Facebook announced the launch of “Facebook for Business” this week.
The service does not introduce any features new to Facebook, but is reportedly making it simpler for organizations to set up on the social networking site.
“Facebook allows small businesses to create rich social experiences, build lasting relationships and amplify the most powerful type of marketing — word of mouth,” a Facebook spokesperson told GigaOm. “We created Facebook.com/business to make it even easier for people to reach these objectives and grow.”
Facebook provides business services including user profiles for organizations, advertisements, sponsored stories, and assistance with creating Facebook apps and using social plugins.
The timing is interesting, since Google+ has recently been shutting down company profiles for violating user policy.
Twentieth Century Fox has announced a new service that will offer Fox movie downloads on Android devices as early as October. This is a first for the Google Android OS.
Due largely to the lack of playback and copy-protection technologies, Android has so far taken a backseat to Apple’s iPhone and the convenience of the iTunes store.
These issues should be addressed now that Google has acquired rights-management company Widevine.
Digital Trends points out that the service won’t enable downloading directly to phones: “Customers will need to initially buy a physical Blu-ray disc of a Fox movie. Afterward, they will be allowed to download a digital Android-friendly copy of the movie from Fox’s website to a computer, which can then be side loaded onto the Android device.”
ETCentric recently reported that Google+ may be one of the fastest growing networks ever, when it hit the 10 million mark two weeks from its launch.
Web analytics firm comScore reports that the new social network has already doubled that amount. Google+ has had 20 million unique visitors since its release late last month, including five million from the U.S.
Additionally, the Google+ iPhone app released earlier this week is expected to boost these totals.
“I’ve never seen anything grow this quickly,” commented VP of industry analysis at comScore, Andrew Lipsman. “The only other site that has accumulated as many new visitors in a short period of time is Twitter in 2009, but that happened over several months.”
According to Digital Trends: “The long-term plan for Google+ is to integrate it with other Google services such as YouTube and Gmail. When that happens, it’ll become a service to be reckoned with and will likely begin to make big gains on competitors such as Facebook and Twitter.”
In the latest installment of the ongoing Hulu saga, Bloomberg reports Apple is “considering making a bid” for the online video service.
Apple would join Google, Yahoo, AT&T and others who have expressed interest (Microsoft has reportedly dropped out of the bidding).
With $76 billion in cash and securities, an expected $2 billion bid would not be too difficult for Apple. If so, analysts suggest this would give Apple a leading subscription service that would rival, if not surpass, the Netflix service.
“Part of the ecosystem of Apple’s future is to include more video,” said Scott Sutherland, Wedbush Securities analyst (who recommends buying the stock). “It’s something they are focused on.”
Microsoft has reportedly dropped out of the bidding for Hulu and would not continue into a second round, according to “a person with knowledge of the matter.” (Although the individual did not rule out the possibility of Microsoft re-entering in a later round.)
Google, Yahoo, AT&T and as many as eight other companies remain interested in the online video service.
According to Business Insider, Yahoo is willing to spend up to $2 billion if it can get content rights for the next four or five years.
It has been reported that Hulu plans to offer five years of access to content from its media company owners (Disney, News Corp. and Comcast’s NBC Universal), including two years of exclusivity.
Indie pop singer Daria Musk held a six hour live concert over the weekend from a Connecticut recording studio on Google+ Hangouts with her fans and followers from all over the world.
Unfortunately, the one major constraint was that only ten people at a time could join Musk’s Hangout (others were told to try joining again later).
According to GigaOM, audience members (including a Google engineering director) “figured out an impromptu way of daisy-chaining Hangouts, making it possible for others to join in on the fun by joining connected video chats. This type of Hangouts relay was a quick hack, something to deal with the fact that Google has restricted the number of live participants in Hangouts to ten — but it also hints at an interesting opportunity for Google to utilize Hangouts as a way to turn live online broadcasting into a two-way medium, that is capable of real audience interaction.”
Musk’s comments after the concert: “I have to tell you that I never really felt I belonged in the places I’ve been in… I’ve always dreamed of seeing the world, meeting people from all over, being a global girl, a global artist… Finding my tribe… I found you last night. Thank you for finding me.”
Google had originally planned to test business partners on Google+ sometime in the coming months, but strong interest has led to the company possibly announcing partners as early as next week.
Christian Oestlien, group product manager at Google, wrote this week that “thousands upon thousands” of businesses are interested in using Google+. And as a result, the demand “has got us very focused on accelerating our business plans.”
Several businesses — including Ford, Breaking News and Mashable — have already moved ahead by creating Google+ profiles for their brands.
Businesses interested in a partnership are being asked to submit their applications by Friday, July 15.
Dragon Go! — a new voice-powered search app from Nuance Communications — is looking to join Google and Bing as a top search engine for mobile devices. (Nuance also offers the popular Dragon Dictation transcription program and a more generic voice search app called Dragon Search.)
Although not the first voice-activated search service available, Dragon Go is unique in that it identifies which ideal application to use for each query. For example, if “Play R.E.M.” is searched, Dragon Go will open Pandora — but if movie tickets are searched for, Fandango will open.
Nuance developed an open architecture geared toward including all types of vertical queries. It presently supports more than 180 services such as Yelp, Wikipedia, Pandora, IMDb, Fandango, OpenTable and Google.
The free app is currently available via Apple’s App Store and works on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
Android is the global leader in smartphone platforms with over 500,000 daily activations, serving as an obvious advantage for Google.
However, Android’s success is also becoming a boon for Microsoft, which has negotiated agreements with several Android licensees to settle patent infringement claims, providing $5-10 for each device shipped.
With the potential of 500,000 activations per day, this could amount to $1 billion in value to Microsoft.
This amount would exceed the value of their Windows 7 and Bing businesses currently.