28 January, 2012



Symantec may have identified a botnet string of Android apps

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 06:12 PM PST


Symantec claims to have found a string of “malicious” applications in the Android app store that resemble botnets.

According to a blog post by the company, these applications are pushing out a type of malware called Android.Counterclank, which is said to be related to a botnet-like virus called Android.Tonclank. Botnets generally extend from a commanding device, which then takes control of other devices via spam messages. On mobile, this control can be achieved through malicious applications.

Symantec says that Android.Counterclank has already affected 1000′s and considers its damage level to be a “medium,” for stealing personal information off of the phone. Thus far the company has isolated 13 potentially harmful applications in the Android Marketplace. The majority of which seem to be gaming applications as well as porn or applications with explicit content.

Mobile security firm Lookout Mobile, however, does not believe these applications to be malicious or botnet-like.

“Some companies are calling this a botnet or malware. Lookout has some concerns about the functionality, however at this time, and as far as we can tell, it does not meet the standard to be classified as malware or a ‘bot,’” said a Lookout Mobile spokesperson in an e-mail. “Consumers should take these apps very seriously as they appear to tread on privacy lines, but they are not necessarily malicious.”

Mobile botnets recently made Lookout Mobile’s threat predictions for 2012. The tactic thankfully hasn’t been used to its full potential yet, but some small scale botnets have already been detected. In 2011, Lookout Mobile found a botnet string called Geinimi originating out of China. This malware was able to receive commands from a remote server, as well as extract information from your phone, and attempt to infect others using your phone.

The company also warns that most common carriers of mobile malware are gaming and porn applications, which make up Android.Counterclank’s roster. See Symantec’s list of infected apps below:

Filed under: security

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Amazon’s Kindle Fire driving accelerated growth of Android tablet category

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 04:40 PM PST

Kindle fire
Good sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet led to significant gains for Google’s Android operating system in tablet market share during the fourth quarter of 2011, according to new data from mobile analytics firm Flurry.

Flurry, which purports to measure application sessions on more than 90 percent of all Android devices, found that Android tablets gained 10 percent share from Q4 2010 to Q4 2011 and now represent 39 percent of the overall tablet market.

The Kindle Fire, which only just debuted this past November, has managed to best Samsung’s Galaxy Tab in terms of application session usage (a session represents an application launch and exit that is longer than 10 seconds). The Kindle Fire already represents 35.7 percent of total Android tablet application sessions, while the Galaxy Tab has been reduced to just 35.6 percent (down from 63 percent in November), according to Flurry data that accounts for most of January 2012.

From the data, one could easily infer that Amazon has not only helped Android carve out a larger slice of the tablet pie, but has done so at the expense of Samsung, and in just a matter of months. The deduction makes sense: the Kindle Fire is the most successful product Amazon has ever launched, and it was the e-retailer’s most popular gift and its top best-seller for the holiday season.

“In January, after the holiday boom in devices and in apps, we see that strong adoption of Kindle Fire, combined with significant downloads driven from the Amazon App Store, resulted in a massive surge in session usage that just edges out the Galaxy Tab,” Flurry vice president of marketing Peter Farago said.

Farago partially attributed Amazon’s success to an Apple-style Fire launch, its decision to offer a more consumer-friendly version of the Android OS, and an improved application purchase and download experience. Farago pointed to Flurry’s January analysis of five top paid Android apps as proof. The Kindle fire, he said, drove upwards of 2.5 times more paid downloads then the Samsung Galaxy Tab, even though the Tab is estimated to have double the install base of the Fire.

Amazon may be helping Android snatch up tablet market share at an accelerated rate, but don’t fret about Apple. The undisputed leader in the tablet category did not see sales of its widely successful iPad slip, as previously suggested. In fact, Apple is fresh off record earnings and sold 15.4 million iPads in its first quarter for fiscal year 2012.

VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual Mobile Summit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Macworld finds its footing as a “hardcore consumer lifestyle event”

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 03:25 PM PST

Macworld Expo, a once powerful Mac tradeshow, is getting new life as smaller event for Apple consumers and fans. The revamped three-day event, now called Macworld | iWorld, is taking place this week in San Francisco.

