Friday, 3 June 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “86 Percent of Android Devices Run Eclair or Froyo”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “86 Percent of Android Devices Run Eclair or Froyo”

86 Percent of Android Devices Run Eclair or Froyo

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 03:01 AM PDT

Nearly two thirds (64.6%) of all Android devices run Android 2.2 or Froyo, and another 21.2% run Android 2.1 or Eclair according to the latest data from Android Developers.

Last time we’ve looked at this data, Android 2.3/2.3.3 or Gingerbread was just a blip on the radar, but now it’s running on a respectable 9.6% of all Android devices.

For Android developers, the current state of affairs means that they can pretty much forget about supporting now obsolete versions of Android – 1.5 and 1.6 – which are new present on a very small number of devices. However, as far as platform fragmentation goes, the situation is about to get ugly, as Eclair is still widely used, Froyo isn’t going anywhere, and Gingerbread is slowly gaining momentum.

Add to that two versions of Honeycomb (3.0 and 3.1), the Android flavor aimed specifically at tablets and you’ve got a lot of Android variants to support. Luckily, the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.0), slated for a late 2011 release, will consolidate Honeycomb and the “regular” Android variants into one version, which should reduce confusion and ease the fragmentation issues of Google’s mobile platform.

[via Android Developers]

More About: android, eclair, fragmentation, Froyo, gingerbread, Google, honeycomb

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How 7 Black Hat Hackers Landed Legit Jobs

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 10:10 PM PDT

The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. Learn more about Rackspace’s hosting solutions here.

Everyone loves a bad-guy-gone-good story, and these black hat hackers who went from lives of crime to corporate nine-to-fives epitomize that genre.

Let’s first make an important distinction: Hackers are not criminals. In fact, “hacker” is a term of high praise in the developer community. But when a hacker is dubbed a “black hat,” it means he or she has broken laws in the pursuit of hacking — perhaps even that he or she has done so for personal gain.

However, many black hat hackers have gone legit in their more mature years. While it’s not uncommon to see former cybercriminals switching teams to work as IT security consultants, many of the more high-profile black hat hackers also find themselves writing books, doing journalism and even getting public speaking gigs in the cybersecurity world.

So with that understanding, let’s turn our gaze upon these seven fascinating personalities who once hacked indiscriminately and are now employed respectably — some of them even by the companies they once hacked.

Ashley Towns

Towns created the first-ever iPhone worm, a rickrolling bit of code that only affected jailbroken iPhones. Mere weeks after the worm started spreading, Towns was hired by mogeneration, a company that develops iPhone apps, mostly for other clients such as TrueLocal, FoodWatch and Xumii.

Call of Duty Hacker

A 14-year-old Dublin schoolboy hacked into the Microsoft Xbox system this spring. In stark contrast to how Sony handled PlayStation hackers like geohot, Microsoft decided to work with the kid instead. The company hopes to teach the indubitably talented hacker to "use his skills for legitimate purposes."

Christopher Tarnovsky

Hardware hacker Christopher Tarnovsky began his journey repairing satellites for the U.S. Army. He started dabbling in illegal hacking in the late 1990s. However, he didn't get into serious legal trouble until he was hired by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. to hack a rival company's satellite TV chip. These days, Tarnovsky runs a hardware security firm and sticks to gray hat hacking, like proving Infineon's "unhackable" chip was anything but in 2010.

Jeff Moss

Moss is the founder of the Black Hat and DEF CON computer hacker conferences. In the days before the Internet was a big thing, he ran BBSes for hacking and phreaking and provided a hub for a huge, underground network of hackers of all stripes, from the curious to the criminal. In 2009, he was was sworn into the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council. And in April 2011, Moss was named chief security officer for ICANN, the agency that oversees the Internet's domain names.

Michael Mooney

Mooney is best known for creating the Twitter bug Mikeyy, a worm designed to showcase Twitter's security vulnerabilities. While the exploit was more gray than black hat, the worm could have gotten Mooney into serious legal trouble. However, Twitter didn't press charges, and the 17-year-old Mooney was offered jobs by two software development firms. The teen accepted a position at web app shop exqSoft Solutions.

Owen Thor Walker

Also known as "akill," Walker was charged as (and admitted to) being the ringleader of an international hacking group that caused nearly $26 million of damage. In 2008 he was hired by TelstraClear, the New Zealand subsidiary of Australian telecommunications company Telstra, to work with its security division, DMZGlobal.

Robert Tappan Morris

Morris is best known for creating the first Internet worm, the Morris Worm, in 1988. Later, he co-founded an online store, Viaweb, with Paul Graham, who would later found startup incubator Y Combinator. Viaweb was one of the first web-based computer applications. Now, Morris teaches computer science at MIT.

Series Supported by Rackspace


The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. No more worrying about web hosting uptime. No more spending your time, energy and resources trying to stay on top of things like patching, updating, monitoring, backing up data and the like. Learn why.

More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:

- How the WordPress SEO Plugin Can Help Your Blog [INTERVIEW]
- Closed or Open Source: Which CMS is Right for Your Business?
- A Look Back at Eight Years of WordPress
- HOW TO: Get Started with the Less Framework
- 4 Free Ways to Learn to Code Online

image credits: iStockphoto, airportrait, Flickr/pikturz, Wikipedia, Wired, Flickr/ICANN

More About: black hat, career, developers, hackers, jobs, web development series

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Men Can Skip the Mall With Skype-Based Concierge Clothing Service

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 08:21 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Hendricks Park

Quick Pitch: A personal styling and shopping service for men conducted over Skype.

Genius Idea: Hendricks Park is a concierge clothing service for men with neither the time nor inclination to shop. The one-year-old startup, founded by CEO Lisa Bruckner, a former model, offers style consultations and shopping services primarily over Skype.

After filling out an application, a client is introduced to his individual Style Expert for a one- to two-hour lifestyle and wardrobe analysis, preferably accompanied by his significant other. The Expert will then draft a style strategy, make recommendations about what items to throw out and select items for the client to try on.

After he receives his first box, the client will review all of his options with his Style Expert over Skype, get recommendations for styling and tailoring, and return whatever he doesn’t like using a pre-paid shipping label. Every time a client is looking for new clothes — or perhaps needs advice about what to wear for an event, or what kind of razor to buy — he is invited to get in touch with his Style Expert, free of charge.

The clothes that Hendricks Park ships to clients are purchased wholesale and sold at retail. It’s what Bruckner calls a “high-touch continuity service model”; the company has a high rate of recurring sales because it develops quality relationships over Skype. Style Experts are paid on commission, but are advised to prioritize their relationships with clients over sales.

Bruckner is the first to admit the service isn’t for everyone — Hendricks Park doesn’t offer discount pricing or products, for one thing. “We focus more on quality, and unique brands and products, particularly those with an environmentally responsible edge,” she says.

She also readily admits that the service might be ahead of its time. “People aren’t necessarily comfortable buying clothes over Skype [yet],” she says, but believes the increasing prevalence of webcams and applications such as Skype and FaceTime will make Hendricks Park viable to the mainstream.

