• Long Odds On MapQuest Social Network
    File this one under "farfetched." AOL is reportedly working on a localized social network built around MapQuest. "Remember them?" ReadWriteWeb asks of the unpopular mapping service, while noting that AOL have already registered some domains "that all point to a page that says something called 'mqVibe' is coming soon."

    Earlier this month, ReadWriteWeb reported on some domain name purchases and trademark applications that led it believe that some sort of AOL social network was coming. "At the time, we figured it could have just been speculative," it writes. "But no, it looks like AOL is serious. MapQuest will ...

  • Source: AOL's Seed 'Defunct'
    Is Seed, AOL's souped-up freelancer platform, dead in the water? Business Insider is suggesting so, but based only on the word of a single, low-level source. "We're hearing there's no more work from one freelancer," it writes. AOL has yet to address the claim, which could mean anything. That said, Seed's shuttering wouldn't surprise many Web watchers, considering the company's continuous reorganizing -- which was only accelerated after it acquired Huffington Post this year.

    In May, for example, Seed boss and former New York Times tech reporter Saul Hansell was moved over to the Huffington Post as "big ...

  • Google Retains Top Employer Status
    Despite a new wave of perk-crazed tech start-ups (life-sized doll houses, anyone?) Google remains the most popular employer in the world among business students, according to Universum's latest global ranking. "Drawn to the company's culture of innovation, laid-back vibe, smart employees, and out-of-the-ordinary perks, undergraduates have seen Google as the world's most attractive employer since 2009," Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

    For Google at least, it seems not much has changed since 2010, when it topped the list of more desirable employers, followed by the Big Four accounting firms KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte. The rest of the ...

  • Data: Chrome Nipping At Firefox's Heels
    Christmas could come early (or right on time) for Google's Chrome division. According to StatCounter, Google's browser will pass Firefox to take the No. 2 spot -- behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer -- no later than December. As of Wednesday, Chrome's global average user share for September was 23.6%, while Firefox's stood at 26.8%, reports the Irish Web statistics firm. IE, still with a comfortable lead, was at 41.7%.

    "The climb of Chrome during 2011 has been astonishing," remarks Computerworld. "It has gained eight percentage point since January 2011, representing a 50% increase." During that same timeframe, Firefox has ...

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica Bets Big On App
    Determined not to let free, community-driven information services inherit the earth, Encyclopaedia Britannica is fighting back with a new, reasonably-priced iPad app. (It costs $2 a month, or $24 a year, versus $70 a year for the Web version and about $1,400 for the print version.) Meanwhile -- arguably as important as any price -- gadget god Walt Mossberg just gave the app his blessing. "It is much cleaner and more attractive than the cluttered Britannica website and sports some nice features, including a dynamic 'link map' showing the relationship between topics in a visual format," Mossberg writes in All ...
  • Can Spotify Stop Music Piracy?
    Is Spotify -- which just debuted stateside -- curing the world of music piracy? TorrentFreak thinks so. When the streaming music service launched in 2008, TorrentFreak branded it "an alternative to music piracy." Now, a new report looking into online music consumption habits shows that, since 2009, the number of people who pirate music has dropped by 25% in Sweden. "The sharp decrease coincides with a massive interest for the music streaming service Spotify," the news site notes. "One of the main reasons why people switch to legal services is the wider range of material they can find there."

    The ...
  • The Cost Of Patents
    Why all the recent fuss about patents? Well, along with stifling innovation, patents can cost a company millions! Illustrating the point, Goldman Sachs' tech analyst team calculates that Samsung, HTC and other phone manufacturers will have to pay Microsoft about $444 million in Android patent deals for fiscal year 2012 (from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012). "Goldman estimates that Microsoft is getting $3-$6 per Android device sold," Business Insider reports. "With settlements from Samsung, HTC and others, Goldman arrives at its estimate."

    In this scenario, however, not even Microsoft is a winner, Business Insider insists. "Sounds good for ...
  • SweetLabs Gets $13M For PC Apps
    A startup named SweetLabs just secured $13 million in Series C financing led by Intel Capital, along with Google Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. "SweetLabs started off creating an advertising network for software companies to advertise when people download software," Forbes explains. Now, however, it seems more focused on Pokki, a new platform for mobile-style apps on desktop PCs. "The idea of Pokki is to provide quick, always-on apps that give a similar experience to popular mobile iPhone apps," writes Forbes.

    Pokki apps, which live on a user's computer screen, can be quickly launched with a single click -- similar ...
  • Groupon Goes After Customer Loyalty
    Dubbed Rewards, Google is about to introduce a new product designed to help merchants increase customer loyalty by giving said customers a good reason to keep coming back. "Up until now, Groupon has built a billion-dollar business by getting local merchants to offer great one-time deals to consumers," TechCrunch writes, adding: "Those daily deals are all about attracting new customers." Rewards, however, is all about bringing back -- and nurturing relationships with -- existing customers.

    "With a Groupon Reward, a business that offers a regular Groupon deal will be able to follow up with another reward that gets ...

  • Web's Rise Forces Cable Unbundling
    Long feared by programmers -- and dreamed of by consumers -- cable unbundling is finally coming, reports Reuters. "U.S. cable operators are privately working on a plan to force programmers to unbundle their networks and allow customers to subscribe to channels on an individual basis," the news service writes. "The plan represents a complete reversal from cable operators' long-held opposition to what is known as 'a la carte' programming."

    What sparked the shift? Executives now seem to believe that unbundling is a necessary response to shifting market forces like higher carriage costs, a weak economy, and, of course, ...

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