What the rise of “HMU” says about Facebook’s success in 2010

Facebook had an extraordinary year in 2010, bringing in $2 billion in revenue, being named best place to work and seeing Mark Zuckerberg named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. One key strategy that drove that success, as Zuckerberg made clear when he announced Facebook Social Inbox, was that the company built a platform that adapted to its most active users.

For Facebook, the most active users are students in college and secondary school. Zuckerberg hit on Social Inbox after high school students told him email was too slow. So it’s no surprise that the top status trend for 2010 – that is, the term whose usage in status updates grew the most this year – was “HMU.”

If you didn’t know what HMU meant before this week, you’re probably not in Facebook’s most active demographic. It isn’t a big part of the vocabulary of most people past their 20s; if you do use it, the older you are the more you risk looking like you’re trying too hard to be cool. Here’s how the British newspaper the Independent spelled it out:

The most popular phrase of 2010 was the (most likely) teenage expression “HMU,” short for “hit me up” or simply “contact me.”

HMU was so foreign to the editors at the Independent, they needed a definition to explain their definition. Facebook’s blog discussing the top status trend described it as a surprise, and its own explanation shows how the term seems to have grown out of student life.

The world wants cheap but stylish phones. Can Android deliver both?

KOREA/Cheap and stylish are more likely to be antonyms when describing mobile phones. But the global market will reward a smartphone that can deliver on both fronts, a goal that Android phones seem best suited to reaching.

That is one conclusion to be drawn from a survey from Nielsen on mobile phone usage by 15-24 year olds around the world. The survey had some interesting insights, such as Italy’s position as the market with the highest percentage of young people owning a smartphone (47%). The U.S. was the only major market surveyed where smartphone owners were more likely to be female (55%) than male (45%).

Only one in six smartphones owned by people in the age group surveyed were purchased by parents, so the results can help shed light on what features appeal the most to consumers under 25. For the most part, those features varied by country.

iTunes apps as holiday gifts? Maybe not this year.

Apple has sold some 8 million iPads since the tablet went on sale in April and, by some estimates, more than 100 million iPhones and iPod Touches to date. That should make iOS apps a satisfying holiday gift for many people, and some people are already offering their suggestions.

But this may not be the right year for apps as stocking stuffers, for two reasons. First, Apple isn’t really making it so easy. As Bob Tedeschi points out in the New York Times, Apple seems to go out of its way to make it difficult for gift givers to choose which apps to give to their loved ones. (Imagine if thought this way.)

Apple does not allow companies to sell iTunes gift cards that are designated for specific apps. But, the iTunes App Store lets shoppers “Gift This App,” wrapping the present in a not-so-lovely e-mail or a printed notification that includes the app’s icon and a redemption code. (Next to the “Buy App” button is a downward-facing arrow. Click and hold that arrow, and you will find the “Gift This App” link.)

Facebook is worth $52 billion, and that’s not a good thing.

Reuters: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reacts after unveiling a new messaging system in San Francisco

Reuters: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reacts after unveiling a new messaging system in San Francisco

Another week, another surge in Facebook’s putative valuation.

Facebook is now worth $52.1 billion, according to, up from $50 billion two weeks ago when someone bought a large chunk of its shares on SecondMarket, an online exchange for privately held stocks.

At $52 billion, Facebook is worth more than eBay, Time Warner and News Corp. It’s worth two Yahoos, and worth nearly a third of Google’s $191 billion valuation. Which may not seem unrealistic, until you recall that Google’s revenue will top $20 billion this year, or ten times Facebook’s estimate.

Five things I learned from the genius of Google’s Zeitgeist

The word Zeitgeist is defined as “the spirit of the age.” But the German term was itself a translation by Romanticists of the Latin phrase “genius saeculi.” Those Romanticists didn’t think of “genius” in its modern meaning of an extraordinary mind, but rather its etymological roots of a guardian spirit that watches over people from their birth.

