(Networld World) The mobile device and infrastructure industries continued their familiar yet increasingly complex dance at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: Consumers and enterprises receive ever more devices to choose from, while carriers scramble to figure out how to support, deploy and make money off the mix.
(Guardian) Eric Schmidt has stressed that Google's involvement in mobile is designed to make the operators money, not leave them out of pocket. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has extended an olive branch to the mobile phone industry saying he is "not trying to run roughshod" over the operators or turn them into "dumb pipes" in the air. Speaking for the first time at Mobile World Congress, the industry's largest trade show, Schmidt faced angry questioning from some in the industry who fear that Google is piggybacking on their massive investment in infrastructure, through ventures such as its Android mobile phone platform, but giving them no return.
(Ars Technica) Magazines and newspapers may have some hope in getting consumers to pay for online content after all, though people trying to generate income by writing blog posts and making YouTube videos may not be so lucky. Media research firm Nielsen has found from its latest 52-country survey that there are indeed opportunities to make money on content, but users can be choosy about what kinds of things they're willing to pay for. The survey, which included more than 27,000 customers globally, found that consumers are (naturally) more inclined to keep already free things free. Still, things that people pay for offline?such as movies, music, and games?were the same things that people were most willing to pay for (or consider paying for) online.
(mocoNews.net) Two dozen of the world's largest mobile-phone companies, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T, NTT DoCoMo, Deutsche Telekom, China Mobile and Vodafone, are teaming up to create an "open international applications platform," which is in direct response to Apple's success with its own iPhone App Store. see Release. The announcement was made at Mobile World Congress. In addition to the 24 carriers, the GSMA and three device manufacturers - LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson - are also supporting the initiative. All combined, the group reaches 3 billion subscribers worldwide, making it easily the largest app-store initiative. However, the task will also be exceedingly complicated because of the massive scope and technological barriers in uniting so many disparate platforms and operators.
(Guardian) More people are coming to US news sites via Facebook and other social networking sites such as Twitter - supplanting Google News, which had been one of the primary sources of readers, according to research by the metrics company Hitwise. During the past year, the proportion of traffic that Facebook sends to US media sites has tripled from around 1.2% to 3.52%, while that sent by Google News has remained roughly static, at around 1.4%.
(ARs Technica) The real news at Google's event wasn't a phone at all, but a URL: http://google.com/phone. An online storefront that, if successful, could knock one of the major pillars out the current, much-reviled US carrier model and result in faster, cheaper, more flexible service for mobile users. Here's how it works. In short, what Google announced wasn't just the Nexus One, but America's America's first carrier-independent smartphone store; the Google store is now the only smartphone store in the US where, for every phone on offer, you first pick which phone you want, and then you pick a network and a plan on that network.
(Economist) In the coming months Rupert Murdoch, News Corp's boss, is expected to introduce paywalls on the websites of the bigger publications in his stable, such as the Times of London and the Sun. Last month Axel Springer, a large German publisher, began charging for some of its newspapers. Variety, a trade publication for Hollywood, has begun demanding money. The New York Times is pondering a similar move. Will these paywalls, however carefully crafted, persuade people to pay for something they are used to getting free? A barrage of surveys suggests it will be difficult.
(BBC) AOL and Time Warner have formally split after almost 10 years as one company. Under the terms of the deal, qualifying shareholders will receive one AOL share for each 11 Time Warner they own. AOL shares will even regain the market ticker symbol they used before the merger. But the company will be worth a tiny fraction of what it once was. Its market value is put at about $2.5bn - 10% of its value at the firm's height. At the time of the merger in 2001, the marriage of Time Warner with AOL was dubbed the "deal of the century" - one that brought superstars of both old and new media together. But the new media element, AOL, soon started to look jaded as its once-popular dial-up internet model was superseded by broadband. [Ed: the deal was announced on 10 January 2000 and QuickLinks subscribers received a "QuickLinks Flash" - a special email message. See QuickLinks item].
(Press Release) Yahoo! has released a beta version of a new consumer tool called Ad Interest Manager, which takes transparency in online advertising to a new level for building user trust. Ad Interest Manager http://privacy.yahoo.com/aim is a central place where Yahoo! visitors can see a concise summary of their online activity and make easy, constructive choices about their exposure to interest-based advertising served from the Yahoo! Ad Network.
