Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

The world’s biggest messaging service WhatsApp, which Facebook has just bought for $19 billion, will add voice calls to its product in the second quarter of this year, its chief executive Jan Koum said on Monday.

With 450 million users worldwide, WhatsApp and its competitors South Korea’s KakaoTalk and China’s WeChat have punched a hole in telecom operators’ revenue in recent years by offering a free alternative to text messaging.

The news that the most powerful of them was adding voice calls to its service will likely be seen as worrying for telecom operators globally, which got about $120 billion from text messaging last year, according to market researcher Ovum.

“We are driven by the mission that people should be able to stay in touch anywhere and affordably. Our goal is to be on every mobile phone in the world,” Koum said on Monday, speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Koum said WhatsApp’s acquisition by Facebook would not alter his roadmap to develop the product to reach the next 1 billion users. No advertising will added to the service, he said.

Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was also slated to speak at 5pm GMT.

WhatsApp’s Koum also sought to cast himself as a partner to telecom operators and not simply a competitor. He announced a partnership with KPN’s E-Plus under which it will launch a WhatsApp branded mobile service in Germany.

“We are working with carriers in established markets to bring value to end users,” he said.

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China’s rulers will ultimately take it upon themselves to dismantle the “great firewall” that limits its people’s access to the Internet because doing so will boost China’s economy, the inventor of the World Wide Web said.

In an interview about his World Wide Web Foundation’s rankings of the way 81 countries manage the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, a London-born computer scientist who invented the Web in 1989, also scolded the United States for undermining the Internet’s foundations with its surveillance programmes.

Revelations about the scale of that surveillance and poor rural penetration rates pushed the United States from second place into fourth in the survey, which examined Internet access, freedom and content. Sweden came out on top for the second year.

But it was China, which the survey ranked at 57 out of 81, down from a ranking of 29 out of 61 last year, where Berners-Lee saw the greatest potential for improvement.

“The Berlin Wall tumbled down, the great firewall of China – I don’t think it will tumble down, I think it will be released,” he told Reuters by telephone.

“My hope is that bit-by-bit, quietly, website-by-website, it will start to be relaxed,” he said. “The agility of a country which allows full access to the web is just greater; it will be a stronger country economically as well.”

China’s state Web-censorship system blocks Facebook, Twitter and some foreign news sites as well as content that the Communist leadership considers damaging to stability and cohesion.

“The citizens are not really in a position to smash the great firewall because the government controls the Internet, the Internet companies,” said Berners-Lee, 58.

“All that can happen is that the government realises it is not in their interests, that it is holding up the economy, holding up the development of the country.”

Berners-Lee said he was encouraged that the increased use of social media had stoked political mobilisation across the planet, but cautioned that growing surveillance and censorship threatened the future of democracy.

SPYING VS FREEDOM

Berners-Lee took particular aim at eavesdropping conducted by the United States and Britain, saying the extent of the spying laid bare by US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden showed that rights had been set back.

“The rights of the individual have been severely eroded and eroded in secret,” he said of the US and British surveillance programmes. “It is a very serious threat to the Internet.”

While he admitted the state needed the power to tackle criminals using the Internet, he called for greater oversight over spy agencies such Britain’s GCHQ and the NSA, and over any organisations collecting information about private individuals.

“It is clear in the case of the US and the UK that there just has not been that oversight and accountability to the public,” he said.

“Whatever oversight you have has to be very strong, have the ability to find things out and strong rights to be told things … It has got to be very seriously independent and accountable directly to the public rather than accountable through some secret route to part of government.”

Britain’s spy chiefs have argued that media reports about Snowden’s revelations have weakened the ability of the security services to stop those plotting deadly attacks against the West.

Britain came third in the rankings, the same as in 2012 but below Norway in second place. Russia, the world’s biggest energy producer, was at 41 in the ranking.

A map of the world produced by Berners-Lee’s foundation showed Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as countries which extensively censored political content.

So was it really worth inventing the World Wide Web, and has it been a force for good or for evil?

“Overall, it has been a staggering force for good because it has been so empowering for humanity,” he said. “Humanity is basically good, creative and collaborative.”

myVegas Slots smartphone game

myVegas Slots smartphone game

PlayStudios on Tuesday blurred the line between online and real-world gambling with the release of myVegas Slots smartphone games that let players cash in on perks at Sin City casinos.

