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Archive for February, 2011

Twitter valued by JP Morgan at £2.8 billion ($4.5 billion)

February 28, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

JP Morgan is reportedly in talks to take a 10pc stake in Twitter in a deal that could value the social networking website at £2.8 billion ($4.5 billion).Twitter valued by JP Morgan at £2.8 billion ($4.5 billion)The US investment bank could acquire the stake for $450m, in what would mark the first investment from JP Morgan’s new media fund.

The talks come as JP Morgan has so far raised £750 million for a new Digital Growth Fund, launched to give the bank’s clients access to the rapidly growing new media market. The fund’s target size is £800 million.

It remains unclear whether the fund will invest directly in Twitter or buy out existing shareholders according to the Financial Times.

However, it appears unlikely the US bank will buy shares in the secondary market, as had been previously rumoured.

Twitter has enjoyed rapid growth since it was launched in 2006.

The website has 253m unique users each month, 85pc higher than the number who visited this time last year, according to venture capital group Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Kleiner Perkins was the most recent investor in Twitter when the group spent £125 million on a stake in December, valuing the website at £ 2.3 billion ($3.7 billion).

Pot calling the kettle black- Google and Facebook have a data scrap

February 25, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Customer Service, data security, Facebook, Google, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Uncategorized

To many people Google and Facebook share the same disregard for their users’ personal data security- so their latest spat is somewhat ironic.Pot calling the kettle black- Google and Facebook have a data scrapGoogle’s latest mobile operating system upgrade will not display Facebook contacts from the users’ smart phone address book.

Google said it took the action as it was no longer willing to exempt Facebook from its data-sharing rules.

The contact-altering update applies to the Gingerbread version of Google’s Android mobile operating system – currently only available for the Nexus S and Nexus One handsets, which are manufactured for Google.

Makers of other Android-based handsets are expected to make the Gingerbread upgrade available to their users in the coming months.

If those mobiles use the same version of Gingerbread as the Nexus phones, more owners would find Facebook contacts wiped from their address book.

Originally, Facebook’s Android app allowed users to populate the phone’s address book with Facebook contacts.

However, that data could not be exported from the handset, instead it was controlled by Facebook – something Google has said it can no longer tolerate.

“Since Facebook contacts cannot be exported from the device, the appearance of integration created a false sense of data portability,” Google said in a statement.

Facebook contacts will, however, remain accessible via the app.

More than 200 million people accessed Facebook via a mobile device in 2010, according to its own figures – up from 65 million in the previous year.

That information could be used to improve the targeting of adverts that Google publishes, he added.

In late 2010, the two companies engaged in a similar data quarrel over the sharing of contact data between Facebook and Google’s Gmail web-based email system.

Cyber criminals now target unsuspecting websites

February 24, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cyber Security, data security, Dr Search, Ecommerce, internet, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, Uncategorized, Website Design

The proportion of websites secretly harbouring malware has reached one in 3,000 according to security firm Kaspersky.
Cyber criminals now targets unsuspecting websitesThey found a surge in the number of web based attacks in 2010, with more than 580 million incidents detected.

Risk was no longer focused on websites with illegal content, such as pirate films and music, the report said.

Instead, criminals were increasingly using legitimate websites, such as shopping and online gaming.

The malware writers target vulnerable web servers, with owners often unaware of the attack, said Ram Herkanaidu, senior security research at Kaspersky Lab.

“They will put a piece of Java code, for example, onto a website and scramble it so it is hard to notice.

“The Java code runs when you visit the site and redirects the user to malware,” he said. “Previously you could avoid these attacks by not visiting dodgy websites. Today the malware writers are targeting legitimate ones”.

Kaspersky’s figures are based on reports from customers who have joined its security network.

The rise in incidents of web based attacks far outstripped the number of new members in 2010, indicating the increasing threat, said Mr Herkanaidu.

“It has become the cyber crooks’ attack of choice,” he said.

The threat from cyber crime is being taken increasingly seriously by government officials.

Last week, Dr Search warned that the UK government published figures estimating that cyber crime costs the economy £27 billion a year in UK cyber crime costs £27bn a year claims government report

Google faces another complaint in anti-trust probe

February 23, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Google, internet, search engines, Uncategorized

Another complaint about Google’s alleged anti-competitive behaviour has been filed by specialist French search engine 1plusV.
Google faces another complaint in anti-trust probeIt follows similar complaints from price comparison site Foundem and legal search engine last year.

Those triggered a European Commission probe into Google’s business practices, which is ongoing.

Google said it was working with the EC, adding that there “was always room for improvement”.

1plusV is the parent company of of and runs so-called vertical search engines that specialise in law, music and culture.

It said that between 2006 and 2010 Google prevented vertical search firms from using its online advertising service AdSense.

“This is the only truly effective way of obtaining targeted advertising on a search engine,” 1plusV said in a statement.

It also alleges that, in the weeks following the original complaint, Google delisted sites published by it.

“For, Google’s decision to remove it from its search results was catastrophic in terms of its traffic,” it said.

