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Archive for May, 2011

PayPal sues Google over mobile payments systems

May 31, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Ecommerce, Google, LinkedIn, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Google is being sued by the online payments company PayPal for allegedly stealing its secrets less than 24 hours after the search engine unveiled a technology to allow consumers to use their phones as credit cards.PayPal sues Google over mobile payments systemsThe lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday in Santa Clara, California, accuses Osama Bedier, a former PayPal executive now at Google, of misappropriating trade secrets and using them to help his new employer develop its technology.

Stephanie Tilenius, another former PayPal executive now at Google, is alleged to have breached her contract by hiring Mr Bedier from PayPal at the start of this year.

The legal action underlines the scale of the fight between the two companies in the growing mobile payment market, as well as the fierce battle in Silicon Valley for employees.

PayPal, which is owned by online marketplace eBay, is developing technology to be used by shoppers when paying in shops.

Google on Thursday announced a deal with Mastercard and Citigroup that would allow consumers with a phone using its Android operating system to make payments with it.

PayPal has developed “a wide range of trade secrets in the areas of mobile payment, point of sale, and digital wallet, which give PayPal an advantage over both existing competitors and new market entrants, such as Google,” the lawsuit alleges.

According to the suit, Mr Bedier was a key figure in leading PayPal’s ongoing negotiations with Google over making PayPal a payment option on Google’s Android operating system, which is the market leader in the US.

A deal was about to be signed in January, when Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, announced plans to take over as chief executive from Eric Schmidt. Four days later, Mr Bedier left to take a job at Google, the suit alleges, and develop a rival technology to PayPal’s.

Meanwhile, Ms Tilenius, who left PayPal for Google in October 2009, began trying to hire Mr Bedier last summer, it is alleged. “I heard from a little birdie that you might be open to bigger and better challenges, I have a HUGE opportunity for you,” Ms Tilenius posted in a Facebook message to Mr Bedier around July 15 last year, the lawsuit claims. During last autumn, Mr Bedier was interviewed by several Google executives including Mr Page and Mr Schmidt.

Twitter prepared to hand over superinjunction user data

May 27, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: data security, Dr Search, internet, Social Media, Social Networking, Twitter, Uncategorized

Twitter has said it was prepared to hand over data and information identifying tens of thousands of people who have used the website to break privacy superinjunctions.Twitter prepared to hand over superinjunction user dataA senior executive from Twitter has admitted for the first time that the social network might turn over information to authorities if it was “legally required” to do so.

Experts had previously assumed that people who breached gagging orders on Twitter were protected from legal reprisals because the website is outside the jurisdiction of British courts.

The admission came after Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, warned earlier this week that people who breached injunctions online were in for a “rude shock”.

Ryan Giggs, the Premiership footballer, last week started legal proceedings against Twitter and “persons unknown” after more than 70,000 users revealed that he had obtained an injunction to hide an extra-marital affair.

On Monday John Hemming, the back-bench Liberal Democrat MP, used parliamentary privilege to identify Giggs in Parliament.

The admission by Twitter, however, could encourage legal action by a number of celebrities who have been named on the website as having obtained injunctions to hide alleged affairs.

Tony Wang, Twitter’s head of European operations, has said that the website would notify users in advance so they could fight the application in the court before Twitter handed over the information.

He said: “Platforms have a responsibility, not to defend that user but to protect that user’s right to defend him or herself.

“If we’re legally required to turn over user information, to the extent that we can, we want to notify the user involved, let them know and let them exercise their rights under their own jurisdiction.

“That’s not to say that they will ultimately prevail, that’s not to say that law enforcement doesn’t get the information they need, but what it does do is take that process into the court of law and let it play out there.”

When Mr Hemming named Giggs earlier this week he said: “With about 75,000 people having named Ryan Giggs on Twitter, it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all.”

Dr Search wonders if it will possible to trace the anonymous users if they have used fake email addresses and set up Twitter accounts in internet cafes as tracking the culprits will be very vague- especially as the most controversial Twitter account appears to have been posted to on only one day.

Sony reports more online security breaches

May 26, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Cyber Security, data security, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

Electronics giant Sony has reported more online security breaches on a number of its websites.Sony reports more online security breachesThe company has said that personal data of 2,000 consumers was stolen from a Sony Ericsson website in Canada, while details of 8,500 users were leaked on Sony Music Entertainment website in Greece.

The company said emails, passwords and phone numbers of users were stolen although Sony said that no credit card details had been lost.

