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Google Introduces "Search Plus Your World"Google has introduced a new feature they're calling "Search Plus Your World" this week that adds info from your social graph directly into search results for logged-in users. As Google currently doesn't have access to, say, Facebook content, this means the system draws largely from Google+, pulling in photos, profiles and posts from Google+ where relevant. (This includes Google+ profile 'suggestions.' Look up "indie rock," and you might get suggestions for bands to follow on G+, for example.) These results will come up even for people who are not signed in to Google, or don't even have a Google+ account.
For their part, Google has argued that it's not favoring G+ content by choice, but only because Facebook, Twitter and other companies are not granting Google full permission to pull in their data.
Still, the decision has proved highly controversial, especially to publishers and the SEO community that depend on favorable position in Google rankings to thrive. On SearchEngineLand, for example, Danny Sullivan has closely tracked the story, even pointing out that there are cases where Google appears to favor their own Google+ results even when they could provide relevant Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr links.
QUESTIONS: Is this an overall improvement in Google search that is just hampered by an over-reliance on Google Plus? Or does the use of the social graph over the traditional Google algorithm erode search result quality? Some have mentioned that this may violate anti-trust and anti-competition laws. Should the government intervene?
SOURCES: SearchEngineLand, TechCrunch and Marketing Land
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Facebook Offers Up User’s Info to Politico for Analysis Added by: cbedgood1Political news site Politico and Facebook have announced a partnership in which the social network will provide data about their users' political sentiments to reporters in advance of the South Carolina Republican presidential primary on January 21. Facebook's data team has designed software to scan through user posts and comments, determine general sentiment on the candidates based on the text and then turn this data into reports for Politico journalists to analyze. Politico and Facebook are claiming that using this system was able to "predict" Mitt Romney's eventual victory in the New Hampshire primary based on the volume and sentiment of posts on the social network.
QUESTIONS: How much stock do you put in Facebook's ability to predict political outcomes in this way? Is using user comments and posts in this way a violation of the spirit of social networking?
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CES Roundup Added by: cbedgood1- Lumia 900 phone: Nokia was on hand to show off their Lumia 900 Windows phone, available only on the AT&T network, and discuss their ongoing partnership with Microsoft. The Lumia has a 4.3-inch screen, a 1.4GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, similar to the HTC Titan. Ars Technica praised of the speedy Windows OS, but had concerns about the cheap-feeling plastic body and potential battery life issues.
SOURCE: Ars Technica
- The Year of Ultrabooks Much of the talk of the conference this year centered around new ultrabooks, super-lightweight laptops that present an alternative to the tablet craze. HP’s Envy Spectre 14 is coated in Gorilla Glass (an ultra-thin, chemically strengthened material) and NFC-enabled; Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga has full range of motion at the hinge, so when fully folded, the laptop itself turns into a 13 inch tablet.
- Televisions Apple didn't even attend CES, but nonetheless, ongoing rumors about their forthcoming Apple TV in many ways dominated the conversations among attendees. Stories about what Apple's next foray into the TV world might feature include things like gesture recognition, eliminating the need for traditional remote controls or Siri-like voice commands. The speculation has been ongoing since the publication of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography, which referenced Jobs saying he had "cracked" the next-generation TV set. As for news from TV manufacturers actually present at CES, LG and Samsung showed off OLED (organic, light-emitting diode) TVs, brighter than LED or flat-panel televisions and capable of far greater contrast. (LG's entry took the "Best of CES" from CNET.) LG also introduced a "magic remote," which functions much like a Nintendo Wii controller.
SOURCES: LA Times and CNET
- Myspace? Myspace investor Justin Timberlake announced a new joint venture with Panasonic called Myspace TV, which will let viewers share music and TV shows with friends through Panasonic’s VIERA Connect HDTVs, as well as companion smartphone and tablet apps. Most of the content will center around Myspace's library of 42 million songs and 100,000 music videos. Eventually, the service will expand to include reality TV and sports-centered channels as well.
SOURCE: Rolling Stone
In other Myspace-themed news (I know, right?), Om Malik has put up an intriguing, brief post on GigaOm noting that Myspace traffic continues to exceed "hot" competitors like Google+ and Tumblr. (Visitors also spend more time on Myspace than G+.) Where is Myspace getting all of this traffic from? Think it's a strong enough foundation to rebuild their once-mighty social empire?
CES QUESTIONS: What did you think was the highlight of the show? Do you agree with the conventional wisdom that other TV manufacturers are hanging back to see what Apple is coming out with? Is the "ultrabook" trend being overhyped?
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S T O R E C E P T I O N Added by: cbedgood1In kind of a weird plan, Target has announced plans to feature mini-Apple Stores inside 25 of its own retail stores. They're calling these "expanded displays" of Apple products, but have not specified whether the design will be specifically based on the familiar Apple Store style. Target already sells iPads and iPods, though this announcement has led to speculation they may add iMacs to the inventory. Target also announced a separate plan to include smaller "boutique shops" inside their locations, selling specialty products like pet food and accessories or clothing.
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Sony's Music Unlimited Coming to iOSSony Network Entertainment announced at this week's CES that the company will launch their Music Unlimited streaming service on Apple's mobile platform, iOS, some time in the first quarter of 2012. The app will stream music from Sony's Music Unlimited catalog, and much like Spotify, will allow users to "save" their music for offline streaming. The service is available for Android devices presently, as well as any number of Sony devices.
QUESTION: Think Sony has a chance to crack this massively overcrowded space? In addition to iTunes, iOS users also have choices like Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and even the recently-released "streaming service for n00bs," Rara. What can they possibly do at this point to stand out and attract new users?
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