Google has said that ranking on its search results depends on how valuable a given site is for its users.

It has told companies to improve their websites to help move them up the rankings.

But 1plusV said that was relisted in December, without modification.

“The relisting is in complete contradiction with the Google argument that was delisted because it provided no value to the internet user,” 1plusV said.

The European Commission said it would give Google the opportunity to comment on the allegations before deciding what action to take.

If Google is found guilty of abusing its dominant position in the search or advertising markets it could face a hefty fine.

Ladbrokes looks to digital future for betting growth

February 22, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Online Marketing, smart phones, Uncategorized

Bookmaker Ladbrokes saw a 36% rise in profits at its digital business in 2010, including a large increase in betting using mobile phones.
Ladbrokes looks to digital future for betting growthThe UK firm sees the future of gambling as increasingly digital, and plans to spend £50m developing its technology.

Its bet-in-play business – which takes punts on matches already in progress – also rose strongly, up 27%.

But pre-tax profits fell 12% to £207m, as earnings from “high rollers” – who bet more than £10,000 – fell sharply.

Total earnings from these big gamblers fell 93% to £5m for the year, according to the firm’s 2010 full-year results.

Stripping out this typically volatile item, profits at the UK gambling firm were up 20% on a year earlier.

The results disappointed markets, with Ladbrokes’ share price dropping more than 3.5% on the London Stock Exchange.

The firm’s operating costs proved higher than expected, and some investors were concerned by the need to splash out so much on its IT systems.

“Digital technology has changed the competitive landscape and we realise the imperative to strengthen our capabilities in areas such as Sportsbook, technology, customer management and online marketing,” the company said.

Ladbrokes also said it expected to complete the roll-out of its new Global Draw machines – which will replace 95% of its gambling machines – in the next six months.

The roll-out began last year, and has coincided with a 10% increase in average gross earnings at its terminals in the second half of 2010.

UK cyber crime costs £27bn a year claims government report

February 21, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cyber Security, data security, internet, Uncategorized

The cyber crime figures are a mid range estimate and the real cost could be much higher.
UK cyber crime costs £27bn a year claims government reportThey are estimated to be made up of £21bn of costs to businesses, £2.2bn to government and £3.1bn to individuals.

Security minister Baroness Neville-Jones said the government was determined to work with industry to tackle cyber crime.

At the moment, cyber criminals are “fearless because they do not think they will be caught”, she said in a briefing in central London.

But efforts to get a grip on the problem had been hampered by firms who did not want to admit they had been the victims of attacks for fear of “reputational damage”.

This also meant that it was difficult to accurately estimate the cost to the economy – and the “worst case scenario” was likely to be much greater than £27bn.

“It is a bit like terrorism – the more you know the more frightening it looks,” said Baroness Neville-Jones.

But she said the government was not at “panic stations”, adding that it had a strategy to tackle the problem and had committed £650m over the next four years to it.

Baroness Neville-Jones said some of the cyber crime activity was “state-sponsored” but although the government had the ability to strike back it was “anxious not to get into a barney with friendly countries” over the issue.

It would instead focus its efforts on defending itself from cyber attack – which she said was the most effective strategy as it was often difficult to work out where the attacks were coming from.

“There are many companies in the country who do not know what the normal functioning of their systems looks like because they don’t actually know enough about their own systems,” she said.

There was also a problem with “assurance” – whether companies could trust staff not to leak commercial secrets to rivals.

Nearly half of the £21bn cost to business is made up of intellectual property theft – such as the theft of designs but not illegal file sharing, which is not included in the figure. Industrial espionage, such as the theft of commercial secrets, was also a significant problem.

Intellectual property theft cost £9.2bn, industrial espionage £7.6bn, this was followed by extortion, which cost £2.2bn, and direct online theft, which cost business £1.3bn. Some £1bn was lost through theft of customer data.

The hardest hit sectors were pharmaceuticals, biotech, electronics, IT and chemicals.

Google launches apps payment system to attack on Apple’s rip off charges

February 18, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Apps, Customer Service, Ecommerce, Google, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Tablets, Uncategorized

Google has launched a new apps payment system that allows users to subscribe to online content for a 10% commission fee.Google launches apps payment system to attack on Apple's rip off chargesThe move comes after rival Apple was lambasted after they increased the charges of it’s payment system which now takes 30% of the apps sellers’ sale price.

The payments system is called “One Pass” and will work on tablets and smartphones, as well as Google-related websites.

One Pass will launch initially in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The announcement came just one day after Apple announced new rules for publishers selling subscriptions on its iOS platform.

Apple says companies must now offer users the option to buy directly through an iTunes account, handing 30% of the price to Apple.

Previously, vendors were allowed to simply direct customers to an external website, keeping all of the profits.

On a Google blog posting, Lee Shirani, the company’s director of business product management wrote: “Publishers can customise how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them.”