The company has more than 300 clients to date and has yet to raise a formal round of funding. Bruckner says she frequently receives requests from female clients, but would prefer to partner with a similar, existing service that serves women rather than developing that branch of the business herself.

“Men have two basic shapes and are more open to advice. Women are a harder crowd to please and fit,” she says, laughing, and I agree with her.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: concierge clothing service, fashion, hendricks park, men, spark-of-genius

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8 Reasons Every Ecommerce Site Should Get Serious About Video

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 07:02 PM PDT

video image

Yaniv Axen has served as the CTO of SundaySky since cofounding the company. He manages technological concerns for strategic customers, directs the patent application process for SundaySky's solutions and facilitates key partnerships.

The truth about doing business online today is that for many companies, increasing market share requires winning customers from competitors. Using online video to build business is one tactic that has been rapidly gaining popularity in the past few years. It delivers benefits that include personalization, competitive advantage and cost-effectiveness.

Below are seven ways video outperforms static web content in the ruthless competition for market share.

1. Video Attracts New, Relevant Search Traffic

No conversation about ebusiness is complete without discussing search engine optimization (SEO). An ebusiness cannot gain on a competitor until consumers know it exists and can easily find it through organic search. Today, ebusinesses that utilize video assets are at an advantage, since Google is structuring its search engine results to reward sites that include video. According to Forrester, any given video in an index of searchable keywords has a 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of results than any given text page.

To better promote their video investments and derive the greatest SEO rewards, ebusinesses are making videos more accessible to visitors, scaling videos to reach long-tail keywords, and automating video production in order to have video available as soon as new products are introduced.

2. Video Assets Can be Easily Syndicated

Online video is usually channel agnostic. By syndicating video properties to multiple sites — including YouTube, the second largest search engine today — ebusinesses extend their reach to innumerable eyeballs. In addition to traditional channels, online video plays equally well via mobile networks, TV, and in-store screens. It is a cost-effective way to maintain brand consistency and strengthen consumer awareness.

3. Videos Encourage Sharing

Videos are far more likely to be passed and shared than text-based pages. Additionally, a video thumbnail on a social media platform — Facebook, for example — grabs more attention than static text and often results in more comments, more "Likes," and more traffic to the brand's website. When you like or share a video link, a thumbnail appears on your wall and is also seen by your friends.

According to a study from YouBrand, pictures and video within Facebook get engaged with and clicked more often than just text and questions.

4. Video Engages Site Visitors

Video provides a familiar user interface for site visitors. When videos are properly produced, they captivate the user. Instead of the need to navigate, scroll and click to access information, the video is a one-stop shop for information. It takes less energy than the hassle of reading and the user is engaged until he or she is ready to follow an embedded call-to-action. Today's automated video production platforms easily enable this flow, in many cases directing visual and auditory calls-to-action that guide the viewer to a shopping cart.

5. Video's “Halo Effect” Drives Conversions

Video can give customers an in-depth view of a product or a demonstration that quells any hesitancy they might have about purchasing online. The peace of mind the customer gains from the video seeps into the way he or she feels about the brand and website overall, building trust and credibility. This is essential to gaining market share, especially for businesses that sell products with a lot of competition.

6. Video Increases Customer Loyalty

Video newsletters are more likely to attract consumer attention. By some estimates, the open rate for a video newsletter is two to three times higher than for a text-based newsletter. While many brands compete for consumer attention with the latter, those who employ the former stand out from the crowd. These video communications can be personalized for each recipient with individualized greetings, references to previously purchased items, or offers based on shopping history, geography and segmentation.

7. Video Creates Online Personalization

By improving and tailoring the customer experience, online retailers in every sector have increased customer loyalty, conversion rates and average order price. The quality of online personalization continues to rise and in many cases can rival or outperform the "live" shopping experience. This is a key factor in gaining market share, since consumers increasingly shop online but still express a desire for the personal touch and the social aspects of in-person browsing.

When prospects go to a store, they get recommendations and help from in-store staff who point them to relevant products. Video delivers this experience online, with far less variability and chance. With new technologies that offer personalized video created on-the-fly, ebusinesses can bridge the gap between live and virtual experiences.

8. Video Production Costs Are Falling, ROI Is Rising

Online video clearly has an impact on competitive advantage. But is it feasible for most ebusinesses? Thanks to today’s automated video production technology, the answer is "yes."

Two decades ago, the market struggled to replace the labor-intensive process of website management. Today we hardly think about the steps required to update or add web content: Images and text are now template-based, database-driven and easy to manipulate.

Video production is experiencing a similar change. While many website owners once fought the limitations of manually produced videos — including slow production times and prohibitive costs — today's solutions tend to be automated, cost effective and high quality. With relatively little human intervention, online video production can increase a business’s competitive advantage while creating a better shopping experience for the user.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, cybrain

More About: business, ebusiness, List, Lists, MARKETING, social media, video, youtube

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Clever Case Converts iPad 2 Into a Laptop

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 06:06 PM PDT

What if you could turn your iPad 2 into a laptop by simply placing it in a case? That is the promise of Crux Loaded by CruxCase, a $249 clamshell enclosure that gives users a keyboard like that Logitech Keyboard Case we reviewed, but goes a step further by also offering a trackpad.

Both trackpad and keyboard communicate with the iPad wirelessly using Bluetooth, and CruxCase claims the trackpad will control the iPad 2 in the same multitouch way as the iPad’s screen. Powering that Bluetooth connection and giving the iPad’s battery a bit more longevity is an additional external battery tucked inside.

However, don’t be completely fooled by the picture above, which makes it look like you have complete PC functions with the iPad when you use this case. That’s possible, however, if you install a remote desktop app on the iPad, and CruxCase suggests Log Me in Ignition, Jump Desktop or Splashtop for that task. That won’t be as instantly responsive as a laptop would be, though, and you’ll need a fast connection with a Mac or PC to make this work.

Here’s another catch: This groundbreaking case won’t be available until Fall, 2011. A lot can happen between now and then, including Apple’s possible unwillingness to allow Bluetooth to work in this way, perhaps to protect its burgeoning laptop business.

We’re thinking discussions between CruxCase and Apple are probably underway as you read this, and if this Crux Loaded case actually comes to fruition, new versatility could come to the iPad. If Apple doesn’t allow it, we can see other tablet manufacturers scurrying to welcome it to ensconce their shiny new slabs.

Graphics courtesy CruxCase

More About: apple, bluetooth, Crux Loaded, ipad, iPad 2 cases, keyboard, trackpad, trending

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Groupon Took $946 Million Off The Table in Recent Funding Rounds

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 05:02 PM PDT

Groupon has revealed its financials as part of its filing with the SEC to go public. As a result, we can finally take a peek at the how company is using its more than $1 billion in recent funding.

A look at the statement reveals that Groupon raised $1,098,200,000 across its Series F ($135 million) and Series G ($946 million) rounds, including a follow-on investment of $17.2 million from Howard Schultz and affiliates.

Altogether, $946.8 million, or roughly 86% of the funds raised across the three investments, was paid out to Groupon directors, officers and stockholders. Just $151.4 million was retained by the company to use as working capital and for general corporate purposes.

