MediaFile

Tech wrap: Google +1 = happier advertisers

An image detailing Google's new "+1" feature as screen grabbed from www.google.com/experimental.  REUTERS/Google/HandoutGoogle launched “+1″, its version of Facebook’s “like” button, enabling you to publicly share search results that you fancy with friends, the Web and advertisers. Google found that including +1 recommendations on ads boosted the rates at which people click on them. Eventually, Google plans to let third-party websites feature +1 buttons directly on their own pages, the company said. The ability to +1 ads and for that endorsment to appear on ads on websites other than Google’s is key, writes TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, and another volley fired in the war between Google and Facebook.

Google agreed to have independent privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years as part of a settlement with FTC officials investigating privacy problems that cropped up in its botched roll-out of social network Buzz. Buzz initially used its Gmail customers’ email contact lists to create social networks of Buzz contacts that the rest of the world could see, which led to an uproar.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson disputed the commonly held belief that consumer bills would rise if there were fewer competitors in the U.S. wireless market, referring to a government report that showed prices on average fell 50 percent over the last decade despite five wireless mergers over the period.

Electric carmaker Tesla Motors said it is suing the BBC’s hit motoring show Top Gear for allegedly faking a drag race between its electric Roadster Sport and the gasoline-powered Lotus Elise. Tesla said the show rigged scenes of the Roadster running out of charge and being pushed into a hanger. The BBC said that it “stands by the program and will be vigorously defending this claim”.

A missing Bronx Zoo cobra had more than 150,000 people following Twitter posts about her escape from the Bronx Zoo, including top politicians and celebrities. “Today President Obama and I toured NYC’s Museum of Natural History. We saw a 94 foot whale, but not @BronxZoosCobra,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted. Ellen Degeneres suggested the cobra visit the distinctive Guggenheim Museum. “They have a great Kandinsky exhibit,” she tweeted. “They also don’t have any stairs”.

Tech wrap: Ripe BlackBerry not sweet enough

A man looks at a BlackBerry product display in a shop at a mobile and computer shopping complex in northern Tehran January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi Research In Motion’s quarterly net profit jumped 32 percent, boosted by strong global BlackBerry smartphone sales. But a weaker-than-expected outlook as it spent heavily on the launch of its PlayBook tablet next month, sent RIM’s shares tumbling after the bell.

Facebook is testing a real-time ad targeting system that relates your user profile to words that you form as you type them, according to AdAge’s Irina Slutsky. For example, “users who update their status with ‘Mmm, I could go for some pizza tonight’, could get an ad or a coupon from Domino’s, Papa John’s or Pizza Hut”, she writes.

The hungry masses are gobbling up Apple’s iPads mainly because of the approachable touchscreen interface, writes Wired’s Brian X. Chen. Web browsing topped the responses to a casual poll by Wired asking “What do you do with your iPad?”, matching the result of a study by NPD Group last year, Chen adds. Reading and social networking followed browsing in the Wired poll. A minority used the iPad for special purposes such as recording music, writing poetry and teaching in class from book notes.

Tech wrap: Amazon offers Android apps, gets sued by Apple

A demonstrator plays a racing game on an Android-based Motorola Atrix smartphone during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 6, 2011. REUTERS/Steve MarcusAmazon.com opened its store for Google Android smartphone applications, ratcheting up its fight with Apple after the iPhone maker sued Amazon in a bid to stop the online retailer from improperly using its App Store trademark.

A New York court rejected a class action settlement hammered out between Google and publishers that would allow the Web search leader to scan millions of books and sell them online.

U.S. wireless operators will have to pay higher subsidies for cellphones as they come with more features, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse said during a chief executive panel at the annual CTIA wireless industry conference.

Tech wrap: AT&T/T-Mobile a done deal?

Reflections are seen in the window of an AT&T store in New York March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidAT&T’s planned buy of T-Mobile USA is ultimately expected to get regulatory approval, combining the second and fourth largest wireless operators to create a new leader that will control around 43 percent of the U.S. wireless market. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson suggested he had little choice but to do it as AT&T is in dire need of more wireless airwaves to increase network capacity for mobile Web services.

Google announced that it’s partnering with Sprint to integrate the free calling and texting service Google Voice with the carrier’s feature phones and smartphones. Sprint customers will be able to use their existing Sprint mobile number as their Google Voice number.

Nokia’s strategy for entering the tablet computer market may not include Microsoft, its recently announced partner for smartphones, according to a person with knowledge of the company’s thinking.

Verizon iPhone gets dinged by Consumer Reports (Update)

VERIZON/IPHONE“Antennagate” again?

The reception problem that plagued AT&T’s iPhone 4 last summer is also found on the Verizon version of the iPhone, according to Consumer Reports.  The influential nonprofit organization, which publishes guides on everything from cars to TVs, said Friday that holding the Verizon iPhone “in a specific but quite natural way” can cause the phone to drop calls.

Consumer Reports tested the device against five other Verizon smartphones — Samsung Fascinate, Motorola Droid 2 Global, HTC Droid Incredible, LG Ally, and Motorola Droid X — and said “the only phones in which the finger contact caused any meaningful decline in performance was the iPhone 4.”

The Verizon iPhone 4 launched earlier this month, but there has been no hue and cry about its reception, as there was with the AT&T device. “There has been no such outpouring of complaints about the Verizon version of the phone,” Consumer Reports noted. However, the tech blogosphere did take note of the problem when the phone went on sale.

