Friday, June 17, 2011
Gavin O'Malley, June 17, 2011, 11:56 AM
Facebook To Debut iPad AppThe New York Times

Ready to reshape the tablet-scape in its own image, Facebook reportedly plans to finally debut its iPad app in a matter of weeks. "The app has been in production at Facebook for almost a year, going through several design iterations, and is now in the final stages of testing," writes The New York Times, citing sources. Along with a slick design and overhauled Facebook Chat and Groups features, the app is expected to go beyond the features available on the Facebook Web site by allowing users to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the iPad's built-in cameras.

Mark Zuckerberg himself has reportedly been heavily invested in the process, "overseeing design decisions and the app's unique features," writes NYT. Regarding Zuck's supposed involvement, The Next Web surmises that "could explain the delay and sounds like Facebook's absence on the iPad was borne out of fear of screwing it up more than anything."

Going forward, "The new app could be a real boost to both Apple and Facebook," All Facebook writes. "According to the social network, there are now more than 250 million Facebook users actively accessing the service on a mobile device." What's more, "The availability of an app optimized for iPads might help sway tablet shoppers on the fence about whether to purchase an Android-based tablet or Apple's device," writes CNet.

Still, "It's odd that the world's largest social-networking service has ignored the tablet market for so long," ReadWriteWeb notes. "But that may have been a political maneuver on its part ... Facebook and Apple have been at odds in the past."

Meanwhile, sources also tell NYT that Facebook is working on an HTML 5 version of the site optimized for the iPad, but it's not meant to compete with Facebook's iOS applications available in the App Store. "Those comments appear to be a direct stab at an earlier TechCrunch report that says Facebook is working on an HTML 5 site optimized for iOS devices," PCWorld points out.

Read the whole story...
  • Gavin O'Malley, June 17, 2011, 11:56 AM
  • Upon dismal fiscal first-quarter earnings, analysts are asking what's really wrong with Research In Motion, and what the future holds for the Blackberry maker. "RIM's platform is burning," the Guardian explains, adding, "It's more of a smoldering." Translation? "RIM hasn't released a major new phone since August 2010 ... It sort-of showed off a new version of the Torch in May; that will actually be released in September. (Way to kill the sales, people.)"

    Yep, an aging smartphone line and delays in introducing new devices are widely perceived to be eroding RIM's business, but faster than anyone expected. Meanwhile, "RIM's management knows it has a problem, but doesn't seem to be able to make the shift -- the very difficult shift, it should be noted -- from the old BlackBerry OS to the new QNX platform that is going to power forthcoming BlackBerrys (and already powers the PlayBook)."

    For his part, co-CEO Jim Balsillie promises that RIM has "an exciting line of products, services and promotions expected to be introduced between now and the end of the fiscal year. We believe that these, together with the introduction of new tiered service pricing in the U.S. and around the world, are setting the stage for an acceleration of growth in Q3 and beyond." Read the whole story...
  • Companies with online exposure -- i.e., nearly all of them -- are getting smarter about hacking incidents, reports The Wall Street Journal. "In the past, companies were typically caught off guard when a breach occurred and responses were often flat-footed, requiring updates and further clarifications to concerned customers," it writes. "Now an industry of experts -- including lawyers, public-relations specialists and forensic investigators -- has emerged to help companies determine what to disclose and how to reassure victims."

    Now, executives without much computer savvy are more aware of the threat posed by hacking, "leading companies to formulate breach-response plans before an incident ever occurs." The changes, according to WSJ, come amid an uptick in hacking occurrences, but also a industry-wide demystification of the practice. Indeed, if a breach is handled well, "customer loyalty and your brand can actually improve," says Lori Nugent, an attorney who specializes in breaches at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker. Read the whole story...
  • As it inches closer to a long-awaited U.S. debut, music streaming service Spotify just finalized a "huge" funding round that gives it a valuation of about $1 billion, reports All Things D. "The European company has raised around $100 million from DST, Kleiner Perkins and Accel," it writes. Spotify has reportedly been working on the round for over six months, but people familiar with the company tell All Things D that it didn't actually close until this week. And, not a moment too soon.

    "Spotify CEO Daniel Ek can use some of that cash to support a planned U.S. launch this summer," All Things D writes. "Its efforts to get into the U.S. have been stymied for two years, and recently, Spotify has had to scale back what it offers for free to European users -- either to appease the music labels, or to save money, depending on which version of the story you believe."

    That said, the company now has U.S. licensing deals with three of the four big music labels, and is reportedly in advanced talks with Warner Music Group. As was recently announced, Spotify is also working with Facebook on a big integration deal, but which isn't expected to be tied to its U.S. launch. Read the whole story...
  • Sorry, iTunes. Despite vigorous efforts by Apple to break into the space, Netflix and Hulu remain the leaders of premium online video entertainment, according to a survey of Web users by Citigroup's Mark Mahaney. "As ubiquitous a destination for digital music purchases, iTunes has not been able to hit the ground running in online video," 9to5Mac.com huffs.

    Netflix, it notes, is a subscription play and Hulu is an ad-supported model backed by major players. Polled users were asked to pick up to five Web sites they preferred for watching video online. Only 9.8% chose iTunes, while even fewer watch on-demand movies on Amazon -- just 7.3%. Meanwhile, YouTube remain everyone's -- or at least 69.2% of users -- favorite source of free web clips.

    A surprise to 9to5, Facebook came in second -- with a 27.1% share -- and ahead of Netflix's 24.5% and Hulu's 22% share. "While Facebook does host user-uploaded videos, it mostly aggregates YouTube clips users publish on their wall," 9to5 notes. Read the whole story...