Groupon co-founder and CEO Andrew Mason was one of those cashing in his shares. He first took $17,931,440 off the table in the Series F round, and latter grabbed $10 million in the Series G round. Meanwhile, Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky’s 600 West Partners and Green Media — LLCs he co-owns with his wife — cashed in shares for a combined total of $381,904,359.

With all that cash taken off the table and so little retained for working capital, Groupon needs the $750 million it will raise in the IPO offering to continue to fuel operations. Clearly, the company is eager to file the IPO to keep its cash flow positive and to fund operations.

Here’s Who Cashed Out:

Series F

“In April 2010, we issued 4,202,658 shares of our Series F preferred stock to a group of third-party investors in exchange for $135.0 million in cash, or $32.12 per share. We retained $15.0 million of these proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes. We used the remaining $120.0 million of these proceeds to redeem voting and non-voting common stock from our existing stockholders at a purchase price of $5.3537 per share (on a post-stock split basis). In connection with this redemption, the following of our directors, officers and 5% or greater stockholders (or their respective affiliates) of the Company received the payments listed below:”

click to enlarge

Series G

“In December 2010 and January 2011, we issued 30,072,814 aggregate shares of our Series G preferred stock to a group of third-party investors in exchange for $946.0 million in cash, or $31.59 per share. We retained $136.2 million of these proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes. We used the remaining $809.8 million of these proceeds to redeem voting and non-voting common stock from our existing stockholders at a purchase price of $15.795 per share (on a post-stock split basis), and Series D preferred stock and Series E preferred stock from our existing stockholders at a purchase price of $31.59 per share. In connection with this redemption, the following of our directors, officers and 5% or greater stockholders (or their respective affiliates) of the Company received the payments listed below:”

click to enlarge

Non-Voting Common Stock Investment

“In February 2011, we issued 1,090,830 shares of our non-voting common stock to Howard Shultz and his affiliates, Theodore Leonsis, Matt McCutchen and Placido Arango in exchange for $17.2 million in cash, or $15.795 per share. We retained $0.2 million of the proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes. We used the remaining $17.0 million of these proceeds to redeem non-voting common stock from our existing stockholders at a purchase price of $15.795 per share. In connection with this redemption, the following of our directors, officers and 5% or greater stockholders of the Company received the payments listed below:”

click to enlarge

Groupon’s IPO By The Numbers [STATS]

Groupon CEO Includes Keys To Success In SEC Filing

[via All Things D]

More About: Andrew Mason, groupon, Groupon IPO, Groupon SEC filing

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Capital One’s Visigoths Invade FarmVille

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 04:11 PM PDT

Financial services brand Capital One is the latest to land in FarmVille.

Starting Thursday at midnight ET (9 p.m. Pacific), FarmVille players can get coveted “Double Mastery” points on crops and trees harvested within seven days when they place a Capital One Visigoth statue on their farms. This will increase the rate at which players advance to higher levels in the game.

The tie-in also includes access to branded clothing — a FarmVille first — to outfit their male and female in-game avatars with Visigoth costumes. Players can also earn “Fast Cash” by watching a Capital One TV spot featuring the Visigoths, characters the brand introduced in 2000.

The FarmVille foray comes as Capital One, a huge TV advertiser, has been relatively quiet on the social media front. Like many financial services brands, its social media activity is constricted somewhat by regulations. Meanwhile, Capital One is far from the first brand to visit Zynga’s FarmVille. 7-Eleven, DreamWorks and Lady Gaga have all launched FarmVille tie-ins.

More About: capital one, farmville, Zynga

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Sony Pictures Website Hacked, 1 Million Accounts Exposed

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 03:06 PM PDT

Sony is not having a good year. As the company scrambles to get the PlayStation Network and Qriocity music service back online, it’s suffering from yet another security breach. This time it’s a hacker attack on various websites associated with Sony Pictures.

A team of individuals going by the name LulzSec, who recently managed to deface’s homepage, announced that they have broken into and compromised more than 1 million user accounts. An additional 75,000 music codes and 3.5 million coupons were also uncovered.

The attack, part of a campaign known as Sownage, was announced on Twitter and on the LulzSec website. LulzSec said that it didn’t have enough resources to copy all the data that it was able to access. But the group did manage to grab a collection of databases that contain thousands of usernames.

The accounts, presumably associated with any sort of registered activity on (or its subsidiaries or partners), contain information like passwords, email addresses, dates of birth and other Sony opt-in data. This certainly isn’t as dangerous as the information that was exposed during the PSN hack, but it could still be used to gather access to more important accounts elsewhere.

The scariest part of this attack isn’t what was taken, but how easy it was for the LulzSec members to take it. According to the groups own press release, access to the main Sony Pictures website was gained using a very basic tactic called a SQL injection. We haven’t had a chance to examine the released files to see what this injection was, but it’s likely that an out-of-date software stack and relatively unprotected web server made passing the injection trivial.

LulzSec says that all of the information it took was unencrypted. “Sony stored over 1,000,000 passwords of its customers in plaintext,” says the hackers’ press release, “which means it’s just a matter of taking it. ”

Seeing as this is the second security breach of a major Sony-branded website in just outside of a week, we have to ask: Is anyone at Sony employed to handle web security?

Sure, managing a large number of brands and properties that are often connected in name only has to be a challenge, not to mention the logistical and administrative challenges of managing websites that can store millions of user profiles. Still, that doesn’t make up for what by all appearances is an abysmal security record.

LulzSec has been on a tear, infiltrating the websites and databases for the UK television program, The X Factor, parts of, and many parts of in the past three weeks alone.

The attacks, while often juvenile in nature and execution (the website plays the theme from The Love Boat), underscore just how important it is for brands to keep their web servers updated, hardened and monitored. In the age of simple publishing tools like WordPress, it’s easy for managers to underestimate the importance of having someone on contract or on staff to keep data encrypted and protected. We can only hope the most recent cyber attacks convince executives to think seriously about investing in online security.

More About: Film, hackers, lulzsec, Movies, security attacks, sony, Sony Pictures, trending

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Pandora Raises IPO Size as High as $141.6 Milliion

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 02:40 PM PDT

Pandora has announced new, more specific terms for its impending IPO.

In February when the Internet radio company registered with the SEC, it did not disclose specifics about the size of its filing, but set the proposed maximum offering price at $100 million.

According to Thursday’s amendment, Pandora is now looking to sell 15,736,600 shares at a maximum offering price of between $7 and $9 per share. That means its IPO could be as big as $141.6 million.

To put that into perspective, Groupon — which like Pandora isn’t yet profitable — just announced that it will seek a $750 million IPO.

Pandora's stock will be traded on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "P."

More About: ipo, pandora

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Need an API? Try Mashape’s Marketplace [INVITES]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 02:06 PM PDT

Startup Mashape launched a marketplace for APIs of all kinds Thursday.

For startups looking to create or license their web-based products, an API marketplace is a boon. It allows for quick publicizing and discovery of APIs, and lets its users easily match them to developers’ needs. Mashape is also launching a simple billing system and social features for API providers.