What did not happen at the Verizon iPhone launch

USA/After years of rumors and breathless anticipation, Apple’s iPhone is finally coming to the network of Verizon Wireless. But because Verizon is launching a version of the device that has been available from rival AT&T for more than half a year, there was little new technology on display to excite the gadget geeks and Apple fanboys.

And the show failed to deliver on some of the more intriguing rumors that have been kicking around about the event, which was announced suddenly last Friday and thus managed to steal plenty of thunder from the Consumer Electronics Shows in Las Vegas, where most tech reporters were camped out.

Here’s a quick rundown of what did NOT happen on Tuesday

    No white iPhone – Like a Yeti, the white iPhone seems to exist only in legend. The company has repeatedly delayed the launch of the device, saying at last check it was due this spring. No one is sure exactly why the White iPhone is proving so difficult to produce. But some had expected (or perhaps hoped) to see it appear Tuesday as part of the Verizon announcement, but it was not to be. No LTE – Verizon has launched a new high-speed wireless network in markets covering 110 million people with a new technology known as Long Term Evolution (LTE), and has promised 10 new gadgets using that network by mid-year. But the iPhone 4 is apparently not one of them. “Clearly some people wanted LTE,” said Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall. No Steve Jobs – No one was quite sure whether the Apple CEO himself would appear on stage at a Verizon-staged event. Some in the Apple blogosphere were skeptical, and they proved correct. It was Tim Cook, Apple’s COO — certainly no slouch, but not someone who commands the sort of spotlight that’s Apple’s head honcho does. For those accustomed to Apple-hosted events, Jobs’ absence was felt: “This was not a Jobs-worthy event. But I thought for sure they’d throw them a bone with a white iPhone,” joked BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis

Verizon’s iPhone antenna ‘death grip’ proof?

vzapplOn the face of it, the iPhone 4 unveiled by Verizon Wireless on Tuesday is pretty much the same device that AT&T has been selling. It costs the same, and features essentially the same bells and whistles — with the nice addition of a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, that allows up to five other devices to share its wireless signal.

But the blogosphere quickly picked up on one intriguing change in Verizon’s iPhone: the all-important antenna, which wraps around the device. You can see some pics from Gizmodo here, highlighting the differences between iPhones offered by Verizon and AT&T.

You will recall that the antenna for AT&T’s iPhone was the source of quite the uproar last summer, when some users complained of poor reception and dropped calls when holding the device a certain way.  The issue unexpectedly snowballed, giving rise to such memorable phrases as “Antennagate” and “iPhone 4 death grip.” Of course, none of it seemed to dent iPhone sales.

Liveblog: Verizon set to launch the iPhone. Finally.

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Verizon is set to launch the iPhone today — January 11, 2011 at 11am ET. Cheeky.

Will antennagate be fixed? Will Verizon launch a 4G version by summer? Will Steve Jobs make an appearance on stage or by hologram? Can Verizon Wireless’ network survive the crush? Will AT&T customers in San Francisco stop dropping calls?

We’re live blogging and analyzing the event today. Joining us for the liveblog from New York will be NPD analyst Ross Rubin, Gartner’s Michael Gartenberg and Ritsuko Ando, Reuters correspondent. Sinead Carew of Reuters will also be on scene in New York covering the announcement.

Verizon’s iPad launch: Is this the right party?

It’s become a time-honored tradition: Start selling an Apple gadget and brace for the throngs of eager consumers.VZiPad

For Verizon Wireless, the big day was Thursday, as the nation’s largest wireless carrier for the first time began to sell the sleek iPad tablet PC.

But by the looks of the store in downtown San Francisco that Reuters happened upon on Thursday morning, things were clearly not following the traditional script.

MetroPCS boasts first U.S. LTE service, phone

Ninety percent of MetroPCS customers have been using its handsets for data services. More than half of them rely on MetroPCS handsets as their primary means to accessing the Internet. On Tuesday, the pay-as-you-go company become the first carrier to launch commercial high-speed wireless long term evolution services in the United States. LTE is a fourth-generation technology that Verizon Wireless and AT&T plan to support. “We think this is going to serve the sweet spot for consumers who want more, who want the next best thing and who are willing to pay a little more for the handset,” Chief Operating Officer Tom Keys said. MetroPCS launched the world’s first commercially available LTE handset, the Samsung Craft. The service is first available in Las Vegas and is expected to most markets it serves by the first quarter of 2011, Keys said. The company is offering 4G LTE services under two service plans – $55 or $60. Under its plans, customers pay a monthly fee in advance for unlimited phone calls without committing to a long-term contract. MetroPCS is offering the Samsung Craft for $299, after $50 instant rebate, plus tax. MetroPCS plans to launch another 3-5 handsets in the next 12 months, Keys said. “2012 will probably have a larger roadmap in terms of handsets for the entire LTE ecosystem,” Keys said. The company is also considering offering tablet-like devices, he added.

MetroPCS LTE PhoneOn Tuesday, MetroPCS  said it has become the first US carrier to launch commercial high-speed wireless Long Term Evolution (LTE) services and and an handset, beating its biggest rival Verizon Wireless to the post.  LTE is a next-generation technology Verizon Wireless and AT&T plan to support.

Verizon has promised  by the end of this year to offer LTE services for laptop users in 25 to 30 US markets with a population of about 100 million people. But the top US mobile provider has said that it does not expect to start selling its first LTE handsets until 2011.

However, the high-speed MetroPCS service is 0nly available in Las Vegas for now. The company’s  Chief Operating Officer Tom Keys said he expects the service  to reach most MetroPCS markets by the first quarter of 2011. MetroPCS also said it started selling its LTE phone, the Samsung Craft.