(Tim O'Reilly) I've outlined a few of the ways that big players like Facebook, Apple, and News Corp are potentially breaking the "small pieces loosely joined" model of the Internet. But perhaps most threatening of all are the natural monopolies created by Web 2.0 network effects. One of the points I've made repeatedly about Web 2.0 is that it is the design of systems that get better the more people use them, and that over time, such systems have a natural tendency towards monopoly. And so we've grown used to a world with one dominant search engine, one dominant online encyclopedia, one dominant online retailer, one dominant auction site, one dominant online classified site, and we've been readying ourselves for one dominant social network. But what happens when a company with one of these natural monopolies uses it to gain dominance in other, adjacent areas?
(Guardian) The co-founder of Twitter warned Rupert Murdoch that his plans to charge for online content, and block Google from using stories produced by his News International titles, were a vain attempt to "put the genie back in the bottle".
(BBC) A service that gave many people their first taste of building and owning a web page is set to close. Yahoo-owned GeoCities once boasted millions of users and was the third most popular destination on the web. The free site has since fallen out of fashion with users, who have switched to social networks. Yahoo, which acquired the site for $3.57bn in 1999 at the height of the dotcom boom, said sites would no longer be accessible from 26th October.
(Reuters) Vodafone launched a Web service meshing social networks, contacts and entertainment in a bid to fend off stiff competition from Apple, Google and Nokia. Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone operator by revenue, said its Vodafone 360 service would launch on two tailor-made Samsung phones and four Nokia phones in eight European countries by Christmas. Vodafone 360 will allow users to store contacts from social networks such as Facebook and other Internet accounts in one place and will automatically synchronize to users' computers.
(Guardian) Cynics have long dismissed social networking as a fad - but the appetite for connecting online appears to be growing more rapidly than ever, after Facebook announced that it now has more than 300 million users worldwide. The announcement, made by the company's 25-year-old co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, underlines Facebook's reputation as one of the largest properties on the internet with an audience that could encompass almost every man, woman and child in the United States. The number is almost as large as the entire internet population of China, and equivalent to the number of web users in Europe's ten largest countries combined. It also marks the latest chapter in an astonishing period of growth for the company. The site reached the 250m user milestone in July, meaning that it has added an additional 50 million people in just two months.
(BBC) James Murdoch has launched a scathing attack on the BBC, describing the corporation's size and ambitions as "chilling" and accusing it of mounting a "land grab" in a beleaguered media market. News Corporation's chairman and chief executive in Europe and Asia also heavily criticised media industry regulator Ofcom, the European Union and the government, accusing the latter of "dithering" and failing to protect British companies from the threat of online piracy. He described the BBC's purchase of the travel guide publisher Lonely Planet as a "particularly egregious example of the expansion of the state" and compared government intervention in broadcasting with failed attempts to manipulate the international banana market in the 1950s. Murdoch added that the BBC's news operation was "throttling" the market, preventing its competitors from launching or expanding their own services, particularly online. News International, the News Corp subsidiary that owns the company's British newspapers, including the Sun and the Times, is currently considering introducing charges for all its websites.
(Guardian) The BBC has struck a landmark deal with four national newspaper groups to share video news on their websites for the first time. The BBC is providing a limited range of video news content to Mail Online, guardian.co.uk, Telegraph.co.uk and Independent.co.uk, which will supplement the newspaper websites' own material, in four areas - UK politics, business, health and science and technology. For partner media organisations to use the BBC online video content there must be no advertising - such as pre-roll or post-roll ads - running around any clips. The video shared with partner organisations will carry BBC branding. All BBC content will appear in a branded video player and the content will be geo-blocked so that it can only be viewed by web users in the UK. The video news sharing proposal marks a significant shift in relations between the BBC and rival media companies. Newspaper publishers, in particular, have long argued that the BBC has used the public subsidy provided by the licence fee to fund its expansion into digital media areas - such as online video - while commercial companies have not had the financial firepower.
(Reueters) Apple said it can't meet current demand for the iPhone 3GS. The 3GS is available in 18 countries and is being rolled out this summer to another 80-plus countries. Overall, the company sold 5.2 million iPhones in the June quarter, ahead of many analysts' estimates. That total includes sales of the reduced-price $99 iPhone 3G.
(CNET News) Microsoft is closing Soapbox, its onetime video-sharing rival to Google's YouTube. Last month, Microsoft told CNET News it planned to significantly scale back Soapbox. Now it turns out Soapbox will be scaled all the way down to nothing. Microsoft will continue to support MSN Video, which has 88 million unique users each month and delivers 480 million video streams each month.