The company said in a statement that both the websites were externally hosted by third parties and were not connected to its main network.

Last month, account information of more than 100 million customers was compromised in cyber attacks on Sony’s networks.

The company’s spokesman said that the company’s Music Entertainment website in Indonesia and Sony’s Thailand website were also hacked, though no data was stolen.

As a result Sony said all four websites had been temporarily shut down.

Twitter accounts for 1 in every 184 UK Internet visits online

May 25, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, internet, Social Media, Technology Companies, Twitter, Uncategorized

Twitter’s growth just keeps on going, reaching another new peak in UK Internet traffic last weekend on Saturday 21 May.

Twitter experienced its highest ever volume of online traffic on Saturday, accounting for 0.54% of all UK Internet visits that day, or to put it in simpler terms: Twitter was responsible for 1 in every 184 Internet visits in the UK on Saturday.Twitter accounts for 1 in every 184 UK Internet visits onlineTwitter has been constantly in the news- mainly because Twitter has carved a niche for itself as an excellent platform through which Internet users can share and consume news.

Twitter’s success is based on it’s three key attributes- it’s free, quick and easy to use.

It’s the simplicity and the keyword focus of the social media website which makes it so successful

The political revolution in Egypt, the Japanese earthquake and the celebrity super-injunctions are just three big news stories from the last few months that have been shared, spread and commented on through Twitter.

Within the growth of Twitter, 12% of visits to the website are coming from new users.

To put that into context, 99.5% of visits to Facebook in the UK come from returning visitors, but Twitter continues to attract new users to its website every single day.

Facebook is clearly much bigger than Twitter (about 15 times bigger in terms of volume of visits) but Facebook’s growth in terms of new visitors (in the UK market at least) has been pretty static for some months now.

As Twitter continues its extraordinary growth, one thing that is interesting is that the micro-blogging platform is becoming more mainstream in terms of its user base.

Using Mosaic we can see the types of people that visit Twitter online.Twitter's demographic users' profile changesYou can see that visits to Twitter in May 2011 (the red line) are much closer to the UK online population average (the blue line) than they were in May 2010 (the green line).

In particular Twitter relies less on visits from Liberal Opinions, New Homemakers and Upper Floor Living – groups which are characterised as young, mostly single people who like their gadgets.

Twitter is no longer purely in the domain of early-adopters; rather it is becoming a universal tool which is being used increasingly by all types of Internet users, regardless of their online preferences.

Original research by Hitwise

Sony reports record £2 billion loss

May 24, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, data security, Ecommerce, internet, Social Media, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Sony has announced a full year loss of ¥269bn- £2.05 billion.Sony reports record £2 billion loss The losses add pressure on its embattled chief executive Sir Howard Stringer in a year when the group has suffered from the devastating earthquake in Japan and a cyber attack on its network.

Its share price has fallen by a quarter since the start of the year.

The company has been dragged into a full year loss by a charge of ¥360bn related to rules around deferred tax assets in its home country.

While the charge is not in cash it will force a “substantial decrease from the February forecast”, the chief financial officer Masaru Kato said yesterday. The loss a year earlier was ¥40.8bn.

The reversal will see Sony post its third consecutive year of losses, although Mr Kato added: “The establishment of this valuation allowance does not reflect a change in Sony’s view of its long-term corporate strategy.”

The company said sales would remain in line with its previous expectations, despite the slump to a full-year loss. It reported yesterday that sales were likely to be down from ¥7.2tn 12 months ago to ¥7.1tn.

This comes despite the impact of the earthquake in Japan just weeks before the end of the company’s financial year, which Mr Kato said had “significantly damaged” Sony’s supply chain. It had also been forced to close nine manufacturing plants.

The earthquake’s impact drove sales down ¥22bn. The disaster means the company will also be hit with a charge of ¥12bn over the costs of closing manufacturing sites as well as for life insurance policy reserves in its financial services business.

It also expects expenses of ¥11bn related to repair, removal and cleaning costs to its buildings and machinery as well as inventories. However, Sony added almost all of the losses will be offset by insurance payments.

The real damage from the earthquake will come in the current financial year, with Sony predicting supply chain disruptions will see sales fall £3.35 billion (¥440bn) and profits down £1.14 billion (¥150bn). “Until the quake hit, we had been counting on a considerable recovery in earnings,” the chief financial officer said.

Still, Sony officials predicted that the company would return to profit for the full year to the end of March 2012 with sales expected to grow year on year.

