Microsoft and Encyclopedia Britannica have joined forces in an attempt to make Bing a smarter search engine.
The partnership hopes to deliver “relevant information in a more organized way to help you find what you need more quickly and get stuff done,” says Franco Salvetti, principal development lead of Bing.
“The search engine’s answer feature tries to provide users with a snippet of useful information related to their questions and keywords without having to visit a webpage,” reports TechCrunch. “Results from Encyclopedia Britannica will now feature a thumbnail and some useful facts about the topic (as well as links to Wikipedia, Britannica, Freebase and — for those who don’t like to read — Qwiki).”
The posts suggests Microsoft’s plans are similar to the goals of Google’s Knowledge Graph project, but notes that “Google’s project is far more complex and ambitious.”
“Indeed, in some ways this partnership with Encyclopedia Britannica feels like a poor man’s version of Google’s project,” comments TechCrunch. “Google’s Knowledge Graph knows about 500 million entities and how they relate to each other. While it’s probably not quite fair to compare this directly to Britannica Online, its worth noting that the old-school encyclopedia features ‘just’ 120,000 articles.”
Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, testified before Congress last week on “The Future of Audio.”
Sherman published a statement of his speech, in which “he stresses that online piracy must be stopped and one of the ways to do this is by having search engines, like Google and Bing, censor any results that could lead users to sites with illegally obtained copyrighted material,” reports CNET.
“Thank you RIAA, this is great news for us!” responded The Pirate Bay on its blog, suggesting that such a crackdown would increase traffic to its own search engine.
The Pirate Bay ends its blog post sarcastically: “Hugs’n’kisses from your pals at The Pirate Bay — soon to be the biggest media search engine in the world!”
“Google said it was tackling piracy by removing millions of URLs containing copyrighted material monthly. The RIAA says that these numbers are inflated,” explains CNET. The RIAA also gave Google an overall grade of “incomplete” in December, suggesting the search engine still receives financial benefits from pirate sites.
However, the organization believes Google is making an effort. “Let us be clear: there is no doubt that Google has taken productive steps to combat content theft online and we are one of many that have commended these improvements,” the RIAA wrote in April. “These efforts are encouraging and give us hope that Google is truly committed to working with those of us that produce the content that Google users want to see and hear.”
On Sunday, Twitter revealed its new hashtag brand pages in its first ever television advertisement.
Twitter’s ad ran during NASCAR’s Pocono 400 and referenced Twitter.com/#NASCAR, which includes “commentary from drivers, their crews, and expert commentators, as well as a whole bunch of beautiful behind-the-scenes photos, all surfaced through a combination of algorithms and curation by the race league,” according to TechCrunch.
A related post from Business Insider notes that the Twitter.com/#NASCAR address redirects users to twitter.com/hashtag/nascar. “It’s a way for Twitter and NASCAR to help fans sift through all the noise that they’d find if they just looked at the #NASCAR hashtag in search,” notes TechCrunch.
The new pages will allow companies to “curate the experience around what people are saying” rather than “simply purchasing sponsored hashtags or tweets,” explains the post.
Critics highlight the similarity to AOL keywords, which once performed a similar task of combining news and commentary around a particular brand, but did so with limited success.
Japanese printing company Shunkosha provides rectangular plastic handles for customers to hold on Subway cars, and the latest innovation from the company integrates interactive smartphone advertisements into the handles.
“Strappy is a rectangular plastic covering that attaches to the straps hanging from subway car ceilings,” reports The Verge. “Within this covering is a reader that supports the FeliCa NFC standard — the same contactless system behind Pasmo, Tokyo’s rechargeable subway cards.”
Customers on the subway can place their smartphones on top of blue boxes connected to the handles. The smartphones will connect to a browser “directed to a URL with ads, coupons, or other marketing materials,” explains the post.
The innovation comes soon after the announcement that NTT DoCoMo, Softbank, and KDDI have begun building antennas within Japanese subway tunnels.
The product is now in a trial phase which will conclude by the end of June.
Google has implemented a new warning system that alerts users when Google believes the user is the target of a state-sponsored attack.
“When we have specific intelligence — either directly from users or from our own monitoring efforts — we show clear warning signs and put in place extra roadblocks to thwart these bad actors,” explains Eric Grosse, vice president of security engineering for Google.
Google does not reveal how they know that the attacks are state-sponsored. “We can’t go into the details without giving away information that would be helpful to these bad actors,” notes Grosse, “but our detailed analysis — as well as victim reports — strongly suggest the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored.”
