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Archive for January, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page is attacked by hackers

January 31, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Cyber Security, Facebook, internet, Uncategorized

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook fan page has been attacked by hackers, who took over his page and posted the following message, pretending to be him: “Let the hacking begin: If Facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn’t Facebook let its users invest in Facebook in a social way? Why not transform Facebook into a ‘social business’ the way Nobel Price winner Muhammad Yunus described it?
Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page is attacked by hackersShortly after the message was published, it was ‘liked’ more than 1,800 times and had attracted nearly 500 comments.

“Facebook users – famous or not – need to take better care of their social networking security,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at internet security firm Sophos.

“Mark Zuckerberg might be wanting to take a close look at his privacy and security settings after this embarrassing breach. It’s not clear if he was careless with his password, was phished, or sat down in a Starbucks and got sidejacked while using an unencrypted wireless network, but however it happened, it’s left egg on his face just when Facebook wants to reassure users that it takes security and privacy seriously. Maybe Mr Zuckerberg would be wise to get a refresher on computer security best practice.”

Facebook has since removed Zuckerberg’s fan page from the site and have refused to comment on the security breach.

How the hack was perpetrated has raised an interesting question.

Celebrity social networking pages are often managed by a whole team of marketing minions. (When you have millions of Facebook friends or Twitter followers, keeping up with the pace of your online social interactions generally gets beyond the capacity of a single person. What this says about the legitimacy of your “friendships” is left as an exercise for the sociologists.)

In the absence of any sort of two-factor authentication, an account which can be accessed by many different users with many different passwords is at greater risk than an account used by just one person.

Given lots of passwords with sufficient power to deface a page or to steal personally identifiable information (PII), a hacker has many more opportunities to beg, steal, bribe or borrow a password to the crown jewels.

In Australia, there’s already a name for this: the Vodafone Problem.

By giving passwords to all its dealers, and giving them access to pretty much all of the Vodafone Australia customer management system – including PII, call records and customer security codes – the mobile phone giant pretty much guaranteed that the wheels would come off, sooner or later.

A single lost, sold or stolen password, or a single dishonest, aggrieved or even merely ill-advised dealer, was in a position to spoil things for everyone.

Perhaps this sort of “injury to one is an injury to all” effect is what went wrong in this Facebook hack? Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg was careless in choosing or looking after his own password?

Whatever happened in this case, it raises one more tough question- do you still trust Facebook with your online persona?

Why not have your say by voting in the poll? (Dr Search’s answer was the same as the majority’s. What is your view of Facebook’s security?

Social shopping- the driver for online ecommerce

January 28, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, Ecommerce, internet, Mobile Marketing, Online Marketing, search engines, smart phones, Social Media, Uncategorized

SMEs and small businesses can compete even more aggressively as local and niche search strategies and social media help them develop remote customers- which means you often offer better or more personal service.
Social shopping- the driver for online ecommerceFoursquare is a location based application and Groupon (who turned down an offer from Google to buy them for $5 billion last month) offers daily deals to customers and delivers customers to local merchants who sign up.

Groupon has turnover already of £325 million and has recruited an army of sales people to sign up local merchants.

Google was looking to combine Groupon’s expertise and relationships with merchants and consumers with its ad platform and its location-based assets like Maps and Places.

Groupon’s growth is spectacular: ComScore say 6.4 million people visited in the U.S. in October 2010, up 657% from 849,000 people a year earlier.

Such significant shifts in how things may be requires foresight and looking at how to support future customer needs.

It requires rebalancing your budgets – cutting marketing spend in slower channels and increasing funds to fast growing areas.

You need to ask yourself:
* What experiences will customers be looking for in 2015/2020?
* What are the most effective ways access customers? Sure we need a site and ecommerce platform but what ‘external tools’ do we integrate with that?
* How are we going to ensure people convert as well as look? At present large hotel chains look at competitors rates regularly during the day to see how the rate changes with occupancy. Supermarkets check their competitors’ prices. New business intelligence tools provided by companies such Peer39 will make sure that customer profile and pricing data can be changed rapidly.

Of course it’s really quite impossible to predict the future – especially in today’s economy.

But all retailers getting into or already using ecommerce need to have a well thought out strategy and well defined goals and objectives to ensure long term growth and success.

A sophisticated ecommerce platform will be essential to meet the growing needs and expectations of customers. However an effective marketing strategy is equally important.

Too many retailers concentrate on just the technology when they venture in to ecommerce. But ecommerce is marketing.