“Most of the value of information technology will be delivered and sold via APIs in the near future; and not only services but also things connected to the Internet,” Mashape co-founder Augusto Marietti said in a release. “We just want to build the ecosystem to let this happen, faster.”

The marketplace already has more than 110 APIs, including tools for SMS, geolocation, music services, photo filters, travel, games and a great deal more.

SEE ALSO: Mashable’s Series on API Management

API providers can list any JSON API using a wizard interface and five auto-generated client libraries (PHP, Ruby, Python, Obj-C and Java) and API tools.

And API consumers can use any Mashape-listed API with a single developer key and a standardized interface. There’s also an online Test Console for playing around with APIs before committing to use one.

If you’d like to give the Mashape marketplace a shot, just use the coupon code Mashable to get into the beta now.

Image based on a photo from iStockphoto user alxpin.

More About: api, api management, developers, development, mashape

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Apple Signs Deal With Universal for iCloud Music Service [REPORT]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 01:50 PM PDT

Apple has reportedly signed a deal with Universal Music Group, a move that could very well herald the arrival of a cloud-based music service from Steve Jobs’s company.

Sources were already saying that Apple had inked deals with EMI, Sony and Warner Music Group, with UMG being the only holdout. Now, sources are telling CNET that Apple has deals with all four major labels. Apparently the company also has agreements with many publishers — an integral key to the music service puzzle.

Apple announced this week that it would be unveiling something called iCloud at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6. We have suspected that iCloud will be a cloud-based music service, but Apple has yet to confirm this.

CNET has a few interesting details about the supposed service: in terms of revenue, labels will get 58%, publishers 12% and Apple 30%. No word on pricing yet, though. And we still haven’t heard of any indie labels coming on board.

Streaming will not be launching at the conference, but will be coming soon, and the locker will only hold music purchased from iTunes (this could potentially change).

The alleged launch of this new product will come on the heels of two similar product unveilings: Amazon’s Cloud Player and Google Music.

Still, with labels in tow, Apple’s service would be a much more robust, slick offering.

Amazon and Google’s services are basically lockers that allow users to upload all of their music into the cloud for access on phones and other devices. Apple’s service would let users keep content on its servers and access it from the cloud — no uploading required.

Update: The service could cost $25 per year.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, billoxford

More About: apple, EMI, icloud, itunes, music, sony, universal, Warner

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Former NPR CEO Named Chief Digital Officer of NBC News

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 01:41 PM PDT

Vivian Schiller, who was pressured to step down from her role as CEO of NPR earlier this year, has been named chief digital officer of NBC News.

Her two-year stint as the head of NPR came to a close following two high-profile controversies towards the end of her tenure, which the board determined were so distracting that she could no longer lead the organization, NPR reported in March.

One involved the firing of Juan Williams after he said on Fox News that seeing people in “Muslim garb” on airplanes made him nervous, which also led to the resignation of NPR’s top news executive, Ellen Weiss.

At NBC News, Schiller will oversee digital and mobile strategy for NBC News and MSNBC, as well as younger properties such as and She will report to NBC News president Steve Capus beginning in mid-July, NBC News said in a statement.

Before NPR, Schiller served as a VP in the online division of The New York Times.

Image courtesy of Flickr, David Berkowitz

More About: media, nbc news, NPR, vivian schiller

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Groupon CEO Includes Keys to Success in SEC Filing

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 01:23 PM PDT

Groupon’s $750 million IPO filing leads off with an unusually enjoyable letter (for an SEC filing) from CEO Andrew Mason. The letter touches on the story of Groupon’s beginning and outlines what Mason feels have been key business practices for the soon-to-be public company.

After rattling off the necessary data points — more than 7,000 employees and 83 million subscribers — Mason starts Groupon’s story by bringing up the social action platform he co-founded before launching Groupon.

“After selling out on our original mission of saving the world to start hawking coupons,” he writes, “in order to live with ourselves, we vowed to make Groupon a service that people love using.”

Among the other factors Mason thinks have made Groupon successful: investing in growth even when it means posting a loss for the quarter, not shying away from the unusual, measuring success with unconventional metrics and reinventing as needed — like when the company outgrew its one-deal-per-market model.

SEE ALSO: Groupon's IPO by the Numbers [STATS]

The letter in its entirety is posted below.

Dear Potential Stockholders,

On the day of this writing, Groupon’s over 7,000 employees offered more than 1,000 daily deals to 83 million subscribers across 43 countries and have sold to date over 70 million Groupons. Reaching this scale in about 30 months required a great deal of operating flexibility, dating back to Groupon’s founding.

Before Groupon, there was The Point—a website launched in November 2007 after my former employer and one of my co-founders, Eric Lefkofsky, asked me to leave graduate school so we could start a business. The Point is a social action platform that lets anyone organize a campaign asking others to give money or take action as a group, but only once a “tipping point” of people agree to participate.

I started The Point to empower the little guy and solve the world’s unsolvable problems. A year later, I started Groupon to get Eric to stop bugging me to find a business model. Groupon, which started as a side project in November 2008, applied The Point’s technology to group buying. By January 2009, its popularity soaring, we had fully shifted our attention to Groupon.

I’m writing this letter to provide some insight into how we run Groupon. While we’re looking forward to being a public company, we intend to continue operating according to the long-term focused principles that have gotten us to this point. These include:

We aggressively invest in growth.

We spend a lot of money acquiring new subscribers because we can measure the return and believe in the long-term value of the marketplace we’re creating. In the past, we’ve made investments in growth that turned a healthy forecasted quarterly profit into a sizable loss. When we see opportunities to invest in long-term growth, expect that we will pursue them regardless of certain short-term consequences.

We are always reinventing ourselves.

In our early days, each Groupon market featured only one deal per day. The model was built around our limitations: We had a tiny community of customers and merchants.

As we grew, we ran into the opposite problem. Overwhelming demand from merchants, with nine-month waiting lists in some markets, left merchant demand unfilled and contributed to hundreds of Groupon clones springing up around the world. And our customer base grew so large that many of our merchants had an entirely new problem: Struggling with too many customers instead of too few.

To adapt, we increased our investment in technology and released deal targeting, enabling us to feature different deals for different subscribers in the same market based on their personal preferences. In addition to providing a more relevant customer experience, this helped us to manage the flow of customers and opened the Groupon marketplace to more merchants, in turn diminishing a reason for clones to exist.

Today, we are pursuing models of reinvention that would not be possible without the critical mass of customers and merchants we have achieved. Groupon NOW, for example, allows customers to pull deals on demand for immediate redemption, and helps keep merchants bustling throughout the day.

Expect us to make ambitious bets on our future that distract us from our current business. Some bets we’ll get right, and others we’ll get wrong, but we think it’s the only way to continuously build disruptive products.

We are unusual and we like it that way.

We want the time people spend with Groupon to be memorable. Life is too short to be a boring company. Whether it’s with a deal for something unusual, such as fire dancing classes, or a marketing
campaign such as Grouspawn (1), we seek to create experiences for our customers that make today different enough from yesterday to justify getting out of bed. While weighted toward the measurable, our decision-making process also considers what we feel in our gut to be great for our customers and merchants, even if it can’t be quantified over a short time horizon.

