Reuters blog archive
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook is considering lowering the minimum membership age to include tweens. It raised eyebrows and kindled a new discussion about privacy and the propriety of inviting youngsters into what the company aspires to make the world's biggest salesroom.
But I have a different concern: Soliciting children would be pretty strong evidence that Facebook needs a big boost to its already staggering 900 million membership to justify its valuation and business model. Having courted every early, middle and late adopter possible, there isn't much low-hanging fruit for Facebook anymore. But courting tweens would inevitably invite scrutiny and regulation, since the prospect of cyberstalking is even more toxic that cyberbullying.
In other words, the potential rule change looks like an act of desperation. Coming off a miserable stock market debut, both the merits and atmospherics of this notion are decidedly bad.
It's easy to see why this would be on the table. Facebook has to prove that it can sell things on a massive scale, that it is the 21st century's answer to television. All of that seemed possible before it went public on May 18, as the company's valuation was pushed up steadily for months in thin trade on private exchanges among well-heeled insiders. But the question of just how good an advertising medium Facebook can be has been pressed by a steady decline in its share price during 12 days of trading – to about 60 percent of its historical high. Until Facebook can prove its business model, it's a good idea to keep bulking up so that a leveling off of membership, or even a decline, doesn't turn the story really ugly.
RootMusic is not one of the better known names in the digital music business, but in just 18 months it has built the most popular music app on the world's largest social networking platform, Facebook.
That service is called BandPage and allows artists' to post their video, sell songs and promote their tours on Facebook.
Apple has kicked its intellectual property dispute with Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC up a notch. The company filed a new complaint against HTC with a U.S. trade panel over some of its portable electronic devices and software, according to the panel’s website. Apple filed a similar action against the company last year and could be trying to strengthen the case against its rival by adding new patents to its claim this time around, notes AllThingD’s John Paczkowski. “It’s another broad warning to the industry,” he writes.“If you’re bringing a new smartphone to market, you had better make damn sure it doesn’t infringe on Apple’s IP.”
The first e-reader to fully integrate Google’s eBooks platform into its design goes on sale exclusively at Target stores across the U.S. next weekend, Google said in a blog post. The iRiver Story HD lets users buy and read e-books from the service over Wi-Fi and store their personal collections in the cloud. Google offers more than 3 million free titles for download through its eBooks service, with hundreds of thousands more for sale.
Verizon Wireless customers, say goodbye to the days of unlimited Web surfing for a set fee on your smartphone. The biggest U.S. mobile provider will stop offering its $30 all-you-can-surf deal later this week, replacing it with a new tiered approach to data pricing. Customers who keep their smartphone use to 2 gigbytes (GB) of data per month or under won't see a change to their bill, but those who go over that limit will be slapped with an extra $10 charge per GB. Heavy mobile users will have the option of signing up for a 5 GB or 10 GB plan for $50 or $80 respectively. AT&T made a similar move last year, meaning Sprint is now the last major wireless carrier offering unlimited data use. CNET reports that Verizon will also start charging for access to its mobile hot-spot service, which up until this week has been free and without bandwidth restrictions.
Aspiring cord cutters across Latin America and the Caribbean, rejoice. Netflix is on its way. The company, which offers TV shows and movies over the Internet and DVD rentals through the mail, will be expanding its online video streaming service to 43 countries in the regions later this year. Shows and movies will be available to subscribers in Spanish, Portuguese or English on PCs, Macs and other mobile devices that are able to stream from Netflix, the company said in a blog post. The overseas expansion marks the company's second foray outside the United States. It began offering its services in Canada last year.
News Corp’s hunt to find a buyer for once-mighty social networking website Myspace has finally ended. Specific Media, an online advertising firm, has agreed to buy the site for about $35 million, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters. News Corp will retain a minority 5 percent stake in the website it purchased six years ago for $580 million. More than half of the site’s 500 employees are expected to be laid off as part of the deal.
Tech watchers will have to wait at least another sleep to find out more about Zynga’s plans for an initial public offering. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the online social gaming firm behind popular Facebook game FarmVille is expected to file for an initial public offering with U.S. regulators on Thursday morning. Earlier reports suggested the company could raise up to $2 billion in the offering and value the firm as high as $20 billion. AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher sizes up how Zynga’s expected IPO fits in with other recent filings from similar companies such as Groupon.
Entrepreneur Peter Yared doesn’t mince words. In April, after TechCrunch misreported some of the circumstances around a Facebook employee’s termination, Yared wrote a widely read post titled “Why TechCrunch is Over” in which he called its founder, Michael Arrington, “insane,” adding that it “must be hard to live amidst a rapidly declining site.”
Johnson & Johnson is to buy Swiss medical devices maker Synthes for $21.6 billion in its largest ever buy, giving J&J a leading position in equipment to treat trauma. Synthes, which posted sales of $3.7 billion in 2010, makes nails, screws and plates to fix broken bones, as well as artificial spine discs. "It is surprising the deal has been struck between cash and shares. The market consensus, and our view, was it would be all cash, so the quality of the take-out is slightly lower than we anticipated," said Morgan Stanley analyst Michael Jungling.
Chinese Internet holding company Tencent, Myspace founder Chris De Wolfe and Myspace's current management team are among the 20 odd names kicking the tires at the once might social network to see whether it's worth buying outright or partnering in some sort of spin-out with current owner News Corp.
Tencent has previously said it is interested in possible US acquisitions.
The names come up in Reuters' Special Report on 'How News Corp got lost in Myspace', a behind the scenes tale on how the focused Facebook beat the partying Myspace. (We have the story in a handy PDF format here)
from Reuters Investigates:
Yinka Adegoke delves into what happened at Myspace in his special report today: "How News Corp got lost in Myspace."
Weak technology, management in-fighting and a rival called Facebook led to the rapid decline of the once dominant social network.
Amazon.com faced a backlash from the music industry after it introduced Cloud Drive, an online "music locker" that lets customers store music files on the company's Web servers instead of their own hard drives and play them over an Internet connection directly from browsers and on phones running Google’s Android OS. Sony Music was upset by Amazon's decision to launch the service without new licenses for music streaming.
Amazon's Cloud Drive "is an amazing value and pretty easy to use", but won’t kill rival Dropbox just yet, Business Insider’s Steve Kooch wrote. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Kafka thinks Amazon’s cloud move isn’t earth shattering and "if you’re a music lover looking for a paradigm shift in the way you consume tunes, this won’t be it".