How many retailers would ever decide on and specify the camera to be used for the TV commercial or the printing machine for the brochure before the style of photography and tone of voice for their copy?

But when it comes to the internet and websites that’s what too many people concentrate on – the technology.

The technology may be part of it, but the marketing elements are even more important.

After all- it’s not the computers that are making the purchasing decisions- it’s people.

Mobile Marketing and mobile ecommerce- the convergent technology

January 27, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, Ecommerce, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, smart phones, Uncategorized

Dr Search continues from yesterday my look at how technology is developing customers and marketing.

Mobile smart phones are also something that are substantially changing the markets.

They are already in the US a recent survey showed that smart phone owners integrated their devices into their shopping routine by using them to find deals as the graph below shows.

At present consumers are primarily using their smart phones as information tools, but as familiarity and security increase:Mobile Marketing and mobile ecommerce- the convergent technology
* eBay reported its US mobile sales grew 134% over Nov 25 to Dec. 25 compared with the 2009, generating nearly $100 million in sales.

* CoreMetrics said that 5.6% of consumers logged onto a retailer’s site using a mobile device, a jump of 16.7% compared to 2009.

* Shopping-related Google searches from mobile devices were up 230% by mid December, according to Internet Retailer.

As technologists, retailers and consumers experiment more relevant, more satisfying online shopping will occur as more people get smart phones.

And as they all get better, and more retailers realise the opportunities it may significantly reduce customers’ wanting to actually go to a ‘real’ store.

Why fight the traffic, car parking charges and crowds if your customers can buy from you anywhere?

If you want more information or you need any help please contact the Search Clinic for mobile marketing ecommerce help now!


Ecommerce in 2011- the evolving market place

January 26, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, Ecommerce, Mobile Marketing, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, smart phones, Uncategorized

Dr Search asks you to think about to 1999- just before the millennium when the dotcom rollercoaster was on it’s climb.Ecommerce in 2011- the evolving market place What would you have thought about ecommerce then? Today and tomorrow we’ll also look forward about the same time span. What will ecommerce look like in 2020?

Let’s look at what is actually happening in the USA- for which good statistics exist and which is a broadly similar market to the UK’s situation.

Since 2000, US ecommerce has had a compound annual growth rate of 19%.

Over the next ten years, Goldman Sachs projects that the ecommerce compound annual growth rate will be five times the rate of traditional retailing with 15% for ecommerce vs. 3% for traditional retail.

On that basis sales will reach $624.17 billion in 2020, as offline sales reach $3.64 trillion making ecommerce equal to 17% of total U.S. retail sales in 2020, compared with 5-6 % now.

The situation is likely to be similar in the UK where despite the economic slowdown 2008 ecommerce sales were recorded to be over £50 billion, which was an increase of over 25% from 2007.

But it’s not just the amounts that are striking it’s how it may happen. Things like changing tools and technologies.

Research into consumer behaviour patterns has shown the positive impact of peer reviews on purchase decision of customers.

Social media- peer reviews, ratings and other forms of user generated content will continue to influence online sales.

The technology itself is changing- In particular mobile ecommerce.

Tomorrow’s post the Search Clinic will examine the changes in mobile ecommerce.

Apple app store reaches 10 billion downloads

January 25, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Customer Service, mobile phones, smart phones, Tablets, Uncategorized

The 10 billionth download has just been made from Apple’s app store the company has announced.
Apple app store reaches 10 billion downloadsThe world’s most valuable technology firm reached the milestone on Saturday night- 22 January 2011.

The downloaded game was a free app called Paper Glider, developed by British company Neon Play, where users control a paper aeroplane.

Of all the millions of Apple users from around the world, it was downloaded by Gail Davis from Orpington in Kent.

She told the BBC: “I have to confess it wasn’t actually my download, it was my daughter’s. I had no idea, when Apple called me. I thought it was a prank call and I declined to take it.”

But after speaking to her daughters she found out they’d downloaded the game and then she realised that she’d made a mistake.

“I had a moment of blind panic but thankfully Apple called me back. They said it’s not a joke and you are the winner.”

As the app store account holder Gail is being given an iTunes gift card worth more than £6,200.

It’s taken just two and a half years for the app store to reach 10 billion downloads. Apple says seven billion of those have come in the last 12 months.

There are 350,000 apps available to more 160 million iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users in 90 countries around the world.

No wonder Apple is such a valuable company.