ASA gets new powers to vet online marketing

February 17, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Facebook, internet, Online Marketing, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

From 1 March, Britons will be able to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which has been given on new powers to regulate commercial websites.
ASA gets new powers to vet online marketingUp to now the ASA has only been able to monitor traditional advertising- these were generally on billboards, newspapers or on television.

UK consumers will be able to make official objections about false, indecent or misleading information on the internet.

From the start of March, the ASA will be able to regulate any statement on a company’s website which could be interpreted as marketing, even if it is not a paid for advert.

These new powers will of course also cover anything that you write on social media websites like Twitter or Facebook.

The principle that marketing has to be legal, decent, honest and truthful is now going to extend to companies’ claims on their own websites.

Anyone with a website needs to have a fresh look at it, and ask themselves “am I totally happy about that?”

Certainly if you have had a claim ruled against you by the ASA, now is a very good time to put that right before 1 March.

The ASA has spent a year preparing for the change, and is expecting a large number of extra complaints.

Last year 2,500 people complained about website content, but under the old rules their objections were not admissible.

Nevertheless the ASA is expanding staff numbers by 10%, to cope with the extra workload.

The Advertising Standards Authority can be contacted at:

Mumsnet abandons support for government’s censorship plans

February 16, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Cyber Security, data security, Social Media, Uncategorized

Mumsnet the online forum for mothers, has withdrawn its support for Government proposals to censor the web in it’s forlorn claim of protecting children from pornography.
Mumsnet abandons support for government's censorship plansThe family forum had initially backed Tory MPs proposals to try and get internet service providers to filter the web which would stop children from accessing pornography.

However, after many of their members reacted angrily to the endorsement of the censorship strategy, which they have criticised for promoting censorship and shifting the responsibility away from parents, the forum was forced to backtrack and withdraw its support.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, and Tory backbencher, Claire Perry, who have been vocal supporters of the strategy which they claim will make the internet a safer place, tried to bully ISPs last week about what the best strategy would be to increase child protection online.

Immediately afterwards a page supporting the campaign, which has since been removed from the site, appeared on Mumsnet, saying: “We’re backing his [Ed Vaizey’s] call, and we’ll be pressing him to ensure that ISPs comply as soon as possible. Society has acted to protect children from pornographic images in magazines, in cinemas, and on videos and DVDs – we think it’s time to act to protect them online.”

However, according to Justine Roberts, the co-founder and chief executive of Mumsnet, many of the forum’s more tech-savvy members, were unhappy with the site supporting Government’s proposals, as they thought the proposed strategy was a bad idea.

She said- “We are not going to back any solution…what we are interested in is protecting children online….However, everything we do on Mumsnet is a conversation and our opinions evolve with our users.”

“We initially supported the Government’s idea to get ISPs to filter the web to protect children from obscene online material, but a number of our more techie users thought it was a bad idea.”

The site is now calling for a broad discussion to discover the best solution to the issue.

Mumsnet rose to promise during the election as an effective lobby on family issues. David Cameron was recently forced to respond to a Mumsnet member who said that the Coalition’s spending cuts to support services meant she felt compelled to put her disabled child into care.

BBC won’t pursue iPad TV licence evaders

February 15, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Customer Service, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Uncategorized

Britons who watch live TV on their iPad and Android smart phones with a new BBC appliction but do not have a TV licence are unlikely to be caught after the corporation admitted it has failed to develop the necessary tracking technology.
BBC won't pursue iPad TV licence evadersThe corporation has not updated its detection technology to include tablet devices, mobile phones and computers.

Instead it continues to use the same tracking system which only detects television signals to discover which homes have TV sets that might be unlicensed.

The BBC claimed that they will prosecute anyone who watches live TV via the new iPlayer application, which it is launched last week, without a TV licence – but it was unclear how they would be caught.

The corporation said it does not have a “separate enforcement” strategy to ensure people using the BBC iPlayer have paid for a TV licence.

The free “app” allows people to watch BBC TV and listen to BBC Radio live on the move – an action which usually needs to be covered by a TV licence.

However, a TV licensing spokesman said: “There is no separate enforcement strategy [to cover iPlayer consumption], we continue to focus our attention on the small minority of unlicensed addresses.”

Nor is the BBC developing a strategy, such as compulsory online registration with a TV licence code for a password, to catch people evading the fee.

This is despite the fact that anyone watching or recording programmes at the same time as they are shown on TV, regardless of the device used, needs to have paid the £145.50 annual licence fee.

The admission also comes at the same time as the BBC’s digital department is prioritising the development of iPlayer apps to serve the increasing demand of people wanting to watch live TV on the move via portable devices.

“Apps are a big part of our plans to make BBC Online more easily accessible on mobile devices,” said Daniel Danker, general manager of BBC Future Media and Technology.

“These apps are coming at a time when we’re really beginning to see massive growth of people using BBC iPlayer on mobile devices. Over Christmas, growth in mobile use of BBC iPlayer outpaced PC growth by more than 2-to-1, and BBC iPlayer growth on tablets outpaced PCs by more than 20-to-1.”