Receiving notification does not necessarily mean your account has been hijacked. “It just means that we believe you may be a target, of phishing or malware for example, and that you should take immediate steps to secure your account,” Grosse adds.
Wired reports: “No word on whether Google will still notify users if it has reason to believe the state doing the spying is the U.S.”
Google acquired mobile productivity software suite Quickoffice this week in an undisclosed deal intended to bolster Google’s transition from computers to mobile devices.
Quickoffice is “most popularly known for its Android and iOS document-editing applications,” reports AllThingsD. Users often use the software to edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint documents from mobile devices.
“Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we’ll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite,” wrote Alan Warren, Google’s engineering director, in a company blog post.
“Quickoffice has a strong base of users, and we look forward to supporting them while we work on an even more seamless, intuitive and integrated experience,” he added.
Facebook has launched its previously announced mobile App Center in which users can read reviews, receive suggestions, and buy apps in one centralized location.
According to yesterday’s official Facebook statement: “The App Center is launching tonight with more than 600 social apps, including Nike+ GPS, Ubisoft Ghost Recon Commander, Stitcher Radio, Draw Something, and Pinterest.”
The announcement also notes that only high quality apps will appear in the store based on user ratings and usage statistics.
“Each person will have a personalized experience in the App Center, with recommendations based on the apps they and their friends use, whether that be games or fashion, food, fitness, travel, or other lifestyle apps,” explains the statement.
Facebook provided some interesting statistics in its statement, including: 1) “More than 230 million people play games on Facebook every month;” 2) “More than 130 games on Facebook have more than 1 million monthly active users;” 3) “Facebook drove people to the Apple App Store 83 million times in May;” and 4) “As of May, seven of the top 10 grossing iOS apps and six of the top 10 Android apps have integrated with Facebook.”
Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren spoke before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, arguing that Internet radio is subjected to unfair royalty fees.
When Westergren spoke before the committee last year, he explained that Pandora feeds 50 percent of revenues back to artists in performance fees, while Sirius Satellite Radio only pays 7 percent.
Westergren describes this as an unfair playing field and notes that Congress should “approach radio royalties in a technology neutral manner.”
“According to the account that Westergren gave me, the criteria for setting royalty rates in broadcast, satellite, and Internet radio were all determined at different times,” reports TechCrunch. “So when Pandora is making the case for lower loyalty rates, even the arguments that it can use are limited. For example, he says even though Pandora is ‘a massive driver of sales’ for iTunes and Amazon… it’s not allowed to offer that data as evidence. Satellite radio companies, on the other hand, can.”
Westergren does not expect immediate results, but does note that since most “members on the Hill use Pandora or some form of Internet radio” he remains optimistic about their desire to protect the brand in the future.
Customers will be able to buy Samsung’s Galaxy S III from any of the four major carriers and U.S. Cellular later this month. The phone will cost $199.
According to AllThingsD, “Samsung’s Galaxy S phones have traditionally provided the iPhone with its closest sales rival” and the newest phone plans to challenge the iPhone with its introduction of S Voice, a voice recognition system meant to operate similarly to iPhone’s Siri.
“The Galaxy S III runs the latest version of the Android operating system (Ice Cream Sandwich) and has a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD touchscreen and an eight-megapixel camera, as well as a front-facing 1.9-megapixel camera,” notes the article.
President of Samsung Telecommunications America Dale Sohn boasts that “Galaxy S III introduces new technological innovation and takes sharing to the next level.”
The Galaxy S III hit shelves in Europe last week. The international version runs on a quad-core processor, whereas the U.S. phone will include a dual-core processor.
Web designer Jake Caputo and coder Dominic Balasuriya teamed up to collect data on how much people would be willing to pay for access to a standalone HBO GO subscription.
After collecting over 2,000 data points in tweets, the consensus seemed that people would pay slightly over $12 per month for access to HBO programming and movie releases on tablets, phones, and connected TVs.
Caputo created the site takemymoneyhbo.com and Balasuriya wrote a script to analyze the data stream coming from tweets with the hashtag #takemymoneyhbo.
HBO currently makes $7 to $8 per subscriber per month.
TechCrunch speculates that even though HBO could hypothetically make more money per user by opening HBO GO access to everyone (currently users must have HBO through their cable provider to have access to the service), offering HBO GO without the cable tie-ins would not only anger cable companies, but would increase distribution and sales costs.