Free-to-play versions of myVegas Slots released for Apple or Android smartphones let people test their luck on virtual one-armed bandits such as those found in the Mirage, Luxor, New York New York or other MGM Resorts International properties and then use payouts to get VIP treatment in Las Vegas.

“In Las Vegas there are literally 50 tiers of service levels that few people know exist; that is the way Vegas works,” said PlayStudios founder and chief executive Andrew Pascal.

“We let people engage in content that is fun, and their level of loyalty can win them the kind of access that few people get.”

Troves of virtual chips can be cashed in for prizes ranging from buffet meals to show tickets, lodging, swimming with dolphins at the Mirage, or selecting music for the dancing fountain display outside the Bellagio.

PlayStudios has tested its social casino gaming model online and boasted that 1,00,000 players have cashed in on more than $10 million worth of real world rewards to date.

The game’s success has led to new partners including celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and Cirque du Soleil, which stages an array of elaborate and alluring performances in Las Vegas.

MGM has been so impressed by the ability of the game to bring back old players to casinos and attract new visitors that it has ramped up resources devoted to promoting its brands in myVegas, according to executive director of corporate marketing Chris Gumiela.

“It is a big driver for us; we absolutely see more people showing up at our properties,” Gumiela said. “It is not just the gambling that makes up the Las Vegas experience, it is really the other opportunities.”

The myVegas game sidesteps the heavily-regulated world of gambling in the United States by paying players off with being treated like high-rollers in Las Vegas, while leaving the cash-betting games of chance to the casinos.

“We are not in the real-money gambling space, and frankly it is not in our mandate,” Pascal said.

“If you want to gamble, go to Vegas. A lot of people might characterize online gaming as the Holy Grail; we don’t. We think it should be left to people who understand that industry.”

The online version of the game tested for less than a year already has hundreds of thousands of players at Facebook, according to PlayStudios.

California-based PlayStudios plans to make its money from players willing to pay for extra chips to level-up faster in the overarching “meta-game” that involves virtually progressing along the famed Las Vegas strip.

“Candy Crush doesn’t have real places that you work through; we have MGM,” Pascal said, referring to a sensationally popular colour-matching game played on smartphones or tablets. “The great thing about Las Vegas is that everybody has a romantic notion of what it stands for.”

US computer software company Microsoft Corp said on Monday it signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for wind energy in Texas.

The company said in a blog the agreement was part of its commitment last year to become carbon neutral.

Microsoft said it will buy all of the energy from RES Americas’ 110-megawatt Keechi wind project, which is under development near Jacksboro, about 70 miles (113 km) northwest of Fort Worth. RES Americas is a unit of privately held, UK-based renewable energy developer RES Ltd.

Microsoft said the wind farm is on the same electric grid that powers its San Antonio data center.

RES will begin construction of Keechi in early 2014 and will begin delivering power in 2015. The wind farm will include 55 wind turbines manufactured mostly in Colorado by a unit of Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems A/S .

Microsoft said in the blog, the US Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the company as the second largest purchaser of green power in the United States.

The company said the Keechi wind power purchase “will certainly not be our last.” Microsoft is not alone among technology companies buying renewable power. Google Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc, Rackspace Hosting Inc and Salesforce.com Inc have all committed to powering their data centers with more renewable power.

The Ubuntu community is developing a Facebook application for Ubuntu smartphones ready for launch later this year. It will be an Ubuntu Web App, which takes web based applications, such as Facebook, and enables them to act just like native applications. Web apps integrate with the Ubuntu phone’s interface for functions such as launch, notifications and controls. This means that you can launch Facebook directly from the homescreen and see new messages and notifications in the “messages” bar on the screen without ever having to launch the application.The Facebook web app will also integrate with Ubuntu online accounts, which lets users register their Facebook details so that Ubuntu can automatically authenticate the app while using Ubuntu. This gives a hassle-free way to manage applications, so you don’t have to enter details each time you log in and it keeps you in control.

For the third month in a row, more Americans visited Yahoo’s websites than Google’s, according to comScore Inc.’s Internet traffic data for September.

The research firm said Monday that Yahoo Inc.’s websites had 197.8 million unique US visitors last month, while Google’s had 191.4 million. Yahoo was ahead of Google in July and August, too. The last time that Yahoo was ahead of Google before that was in May 2011.