Just last week Dr Search posted Apple makes record profits of £4.5bn in last three months

Lush hackers cash in on stolen credit cards

January 24, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Cyber Security, data security, Ecommerce, Uncategorized, Website Design

Cyber thieves are cashing in after stealing credit cards details in a hack attack on the website of cosmetics firm Lush.
Lush hackers cash in on stolen credit cardsThe online shop was shut down on Friday 21 January and its home page replaced with a message revealing the attack.

Lush said anyone who placed an online order between 4 October and 20 January should contact their bank in case their card details had been compromised.

Many Lush customers have reported that their cards have been used fraudulently.

Comments posted on the Facebook page of Lush revealed that many customers were angry about the security lapse that may have spanned four months.

Many said they had lost money or had to cancel cards in case they were about to be abused. Some said Lush should have noticed the problem earlier and called for compensation for the money they have lost.

Hilary Jones, ethical director at Lush, said the firm became aware of problems on Christmas day when hackers were discovered to have penetrated the site.

The site was taken down and did little trade between Christmas and New Year while Lush investigated to see if the hackers were merely mischievous or out to make money.

It became obvious that the hackers were after cash as European customers began reporting small purchases made with credit cards that had been used on Lush and other web shops.

Ms Jones said the small transactions were “test” purchases that thieves do to see if a stolen credit card is still live.

She said that when it became obvious that a lot of test purchases were being made and the Lush site was the key, the company shut down its store and told customers what had happened.

“As an ethical company we could not keep that information to ourselves,” said Ms Jones. “We had to tell a huge raft of customers.”

The four-month window that people needed to check was a safeguard to ensure all at-risk customers were covered, she said. The site was not vulnerable throughout that time.

The Lush website has been “retired” and a new online shop is set to appear in a few days but will initially only accept payment through Paypal.

Google co founder Larry Page to become chief executive

January 21, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Google, Pay Per Click, search engines, Uncategorized

Google co founder Larry Page is to become chief executive of the search company in April.
Google co founder Larry Page to become chief executiveHe will take over from Eric Schmidt, who has been in the job for a decade and will become executive chairman.

Google said Mr Schmidt would focus on “deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships”.

The surprise news came as Google unveiled strong net profits in the last three months of £1.6 billion on revenues of £5.25 billion.

Mr Page, 37, is reclaiming the job he relinquished to Mr Schmidt, 55, when investors called for a more experienced business leader.

“In my clear opinion, Larry is ready to lead and I’m excited about working with both him and Sergey Brin for a long time to come,” Mr Schmidt said in a blog posting. Mr Brin, also 37, is Google’s other founder.

Schmidt was brought in as the “adult” to complement the search company’s young leadership team. He had plenty of experience: at Bell Labs, Xerox, Sun and Novell.

His biggest achievement is how he bonded with Google’s two founders; as an executive triumvirate they appear to have managed the company with little internal friction.

In corporate terms, Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been grown-ups for quite a while. Now they are taking charge at the company that is rightfully theirs.

But Google has lost momentum recently, especially in competition with Facebook. Key staff are leaving. It will be Larry Page’s job to re-energise the search giant.

Still, shareholders will feel a tad safer in the knowledge that Eric Schmidt will carry on as the founders’ mentor.

Mr Schmidt said the management changes, which take effect on 4 April, were part of a plan to “streamline” decision making and create clearer lines of responsibility and accountability.

“We’ve been talking about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making for a long time,” Mr Schmidt said.

He added: “Larry will now lead product development and technology strategy, his greatest strengths… Sergey has decided to devote his time and energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products. His title will be co-founder.”

The managerial news overshadowed strong fourth-quarter profits that were well ahead of analysts’ estimates. The $2.54bn profit compares with $1.97bn made in the same quarter the year before.

Analysts said Google appeared to have strengthened its internet advertising machine during the pre-Christmas shopping season, sparking a 26% surge in revenues to $8.44bn. After subtracting the commissions Google pays to advertising partners, revenues were $6.37bn, about $300m more than analysts had forecast.

Shares of Google rose about 2% to $639 in after-hours trading on Wall Street. The company now has a market value of about $200bn and has turned the co-founders and Mr Schmidt into multi billionaires.

Apple makes record profits of £4.5bn in last three months

January 20, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, smart phones, Tablets, Uncategorized

Apple has made record profits and record revenues in the run up to Christmas as shoppers bought more Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

The company said that in the three months to 25 December, net profit was £4.5 billion on approx revenues of £20 billion.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, said in a statement: “We had a phenomenal holiday quarter.”

