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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Facebook's goes hyper-viral with 'People You May Know'

People You May Know finds people within six degrees or so of separation and suggests them as potential friends. It appears that the threshold is set at four, meaning you are connected to four of the same people as the suggested "friend." FriendFeed has taken a somewhat similar approach for recommending new people to "follow."

This type of recommendation engine, which taps into the social graph, is like a Las Vegas slot machine that keeps on giving. Every time you pull the lever you get a bunch of new friend connections, which makes you want to keep pulling the lever until it runs out of recommendations.

The end result is that Facebook generates some exponential growth, creating more density in its web of people connections. And, Facebook members now have an easy way to find new connections based on relationship proximity, as well as a potential source of irritation as they get inundated with friends of friends requesting connections.

Along with the new privacy options, the forthcoming chat service, and People You May Know, Facebook is making some smart moves to stay ahead in the social-networking game.

(Dan Farber Cnet)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Motorola to split in two

In a clear
move to keep Motorola’s flagging mobile phone sales from pulling down its lucrative broadband and switching enterprise services the company is splitting into two publicly-traded organizations. The Mobile Devices company will focus on mobile handsets while the Broadband and Mobility solutions sector will work on secure voice and data communication along with broadband for enterprises and government.

Motorola shareholders will receive shares in each of the companies once the process is completed.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Inspectd: Test your stock trading skills

Hello folks,

Think you are good at trading stocks? Here’s a good Friday afternoon time waster for those of you who prefer more grown-up games than you can find on Mytopia.

Test your trading skills at Inspectd. The site, which has been around for a while, shows you a historical stock chart with nothing more than the price and the moving average. You are given $100,000 in fake money and you have to decide whether to buy, skip, or sell based on nothing other than the price. Once you decide, it tells you the name of the stock, what it actually did over the next 20 days, and adjusts your account accordingly.

It is pretty addictive, and cheaper than day trading with real money.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Facebook to launch IM

Facebook has been testing a new instant messaging service and will be launching it to the public soon, perhaps in the next week.

Our understanding is that the service will be built into user’s Facebook pages and allow them to web chat with their Facebook friends. We’ve also heard that, like Gtalk, it will be built on the Jabber open source platform, allowing users to add the service to many popular Instant messaging clients like Trillian (Windows) and Adium (Mac). I’d also expect web chat services like Meebo and eBuddy to add support for the service.

This spells trouble for a slew of instant messaging services that third parties have built on Facebook. Social.IM, for example, is one (funded) startup we’ve written about a couple of times. Those applications are now basically dead.

The timing on this certainly is interesting. Yesterday AOL talked extensively about marrying their AIM platform with their newly acquired Bebo social network.

There’s a screen shot of this floating around out there somewhere. We’re trying to get our hands on it now.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

AOL buys social network Bebo for $850 million

AOL has acquired social-networking site Bebo. The price tag: $850 million in cash. (Techcrunch called it last month)

Rumors had floated over the past few months that Bebo, which has over 40 million members, was up for sale. Reports suggested a $1 billion price tag, but there were few hints as to potential buyers. Though Bebo had already partnered with AOL's AIM messaging client to facilitate friend-invite interoperability between the two services, even the most creative blogger speculation didn't seem to point to AOL eventually buying the social network.

Ironically, AOL itself has been talked about as an acquisition target. Jeffrey Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, which operates AOL, has spoken recently about plans to spin off or sell divisions of the company.

AOL has made it clear that buying Bebo is a move geared toward international growth, as the youth-oriented social network is wildly popular in the U.K., Ireland, and New Zealand. AOL reported that it has launched "17 international web sites over the last year and has plans to expand to 30 countries outside the U.S. by the end of 2008," as well as international versions of its home page and some services. Bebo, meanwhile, plans to launch five localized versions of its service this year (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands), and AOL will make it a major part of the company's international expansion strategy.

"Bebo is the perfect complement to AOL's personal communications network and puts us in a leading position in social media," said AOL chairman and CEO Randy Falco in a statement. "What drew us to Bebo was its substantial and fast-growing worldwide user-base, its vision of a truly social web, and the monetization opportunities...This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers."

Additionally, despite the fact that performance monitoring firms have pegged it as sluggish, Bebo's technology was likely appealing to AOL. The social network's developer platform supports both OpenSocial and Facebook applications; it also has an "Open Media" platform for audio and video content from big-media names like CBS and MTV as well as online production outlets like Next New Networks and Ustream. AOL, meanwhile, has opened up AIM to developers.

Read on (Cnet.com)

Friday, March 7, 2008

iPhone: what's next?

Hello folks, Apple on Thursday finally unveiled the much awaited iPhone SDK, as well as some other very interesting solutions for the enterprise.

Apple held a media event at its Cupertino headquarters where it previewed its iPhone 2.0 software, scheduled for release this June, and announced the immediate availability of a beta release of the software to selected developers and enterprise customers.

The iPhone 2.0 beta release includes both the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) as well as new enterprise features such as support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync to provide secure, over-the-air push email, contacts and calendars as well as remote wipe, and the addition of Cisco IPsec VPN for encrypted access to private corporate networks.
"We’re excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community with potentially thousands of native applications for iPhone and iPod touch,” said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. "iPhone’s enterprise features combined with its revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface and advanced software architecture provide the best user experience and the most advanced software platform ever for a mobile device."

