Tech wrap: Now in your Twitter stream – ads

July 28, 2011

Your Twitter stream could be about to get even more cluttered. Twitter announced in a blog post on Thursday that it will now be placing ads from certain brands and companies directly into the message timelines of users who follow those organizations on the microblogging service. The company said it is testing out the new program with a select group of partners – including Dell, Starbucks and HBO among others – for a few weeks before rolling it out to a wider stable of clients. The new initiative is an expansion of the company’s so-called “Promoted Tweets” program, in which ads show up in search results on the Twitter.com website.

What does the new program mean for users? AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka has this take: “”Depends. Marketers will only be able to deliver the ads — which will use the “Promoted Tweet” format the company rolled out more than a year ago — to users who already follow them on the service. And they’ll only appear on Twitter’s main Twitter.com site. So, if you don’t follow any brands/marketers/companies on Twitter, you won’t see the ads. And if you’re checking Twitter on your iPhone, or via clients like TweetDeck, you won’t see them there, either.”

EA received a thumbs up from antitrust regulators for its deal to buy social gaming startup PopCap Games. EA struck the deal, which is estimated to be worth up to $1.3 billion, to step up its competition with Zynga, the social gaming company behind Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

What company is top dog in the U.S. consumer smartphone market? Well, that really depends on what you’re basing the comparison on. Look at mobile operating systems and you’ll see that Google’s Android operating system (OS) claims the biggest share of the market with 39 percent, according to June data from Nielsen. Apple’s iOS ranks second with 28 percent and RIM’s BlackBerry comes in third with 20 percent. When it comes to manufacturing smartphones, though, Apple comes out the clear frontrunner because the company is the sole manufacturer of devices that run its iOS. HTC is another leading manufacturer. Its Android phones account for 14 percent of the market and its Windows Mobile/WP7 make up 6 percent of the market.

Still annoyed that you can’t watch Flash-based videos on your Apple iPhone? Well, complain no more. Skyfire, a private-equity backed video tech firm, has unveiled an app that lets iPhone users do just that. The application, VideoQ, lets users send links to videos from their browser and watch them in the app. The startup is also hoping to expand the app into a full-fledged video entertainment portal.

More hints that Amazon’s forthcoming tablet computer could be a heavy hitter when it comes to digital content – the company just announced yet another video streaming deal. Under the new agreement, Amazon will license about 1,000 Universal Pictures movies from NBCUniversal. Amazon signed a similar deal with CBS Corp last week that added about 2,000 videos to its TV and movie streaming offering. The new agreement lifts the total to more than 9,000 this summer, the Internet retailer said.

Reuters correspondent Lynnley Browning dug a little deeper into Microsoft’s recent quarterly results to find out how the company managed to get its tax bill so low. The answer: partly, it was due to a one-time refund to the IRS for a previous overpayment. But, after a little number crunching, the core reason became clear to Browning:  the company has been increasingly channeling its earnings from sales to customers across the world through low-tax havens such as Ireland, Puerto Rico and Singapore.

Motorola Mobility reported higher-than-expected second-quarter revenue, but its outlook was lower than expected, sending its shares down more than 6 percent after hours.

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