That said, Yahoo is still far behind Google in making moneythe people who visit its websites. Research firm eMarketer estimates that Google will generate $38.83 billion in worldwide digital ad revenue this year, more than any other company. Facebook Inc. is at No. 2 with an estimated $5.89 billion, while Yahoo is No. 3 with $3.63 billion expected.

The nostalgic review of my piece had me thinking about what factors we need to consider for successful SEO as online marketers in 2014.

Social, Local & Mobile

We’ve spent the last handful of years practicing and preaching the importance of being in social, mobile, and local. This mindset was proactive. It allowed us to not solely focus on keywords and search results, but how these elements were going to change the search results our users saw as well as our user’s experience.

While we walked down this road, at first it felt as if we were making strides to build silos of these efforts. Soon we saw the convergence of local and social sites molding into Google local results (e.g., Yelp reviews in Google local listings). We’ve also seen the fast paced growth of mobile and how localization of results has brought a more relevant delivery of results in this arena.

Search in 2013

This year has brought upon a lot for us to understand as marketers. As we close out 2013 algorithmic intelligence is changing faster than ever, at least in my opinion.

The buzz of 2013 and even more so the last few months has been upon the advancements of the Knowledge Graph, Local Carousel, Google Now, Hummingbird, and the great secure search/”(not provided)” change.

That’s not even to mention Penguin and Panda, but those changes are more about what you may have done wrong in the past. We’re here to talk about the future.

The Future of SEO

While the “(not provided)” announcement was a smack in the face to SEO professionals, hopefully it has helped you to realize that our intentions shouldn’t be so focused so solely or intently on ranking a keyword in search results.

After watching what Google has been doing over the last year or so, where do keywords tie into the above-mentioned rollout features? They each in some way or another tie into local, mobile, or social.

  • Will keywords help you with the Local Carousel? No, proximity and review generation will.
  • How will Google Now propel your keyword strategy? It won’t, but social efforts will.
  • Do you think that Google will give you a Knowledge Graph box for a keyword and link to your site? If so, you’re dreaming.

Add in the Hummingbird update, and all of these changes tell us that Google is moving closer to bringing everything together through the tie-ins of localization and semantic improvements for conversational search, which is popular on mobile.

SEO Isn’t Dead, It’s Converging

SEO at its core will never be dead. All of the on-site needs of yesteryear will remain important in 2014. All of the newer processes of creating informational, enticing, and insightful content for link building and social digestion are still the hot topic now and will be heading into the future.

My point is that we need to watch the converging of our old silos into the new SERP display. SEO has taken on a converging role with other mediums which impact SERP display.

source: searchenginewatch.com

2014 Will Still be Big for SEO

Sites must be crawled efficiently, content must be targeted, and yes we still want to rank where desired. The focus as we move down the road is more so on what vehicles we use off-site to help drive traffic to our sites.

How we use the previous discussed pillars alongside their continual convergence by Google will determine how successful your online marketing strategy will become.

Quick takeaways:

  • Don’t build a local listing. Allow your audience to help you build a local presence.
  • Don’t build a brand. Build a community, a socialized brand, one that can keep your audience in tune with you in real-time.
  • Don’t just optimize a site. Optimize an experience for those that are mobile and content hungry.

Move aside Facebook and Skype. Asian social networks, already hugely popular on their continent, have set their sights on Europe where they could prove stiff competition for their US rivals.

China’s WeChat and Japan’s Line, which let users make free calls, send instant messages and post funny short videos and photos, take attributes from Facebook, Skype and messenging application WhatsApp and roll them all together.

This week, Line executives travelled to France and Italy for a public relations offensive aimed at raising awareness of the mobile app, which already counts some 230 million users around the world including 47 million in Japan alone.

The social network has already taken root in other parts of Europe. In Spain, for instance, Line has forged heavyweight partnerships with football clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, brands such as Coca-Cola or tennis star Rafael Nadal.

FC Barcelona, for instance, has a home page on the app where it posts photos that has already drawn more than 8.2 million friends.

Line even has a permanent office in Spain, where it counts some 15 million users already.

A French version of the mobile app, meanwhile, is to be launched before the end of the year.

One of the main selling points for Line, which was launched at the beginning of 2011, is its “stickers” — funny, cartoon-like figures that express emotions in a way deemed far more original and fun than traditional emoticons.

