Thursday, July 21, 2011
Gavin O'Malley, July 21, 2011, 11:54 AM
Google Buys FridgeBusiness Insider

That was fast. Google's new social network is still in limited release, but the search giant has already seen fit to bolster Plus with an acquisition. According to Business Insider, Google has gobbled up social group star-tup Fridge to help give Google+ a better chance at challenging Facebook.

"It's an interesting move for Google+, whose signature feature is its Circles, which are managed by each user rather than as collaborative groups," writes All Things Digital.  "Starting next week, [Fridge founder Austin Chang's] four-person team will be working on Google+ from New York," BI reports. "Come August, most of them will relocate to Google's Mountain View office."

A Y-Combinator start-up that reportedly raised $800,000, Fridge has just 40,000 monthly uniques, while more than 20,000 groups have been formed among them, where users can share videos, instant messages, pictures, polls and events with close friends.

"Part of Fridge's appeal was the granularity of control possible for customizing what each group could see," writes Slash Gear. "As well as segmenting updates between the different groups, it was possible to set different names and profile photos that each group would see."

"Right now, Google+ is asymmetric," Chang tells BI. "We're going to help them create shared spaces."

"Groups for Google+ have actually been a part of the plan for a while, said a person familiar with Google's product development," adds All Things Digital. "Internally at least, groups for Google+ have been known as 'shared circles.'" Read the whole story...
  • Gavin O'Malley, July 21, 2011, 11:54 AM
  • PayPal Going "Offline" PayPal isn't just for online and mobile payments anymore. No, the top-performing eBay unit is now targeting offline "point of sale" transactions with merchants. "By the end of the year, PayPal will be testing point of sale integration with a major U.S. brick and mortar retailer," Forbes reports, citing comments from John Donahoe, CEO of eBay, on an earnings call this week. "In 2012, PayPal reportedly expects up to 20 national retailers using its point of sale service. "We're in a strong position in online payments to expand to point of sale," Donohoe reportedly said this week. "We intend to help retailers grow offline in the same way we helped merchants grow online."

    That said, Donohoe admitted that offline sales are a slower business to grow than online sales, but he does expect it to grow "The move is part of eBay's larger vision of a new retail world where offline and online commerce blur together," Forbes added. Added Donohoe: "In this new retail world, consumers expect a seamless experience across physical stores, mobile, laptops or any Internet-connected device," Donohoe said. "In this new world, physical stores become just another point of access. Location alone is not enough. It's not an advantage." Read the whole story...
  • Is Social Media A Fading Star? If perhaps a bit prematurely, tech writer Robert Cringely is busy preparing obituaries for Facebook, and the entire social networking phenomenon. "Facebook is a huge success," he admits, noting that its 750 million membership is obviously impressive. (And, no, Cringely doesn't envision Google+ bringing Facebook down.) What he sees instead "is more properly the fading of the entire social media category, the victim of an ever-shortening event horizon."

    So, what does Cringely imagine will take the place of social networks? It must be its "disintermediation by all of us reclaiming our personal data," quite possibly by people learning to speak the language of the Internet, i.e., HTML, rather than letting gatekeepers do it for us. "The trend is clear from 'the computer is the computer' through 'the network is the computer' to what's next, which I believe is 'the data is the computer.'" So much for technology simplifying our lives. Read the whole story...
  • Twitter Shakes Up Product Team TechCrunch is reporting that four top Twitter executives are being shown the door, including Anamitra Banerji, who was responsible for launching the company's controversial ad platform. The changes follow Jack Dorsey's recent return as CEO. "This move is said to be led by Dorsey as a final measure to remove those still closely affiliated with the old Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Jason Goldman regime," TechCrunch writes. "Those three, of course, all left Twitter in recent months and just re-launched the Obvious startup incubator where Twitter was originally born."

    Along with Banerji, Jean-Paul Cozzatti, Kevin Cheng, and Josh Elman are reportedly out. Regarding Cheng and Elman, TechCrunch adds: "Both of these guys have been vital to the Twitter product over the past couple of years. Cheng, for example, was key on the 'New Twitter' project." Twitter, meanwhile, has yet to comment on any specific names, only saying that "some people have left the company and we appreciate their contributions." Read the whole story...
  • Apple Leaves Nokia In Mobile Dust Remember the early days of mobile when the iPhone made up just a sliver of the Nokia-ruled market? Well, fast-forward four years, and Apple is now officially selling more iPhone's per quarter than Nokia's entire smartphone range. That's right, the Finnish phone-maker sold just 16.7 million smartphones in the second quarter of the year, compared to 20.3 million iPhones sold by Apple, according to earnings reports released by both companies this week.

    More remarkable still, "It means that Apple made almost four times the revenue from iPhones ($13.3bn) as Nokia did from smartphones (€2.4bn/$3.4bn)," The Next Web notes. Nokia is now ranked as the third largest smartphone provider, behind Apple and Samsung. "The Finnish vendor will be troubled by its latest figures, especially after holding the global lead in smartphone sales for 15 years," The Next Web adds. Meanwhile, "With the Korean-based vendor due to announce its financials later this week analysts have estimated that the company will have sold 19.5 million smartphones in the same period." Read the whole story...