(1) Grouspawn is a foundation we created that awards college scholarships to babies whose parents used a Groupon on their first date.

Our customers and merchants are all we care about.

After selling out on our original mission of saving the world to start hawking coupons, in order to live with ourselves, we vowed to make Groupon a service that people love using. We set out to upturn the stigmas created by traditional discounting services, trusting that nothing would be as crucial to our long-term success as happy customers and merchants. We put our phone number on our printed Groupons and built a huge customer service operation, manned in part with members of Chicago’s improv community. We developed a sophisticated, multi-stage process to pick deals from high quality merchants with vigorously fact-checked editorial content. We built a dedicated merchant services team that works with our merchant partners to ensure satisfaction. And we have a completely open return policy, giving customers a refund if they ever feel like Groupon let them down. We do these things to make our customers and merchants happy, knowing that market success would be a side effect.

We believe that when once-great companies fall, they don’t lose to competitors, they lose to themselves—and that happens when they stop focusing on making people happy. As such, we do not intend to be reactive to competitors. We will watch them, but we won’t distract ourselves with decisions that aren’t designed primarily to make our customers and merchants happy.

We don’t measure ourselves in conventional ways.

There are three main financial metrics that we track closely. First, we track gross profit, which we believe is the best proxy for the value we’re creating. Second, we measure free cash flow—there is no better metric for long-term financial stability. Finally, we use a third metric to measure our financial performance—Adjusted Consolidated Segment Operating Income, or Adjusted CSOI. This metric is our consolidated segment operating income before our new subscriber acquisition costs and certain non-cash charges; we think of it as our operating profitability before marketing costs incurred for long-term growth.

If you’re thinking about investing, hopefully it’s because, like me, you believe that Groupon is better positioned than any company in history to reshape local commerce. The speed of our growth reflects the enormous opportunity before us to create a more efficient local marketplace. As with any business in a 30-month-old industry, the path to success will have twists and turns, moments of brilliance and other moments of sheer stupidity. Knowing that this will at times be a bumpy ride, we thank you for considering joining us.

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Did Rep. Weiner’s Lewd Twitter Photo Come Through a Yfrog Security Hole?

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 01:18 PM PDT

By now, most people know that the lewd photo sent from the Twitter feed of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner to a Seattle college student was posted via ImageShack’s image-/video-hosting service, Yfrog. What’s become apparent in recent days is that Yfrog had a possible security hole, in the form of its email-to-post function.

The photo in question featured a (clothed) crotch shot of an unidentified man that was sent to Twitter via Yfrog. The congressman has denied that he posted the photo — blaming hackers — but has not outright denied that it was his picture.

The Daily Dot recently pointed out that Yfrog users had the option to email a custom address in order to post pictures to Yfrog and Twitter. You could email that address using any email account (without verification process).

So, let’s say Weiner’s posting address was If Weiner emailed a photo to that address from his government account, it would be posted to Twitter. If I emailed that address from my own account, any photo I sent would be posted on his stream as well. All a “hacker” needs to know is that address.

All those addresses follow the same format: Twitterusername.[ ], and that blank space was always filled with a random word, five to six characters long, generated by Yfrog. So it wouldn’t be that hard to fill in the blanks.

According to The Daily Dot, after it reached out to Yfrog for comment, the service disabled the email-to-post option. We’re reached out to Yfrog for comment ourselves.

Of course, this supposed security hole could have nothing to do with Weiner’s predicament. Weiner recently stated that his office is conducting an internal investigation using an outside firm to look into the origin on the pic, so we’ll just have to wait and see what emerges from that.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Freedom To Marry

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Groupon’s IPO by the Numbers [STATS]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 12:52 PM PDT

Groupon has filed for a $750 million IPO and may be worth billions of dollars once it becomes public. As part of that process, Groupon has released detailed information and stats about its users, finances and business model.

Here are some of the numbers that caught our attention in Groupon’s SEC filing:

  • Groupon has 83.1 million subscribers as of March 31, 2011. It had 152,203 on June 30, 2009.
  • The company is in 175 North American markets and 43 countries.
  • In Q1 2011, Groupon earned $644.7 million in revenue, but it still wasn’t enough to make Groupon profitable. It lost $102.7 million in Q1 2011.
  • Groupon spent $179.5 million on online marketing in Q1 2011. That’s huge, especially when you compare it to the $245 million Groupon spent on online marketing for all of 2010. Essentially, the company spent around $6 per Groupon offer.
  • Groupon had 56,781 merchants as customers by the end of Q1 2011, up from 212 in Q2 2009.
  • The company sold 28.1 million Groupons in Q1 2011, up from 116,231 in Q2 2009.
  • Groupon had 7,107 employees on March 31, 2011.
  • Groupon has made 13 acquisitions in the past year.
  • The company’s largest shareholder isn’t CEO and founder Andrew Mason, but investor and co-founder Eric P. Lefkofsky. He owns 64,113,046 Class A shares (21.6% of the total) and 499,992 Class B shares (41.7% of the total).
  • Andrew Mason owns 22,967,252 Class A shares (7.7% of the total) and owns the same amount of Class B shares as Lefkofsky: 499,992 (41.7% of the total).
  • Groupon has raised $1.12 billion so far in venture funding from a $6.8 million Series A, a $30 million Series B, a $135 million Series C and a $950 Series D.
  • Groupon had $208.7 million in cash and cash equivalents on March 31, 2011.
  • Groupon has paid $34.8 million for its acquisitions, not including CityDeal and QPod.

SEE ALSO: Groupon CEO Includes Keys To Success In SEC Filing

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The State of Photo Sharing on Twitter [STATS]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 12:39 PM PDT

Twitter may be finally giving users a native way to share photos via its web and mobile applications, but the practice of sharing photos on Twitter — via third-party applications such as Yfrog or Twitpic — is almost as dated as the service itself.

Just how often are Twitter users including photos in their tweets, and which services are they using to do so?

Social media monitoring company Sysomos decided to find out; it looked at the tweets from May 30, 2011 to determine the percentage of tweets with links and images.

Of the all the tweets from May 30, 14.9% contained a link and 1.25% contained a link to a picture from a photo-sharing service. “On a busy day, Twitter gets about 170 million tweets, 1.25% means 2.125 million tweets daily link to pictures from third-party services,” Sysomos says.

As for the services themselves, Sysomos found that Twitpic was the most popular (45.7%), followed by Yfrog with 29.3%, Lockerz with 17.4% and Instagram with 5.2%. Flickr commanded just 2.1% of the photos shared on Twitter for the day.

Most notable is that just 1.25% of tweets from the day, a holiday no less, contained photos. The takeaway: Twitter has an opportunity to make photo sharing a more common activity.

Take a look at the charts below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Mitt Romney’s Presidential Bid as Told by Social Media

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 12:18 PM PDT

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced his second presidential bid on Thursday.

In April, Romney used a YouTube video to announce the formation of an exploratory committee for a 2012 presidential bid. He tweeted his intention to announce his run last week, and he made it official in Thursday’s speech at a family farm in New Hampshire.