(ITU) The latest publication by ITU-T's Technology Watch looks into the quickly growing field of mobile applications. Mobile applications (apps) are add-on software for handheld devices, such as smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDA). Between 2008 and 2009, the market for smartphones is expected to grow by 23 per cent, against an overall decline in the total mobile phone market caused by the economic crisis. The availability of a wide choice of applications can be critical to the commercial success of new mobile devices. Even as more smartphones are sold, the creation of mobile applications to run on them is constrained by the fragmentation of the market between different platforms. Mobile Applications describes the mobile application market and identifies initiatives that aim at standards for an open and interoperable mobile environment. Mobile Applications is the first publication in a series of TechWatch Alerts. Alerts are intended to provide a brief but concise overview (3-5 pages) of emerging technologies and trends in the field of ICTs.
(Siliconvalley.com) Apple's iPhone has already shaken up the mobile phone world. Next, it may shake up the video game industry. In less than a year, the device has become a significant game platform. But its bigger impact could be to help change the way the game industry does business. The iPhone is one of the first widely successful gaming platforms in which games are completely digitally distributed; the only way to get games on the device is to download them. That, along with some other important factors, has already created a new market. On the iPhone, consumers can find more games updated more regularly and at a cheaper cost per game than what they'd find on a typical dedicated game console.
(PC World) Asus and Disney have combined their expertise in computers and cartoons to produce a Disney-themed netbook called the Netpal. It has plenty of parental control options; parents can restrict their children's access to particular sites or programs, limit e-mail correspondence to certain addresses, set different permissions corresponding to different scheduled times and even provide statistics on what users are doing online. You can also figure out how much time the kids are spending playing Flash games when they're supposed to be studying.
(Economist) BIG record companies and music-retailer may be struggling, but sales of digital music are booming. Global revenues leaped by 28% last year, despite piracyup to 95% of digital music is obtained illegally, reckons the IFPI, a trade body. Though this figure is disputed, governments are enacting tougher legislation to catch illegal file-sharers and shut down the sites they use. Britain's government has proposed a £20 ($28.60) levy on every household using broadband to help offset the costs of piracy.
(BBC) Ninety-five per cent of music downloaded online is illegal, a report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has said. The global music trade body said this is its biggest challenge as artists and record companies miss out on payments. There has, however, been a 25% rise since last year with downloads now accounting for a fifth of all recorded music sales. The IFPI said worldwide music market revenues shrank by 7% last year. This was blamed on falling CD sales, while the increase in digital sales failed to make up for this.
(01net) Le gpovernement a demandé au Conseil de la concurrence de rendre un avis sur les activités de fournisseur d'accès à Internet et la distribution de contenus exclusifs. Orange a lancé l'année dernière une chaîne de foot, réservée exclusivement à ses abonnés moyennant 6 euros mensuels. Puis, sur le même mode de distribution, la chaîne Orange cinema séries a vu le jour. Ces cinq chaînes consacrées au 7e art et aux fictions télévisées sont disponibles pour 12 euros mensuels. Au grand dam des autres opérateurs et FAI qui ne peuvent pas distribuer leur contenu à leurs propres abonnés.
(CNET) Negotiations between Warner Music Group and YouTube over renewing the licensing agreement for the record label's music videos broke down and Warner, the third largest record label, removed videos from the Google-owned video site. The impasse comes at a time when all four major labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and EMI, are renegotiating their licensing deals with YouTube.
Microsoft has made some progress developing a set of documents required as part of its antitrust consent decree, but the work could be accomplished much more quickly if the company took on a less grudging attitude, state and federal antitrust regulators said during a status conference meeting held to asses Microsoft's compliance with the consent decree.
(Economist) And so Yahoo! survives. The internet company?which, at the age of 14, is one of the oldest?appears in the end to have rebuffed Microsoft, the software Goliath that wanted to buy it. It has done so, in part, by surrendering to Google, the younger internet company that is its main rival. In a vague deal apparently designed to confuse antitrust regulators, Yahoo! is letting Google, the biggest force in web-search advertising, place text ads next to some of Yahoo!'s own search results. Google thus controls some or all of the ads on all the big search engines except Microsoft's. Yahoo! lives, but on the web's equivalent of life support.
(Heise) The One Laptop per Child project (OLPC) and Microsoft have agreed to start testing XO laptops with an adapted version of Windows XP. According to a press release, the first computers will be delivered to students in developing countries from June. Windows XP will be part of a software package costing $3. The release says that as the task of increasing the level of education in poor countries is too big for any single organisation, Microsoft and OLPC are committed to working with governments and non-governmental organisations.
