with own iPhone SIM card?
Apple has reportedly teamed with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create a ‘special’ SIM card that could allow the company to offer telephony services direct rather than rely on third party carriers. According to a report on technology news site GigaOM, the move would let customers buy and activate iPhones directly from Apple’s stores. They could also connect online via Apple’s iTunes App Store. The website reports Apple and Gemalto have created a SIM card: “Which is typically a chip that carries subscriber identification information for the carriers, that will be integrated into the iPhone itself.”
Alan Partridge bounces back with Foster’s funded webisodes
Cult comedy icon Alan Partridge is set to return next week in a series of short web videos funded by beer brand Fosters. The character, played by Steve Coogan, will appear on the Fosters Funny Website in a dozen 11-minute long episodes, beginning on 5th November. A trailer goes live on the site tomorrow (29th October). The site, at www.fostersfunny.co.uk, was created by Naked Communications, and forms part of a wider comedy initiative by Foster’s, which includes sponsorship of the Edinburgh Comedy Festival and the comedy strand on Channel 4.
Times paywall: Online reader figures revealed
News Corporation has revealed that 105,000 readers have paid to read The Times and Sunday Times online and via mobiles, since both broadsheet papers’ websites went behind a paywall four months ago. The media giant revealed a further 100,000 people have a joint subscription to read the newspapers digitally and in print, the papers add.
East End- the new Silicon Valley? Facebook and Google to invest in Olympic park
Facebook and Google will invest in the East End of London to help create Britain’s own Silicon Valley, the Prime Minister has announced. David Cameron said he wants the proposed East London Tech City, which will encompass the Olympic Park, to become the global centre of technological innovation. The initiative is intended to create private sector jobs and fuel growth in the economy.
Facebook Mobile offers ‘deals’ based on user location
Facebook has launched a new ‘deals’ service on its mobile application, which send users special offers to users based on their location. The move offers advertisers another way to target Facebook users geographically, and the social network looks to boost its ad revenue. The service will initially launch in the US, and Facebook has not disclosed when ‘Deals’ will roll-out internationally. The service lets Facebook Mobile users look for a list of “nearby places,” with deals being denoted by a yellow price tag or sticky to the right of them.
Twitter tests ads in Tweet streamTwitter has announced plans to include Promoted Tweets into the stream of user updates, and has begun testing user reaction to the service on the micro-blog’s partner site HootSuite. In a blog post announcing the move, the company said it has reached the third step of a multi-part process. First, it introduced Promoted Tweets into the search results on Twitter.com, before making those ads visible to searches in applications like HootSuite.
The battle for your data: Facebook and Google in GMail contacts row
Rivalry between Google and Facebook is intensifying, with the world’s two biggest internet companies locking horns over the export of user’s contact data from GMail to Facebook, with Google even encouraging its users to file a complaint against the social network. Recently, Google blocked Facebook access to the GMail contacts API, saying that it would no longer let other services, including Facebook, automatically import its users’ email contact data for their own purposes, unless the information flows both ways. This week, Facebook responded by offering users a work-around solution to Google’s block. It added a link, allowing users to first move their Gmail contacts to a PC and then upload them to Facebook.
iPlayer going global: BBC plans to charge overseas viewers
The BBC has announced plans to make its popular iPlayer online video platform available for International users, for a fee. The announcement was made by John Smith, Chief Executive of BBC Worldwide. Although there has been no official statement as yet from the BBC Trust, Mr Smith has already gone ahead and announced the approved plans in an interview with the Telegraph by stating “Not only will that mean international fans of, for example, Doctor Who can get their fix legitimately, but it has the potential of opening up a new revenue stream for the entire UK production industry.”
Facebook’s new ‘social inbox’: Will it make email obsolete?
Facebook has launched a next-generation online messaging service that gives the user a Facebook.com email addresses, in a move seen as a shot across the bow of Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled what he called a “convergent” modern messaging system that “handles messages seamlessly across all the ways you want to communicate.” The messaging service blends online chat, text messages and other real-time conversation tools with traditional e-mail, which Zuckerberg said had lost favour for being too slow for young Internet users.