There was no further mention of his health problems following Monday’s news that Mr Jobs is taking medical leave.

While he is continuing as chief executive and will be involved in any major decisions, day-to-day running has passed to chief operating officer Tim Cook.

Apple’s first-quarter profit is a 71% jump on the same period last year.

The company sold 4.13 million Macs during the quarter, a 23% rise year-on-year, and 16.24 million iPhones, a leap of 86%.

iPod sales fell 7% to 19.45 million units. Apple sold 7.33 million iPads.

Shares in the company, which had fallen during the day, rose 4% in after-hours trading to about $354.

News of Mr Jobs’ latest health problems came on a US public holiday, when financial markets were closed.

The California-based company said that 62% of its revenues came from outside the US. In the Asia-Pacific market, which includes China, Apple said revenues almost tripled.

Some analysts are concerned about what Mr Jobs’ absence from Apple might mean for the company’s future, as he has become inextricably linked with its success.

Despite Mr Jobs’ previous ill health, the company’s stock market value has approximately quadrupled in the past two years.

Facebook AGAIN blows users’ personal data security

January 19, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Cyber Security, data security, Facebook, Social Media, Uncategorized

Dr Search posts that Facebook has once again shown that they still don’t get- or care about their users’ personal data security when they were forced into another U turn.Facebook AGAIN blows users' personal data securityFacebook has been forced to disabled a new feature which allowed third party companies access to people’s personal contact details, after negative user feedback and warnings from security experts.

The company, which turned on the new feature over the weekend, admitted in a blog post published yesterday that Facebook “could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data”.

The post said: “On Friday, we expanded the information you are able to share with external websites and applications to include your address and mobile number…Over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data. We agree, and we are making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so. We’ll be working to launch these updates as soon as possible, and will be temporarily disabling this feature until those changes are ready. We look forward to re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks.”

The change to Facebook’s terms allowed third party app developers access to people’s mobile phone number and home address once a user had downloaded a new app.

The tweak, which was announced via the company’s blog on Friday evening, prompted security experts to advise users to remove their personal contact details from Facebook, to avoid being scammed by rogue apps.

According to Sophos, Facebook is already plagued by rogue applications which solely exist to post spam links to users’ walls, point users to survey scams that earn them commission – and sometimes even trick users into handing over their mobile numbers to sign them up for a premium rate service.

Now, the IT security company has said, rogue app developers will find it easier than ever before to gather even more personal information from users and has advised Facebook members to remove all of their personal contact information from the site immediately.

Apple boss Steve Jobs takes another medical leave

January 18, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Customer Service, internet, Uncategorized

Apple boss Steve Jobs has announced that he is to take a medical leave from the company.
Apple boss Steve Jobs takes another medical leaveIn an internal email to employees he said he was taking the break of focus on his health.

He said he would continue as chief executive of Apple and be involved in any major decisions. Day-to-day running of the company will pass to Tim Cook.

In late 2008 to mid-2009 Mr Jobs was absent from Apple for six months to have a liver transplant.

It was part of the series of treatments he has undergone for pancreatic cancer. He was first diagnosed as suffering from the cancer in 2004 and underwent surgery later that year to remove a tumour from his pancreas.

Steve Jobs is not only the public face of the company, at the launches of new devices like the iPad, he is involved in every minute detail of Apple products.

So for the last half dozen years every hint, every rumour about his health has sent shockwaves through the investment community and caused Apple’s share price to plummet.

Each time he has returned to work after treatment, the company has tried to reassure its investors that its chief executive is now in good shape.

Apple’s many fans will feel deep sympathy for Mr Jobs when he pleads for privacy for himself and his family – but its investors will be demanding more detail when Apple unveils its latest results on Tuesday

In his email Mr Jobs said he would be back at work as soon as he can.

“At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company,” he said in an e-mail.

“I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations.”

Mr Cook is currently the firm’s chief operating officer. He has run the company day-to-day before now during previous times when Mr Jobs has been dealing with his health problems.

The announcement was made on a public holiday in the US when there is no trading in company stocks and shares.

However, Apple shares closed down 6.4% on the Frankfurt stock exchange. Year-on-year, they are up 79% and over 24 months up 328%.

The news comes ahead of Apple’s first quarter results, due on 18 January.

Mr Jobs is an iconic presence at Apple and is credited as the architect of its current run of success based around products such as the iPad and iPhone.