Although most of us couldn’t be at Scamman Farm ourselves, social media offers a glimpse of what the event was like.

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Groupon Files for $750 Million IPO

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 12:01 PM PDT

Groupon has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public in a $750 million IPO underwritten by Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

The filing finally reveals the details of Groupon’s financials, which have long been the subject of speculation. For the full year of 2010, the company’s revenue totaled $713 million, up an astounding 23x from 2009. However, the company’s revenue in just the first quarter of 2011 was $644 million, showing just how fast Groupon continues to grow.

Groupon’s subscriber base has shown a similar growth trajectory, with the company serving its deals to more than 83 million subscribers at the end of the first quarter, up from 50 million at the end of 2010.

The company, which has raised more than $1 billion in venture capital, has paid a price for that robust growth, however, and is not currently profitable. In its filing, Groupon writes, “We have incurred net losses since inception and we expect our operating expenses to increase significantly in the foreseeable future. … We incurred net losses of $389.6 million and $102.7 million in 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.”

SEE ALSO: Groupon's IPO by the Numbers [STATS]

Groupon’s founder and CEO Andrew Mason speaks of his company’s unprecedented growth, strategy and often quirky approach in a letter to shareholders that’s included in the filing. It reads, in part:

“We want the time people spend with Groupon to be memorable. Life is too short to be a boring company. Whether it’s with a deal for something unusual, such as fire dancing classes, or a marketing campaign such as Grouspawn, we seek to create experiences for our customers that make today different enough from yesterday to justify getting out of bed. …

… If you’re thinking about investing, hopefully it’s because, like me, you believe that Groupon is better positioned than any company in history to reshape local commerce. The speed of our growth reflects the enormous opportunity before us to create a more efficient local marketplace. As with any business in a 30-month-old industry, the path to success will have twists and turns, moments of brilliance and other moments of sheer stupidity.”

SEE ALSO: Groupon CEO Includes Keys To Success In SEC Filing

Groupon’s filing had been anticipated for some time, though the red hot performance of other recent offerings from the likes of LinkedIn and Russian search giant Yandex may have accelerated the company’s timetable. Groupon will trade under the symbol GRPN when it makes its debut.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, kemie

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Robyn Releases Stripped-Down, Dance-Heavy Video for “Call Your Girlfriend”

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 11:55 AM PDT

Each day, Mashable highlights one noteworthy YouTube video. Check out all our viral video picks.

Swedish musician Robyn is out with a video for her song "Call Your Girlfriend,” off of her album Body Talk, and it’s a lot more pared-down than previous offerings from the poppy songstress.

Music blog Stereogum compares it to Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower” video — which spawned the “Dancing Thom” meme — and we tend to agree. Hilarious, moving — we’re not sure what adjective to pick.

Either way, this video is definitely better than her video “Killing Me,” but still somehow not as poignant as “Show Me Love.”

More About: killing-me, music, radiohead, robyn, show-me-love, thom yorke, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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iPad Has 53x the Browser Share of its Nearest Competitor [STATS]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 11:32 AM PDT

If web browser statistics are any indication, the iPad will be leading the tablet race for a long time to come. According to the latest usage share numbers from Net Applications, the iPad now accounts for 0.92% of the browser market.

That might not sound like a lot until you consider that its nearest tablet competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, ekes out only 0.018%. In the words of Net Applications, the usage share for the iPad is 53 times that of its closest competitor. That’s a big lead.

We decided to take a look at the browser usage stats from the iPad from April 2010 to May 2011. This data proved interesting in not only assessing the growth trajectory of the device, but stacking up where the iPad stood (as compared to its competitors) even 13 months ago.

Looking at this data, it’s clear that even in April 2010, the iPad had more of a usage share than the Galaxy Tab does today. In fact, at that time, when the iPad was barely one month old, it had almost as much usage share as the Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom and BlackBerry PlayBook combined.

Meanwhile, the growth curve, in terms of browser usage, for the iPad has continued to grow. The figures from May 2011 are more than double those of November 2010 and usage continues to climb by about 10% each month.

It’s hard to read anything from this data other than what we already know: The iPad is a huge success; its competitors just aren’t selling as well. Still, seeing the usage statistics leads us to the same conclusion as Net Applications: Where are the iPad competitors?

More About: browser market, ipad, net applications, stats, tablets

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3 Pressing Questions Facing the Future of Social Media

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 11:17 AM PDT

Soren Gordhamer is the organizer of the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, which brings together staff from Google, Facebook, Twitter and Zynga along with Zen teachers and others to explore living with awareness and wisdom in our modern age. He is SorenG on Twitter.

The conversation about social media in our society is shifting significantly. We’re no longer asking questions like, "Will people use social media?" or "Are sites like Facebook and Twitter simply trends that will soon lose steam?" After billions of tweets and 600 million people on Facebook, it's settled: People want to share online. And with Facebook moving toward a $100 billion valuation, there is money to be made.

The emerging conversation is not if we will be connected but is instead, "How can we effectively and productively connect?" Now that we can get constant updates on just about every aspect of our friends' lives, how do we receive that which is relevant?

New paradigms are beginning to emerge as user habits shift toward greater relevancy. The companies that successfully address these changes will have a huge advantage over those that don’t.

1. The Distraction Question

How do we live continually connected without being continually distracted?

A recent survey from social email software provider found that individual employees are burning an average of $10,375 in productivity each year. Why? "Because we don't disconnect from an online chat quickly enough, or we get sidetracked by a bulging email inbox, or we fall into a Facebook hole of photos, updates and messages."

In a recent blog post titled "The Twitter Trap," Bill Keller, the executive editor (for not much longer) of The New York Times, writes about the challenges of staying focused. "The most obvious drawback of social media is that they are aggressive distractions." He continued, "Every time my TweetDeck shoots a new tweet to my desktop, I experience a little dopamine spritz that takes me away from … from … wait, what was I saying?"

While the range of content we could access was once exciting, people are realizing they need to know as much about how to turn off their stream than how to turn it on. The question is no longer, "How can I know what my friends are doing or thinking at any given time?" We have solved that for the most part. Social media that finds the right balance of when and how to update us, and which gives us control over such notifications, will win in the long run.

2. The Filter Question

How do we filter the stream to get what is most essential?

In the early days of Twitter, your feed would show the @replies of everyone you followed. For some, it created an excess of irrelevant information. Twitter changed this functionality (to the initial chagrin of many users) to only include tweets directed at users that were mutually followed. It effectively streamlined Twitter feeds and removed information clutter. Most users have since come around to accept that this was the right move for Twitter amid its exponential growth.

Twitter’s focus on relevance is echoed in the activities of other web giants like Google and Facebook. They are attempting to do the filtering for us, such that we only see what they think most interests us.

Some people, like board president Eli Pariser, see a danger in this. In a recent TED talk, he describes the "filter bubble" as "your own personal unique universe of information that you live in online." More and more, we see only what companies think we want to see. For example, we might receive different Google search results than our neighbor, since the rankings are now based more and more on what Google knows about us. And even if we have the same Facebook friends as our neighbor, we will be shown very different updates, as Facebook defaults to showing us only things related to what we click on and share the most.

