Facebook’s revenues have doubled the first half of 2011 to $1.6 billion, putting the social network on course to possibly earn $4 billion this year.
“It’s simply too late for anyone, perhaps even Google, to create a social network that can compete with Facebook,” writes Robert Hof in a related story.
Reuters suggests this news underscores the social networker’s appeal to advertisers. “We really see Facebook as becoming like the operating system for delivering ads on the Internet,” said Dave Williams, CEO of Blinq Media.
Williams added that Facebook’s “like” feature, that now helps endorse products and companies, provides valuable data that other online services can’t match.
“Companies like Yahoo are relying on third party user behavioral data based on things like cookies. On Facebook that’s data that users have revealed about themselves,” he said.
“The price that companies pay for every consumer that clicks on a Facebook ad increased 62 percent between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011, according to Efficient Frontier, another firm that helps companies deliver ad campaigns on Facebook,” reports Reuters.
Facebook has informed media executives that it will begin allowing online music services such as Spotify and Rdio to publish user activity on Facebook pages and could allow music playback without leaving the site.
The announcement is part of Facebook’s efforts to become a social center for media including music, games and movies.
According to The Wall Street Journal: “CNBC reported Wednesday that Facebook was working to create a music platform. In response, Facebook said: ‘Many of the most popular music services around the world are integrated with Facebook and we’re constantly talking to our partners about ways to improve these integrations.'”
Facebook was reportedly encouraged to pursue the music plan following success with social games such as “FarmVille” by Zynga Inc. The social media site is also integrating movies through deals with the likes of Warner Bros.
Facebook has already paid out $40,000 to hackers for identifying flaws in its website, just three weeks after the social networker launched its “Bug Bounty” program that offers compensation for finding vulnerabilities in the site’s code.
“Schemes such as Facebook’s illustrate the push towards greater disclosure of security weaknesses and hacking incidents, as the technology industry strives to pool its resources to protect itself better,” reports The Financial Times. “The approach has won praise from digital advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation.”
“The program has also been great because it has made our site more secure — by surfacing issues large and small, introducing us to novel attack vectors, and helping us improve lots of corners in our code,” explained Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer.
Facebook joins others such as Google, Mozilla and HP that have programs in place to offer payments to outsiders who identify vulnerabilities.
Samsung is poised to release its own free mobile messaging service.
ChatON is designed to simplify mobile communication by connecting users on all major smartphones. It will support Bada, Android, BlackBerry, iOS and PCs.
“The idea is to enable users to communicate instantly with each other using any mobile phone, along with sharing hand-written notes, images, and video,” reports Digital Trends.
“Samsung has vastly simplified mobile communication by allowing users to connect to our upcoming feature phones and all major smartphones in the market,”said Samsung’s media solution center chief Ho Soo Lee. “Users around the world can now enjoy easier and richer interactivity with whoever they want, in the format they want — this is mobile communication reinvented and democratized.”
ChatOn will have an aggressive launch, initially available in more than 120 countries in 62 languages. Digital Trends reports that it will boast a wide range of social services including interaction with Facebook and support for conversation windows, photos and videos.
Palo Alto-based Flipboard plans to add film and TV to its social media magazine platform. Flipboard is currently available only on the iPad, but an iPhone version is expected to launch in a few weeks.
Reuters reports that the company “hopes to cut deals with studios to carry movies and episodes of TV shows, getting into territory staked out by Netflix, Hulu and Facebook.”
Mike McCue, chairman and chief executive of Flipboard, explained he will begin the video project at the end of this year and also hopes to sell electronic books.
Flipboard’s service takes a cut of the revenue from advertising. “We’re trying to create the largest company possible,” said Danny Rimer, general partner at Index Ventures, a Flipboard investor. Reuters points out: “Rimer believes display advertising revenue’s migration online is ‘a very big opportunity.'”
Miramax is following in the footsteps of Warner Bros., Paramount and Universal by making its films available on Facebook.
The Miramax eXperience will initially offer 20 titles in the U.S. and 10 each in Great Britain and Turkey (available films include “Good Will Hunting,” “Spy Kids,” “Chicago” and “Cold Mountain”).
Movies will be made available for 30 Facebook credits (equivalent to $3) and can be viewed on Facebook, the iPad and Google TV.
Miramax hopes to build its reach to 150 million+ Facebook friends in the next 18 months.
“The iTunes-like nature of Miramax’s Facebook movie rentals (i.e. per-movie charge, rather than a subscription fee) could prove very effective,” reports Social Times. “A lot of online movie watchers aren’t ready to commit to a subscription service like Netflix or Hulu Plus. Renting a single movie from Facebook may be more their style, and a $3 movie rental sounds like a pretty good deal, if you ask me.”
Flingo, a new San Francisco-based startup, says its technology can watch what you are viewing on TV and with your permission present you with relevant Web content.
“Any mobile app or Web page being used in front of your TV can ask our servers what is on right now,” says David Harrison, cofounder and CTO of Flingo. “For example, you could go to Google or IMDb and the page would already know what’s on the screen. Retailers like Amazon or Walmart might want to show you things to buy related to a show, like DVDs, or what people are wearing in it.”
Additionally, social sites such as Facebook or Twitter would be able to connect viewers to a TV show’s official page or stream.
A major TV manufacturer will build Flingo’s Sync Apps into their TVs, which will reportedly retail for less than $500.
Andrew Losowsky, books editor for The Huffington Post, has released “Reading in Four Dimensions” (available as a 99-cent Kindle Single) — a fascinating essay on the future of publishing and how the Internet has impacted the reading experience.
Many of us are publishing in new ways via Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more. Readers are interacting with these “works” in a kind of social reading environment, which changes the way stories are written and read.