The iPhone SDK will provide developers with a rich set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and tools to create applications for both the iPhone and iPod touch. Starting today, anyone can download the beta iPhone SDK for free and run the iPhone Simulator on their Mac. Apple also introduced its new iPhone Developer Program, giving developers everything they need to create native applications, and the new App Store, which will allow those developers to wirelessly deliver their applications to iPhone and iPod touch users.

Apple also announced that it has licensed Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft and is building it right into the iPhone, so that the handset will connect out-of-the-box to Microsoft Exchange Servers 2003 and 2007 for secure over-the-air push email, contacts, calendars and global address lists.

iPhone goes to the enterprise

Apple isn't just plotting out a way to enter big organizations. The iPhone is already there, having grabbed 28% market share in just eight months on the market. In addition, the phone has also become the most popular way to access the mobile web, swallowing up 71% of the US mobile browser market.

Apple introduced representatives from a series of major companies and institutions, including Todd Pierce, a VP of Genentech, who stated that “the iPhone is a watershed event in mobile computing for corporations” and has deployed thousands of iPhones within the company. The CIO of Nike called the iPhone a “plug-and-play enterprise solution.”

The senior VP of IT at Disney also endorsed Apple's enterprise strategy on the iPhone, stating "Apple has really done their homework, addressing issues of security, manageability, and integration. We currently have hundreds of iPhone users and expect the demand to grow significantly with this release."

Stanford University also reported having deployed hundreds of iPhones on its campus. Bill Clebsch, Stanford's CIO, reported, "The iPhone has worked effortlessly at Stanford and the user acceptance has just astounded us. We have been inundated with orders."

With all of the millions of iPhones already out there and in use by highly satisfied users -- including many corporate executives -- Apple has been pushed to add features to the iPhone to make it easier for IT staff to manage and integrate into the existing systems.

"We’ve been hard at work trying to understand what it takes to bring the iPhone out across enterprise," noted Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of Marketing. One key feature relates to support for Microsoft Exchange 2003 and 2007.

Exchange is Microsoft's proprietary email server, which talks to standard Internet mail servers over SMTP and can deliver email to standard clients like the iPhone over IMAP, but which prefers to use its own MAPI system for talking to email clients and devices. Exchange competes against IBM's Lotus Notes, which has also announced support for the iPhone, and Novell Groupware, as described in Apple's Open Calendar Server vs Microsoft Exchange.

Apple is also presenting its own email, directory, and calendaring services in Leopard Server, including its new open source, CalDAV-based Calendar Server, described in Using iPhone: iCal, CalDAV Calendar Servers, and Mac OS X Leopard.

In order to accommodate Enterprise users tied to Exchange, Apple has also licensed Microsoft's proprietary ActiveSync protocol and will be delivering built-in support for talking to Exchange using its native language. This will enable iPhone users to gain access to server updates pushed from Exchange as they are updated on the server, rather than requested by the client at regular intervals like a typical email program.

Push Email - delivers messages as they arrive
Push contacts - updates information as it is changed
Push calendar - delivers meeting requests and changes in real time
Global Address List - provides access to the company directory of employees.

Additionally, Apple is adding broader support for using the iPhone with secured networks. The iPhone 2.0 update, expected in late June, will add support for additional VPN protocol types, including the popular Cisco IPsec VPN. Virtual Private Networks allow remote users to authenticate with a company server and gain access to local resources, including email and private corporate Intranets, from anywhere on the open Internet.

Read on (Appleinsider)

Also Cnet has an extensive coverage on the iPhone SDK, check it out.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Apple Time Capsule unboxing and preview

Hello folks, Appleinsider has posted a well detailed first take review of Apple latest gadget: Time Capsule, which is basically an Airport Extreme Base Station (a router in Apple's language) with an integrated hard drive and power adapter, or as Steve Jobs rerferd to it: A backup appliance.

It looks really good, the only question how well does it work for windows users and linux?

Obvieusly it originally made to cope with Time machine, Apple's Leopard biggest feature. But according to Apple it woks on Windows machines too.

I really want to get Time Capsule, I guess I would wait for an official full review.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Google investing in DNA sequencing project

Google has financially backed a project from a Harvard University scientist to unlock the secrets of common diseases by decoding the DNA of 100,000 people.

The project will be the largest human genome sequencing project in the world, and may lead to new cures for disease.

According to Bloomberg, the project will begin in the U.S., U.K., China and Sweden this year, initially deciphering the genetic makeup of 1,000 people at a cost of $50 million.

The new investment takes Google further towards its quest to index any and everything on the planet, having invested in genetics testing company 23andme last year, and more recently preparing Google Health for launch.

23andMe, the startup widely known as the company whose founder is the wife of Sergey Brin, has plans to make the human genome searchable.
Brin, along with Google, gave 23andMe $3.9 million as part of a series A in May of 2007.

The company, cleverly named after the number of paired chromosomes in humans, wants to help you understand what your genes mean by indexing them and highlighting significant findings. 23andMe will allow its clients/users to better understand their ancestry, genealogy, and inherited traits. For researchers and scientist, the company could provide invaluable amounts of neatly categorized and easily searchable data.