I delve into the etymology of Zeitgeist because it casts an interesting light on the choice by Google to describe its annual summary of search trends, especially when you consider the company’s thoughts on artificial intelligence. Google’s search engine is hardly a guardian spirit, but if it doesn’t exactly watch over our online lives, it does watch them carefully enough – remembering data points it collects in each search and distilling them into interesting trends.

Some of the general trends Google’s Zeitgeist for 2010 discovered are interesting, if hardly profound. Here are a few insights gleaned from all the searches done through Google search engines in the last year.

Google’s not-so-subtle jab at Microsoft Exchange

When Gmail goes down, it doesn’t just make news, it makes people angry. Small businesses running their email on Google’s servers complain publicly. People even talk about suing Google.

Google’s response is usually along these lines: When companies manage email on their own servers, those servers routinely go down. People get upset, sure. But it doesn’t make news. And nobody starts looking for a class-action attorney.

Apparently, that attitude of Google’s isn’t just a defensive PR spin. It’s an actual strategy. Google is adding a feature to the cloud-security technology it obtained when it bought Postini in 2007. Google is calling it Message Continuity, and it’s designed to let companies have access to emails, even when a company’s servers go down.

from Ask...:

What would you want in a new iPad?

BELGIUM/People are still waiting to unwrap their first-generation iPads for Christmas and news is already leaking about what features Apple plans to include on its next version of the popular tablet computer.

One of Apple's component suppliers confirmed the retooled iPad will come equipped with two cameras, one mounted on the rear for photography and another on the front presumably meant to enable FaceTime video chatting. Another said the revamped model will be slimmer, lighter and boast a better resolution screen display.

A separate supply chain source said Apple was preparing a significantly smaller iPad that is almost half the size of the current model. The current iPad has a 9.7-inch screen.

Bebo founder Michael Birch back at the social network

beboMichael Birch, the founder of online social network Bebo, who sold the company to AOL over two years ago for a spectacular sum, is linked up again to Bebo as an investor and advisor.

“I’ve been watching this space with interest and thought it was a good opportunity to get back and get it back on track,” Birch said.

Birch and his wife Xochi launched Bebo in 2005 and watched it become one of the most popular social networking sites among young adults in the U.K. It caught the attention of AOL, then still hitched to Time Warner, which bought Bebo for $850 million in March 2008 in order to gain access to the site’s 40 million users and to expand AOL advertising sales in markets outside the United States.

WikiPiques: Let’s all just calm down

John Abell is New York bureau chief for The opinions expressed are his own.

The pariah du jour to the United States and the countries who do business with it is one Julian Assange, a soft-spoken Australian whose motives may be obscure but whose life work is pretty clear. The founder of WikiLeaks, Assange is the whistleblower’s whistleblower, enabling the disclosure of anything in digital form — which, in the age of the Internet, is everything.

The drama to marginalize/silence/demonize Assange is playing out like a (bad) Hollywood script, but the stakes — to commerce, to free speech, to the freedom of the Internet — are quite real. It’s a good time to take a deep breath.

Tablets could offer Research-in-Motion a second act

Could tablets offer Research-in-Motion a second act? The company, whose Blackberry phones were the hottest mobile devices of the decade until the iPhone and Android phones showed up, badly needs something to revive its growth.

Just last week, ComScore said that the Blackberry’s share of the U.S. smartphone market fell to 35.8% from 39.3% while the iPhone inched up a percentage point to 24.6% and Android grew by six and a half percentage points to 23.5%. Another survey by Nielsen showed that people planning to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones prefer Android and iPhones. Only 11% of those surveyed are most interested in buying a Blackberry.

Analysts are starting to worry that the trend will be repeated in overseas markets. On Wednesday, Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. said he expects RIM’s stock price to erode because Android’s market share is growing as prices of Android phones come down. RIM’s stock is down 3% since Monday as investors mulled such concerns.