Three elements are important here. First, the means of filtering needs to be transparent. We need to know what the filtering is based on. Second, we need choice in that filtering to help make it relevant to us. And third, there needs to be a non-filtering (or non-personalized) option. For example, if we can see a personalized Google search, we also need the choice for a non-personalized one.

The companies that can do this will succeed in gathering user trust and engagement. The question is not if filtering is needed but rather how that filtering happens and the level of choice and transparency in the process.

3. The Capacity Question

How much social media can I actually consume?

Along these same lines is the third issue of capacity. As more an more media are integrated into social networks every day, we’re growing accustomed to knowing just about everything our friends are doing, thinking, watching and listening to. On one level, this is awesome. On another, it makes balancing other people's life updates and living your own life that much more challenging.

Mark Zuckerberg argued last week that people tend to want more than they think. Recalling the implementation of Facebook’s News Feed feature, he said, “People thought that, you know, it was just too much. They wanted to share stuff on the site, but they didn’t want it to be so much in people’s face. You know now it’s just part of the site that I think most people in a way would be like, ‘What’s going on? How can there be Facebook without this?’”

At some point, though, we reach a capacity. There is only so much time in a day. Dave Morin's company, Path, which gives users a maximum of 50 friends, is one step toward a shifting paradigm. Other efforts that build limits into the system will likely emerge to support people in search of this balance.

Get Ready – It's Only Going To Increase

If you think you have a challenge now managing your tweets, emails, Facebook posts and texts, hold on to your hat. This is just the beginning. According to a recent blog post from Cisco Systems, "In 2010, there were 12.5 billion devices connected to the Internet. Looking to the future, Cisco IBSG predicts there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2015, and 50 billion by 2020."

Both the types of information we can share will dramatically increase, and the number of people from whom we can receive this content will also grow. Essentially, we will have many more people creating significantly more content.

Providing people more ways to share online is no longer the challenge. That was the old paradigm. A new paradigm of relevancy is emerging, which goes beyond the question of whether "to follow or not follow" or "to friend or not friend." Companies need to see that their job is not to provide us data, or even keep us updated — it is to serve our needs.

And people have a need to not only receive a constant flow of information but also to get quality information in ways that add benefit to their lives. The social networks and web companies that remember this will stand the best chance of success in the future.

More About: distractions, facebook, filters, List, Lists, productivity, social media, twitter

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Facebook Strikes Back at Man Who Claims Half of Zuckerberg’s Shares

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 11:06 AM PDT

Paul Ceglia

Facebook has filed a legal motion against Paul Ceglia, the man who claims he owns 50% of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook stake. The motion is filled with new evidence that implicates Ceglia as a fraud.

In its motion, Facebook requests for expedited discovery, where two parties exchange evidence for examination. Facebook wants to get its hands on the contract that Ceglia claims Zuckerberg signed.

The first section of the 27-page motion essentially lays out the facts of the case and claims that Ceglia has already changed his story. “During the remand proceedings, [Facebook] pointed out the incredible nature of Ceglia’s claims and declared that his lawsuit was a fraud based on a fabricated contract,” Facebook’s motion says. “In response, Ceglia did an about-face. He pulled back his original complaint, retained new lawyers, and filed a new complaint filled with new facts and new legal theories.”

Ceglia originally claimed he was entitled to 84% of Facebook when he filed his initial lawsuit in July 2010. Earlier this year, Ceglia refiled his lawsuit with the prominent law firm DLA Piper.

The rest of the motion is an all-out assault on Ceglia’s credibility and the documents he has provided. Facebook claims that Ceglia’s documents are forgeries. The company says Zuckerberg didn’t even come up with the idea for Facebook until December 2003 (Ceglia claims they signed a contract in April 2003).

Facebook then lays out evidence for why the contract “is an obvious cut-and-paste job,” noting inconsistencies in language, margins and terminology. Facebook even brought in linguistics expert Frank Romano, who concludes that the first two pages of the contract were written at different times. Facebook also tackles the email conversations Ceglia claims he had with Zuckerberg about Facebook, again claiming they were forgeries due to the language of the emails.

In the last section of the filing, Facebook attacks Ceglia’s credibility in no uncertain terms. “Ceglia is a professional con artist,” Facebook says. “A comprehensive background investigation conducted by the nationally renowned investigative firm Kroll Associates, Inc. established that Ceglia is a career criminal who has engaged in fraud, subterfuge and falsification of documents. From his 1997 felony conviction through his 2009 arrest for scamming New Yorkers, Ceglia has a long record of criminal and fraudulent behavior that spans decades.”

If Facebook’s allegations are correct, Ceglia could quickly find himself charged with fraud. In several private conversations we have had with Facebook, it’s been very clear that the company’s intention was to take Ceglia to the cleaners and hang him out to dry. Facebook believes that this lawsuit has gone on for long enough and won’t be giving Ceglia any mercy.

Facebook’s motion for expedited discovery is embedded below:

Court filing courtesy of Forbes

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Amazon Joins Facebook, Yelp & Google on the Daily Deals Bandwagon [UPDATED]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 10:45 AM PDT

Amazon has jumped into the daily deals space, launching a coupon site called AmazonLocal.

The site, currently only available in Boise, Idaho, sells daily deal coupons for 50% or more savings at local businesses. If you happen to be in Boise and craving ice cream, today you can buy a $13 credit at Goody’s for $6.

The buying experience is essentially the same as Groupon, except that Amazon is not actually selling a deal of its own. If you want the ice cream deal, you will be buying it from LivingSocial — the Groupon-like startup that Amazon put $175 million into this past December — using Amazon’s platform.

It appears that Amazon is launching a deal aggregator rather than a deals product, though the company has not yet responded to a request for comment on that point (a spokesperson did confirm that AmazonLocal would be expanding to more cities “quickly”).

A deals aggregator would certainly make sense for Amazon. Yelp, Facebook, Google and even media companies like The New York Times have all jumped on the Groupon bandwagon with daily deal products.

While startups like Yippit and Dealery are somewhat established daily deal aggregators, they make a much less intimidating cast of competitors — especially to the company that helped establish the very idea of an online marketplace.

Update: An Amazon spokesperson said that AmazonLocal will soon offer direct deals sourced by Amazon as well as deals from multiple providers.

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Rapportive Takes on Gmail’s People Widget

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 10:34 AM PDT

Rapportive, which makes a Gmail add-on for social intelligence in the inbox, has responded to what many perceived as a direct attack from Google by integrating the Gmail people widget into the Rapportive experience.

Rapportive contact profiles will include the usual features along with the Gmail enhancements — recent conversations, shared Google Docs, and Google Chat and Google Voice options.

Users will have access to the new Rapportive features as soon as they get the Gmail widget, which is being gradually rolled out to users over the next few weeks.

The Gmail people widget, introduced last week, shows you job titles, calendar availability, recent conversations, shared Google Docs and Buzz updates related to your email contacts in the sidebar. It looks and functions remarkably similar to Rapportive’s pre-existing sidebar, albeit with deeper Google integration.