(Washington Post) Disney is launching a virtual play environment that kids can access through Nintendo DS devices and their computers. The software for the service, called DGamer, comes free on copies of a video game tied to the movie, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." Some industry watchers say DGamer is the latest entry in a category that is about to get crowded. As one venture capitalist put it, kid-oriented online worlds are "popping up like mushrooms everywhere."
(USA TODAY) Facebook, MySpace and other social-networking sites have been the rage of the tech industry for more than a year. Following investments by Microsoft and News Corp., the companies are valued in the billions of dollars and are considered blueprints for how to build a website. Yet a deeper question lingers: How are they going to consistently produce profits to match their soaring valuations?
(Economist) Rather as John McCain cannot be displeased to have seen Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fighting it out, Google has for the past three months enjoyed watching its only two serious rivals, Yahoo! and Microsoft, tear each other to pieces. But on May 3rd, after a frustrating marathon of meetings, Mr Ballmer walked away.
(BBC) Software giant Microsoft has dropped its three-month-old bid to buy internet firm Yahoo because the two sides cannot agree on an acceptable sale price. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer formally withdrew the offer in a letter to Yahoo chief executive Jerry Yang.
(BBC) The BBC's iPlayer video service will soon be available via the Nintendo Wii. The video download and streaming service that lets people catch up with BBC programmes will soon be a channel on the hugely popular game console. The BBC is still at loggerheads with internet service providers (ISPs) over who should pay for extra network costs. ISPs say the iPlayer is putting strain on their networks, which need to be upgraded to cope. Simon Gunter, from ISP Tiscali, is leading a call for the BBC to help pay for the rising costs.
(OUT-LAW News) AOL has bought social networking site Bebo for $850 million in cash. The Time Warner-owned web services company said that the Bebo network would be a valuable place for it to sell advertising.
(BBC) Warner Music has signed a deal with media site 7digital.com to offer its music without copy protection. Customers in the UK, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany will be able to download albums by artists such as Madonna and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
(CNET.com) by Charles Cooper Post. Earlier in the week, ComScore reported that Google's paid clicks dropped 7 percent between December and January. That was enough to panic already nervous shareholders who proceeded to dump Google's stock in one of Wall Street's (increasingly common) panics. But Friday morning the Internet ratings agency issued a brief statement meant to contradict the impression that it believes Google has sprung a leak.
(CNET News.com) Microsoft went public with a $44.6 billion cash-and-stock bid to acquire Yahoo. In its response, Yahoo called the Microsoft bid "unsolicited" but did not reject it. Microsoft's offer, which was contained in the letter to Yahoo's board, amounts to $31 a share and represents a 62 percent premium over Yahoo's closing price. Microsoft said it will offer shareholders the option of cash or stock. see also
Gates v Google: Microsoft's search for a future on the net (Observer) and How Microsoft-Yahoo could shape social networking (the social - blog on CNET by Caroline McCarthy).
(Economist) Nearly 35m portable navigation devices (PND) will be sold around the world this year, twice as many as in 2006, making personal navigation one of the fastest-growing areas in consumer electronics. The latest versions of these gadgets do more than simply show the stubborn or shy the way. The industry is beginning to focus on the services PNDs could provide, prompting a scramble for the ownership of the digital maps they use. Nokia, the world's largest mobile-phone maker, said that it would acquire Navteq, the world's biggest maker of digital maps, for 5.7 billion. In July, TomTom, a leading PND vendor from the Netherlands, announced plans to buy Tele Atlas, the next biggest mapmaker, for 1.8 billion.
(Guardian) The New York Times has just abandoned its two-year effort to charge for content online, taking down TimesSelect, the pay wall around its columnists and much of its archives. So content is now and forever free. That isn't because people won't pay for content - some did. It's because there is a new economy of content online that isn't built on scarcity and control but instead relies on the idea that content must be public and permanent to realise its value in the wider conversation.
(BBC) Auction website eBay has pulled its US advertising from search engine giant and adversary Google. The move comes after Google angered eBay with a provocative decision to hold an event on the same evening as eBay's annual merchants' conference. Google's party was aimed at attracting attention away from eBay's payment system PayPal to its own card processing service, analysts say.
(CNET News) Rupert Murdoch watched Google snatch YouTube, but he's not letting Photobucket get away. Social-networking site MySpace, owned by Murdoch's News Corp., has agreed to acquire Photobucket, the Web's No. 1 photo-sharing service.