Social Media and Mobile News Round-up 1/6/09

January 6, 2009 by Lisa Oshima | Mobile, Social Media

For those of you that disconnected during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year, etc…  Welcome back. Here’s a summary of the most interesting social media and mobile news I read in the last few weeks:


  • 1/6/09: At Macworld….
    • Apple announced tiered pricing for songs on iTunes that allows record labels to charge higher amounts for more popular songs… Their new pricing scheme, which will launch in April will offer songs at 69 cents, 99 cents, or $1.29.  When I heard this, I couldn’t help but think of the old Taco Bell commercials of the early 1990s… “.59, .79, .99”  I know record labels need to make a buck, but I’m more inclined to pay $1.29 for a taco than I am for a new song on iTunes.
    • On a happier note, songs will finally be DRM free and 256 Kbps AAC by the end of Q1. Today, iTunes store has 8 million DRM-free songs. By the end of March, they’ll have 10 million.
    • And, if you’ve got an iPhone 3G, you’ll be able to download songs directly to your iPhone over the 3G network, and the songs will sync between your computer and your phone….Ahhh… Finally!
    • In FY 2008, Apple sold 9.7 million Macs, and Mac sales increased at two times the rate of the overall PC market.
    • The new version of iPhoto within iLife will have facial recognition software, which allows you to pick photos of a specific friend from your album without a text tag.  And, iPhoto will be Facebook and Flickr compatible!
  • 1/5/09: Steve Jobs told the world that his recent rapid weight loss is due to a hormone imbalance and not a return of pancreatic cancer.


  • 1/2/09: Facebook sued Brazilian start-up for trademark and copyright infringement, violation of the computer fraud and abuse act, and unlawful competition.  Facebook’s complain states that “is offering a product that solicits, stores and uses Facebook login information to access information stored on Facebook computers without authorization and to display Facebook copyrighted material without permission.” You can read the NY Times article that describes the suit here.


  • 12/31/08: Proving that the “blue screen of death” is alive and well, Microsoft’s 2006 30GB model Zune experienced a massive failure on the last day of 2008, and users were not amused. The bug appears to have been fixed, though users are still unhappy about it.


  • 1/5/09: Twitter was hacked over the weekend, and 33 high profile accounts were hijacked. There was also a separate phishing scam through the direct message capability.  You can learn more about it on Twitter’s blog.



  • 1/5/09: BusinessWeek reports that “The $5.9 billion acquisition of cellular carrier Alltel Corp. by Verizon Wireless will close on Jan. 9”.  This will mean that Verizon trumps AT&T as the largest US mobile operator with ~ 78 million subscribers.

1/5/09: Xobni (inbox spelled backwards), the company behind a very cool outlook plug-in that turns your email inbox into a social network, announced

1/6/09: Clearspring, which plays in the widget distribution space laid off 20% of its workforce in early December, and their President/COO, Jay Rappaport is leaving.

Misc. Social Media & Mobile News:
$7M in Series B funding from new investor Cisco Systems and Xobni’s existing investors.

  • I just learned about Twtpoll, which lets you poll your Twitter followers.  Looks like a great idea if you’re a brand that wants feedback from its community of users.
  • 1/1/09: California passed a no-text messaging while driving rule, which became legal on Jan 1. I can’t help but wonder how it can be illegal to text while driving, and yet, it’s perfectly okay to fiddle with your radio, AC, or GPS.  Not that I’m advocating texting while driving. It just seems like an inane law, given the many distracting things you could be doing while driving.
  • 1/3/09 The 1.0 version of a Firefox add-on called Power Twitter launched, allowing “search, search scoped to a specific user, status history peeking on mouseover, Facebook status updates, inline YouTube, Flickr, and TwitPic, url expansion, url translation to page titles, and open web update (news feed) mapping.”  It sounds interesting to me and gets good reviews, but I’ve heard a few complaints from people I follow on Twitter, so I’m waiting until the next release.
  • 12/31: TechCrunch did a great piece on the Top Social Media Sites of 2008, which summarizes data from comScore.  Top Social Media Sites (ranked by unique worldwide visitors November, 2008; comScore):
  1. Blogger (222 million)
  2. Facebook (200 million)
  3. MySpace (126 million)
  4. WordPress (114 million)
  5. Windows Live Spaces (87 million)
  6. Yahoo Geocities (69 million)
  7. Flickr (64 million)
  8. hi5 (58 million)
  9. Orkut (46 million)
  10. Six Apart (46 million)
  11. Baidu Space (40 million)
  12. Friendster (31 million)
  13. (29 million)
  14. (24 million)
  15. Bebo (24 million)
  16. Scribd (23 million)
  17. Lycos Tripod (23 million)
  18. Tagged (22 million)
  19. imeem (22 million)
  20. Netlog (21 million)
  • 12/31/08: TechCrunch has an interesting article on the rise of Y-Combinator, start-up Scribd.  Scribd allows users to post and share documents online.  TechCrunch reports: “According to the comScore numbers, it has more unique visitors worldwide than imeem and almost as many as Bebo, with 23.5 million visitors in November, 2008. (In the U.S., it had about 4 million visitors).” And, Scribd grew “218 percent from November, 2007.   Pretty incredible stats for a company that initially only raised $300,000! “
  • 12/31/08 The UK loves watching the TV show “Big Brother,” and rumor has it, they may be forced to live a frightening real-life version of it in the future.  The Guardian reports,

“The private sector will be asked to manage and run a communications database that will keep track of everyone’s calls, emails, texts and internet use under a key option contained in a consultation paper to be published next month by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary.

A cabinet decision to put the management of the multibillion pound database of all UK communications traffic into private hands would be accompanied by tougher legal safeguards to guarantee against leaks and accidental data losses.”

Even though the report hasn’t yet been published, critics of its rumored contents are speaking out against it including Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions.

  • 12/31/08: Obama’s site is getting great use.  According to TechCrunch, “more than 74,031 people have submitted more than 53,369 questions (and counting) for his administration and voted 3,122,015 times to prioritize the questions in a Digg-like fashion.”  You can see the top list of questions here.
  • 12/30/08: Hitwise reported 3 interesting holiday social media trends in the UK:
  1. “Facebook accounts for 1 in 22 UK Internet visits on Christmas Day”
  2. “Video site YouTube received more UK Internet traffic than Microsoft Windows Live Mail (Hotmail) for the first time during Christmas week 2008.”
  3. “social networks accounted for 1 in every 10 UK Internet visits during Christmas week.”
  • 12/26/08: announced it’s best Christmas season ever with “6.3 million items ordered worldwide on the peak day, Dec. 15, which is a record-breaking 72.9 items per second.”
  • 12/15/08: BusinessWeek reports that Palm will launch its new Nova OS at CES.  After several layoffs, many ups and downs over the years, I find it amusing that they decided to name it Nova (“no va” means “no go” in Spanish.)  Chevrolet learned how disastrous that name could be when it launched the Chevy Nova years ago.  I’m not sure if this was lost on Palm’s marketing team, if it was an inside joke, or if they knew about it and decided to buck tradition and go with the name anyway. I love Palm, and I’m keeping fingers crossed they find a way to make this work. I think it’ll be tough in to re-gain developers’ trust after several false starts in recent years.
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  • I'm a heavy Orkut/Myspace user and have been watching from the sidelines. They're site is well designed, clean and has a simple, basic idea… join your social networking profiles. I wouldn't be suprised if they take off in a yr or two.



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