Tuesday, June 22, 2010
  • Gavin O'Malley, June 22, 2010, 12:55 PM
  • Further testing consumers' patience over privacy and personal information sharing, Apple is now reportedly collecting the "precise," "real-time geographic location" of iPhone, iPad and even computer users.

    To cover its back, "In an updated version of its privacy policy, the company added a paragraph noting that once users agree, Apple and unspecified 'partners and licensees' may collect and store user location data," reports The Los Angeles Times.

    "This sounds reasonable, except that all iPhone users who want to download applications or media via the iTunes Store are forced to agree to the policy," writes MobilBeat. "Otherwise they are blocked from downloading anything, so it really isn't an option."

    And while, "The company says the data is anonymous and does not personally identify users," the Times adds. "Analysts have shown, however, that large, specific data sets can be used to identify people based on behavior patterns."

    Quoting directly from the LA Times coverage of the news, CNet writes: "Apple's policy update appears to be causing a small bit of alarm because of the phrase 'real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device,' though Apple is clear about saying that the location data is collected in a way that does not identify the person who owns the device and that it is used expressly 'to provide location-based services.'"

    "Apple's same privacy policy doesn't give iPhone users any choice when it comes to location data on their phones - -it is tracking their location, and reserves the right to share it with 'partners and licensees,'" writes MediaMemo. "Whether or not that creeps you out likely depends on your attitude toward services like Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter: If you spend your time broadcasting your status to the world, it's hard to get riled up about Apple keeping tabs on you, too."

    What's more, Apple has added a "Location Services" page, which allows users to prevent apps from using location information. "However, there's nothing to indicate that these settings prevent Apple itself from gathering and storing location data from Apple devices," notes the LA Times.

    Notes ReadWriteWeb: "It would be nice if Apple were more specific on how long its partners are allowed to retain your information." Read the whole story...
  • Backing up earlier reports, unnamed sources are telling The Wall Street Journal that Google is preparing to roll out a music download service tied to its search engine later this year, followed by an online subscription service in 2011. "Google's proposals [to music industry execs] are still vague, say these people, and it's unclear whether it has struck any deals with record labels so far," The Journal reports.

    "But Google has been stepping up conversations about offering new music services tied to phones running its Android operating system along with the broader Web, said people who have been briefed on the talks." Citing multiple unnamed music industry sources, CNet last week reported that Google could debut its own music service as early as the fall. Last month, the search giant gave attendees to its I/O conference a demonstration of a Web-based iTunes competitor. Read the whole story...
  • BPI -- the UK's top recording industry association -- has sent a cease-and-desist order to Google, politely asking the search engine to take down links to nine "one-click hosting" sites, each of which hosts thousands of illegal songs. BPI's complaint cites 38 links "that are available via Google's search engine, and [requests these] links be removed as soon a possible as they directly link to sound recordings owned by [BPI] members," reports paidContent:UK.

    The links reportedly point to such classics as K'Naan's "Wavin' Flag" to Michael Buble's "Haven't Met You Yet," plus tracks by Eminem and the cast of the TV series Glee. "While Google does not operate any of the infringing websites, search queries lead users to illegal downloads at sites such as MegaUpload, SendSpace and UserShare," paidContent:UK notes. Read the whole story...
  • Salesforce.com has debuted a Facebook-style social network for companies named Chatter. The network provides team members with their own profiles, and the ability to follow other members' activity. Salesforce has also added the ability to form and work in groups. "Perhaps more important is the fact that Chatter isn't limited to people -- users can also get alerts when documents and accounts are updated," notes SocialBeat.

    Outside developers are also being encouraged to build their own Chatter apps, and embed Chatter features into existing tools. The service is available for free to users with existing Salesforce accounts, and will cost $15 per user per month for others. By Salesforce's own calculations, 90% of the test customers said they would recommend Chatter to others, and that those customers reported a 22% increase in productivity on average. Read the whole story...
  • Amid what appears to be an e-book price war, Om Malik argues that Amazon can easily defend its market leadership position -- but not because its Kindle is the superior e-reader. On the contrary, "The reading experience on the iPad is so superior to that of the Kindle I often find myself staying up later than usual reading a book."

    Still the GigaOm founder admits to spending, on average, about $10 every 3-5 days on Amazon's site buying a book to read using the Kindle application on the iPad. With regard to both selection and ease of use, Apple's iBooks store pales in comparison. Also, unlike books purchased on iBooks, Amazon-bought e-books can be downloaded and read on virtually any device or operating system. "Unlike Amazon's Kindle store, iBooks is going to be limited to the iPad/iPhone platform -- which is not good enough for me," Malik concludes. But, what about Barnes & Noble, which no doubt can offers shoppers a broad selection of e-books. At least according to Malik, the brick & mortar bookseller has yet to successfully establish itself in the digital realm. Read the whole story...
  • Professional social network LindedIn is adding new features to its Groups offering, which lets members create an open forum around a specific subject or profession where users can comment and share news and information. Along with updating the look and feel of Groups, LindedIn is now making threaded conversations within groups similar to face-to-face professional interactions "by removing the wall between original remarks and off-site content such as news articles," reports TechCrunch.

    Users can now share links on Groups the same way they would on the homepage, while their profile pictures will now be attached to any comment they make on a group. Presently there are over 650,000 groups on LinkedIn, with the largest -- an e-marketing association -- amassing 200,000 members. As a whole, LinkedIn recently surpassed 70 million members. Read the whole story...