On WeChat, users can post figures that move about dancing, blowing kisses or punching the air. Both social networks also supply a selection of “stickers” that users have to pay for.

“We’re betting a lot on this new form of communication with stickers,” Sunny Kim, assistant director general of Line Europe and America, told AFP on a trip to Paris.

This part of the business represents 30 percent of Line’s overall turnover and in July alone, users bought eight million euros ($10.8 million) worth of stickers.

The company makes the rest of its money on the sale of games integrated in the mobile app (50 percent) and from partnerships and products on the side.

Line’s logo is green with a conversation bubble inside, and looks remarkably similar to the icon of WeChat, which began in January 2011.

Already translated into 19 languages, the social network has 500 million users, including 100 million outside of China, and plans to launch in France towards the end of the year.

While Line has Real Madrid, WeChat has enrolled the help of Argentinian football star Lionel Messi, who has become ambassador of the brand and has filmed a commercial for the social network.

But WeChat — which belongs to China’s web giant Tencent — is also banking on the huge Chinese diaspora to expand.

“The French of Chinese origin or the Canadians of Chinese origin, for instance, are the bridge between China and the rest of the world,” said Renaud Edouard-Baraud, who heads up an Asia consulting branch of the BNP-Paribas bank and advises WeChat.

Many brands keen to tap into the giant China market also have a presence on WeChat.Companies can for instance use geolocalisation to pinpoint the exact location of Chinese users when they are visiting Europe, and send them promotional offers to lure them into their shops.

The Texas teen facing a felony terrorism charge over an alleged threat on Facebook has been released on bail after an anonymous donor posted a $500,000 bond.

Justin Carter, 19, had spent five months in prison for posting, during an argument about a video game, what he said was a sarcastic comment about how he was going to “shoot up a kindergarten.”

“I just think it got taken out of context, and it’s been blown out of proportion,” Carter told Kate Bolduan on “New Day,” CNN’s morning show. The brief interview marked Carter’s first public comments since he was jailed in February.

Carter’s case has received widespread media attention and alarmed free-speech activists. His arrest came amid heightened concerns over school violence since December’s mass shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

In February, Carter and a friend were arguing on Facebook with someone else over the online video game “League of Legends.” His father told CNN that other gamer called Justin crazy and his son responded with sarcasm.

According to court documents, Justin wrote, “I’m f***ed in the head alright. I think I’ma (sic) shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them.”

Jack Carter said his son followed the claim with “LOL” and “J/K” — indicating that the comment wasn’t serious.

“Any clear reading and full reading of the context of that statement would make it obvious that this was just a sarcastic joke,” Chad Van Brunt, one of Carter’s attorneys, told CNN on Friday. “If we get to trial … it’s just going to be abundantly clear, if it’s not already.”

Authorities said someone reported the comment — which came about two months after the mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School — leading to Carter’s arrest February 21 on a felony charge of making terroristic threats. In Texas, that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The teen had remained in jail because Jack Carter and his wife, Jennifer, said they couldn’t afford to post the bond required to free their son. The family’s attorney, Don Flanary, told CNN that Justin Carter had suffered abuse while behind bars, and his parents had expressed concerns about his safety.

Carter was released Thursday to his home near New Braunfels, Texas, after an unnamed donor came forward and posted the bond, Flanary said. He said the donor wishes to remain anonymous.

“For now I’m over-the-moon happy. I just want to spend all my time talking to him and looking at him,” mother Jennifer Carter told CNN on Friday. “There’s been a lot of hugs going around and crying. We don’t have to worry anymore about him being hurt (in jail) … and for any parent that’s just such a relief.”

An online petition seeking Justin Carter’s release from jail had received more than 126,000 signatures.

A pretrial hearing for Carter is scheduled August 12. Flanary told CNN he will be filing a motion to dismiss the charges because they violate Carter’s First Amendment rights.

The Comal County district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.

The case is viewed by some as a cautionary tale about the repercussions of controversial statements posted online.

Asked by CNN’s Bolduan what he might have done differently, Carter said, “I certainly would have thought a lot more about what I said and how permanent my writing — and everyone’s writing — is (on the Internet). People should be very, very careful of what they say. It’s being recorded all the time, if you say it on any website, anywhere.

“And you can get in trouble for something that’s not something you should get in trouble for. I just want people to be warned.”