Google Googles: Mobile pics converted into web ads via product recognition
Google is running a test on its Google’s photo recognition tool, that will display adverts to users based on pictures taken by their smartphone cameras. The ‘offline marketing experiment’ utilises visual search and optical character recognition [OCR] technologies to allow users to find out information about certain products. The experiment will see Google work with five major brands, T-Mobile, Diageo, Disney, Buick, and Delta., each launching special print ads designed to tie into its Google Goggles mobile app.
MySpace admits defeat? Former social media king syncs with Facebook ConnectMySpace, once the dominant online social network, has signed a ‘mashup’ agreement with Facebook to allow people to sign on to MySpace using their Facebook login. This means that the content they are engaging with on Myspace will be automatically ported over to their Facebook profile page through Facebook Connect. Myspace CEO Mike Jones said: “We feel this is a complementary service to Facebook. This new feature is a great illustration of our strategy around social entertainment and enabling the real-time stream.”
Two speed internet? Govt. mulls charging bandwidth-hogging sites
Popular streaming sites such as the BBC, Youtube and LoveFilm could be forced to pay for the data traffic they generate under plans floated by the Government culture minister yesterday. Ed Vaizey has given his support to controversial plans for broadband access to be subject to a “two-sided” system. Critics warned the approach would spell the end of so-called ‘net neutrality’ in which Internet users have access to all websites on an equal basis. Speaking at the FT World Telecoms Conference in London, the communications minister stated it is important for broadband providers to adopt new business models in their attempt to provide consumers with “what they want”.
No more bootleg Beatles: iTunes finally seals Beatles deal with EMI
Apple and music group EMI have agreed to sell The Beatles’ back catalogue on iTunes, after a decade of legal wrangling. The Beatles were one of the few big names in music still not available through iTunes. The agreement signalled the end of a 10-year deadlock between the two companies over sales of the band’s music. In addition, the surviving band members and the estates of the others have been famously reluctant to sign up, saying that the quality of digital music isn’t good enough to do their catalogue justice.
Exposed: NHS caught sharing users’ health concerns with Facebook
The popular NHS Choices health website has been exposed automatically ‘tracking’ all Facebook users that visit, according to new research. The study, from Garlik has lead the online identify theft and fraud firm experts to call for third party tracking to be banned from all Government websites, particularly those carrying information on personal and sensitive topics such as health and benefits.
Groupon rejects Google deal, plans IPO instead
Shopping deal webiste Groupon has rejected a $6bn bid from Google, saying it is planning a possible public offering instead. The sale was expected to fetch up to $6 billion in a deal which had set tongues wagging on Wall Street about whether such a valuation represented good value for Google. However Groupon had been playing hard to get, spurning offers from previous firms such as Yahoo and walking away from a deal with Google in favour of a possible public offering in 2011.
AOL ‘mulls break up, then merger with Yahoo’
AOL is actively exploring a breakup involving a complicated series of transactions that may lead to a merger with Yahoo, according to a news report. AOL is actively exploring a breakup involving a complicated series of transactions that may lead to a merger with Yahoo, according to a news report. Sources familiar with the deal told Reuters that the plans are still in the exploratory stage and Yahoo has not been contacted.
Murdoch to sell off Myspace?
News Corporation is reportedly willing to sell Myspace, the former social media market leader it bought back in 2005. MySpace COO Chase Carey told Reuters that the company is open to a sale, partnership, or some other option. “There are opportunities here to do 20 things… but that doesn’t mean you’re going to do any of the 20. If there’s something there that makes sense you ought to think about it,” Carey said.
Japan approves Yahoo-Google search ad deal… despite Microsoft outcry
Japan’s anti-monopoly watchdog has approved a tie-up between Yahoo Japan and Google but warned it will keep checking for possible violations. The commission said Thursday it didn’t see any problems as long as the two companies continued to be separate and offered distinctive services. Yahoo Japan has said it plans to launch a search service using Google’s search and advertising technology here by the end of this year. Online shopping mall operator Rakuten and Microsoft have both filed petitions with the commission to further investigate the search engine technology tie-up plan.
BBC to launch paid-for iPlayer iPad app in US
The BBC is working on a version of its iPlayer to be launched in the US, in the form of a paid-for iPad application, according to a new report. The FT.com reports that the ‘Global iPlayer’, which is in pilot form until it passes scrutiny by the BBC Trust, will only be available outside the UK, where the broadcaster is allowed to charge for access to its content. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the publicly-funded broadcaster, said that it would make the iPlayer available to iPad owners in certain target markets in the middle of next year.