Physical books will get better, but there will be fewer of them. Books do not change like Web entries that become features and can travel with you like a time machine that catalogues the thinking of that time.
The TechCrunch post includes a video interview with Losowsky that addresses key points from his essay, including “how print brings permanence to digital publishing, how the concept of ‘publishing’ has translated online and the value of paper books in our increasingly digital world.”
The introduction of games to Google+ potentially threatens both Facebook (which also has games) and Apple (which takes a 30 percent cut versus Google’s 5 percent).
Google+ sees games as being core to their mission: “We don’t consider ourselves experts at making compelling games, but we can bring a lot to the party,” explains Bradley Horowitz, VP of Product for Google+. “There were some internal debates about whether Google was well-suited to have games in our repertoire and what is the value of games to the users. There’s tremendous value for users. They provide a way for people to connect, discover and interact with each other… We don’t see games contrary to our mission, or a diversion. We see them as being core.”
If HTML5 unifies the Web and mobile, it could become possible “for software to be written once and run across multiple devices.” And if Google+ games were to run via a browser on the iPhone or iPad, this could be an additional concern for Apple.
What do you think? Should Facebook and Apple be nervous?
Boxee launched a free iPad app this week that aggregates video content from social feeds such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
If the user has the Boxee Media Manager client on a Mac or PC, the new app can stream video from the computer to the iPad.
The company also designed a bookmarklet that allows users to mark video content for later viewing.
“One criticism of the iPad application is that it doesn’t offer access to premium applications like Vudu, Netflix and Hulu Plus,” reports Digital Trends. “Missing premium applications is attributed to companies like Netflix preferring to keep content within its own application as well as Flash content on the Web that’s incompatible with the iPad.”
Facebook has announced a new iOS and Android messaging app named Messenger that will allow users to send and view messages to Facebook friends across the two most popular phone platforms.
The app will also include a group messaging feature that will enable users to message multiple people for a single large conversation. Additionally, Messenger will help with coordinating group events by allowing users to include their current location in messages.
“Now Facebook’s vision when buying app maker Beluga is becoming clear,” reports Digital Trends. “The company has taken Beluga’s group messaging app and married it with Facebook contacts and messages.”
Messenger joins other emerging messaging services such as Apple’s iMessage and Google’s Huddle, but Facebook has the advantage of its 750 million member user base.
Will Facebook’s Messenger have an impact on RIM’s BlackBerry?
Quixey is an app-specialized search engine funded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
The service hopes to make it simpler for social media users (developers and consumers) to find applications and widgets for social networks.
Last week, Quixey got closer to that goal when it added Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Foursquare integration.
The engine also indexes and categorizes tools and apps based on social chatter, blog posts, reviews and other third-party descriptions of their function. The search technology bypasses the clutter by efficiently mining data and app-related keywords.
Quixey co-founder Tomer Kagan explains: “A lot of apps on Facebook [for example] don’t even have a description attached — just a name. From a search perspective, if all you have to work with is like three words, it’s extremely difficult.”
The Mountain View, CA startup has raised $400,000 in seed money from Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.
GLMPS (pronounced “glimpse”), a new iPhone app, hopes to stand out from the growing collection of available image-sharing apps by creating a new type of media that combines stills and video.
Digital Trends describes the basic premise: “When you take a picture with your smartphone through the app, GLMPS captures a photo as well as a short, 5-second video clip of what took place just before the picture was taken. When viewing the GLMPS file, the video plays first, and is then shrunken down and superimposed as a thumbnail over the photo. The video then plays on repeat, much like a GIF file.”
All images are automatically stored to the iPhone’s camera roll. Users can then share the images through the free app, or post GLMPS files to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
Online ad metrics are typically confusing to most advertisers, including those who pursue Facebook and other online ad platforms.
Nielsen is attempting to provide a solution to this problem by combining traditional TV data and anonymous online data.
According to Nielsen: “The new system will use an innovative, patent-pending process combining traditional Nielsen TV and online panel data with aggregated, anonymous demographic information from participating online data contributors. Using its unique approach, Nielsen will be able to provide reach, frequency and Gross Rating Point (GRP) measures for online advertising campaigns of nearly any size.”
The Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings service is currently in its testing phase with 80 brands. A public launch is expected by August 15.
Early partner Facebook is also working with comScore on a tool based on GRPs designed to assist advertisers. Facebook hopes both efforts will help make its ad platform more “approachable” to media buyers.
Tom Anderson, former founder and president of MySpace, details the key advantages Google+ has over Facebook in a recent guest post on TechCrunch.
Anderson suggests Google+ can attract game developers by taking a smaller cut, and may not need any advertising at all. “Google has plenty to gain without ever showing an ad and, put simply, Google doesn’t need the money,” writes Anderson. “Facebook’s got to know this, and it’s got to have them just a little bit concerned.”
Facebook is testing out a “real-time” feed, as opposed to its current default “Top News” algorithm (which Anderson has criticized). Facebook is having to deal with complaints from advertisers and app developers. “It seems that the ‘Top News’ stream is killing the virality of advertisers ‘content’ and of apps that are trying to find new users,” he adds.
Anderson addresses Google’s decision to block business accounts and suggests both companies have some challenging decisions to make: “How do they balance what’s best for the regular guy (you & me), advertisers (big brands), small local businesses (who can never afford the big spend), platform developers with non-competing services (games & music, which it appears FB won’t get into) and platform developers with potentially competitive services (like business networking and dating, which FB/G+ may want to get into themselves someday).”
“Over the long haul (5-10 years), the company that makes the right choices in these areas may just end up winning,” he concludes.