Sony was also hit by a cyber attack on its online PlayStation Network leaving millions of users details exposed. The company revealed yesterday that the hack is likely to cost £110 million (¥14bn).

This is made up of the theft protection programme for its customers as well as the cost of the incentives to bring disgruntled customers back into the fold. It will also face payouts to upgrade its network security, customer support costs as well as legal and expert costs.

Yet the company warned that costs relating to the hack could potentially spiral. During yesterday’s press conference, Mr Kato revealed that should there be confirmed reports of identity theft or misuse of credit cards following the cyber-attack – which are so far yet to materialise – it could face rising costs. It also faces a series of class action lawsuits.

Search engine latest results- Bing continues to grow at Google’s expense

May 23, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: bing, Customer Service, Google, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, search engines, Uncategorized, Yahoo

In the latest search engine usage results from comScore Bing again continues to grow in search numbers- whilst Google continues to decline.Search engine latest results- Bing continues to grow at Google's expenseAs the Search Clinic mused last month Could Bing overtake Google in the search engine rankings? Microsoft’s Bing is continue to grow in it’s usage.

However the growth is still not meteoric as Google still holds a commanding 65.4 per cent of the market.

But those results numbers show a trend over the past year in which each month Bing grabs a slightly bigger slice of the U.S. search engine pie, while Google sheds a tiny amount or stays flat.

For the month, Microsoft’s market share gain was just 0.2 of a percentage point, while Google’s loss was 0.3 of a point.

Yahoo, which traditionally has been losing market share, actually gained 0.2 of a percentage point last month, according to ComScore.

As always, the numbers include just explicit core searches that people manually enter on a Web page.

Reviewing the raw data- online searchers conducted more than 16.2 billion explicit core searches in April. Of those, Google had 10.6 billion, Bing had 2.3 billion, and Yahoo had 2.6 billion searches.

Google’s organic “powered by” searches, which include those at its own sites as well as Google-branded searches at AOL and Ask, accounted for 67.8 percent of all organic searches.

Microsoft’s “powered by” searches, which tap into those at Bing and Yahoo pages, took in 26.5 percent of all organic searches.

Compared with March, those numbers show a gain for Google and a decline for Microsoft. But looking at the longer-term picture over the past several months, Microsoft’s “powered by” searches have continued to inch up, while Google’s have gradually dipped.

Apple’s Mac victim of MACDefender fake malware security software

May 20, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Cyber Security, Ecommerce, internet, Microsoft, Search Engine Optimisation, search engines, Uncategorized

A fake security program for Apple computers called MACDefender is infecting a growing number of victims.Apple's Mac victim of MACDefender fake malware security softwareHundreds of people who installed the software are turning to Apple’s forums for help to remove it.

The program’s tactic of populating users’ screens with pornographic pictures has increased the urgency of victims to find a solution quickly.

MACDefender seems to have been successful because of the work its creators did to make it appear high up in search results through search engine optimisation.

The number of people seeking help was uncovered by ZDNet journalist Ed Bott. Ironicaaly he is a Microsoft specialist but his blog post, he wrote about finding more than 200 separate discussions on Apple’s official forums about MACDefender malware security software.

The volume of reports about the problem was “exceptional” in his experience, he said.

The fake Mac anti-virus software, which goes by the name of both MACDefender and Mac Security, began circulating in early May and has been steadily racking up new victims.

Such programs, often called scareware, urge people to install software that then pretends to scan a machine for security problems. It then fabricates a list of threats it has found and asks for cash before it will fix these non-existent problems.

One trick the software uses to make people cough up cash quicker is to launch the browser of unattended machines and call up one of several different pornographic websites.

Although the vast majority of malware that security firms see is aimed at Windows users, there is much less malware in existence for Mac OS X than there is for Windows.

But that’s no reason to blithely think that there are no Mac threats.

LinkedIn share floatation raises fears of valuation bubble

May 19, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, LinkedIn, Online Marketing, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

LinkedIn is likely to be the biggest floatation of a technology company since the technology market bubble of 2000.LinkedIn share floatation raises fears of valuation bubbleThe site’s projected value has jumped 30% ahead of its much hyped initial public offering (IPO) share flotation today.

The company said it expected shares to sell for between £25-£27 ($42-$45) , giving the business networking site an overall price tag of around £2.6 billion.

Industry watchers said it could pave the way for other social sites, including Facebook, to go public. Eager traders and their clients are also eyeing up sites such as Groupon, Twitter and Zynga.

