MediaFile

Tech wrap: New Apple iMacs built for speed

Apple refreshed its lineup of iMac computers with new Intel processors that it says are up to 70 percent faster and with USB-like ports that are up to 20 times as fast. Thunderbolt ports support displays and devices. The new iMacs also feature a new HD Web camera. Apple said the iMacs are on sale online and at its retail stores starting at $1,199.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer faced harsh criticism of his leadership after the company revealed hackers may have stolen the data of another 25 million accounts in a second massive security breach. The breach of the Sony Online Entertainment PC games network may also have led to the theft of 10,700 direct debit records from customers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain and 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers, Sony said. Investors said Sony and Stringer had botched the data security crisis. “The way Sony handled the whole thing goes to show that it lacks the ability to manage crises,” Michael On of Beyond Asset Management in Taipei said.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that RIM will use Microsoft’s Bing search engine and maps as default options on its new BlackBerry devices. RIM’s move, coupled with its close partnership with Adobe Systems, sketches out a strategy of cooperation in a mobile market now dominated by Apple and Google. The strategy illustrates that the mobile market is entering a new phase that focuses on feature consolidation and “co-opetition,” writes GigaOM’s Kevin Tofel. The old strategy, which lasted from 2007 until recently, focused on new platforms, user interfaces and the emergence of the mobile app economy, Tofel adds.

Google is violating the spirit of the open access it bid $4.6 billion to protect by making tethering apps unavailable at its Android Market, writes Chris Ziegler. DroidLife’s Kellex wrote last week that tethering apps were unavailable for all of his phones running on AT&T’s network. Engadget yesterday found no tethering apps available on the Android Market for phone networks running on AT&T and T-Mobile and only one on Verizon. Tethering apps make it easier for users to circumvent the official tethering capabilities offered on smartphones that carry a plan surcharge.

Twitter made an offer to acquire TweetDeck, the popular third-party software application for Twitter and other social networking services, for up to $50 million, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The deal would give Twitter an application that has won praise among sophisticated users for its slick interface and enhanced capabilities, while closing out a potential threat to Twitter’s fast-growing service.

Google and Bing trade blows on ‘copying’ saga

The Internet search world was rocked by a rare spell of intrigue and acrimony on Tuesday, as Google, the world’s No. 1 search company accused rival Microsoft of copying its search results, leading to a public slap-fight between the two tech giants.

“This is the first time in my 20-year career that I am seeing such unethical behavior in another company,” Google Fellow Amit Singhal declared in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, following an earlier blog post in which he accused Microsoft of providing “recycled search results.”

ISRAEL-HOLOCAUST/GOOGLE

Microsoft was quick to return fire, insisting it did not copy Google’s search results and describing Google as engaging in everything from “creative tactics” to click fraud. Microsoft PR honcho Frank Shaw unleashed a fusillade of Tweets throughout the day, stating in one of them that Google was seeking to change the subject because the company was under investigation in the U.S. and Europe for manipulating search results.

Kim Kardashian most Binged in 2010

Celebrity, socialite and reality TV star Kim Kardashian was the most popular search term on Microsoft’s Bing search engine this year, outshining fellow American luminaries Lady Gaga and the U.S. president.

Kim Kardashian

In a year of earthquakes, floods and faltering economies, it seems most people turned to celebrities to relieve the steady flow of grim news. Or looked for ways to save money.

According to Microsoft, the most popular overall 2010 searches on Bing were : 1) Kim Kardashian, 2) Sandra Bullock, 3) Tiger Woods, 4) Lady Gaga, 5) Barack Obama.

Microsoft-Yahoo deal means “Yahoo!” for all: Schneider

hilaryschneider_0034A day after EU regulators cleared Microsoft and Yahoo’s search partnership, Yahoo Americas EVP Hilary Schneider went “Yahoo!” when asked what the alliance means for everyone. “The deal means more money,” Schneider said at the PaidContent 2010 conference in New York on Friday.

With the unified search audiences of Yahoo and Bing, Yahoo’s sales team can do its job better by making the consumer experience more relevant as well as  improving the return on investment for advertisers and publishers, she said. “The more search queries you have in a single marketplace, the more the (search) algorithms can refine themselves… (bringing) more revenue per search for the publisher.”

That’s good news for members of the Yahoo newspaper consortium, Schneider said. Since these dailies are Yahoo’s search partners, the Microsoft-Yahoo alliance increases their returns and revenue as well. She estimated that in 2009, the partnership brought the newspaper industry $100 million in revenue, and “that’s just the tip of the iceberg.” But she declined to say how much Yahoo makes from the newspaper consortium.

Rupert Murdoch, the smartest man in newspapers?