Google to remove pirated material from search ‘within 24hrs’
Google plans to crack down on pirated content, pledging to remove material which infringes copyright from its main search service “within 24 hours”. In what could prove a very big blow to the activities of internet pirates, Google has announced a number of new policies designed to limit the accessibility of illegal content online. Measures include removing terms “that are closely associated with piracy” from appearing in its Autocomplete search function, and expelling groups in breach of copyright from its AdSense advertising program.
China hacked into Google after official ‘Googled himself’- Wikileaks
The hacking of search giant Google was orchestrated by a senior Chinese official who searched for his name and found critical articles via the search engine, according to new documents released by the website Wikileaks. The attack, which took places ealier this year, resulted in Google walking away from a potential market of 400m internet users in China. The WikiLeaks report claimed the hacking was “100% political in nature”, the Observer reported. Senior Chinese official Li Changchun searched for his own name, the cables allege.
WikiLeaks founder arrested in London
UK police have arrested WikiLeaks founder and owner Julian Assange on an arrest warrant from Sweden, where he is accused of sexual crimes. The 39-year-old Australian was arrested in the morning after he voluntarily appeared for an appointment at a London police station. Earlier, Assange told a court in London that he would fight any attempt to extradite him to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sex crimes. The founder of the whistleblowing website that has released reams of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables has denied the allegations. He has not yet been charged.
UK Govt. plans superfast broadband for all by 2015
High speed broadband will be available to every community in Britain by 2015 under plans announced by the government on Monday. A £830 million investment over the next seven years will see “digital hubs” created across the country in an attempt to ensure every home has Internet access. The hubs, which would be linked to the nearest exchange by fibre-optic connections, will bring “superfast broadband” to 90 percent of the population, the government hopes.
Facebook revamps facial recognition with ‘Tag Suggestions’
Facebook has enhanced its face detection feature, with a new “tag suggestions” tool, helping users automatically tag friends across a series of photos. The new feature will begin rolling out to US users next week, according to Facebook Vice President of Product Chris Cox. When users are offered the chance to tag groups of your friends in an album, Facebook will utilize its facial recognition technology to group similar faces together and automatically suggest the friend they can tag them with. Facebook fills in the “Who is this?” box with its suggestion, leaving the user to click the “Save Tags” button to accept.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg named Time’s person of 2010
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been named as Time Magazine’s annual Person of the Year, marking him out as the figure it believes had the most influence on events in 2010. The 26-year-old billionaire was the subject of a 2010 film, The Social Network, charting Facebook’s rise. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange earlier won a Time readers’ poll on 2010’s most influential person.
France to charge advertisers “Google tax” next year
France is set to introduce what has been dubbed a ‘Google tax’ on online advertisements on January 1 2011, parliament decided Tuesday. The tax on companies based in France would be amount to one per cent of the net amount spent on online advertising. The measure was dubbed ‘Google tax’ because it was originally conceived as a direct tax on the search engine and its competitors. The parliamentary commission has for some time been working on a deal for the 2011 national budget, which has already been approved by the two houses of parliament.
Twitter to open London office?
Twitter is set to open its first overseas office in London, according to a news report. The Sunday Telegraph reports that the US-based social-networking company will open an office in either the West End or the so-called ‘Silicon Roundabout’ area of Old street. “There were a few of us in London this week,” a Twitter spokesperson told the Telegraph. “We are considering London and other European locations to create an initial and small presence in 2011.” Representatives from the site are said to have looked at property in both the West End area of London as well as a neighborhood the Telegraph calls “Silicon Roundabout.” It gets that name because there is a high concentration of tech companies based there.
Yahoo makes a further 600 job cuts
Yahoo! has announced the loss of 600 jobs, representing 4% of its workforce, as the internet media giant looks to boost its revenue as it looks to compete with the likes of Google and Facebook. The New York Times reports that the cuts will affect Yahoo!’s products division in the US, and the is still recruiting on a global basis. The latest cuts are the fourth round of redundancies in three years at the internet media firm. Yahoo! said the cuts are part of its strategy “to deliver differentiated products to the marketplace.”
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