However, there is one in particular that they are desperate to splash the cash on.

The big question is whether or not LinkedIn can justify the share price hike especially after the company revealed in the risk factors section of its prospectus that it does not expect to be profitable in 2011.

“Our philosophy is to continue to invest for future growth, and as a result we do not expect to be profitable on a GAAP basis in 2011,” the filing said, referring to generally accepted accounting principles.

Some investors believe the asking price is over hyped given that it values LinkedIn at almost 17 times its 2010 revenue of over £ 150 million ($243m).

Facebook which is six times the size of LinkedIn with more than 600m users, is expected to go public in 2012.

The world’s biggest social network is valued at 32 times estimated 2010 sales, according to Nyppex, a private share market.

By comparison Google’s shares trade at about six times its revenue.

While some question the site’s proposed share price, other analysts credit the company with good judgement when it comes to the timing of its IPO.

The attention that the LinkedIn IPO has received has inflamed talk of a technoligy bubble reminiscent to that of the late 1990’s and the dot com boom when prices for tech stocks were over inflated leading to an implosion of the sector.

In a recent report by SecondMarket, an exchange for private shares, investors expressed the most interest in Facebook, followed by Twitter, Groupon and LinkedIn.

One note of caution for the sector came in the shape of Renren, dubbed the Chinese Facebook, which went public earlier this month only to see its shares drop below the IPO price.

The French networking site Viadeo, a chief rival of LinkedIn’s, earlier this week said it would put plans to go public on hold for now.

You can track LinkedIn’s progress as they begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol LNKD.

Smartphones drive Vodafone profits

May 18, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, mobile phones, smart phones, Uncategorized

Vodafone has reported a big increase in full year profits partly due to the increasing popularity of smartphones.Smartphones drive Vodafone profitsPre tax profits for the 12 months to the end of March were £9.5 billion, up almost 10% on the £8.7 billion recorded a year ago.

Revenue rose 3.2% to £45.9 billion, slightly higher than analysts had forecast.

The company said it was entering the new financial year in a “strong position” despite “challenging macroeconomic conditions”.

“Customers have adopted data services in increasing numbers, as smartphones proliferate and the tablet market begins to take off,” said chief executive Vittorio Colao.

He added that emerging market performance had been strong, while some European markets had seen signs of renewed growth.

Revenues from selling data to customers, which allows users to browse the internet and check emails on their phones, rose by 26%.

Revenues from emerging market customers rose by 12%.

The company, which has its headquarters in Newbury, gave an upbeat outlook for the coming year, but warned that markets in southern Europe remained “challenging”.

The group has been slimming down its international portfolio of joint ventures and recently sold stakes in Chinese and Japanese mobile operators.

Last month, Vodafone agreed to sell its 44% stake in the French mobile phone operator SFR to Vivendi for £6.9 billion.

CIM is 100 years old this week

May 17, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, Search Clinic, Uncategorized

The CIM- Chartered Institute of Marketing is 100 years old this week.CIM is 100 years old this weekThe CIM was formed on May 16 1911 and marketing as a profession began when 12 people met at the Inns of Court hotel in London and created a new professional association.

Dr Search the Search Clinic’s Principal Consultant is a Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

The Institute’s solid branch and regional network, first established in 1926, reaches marketers throughout the UK and overseas.

Since the founding of the Sri Lanka branch in 1995, the CIM network has expanded to champion marketing best practice in 11 overseas regions from Asia to Africa.

This is supported by its established professional qualifications, which began in 1928 with the first annual certificate examinations, and today comprises of entry-level marketing certificates and degree-level qualifications, CPD and training programmes.

The CIM is the world’s largest group of marketing professionals.

Events and celebrations planned during this centenary year will provide marketers with an opportunity to show off the positive power of marketing and demonstrate the beneficial contribution that marketing provides to both an organisation’s bottom line and long-term future.

To mark our momentous milestone, a Centenary Banquet was organised on 4 April 2011 at Windsor Castle in the presence of our patron His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T.

Our long standing patron H.R.H. supports our quests to promote the positive influence marketing has for organisations today and in the future. The Centenary Banquet was an excellent opportunity to celebrate the importance of marketing and the beneficial contribution it makes to organisations’ success and long-term future.

Around 300 selected guests attended the Banquet where H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh addressed the guests followed by one of Britain’s most popular public speakers Tony Ball, MBE.