I wrote an analysis on Monday about the possibility that News Corp might take its news search results away from Google and list them on Microsoft’s Bing search engine instead. My conclusion: This one isn’t such a hot idea. Then I read John Gapper’s Financial Times item about how it *could* be a hot idea.

To recap, here’s how it would work.

    Microsoft would pay News Corp for the privilege of being the only search engine to carry results from papers including the New York Post, Wall Street Journal and Times of London. Microsoft thinks it can get more people to use its search engine, drawing them away from Google. News Corp could punish Google, in essence, for making tons of money from the ads it serves alongside news search results. Why, the thinking goes, should Google make a bunch of money off the news that we produce and our newsrooms go starving and our ad sales tank? Other newspaper publishers, if they see Murdoch making it work, might think the same thing and abandon Google en masse.

I and many others wrote that it would be a gamble at best. What if people don’t care that much about news? If the 70 percent of the search market that uses Google discovers  the news is absent, will they switch search engines? Scientists of misanthropy like me say it’s unlikely. If they don’t find it, they won’t seek it.

Gapper at the FT has another way of looking at it:

In effect, (Murdoch) would be swapping his revenue stream from online advertising with a payment from Microsoft for drawing visitors to Bing. That suggests one of two things: either, as a lot of digital evangelists have suggested, he is getting old and does not “get” the internet, or he has looked at the figures and decided that Google traffic is not worth very much. Personally, I think the latter is more plausible. …

Twitter and Bing: A cold September

For two of the Web’s newest sensations, September was not a good month.

The robust growth that Twitter and Microsoft’s Bing search engine enjoyed in recent months appeared to come to an abrupt halt last month.

Twitter, the microblogging service cherished by everyone from Shaq to Al Gore, saw its growth stall in September — at least in terms of U.S. visitors to its Web site.

The number of unique visitors to Twitter’s site in the U.S. reached 20.89 million in September – virtually flat compared to the 20.83 million visitors the month before, according to the latest comScore data.

Google Search: Fresh, not real time

Google has yet to outline a gameplan to respond to the search world’s latest phenomenon: real time search.

But the Internet company clearly recognizes the importance of fresh search results.

On Thursday Google announced a new feature that lets Web surfers view only search results that have been indexed by its Web crawlers within the past hour.

Bartz shuns f-bomb, hearts Bing

By now, reporters and analysts who cover Yahoo have come to expect (and dare I say, delight in) CEO Carol Bartz’s colorful figures of speech and the occasional f-bomb drop during conference calls.

So Bartz’s tame delivery of Yahoo’s second-quarter earnings on Tuesday was a bit of a surprise. We know the 60-year-old is recovering from knee surgery, but was this even the same Bartz? The one who threatened to “dropkick to f–king Mars” employees who leak information to reporters? Or the one who asked the press to give Yahoo some “friggin’ breathing room” as the company figured out its next move? (Here’s a list of Bartz’s greatest hits).

By comparison, Tuesday afternoon was a bore, as Bartz stuck to a straight script. What’s more, she actually went so far as to compliment Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine that’s been pulling market share from competitors.

from Commentaries:

I am thinking of rebranding myself as Zing

Some tech links to start the week:

I am seriously considering changing my byline to Zing, what with all the media attention a certain search engine is getting.

Bing search for Eric Auchard

The New York Times looks at the ups and downs of turning brands into verbs. The jumping off point is Bing, Microsoft's effort at verbal one-upsmanship over Google, Twitter and over generic daily activities. The software giant must alter deeply ingrained computer habits to succeed. In the meantime, my original questions about Bing remain.

The more substantial news this week would be if Microsoft finally inks a search and advertising partnership with Yahoo Inc. It's not easy to overcome deal speculation fatigue -- it's been a year-and-a-half since Microsoft sought to acquire Yahoo outright, and a year since it dropped back to Plan B and sought out a more limited partnership deal. Boomtown reported Friday that Microsoft is down to a few short strokes away from signing.  Henry Blodget makes the point that Microsoft may have to pay up far more than the $1 billion it was offering a year back for such a deal.  Closing a deal now suggests renewed desperation on Microsoft's part after the paltry gain it received from Bing in June market share statistics for U.S. web search.

Good days for cable TV

A year ago, the big story around Emmy nominations was the acclaim showered on cable programs like “Mad Men” and “Damages.” A quick glance at today’s nominations indicates little has changed.

Just look at the best drama category, where Fox’s “House” and ABC’s “Lost” will face stiff competition from cable’s “Big Love” (HBO), “Mad Men” (AMC), “Damages” (FX), and “Breaking Bad” (AMC).

While the Emmy awards aren’t everything — ratings are still the holy grail — they certainly don’t hurt. Particularly when it comes to cable networks, which have built a reputation for developing more sophisticated, bolder programs than the broadcast counterparts.