The Walt Disney Company already allows sports fans to watch ESPN on mobile devices using the WatchESPN app, and soon Disney Channel fans will experience the benefits of the TV Everywhere trend with a similar app that provides access to Disney Channel content on mobile devices.
“TV networks have been increasingly embracing TV Everywhere, the industry term for letting paying cable and satellite customers watch TV on mobile devices,” explains Ad Age. “The strategy is intended to make cable and satellite subscriptions more appealing and undermine the threat from streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.”
Disney will first offer the app to Comcast customers. CEO Bob Iger described the deal as “an important step because it delivers more value to the multichannel distributor and it delivers more value to the customer.”
The company plans to bring ABC Family and ABC to its streaming offerings in the future, reports Ad Age.
New analysis of tablet advertising suggests that although the Kindle Fire is 2.7-inches smaller than the iPad, users actually click on advertisements at a higher rate on the Fire than on Apple’s device.
But the report also notes that most of the Fire’s clicks come from Baby Boomers (ages 45 to 64) and that these people are unlikely to make purchases from tablets.
The report explains that consumers 18 to 34 are most likely to own an iPad and that customers 25 to 34 are the most likely to make purchases from a tablet.
The solution may be in building advertisements that can operate on multiple screen sizes. Advertisers will likely lean this way soon if Apple’s rumored iPad Mini ever comes to fruition.
In a related CNET article, the iPad continues to dominate the tablet market, while the demand for Amazon’s Kindle Fire is dwindling. The tablet market is growing rapidly, with sales numbers up 185 percent last year and 18.2 million devices shipped in just the first quarter of this year.
“Apple accounted for 11.8 million of those shipments, or 65 percent of the market. That’s largely thanks to the launch of Apple’s third-generation iPad and a price reduction on iPad 2 models,” explains CNET. Samsung Electronics comes in second, shipping 1.1 million tablets.
In late May, Apple published its first ever iOS security guide intended for an IT audience.
“The new guide includes four sections dedicated to topics like system architecture, encryption and data protection, network security, and device access,” reports TechCrunch.
According to the guide: “Apple designed the iOS platform with security at its core. Keeping information secure on mobile devices is critical for any user, whether they’re accessing corporate or customer information or storing personal photos, banking information, and addresses.”
“For organizations considering the security of iOS devices, it is helpful to understand how the built-in security features work together to provide a secure mobile computing platform,” adds Apple.
TechCrunch suggests not to view the guide as a trend towards openness, but rather as a repackaging of largely existing information specifically designed for an IT audience.
“It’s important that these details are documented in language IT understands as more and more businesses allow personal devices on their network and implement their own BYOD (bring your own device) programs,” notes the post.
Foursquare’s Twitter feed has exploded with the hashtag #allnew4sq — a not so subtle hint at the complete revamping of the location-based application expected within the next week.
During the past year, Foursquare users have begun using the application less as a way to check in and let everyone know where they are at all times, and more as a way to find what local restaurants are popular or what activity is generating a lot of buzz on a particular night.
“Foursquare has been slowly (and sometimes in leaps and bounds) building its data set, learning the habits of its users, all as part of a quest to offer better recommendations, to help them find destinations that they’ll like — and just better explore their worlds,” reports TechCrunch.
This has Foursquare in line to compete with recommendation service Yelp. In a related article, Business Insider notes that if Foursquare can improve on Yelp’s user experience, it can overtake Yelp as the premier recommendation service.
“Improving recommendations so that they take your location into account, as well as your interest graph and time of day, along with a map and social experience that competes with Yelp, Foursquare 2.0 could be a whole lot more appealing,” adds TechCrunch.
Groupon rival LivingSocial has partnered with AEG in a deal that will bring sports and entertainment tickets to the discount site.
AEG owns and operates — or is affiliated with — more than 100 venues (such as the Staples Center in Los Angeles). The deal comes after Groupon agreed to a similar deal with Ticketmaster.com about a year ago.
“LivingSocial’s AEG partnership is part of its Live Events business, which offers full-priced vouchers for entertainment and unique experiences,” reports Reuters. However, the service does not plan to offer big discounts on AEG events, which will be a departure from its daily deal model.
“It’s not an excess inventory dump,” said Doug Miller, senior VP of new business initiatives at LivingSocial. “Neither party came at this partnership with that idea.”
Reuters notes: “LivingSocial’s more than 60 million members will be able to buy vouchers for AEG events and get access to unique packages, such as VIP access or early admission at AEG venues, said Miller.”