Rapportive’s add-on includes extras beyond Google, including social ties to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but initial speculation was that the young startup would be overshadowed by the newly introduced native widget.

The similarities did not go unnoticed. “We’re very flattered by how similar the widget is to Rapportive,” Rapportive CEO and co-founder Rahul Vohra says. “In fact, some of the design details have been copied directly, from the new position of the ‘print’ and ‘new window’ icons, through to how the widget remains onscreen as you scroll.”

But, the widget did not come as a complete surprise. “I knew it would happen sometime this year. Google has made acquisitions in this space, and social is their new mantra,” he explains. “I emailed our investors as soon as the news broke — I detailed how we felt, that we planned to integrate, and reminded everybody of our roadmap for the next year or so. Everybody was very positive.”

And positive they’ll stay, now that Rapportive integrates with Gmail’s people widget. Plus, Vohra reports that May was a record month for the startup. Users are now looking up more than 50 million contact profiles each month, he says.

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Coca-Cola Celebrates 125th Anniversary With iPad App [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 10:21 AM PDT

Coca-Cola is celebrating its 125th birthday with a fancy coffee table book that fetches up to $650, but you can get the same content on the iPad for $4.99.

Coke's iPad app, created by Assouline, is presented as a "visual journey" through the brand's history, just like the book. The app features vintage ads, photos and celebrities like James Brown, Run-DMC and President John F. Kennedy, as well as extra video content.

This is the brand’s first iPad app; it was released Thursday.

The company also celebrated its anniversary last month with a with a 3D projection display on its Atlanta headquarters.

More About: coca cola, ipad apps, MARKETING

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HOW TO: Connect With Mashable Readers Offline [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 10:05 AM PDT

Mashable Meetups are events organized by the Mashable community. They give our readers the opportunity to meet with fellow web enthusiasts to discuss social media and technology offline.

As the go-to site for social, digital and technology news, most Mashable Meetups focus on digital topics. The next worldwide Mashable Meetup is Social Media Day on June 30. It’s a global celebration of the technological advancements that enable everyone to connect with real-time information, communicate from miles apart and have their voices be heard.

As self-organizing can be a challenge, we created a how-to guide and a Facebook Group for Mashable Meetup organizers. Whether you take the reigns as an organizer or come as an attendee, the most important thing to remember is that it’s about you and your fellow Mashable readers connecting in real life. Do what works best for your community and have fun!

Still wondering what exactly a Mashable Meetup is? Watch the video above for further explanation and tips on how to organize.

Video by David P. Alexander.

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Topshop Sets Up Instagram-Styled Photoshoots in Stores

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 09:48 AM PDT

Topshop is treating its shoppers to something beyond air conditioning this summer: a complimentary styling and makeup session, followed by an Instagram photo shoot.

Photos will be taken with an iPad 2 against a backdrop. Participants will then be able to select one of several Instagram filters to stylize their images, which they can print out on postcards. Shoppers can also opt to upload their images directly to Topshop’s gallery as well as their own Facebook profiles.

The campaign runs in London, Dublin and Liverpool from June 1 to 4, and in Manchester and New York from June 8 to 11. It was developed in collaboration with UK-based social media agency FreshNetworks, which also developed the Catch a Choo Foursquare contest, one of our favorite social media campaigns.

Topshop has recently been leveraging in-store digital experiences to get customers into its shops. Last month, the retailer set up an augmented reality-powered fitting room in its Moscow store.

More About: fashion, freshnetworks, instagram, topshop

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Stephen Colbert Uses Twitter To Poke Fun at Weiner Scandal [PICS]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 09:25 AM PDT

Last weekend, a lewd photo was sent via the Twitter feed of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner to a young college student in Seattle. The congressman has been in interviews all week, stating that his account was hacked and that he did not send the snap — still, he has refused to say with “certitude” whether the pic was him or not. Enter Stephen Colbert to mock the whole ordeal.

The Pic Heard Round The Blogosphere — which is actually a rather tame snap of gray underwear hiding, er, anatomy — has set off a storm of speculation in the blogosphere, particularly on the site Big Government, headed up by publisher Andrew Breitbart. Big Government was apparently first to break the story, which it has dubbed “Weinergate.”

Weiner recently stated that his office is conducting an internal investigation using an outside firm to look into the origin on the pic, but has not outright stated that it wasn’t his photo, raising the suspicion of many a news source.

In response, Colbert has taken to Twitter, posting a series of suggestive photos that resemble genitalia with the text: “I cannot say with certitude that this is not part of my body. #ivebeenhacked.” The first photo features a man’s lap (presumably Colbert’s) and was sent using yfrog, the same service that the picture on Weiner’s account was posted via.

Mimicking the Weiner Shot

This pic was sent using yfrog, the same service that the picture on Weiner's account was posted via.


This picture appears to be of mollusks.


This appears to be a mutant from the film, Total Recall


This is a gourd.


This might be NSFW, if you work in a zoo.


This is a balloon.


This appears to be the work of Georgia O'Keeffe

Image courtesy of Flickr, David Boyle

More About: Anthony Weiner, humor, politics, pop culture, stephen colbert, twitter, weinergate

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Social News App Pulse Lets Users Save Stories for Later

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 09:00 AM PDT

Pulse, a social news reader for iPad, iPhone and Android, is getting into the save-for-later article bookmarking arena with the release of, which goes live Thursday, allows app users to create an account and save stories they discover in any of Pulse’s apps. By starring those stories, users save them for consumption later, and the stories can be viewed in any of the Pulse applications or online at, Pulse’s first web component.

The product is intended for application users looking to sync their reading experience across web and mobile platforms. Those who star stories in Pulse applications are effectively collecting them in an article repository, denoted by the new “.me” icons in the apps, that they can revisit from their preferred Pulse access point.

The product release also includes Instapaper, Read It Later and Evernote integration. Users who star stories via Pulse can also choose to earmark them to be sent to any of those services.

Pulse’s new product isn’t a direct attack against Instapaper or Read It Later — favoring connection over competition for the time being. At launch, Pulse users won’t be able to save stories from the web, but we have reason to believe that a way to save web stories to is in the works.

Pulse has 3 million users across all of its platforms.

More About: alphonso labs, bookmarking, news readers, pulse,, social news

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Some Real Dolls Promote Nokia’s Pink N8 [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 08:52 AM PDT

Say this for Nokia’s latest ad: It doesn’t exploit women — at least not real ones. The plastic kind are another story.

The financially challenged Nokia is getting the word out about the pink N8 phone with this campy new ad featuring blonde Barbie-like dolls dancing, cavorting on pink reindeer, showing off their tats, turning their heads around Linda Blair style and wearing Gaga-esque bras that shoot out beams of light all to the Sugababes’s tune “Freedom.”

It’s a different approach, alright, and reminiscent of director Todd Haynes’s debut film, Superstar, the Karen Carpenter story told with Barbie dolls. Let’s hope the dolls in this commercial have a happier life.

More About: advertising, barbie, Nokia N8, Todd Haynes

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