“We took a little Comic Con, we took a little South by Southwest, and then added our own kind of special flavors,” said general manager Paul Kent. “It’s product discovery on the show floor, learning in our tech talks, and then there’s this concept of inspiration. People come here to see what cool stuff people are doing with this technology.”

There are two floors of product booths, classes, art installations, and various “infotainment” that attempt to appeal to casual Apple fans. The main show floor is filled with lively demos such as the skier and snowboarder on a trampoline promoting sports headphones. There’s a greater-than-usual amount of booth babes mingling with Apple fans of all ages and backgrounds. And upstairs in the “Macworld Midway” area, a DJ spins music that can only be heard on headphones.

To stay relevant, the show is aiming younger — Modest Mouse played the opening party and South Park Studios has a big presence. In order to draw in the geek-on-the-street, Macworld/iWorld dropped the price of advance tickets from $300 to $75.

Official numbers aren’t released until after the event, but Kent says attendance is up, 20 percent of pre-registrations were first-timers, and there are 10 percent more exhibitors than last year. Presenters say the classes and panels have had better attendance than in years past.

Of the 300 exhibitors, nearly half are Mac and mobile app developers. As the addition of “iWorld” to the name indicates, organizers recognized mobile is taking over and sought out independent mobile developers. iPhone and iPad apps and accessories dominate the show floor.

The shift in focus to what Kent calls a “hardcore consumer lifestyle event” wasn’t a choice, but an attempt to recover from Apple’s not-so-amicable departure. The company pulled out of the show completely three years ago, after unveiling the first iPhone there in 2007. The IDG World Expo group, owned by IDG, immediately lost a lot of other big name companies and had to scramble for a plan B.

Macworld Expo’s first year without Apple felt like it would be the last — the space was too big for the small number of booths and attendees, every-other exhibitor was slinging cheap iPhone cases, and the biggest topic of conversation was Apple’s departure. The next year was slightly better, helped by a great schedule of classes and talks. But as with any break-up, it seems time was needed to heal.

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Why we need to put the “run” back into Java

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 02:58 PM PST

Let’s say you're an NFL running back.

When the quarterback hands you the ball, what do you do? You run. You run hard, and you run fast. If you hesitate for just a second, you immediately get demolished by a bunch of defenders.

In football or business, the last thing you want to do is freeze up in a critical situation. Yet every holiday season, the e-commerce systems of retailers across America are failing companies and end-users alike, leading to mass frustration and millions of dollars of lost revenue.

What’s the problem?

Well, as user loads increase, their Java-based applications start to slow down — or even shut down altogether. That can cost a company thousands of shoppers in the event of even one single instance of failure to complete transactions. And maybe those frustrated shoppers won't come back to try and shop again in the future.

Amazon sold the equivalent of 158 items per second during Cyber Monday 2011, but if their online services had gone down for only one minute, it would have cost them 9,480 shoppers.

Obviously, the stakes for e-tailers to deliver a positive customer experience are extremely high.

"In a competitive market segment, such as e-commerce, providing online shoppers with a rich user experience and response time consistency is an important factor for growing revenue and sustaining customers," wrote Gene Alvarez, research vice president at Gartner Research.

Unfortunately for most retailers, Java systems (far and away the most prevalent systems used in enterprises today) are not capable of providing runtime consistency during peak loads. As user load increases, e-commerce apps demand more processing and memory, but their Java runtime infrastructures are very rigid and can't react in real-time to rapid changes in user demand.

This leads to degraded performance for all e-commerce users, causing systems hang-ups, application crashes, and lost customers. That's bad news, considering that the holidays make up 40 percent of a retailer's online sales.

Last year, 80 percent of Black Friday shoppers bought online. Online retailers made $18.7 billion last year, $1 billion of that on Cyber Monday alone.

If an e-tailer can't handle that kind of surge in holiday sales volume, it will go out of business quickly.

To make matters worse, what used to be a problem limited to several weeks of holiday buying has become a year-round problem. Retailers will regularly blast out promotions to their customers (e.g., 24-hour flash sales, specials for certain items, private sales for select clientele, etc.) but often aren't able to predict the success of those promotions, leading again to needing to plan for unpredictable spikes in demand for services.

When Target.com launched the Missoni Collection in September 2011, the resultant influx of visitors crashed Target’s entire website for hours.

An improvement in the Java virtual machine (JVM) can make a world of difference.

E-commerce application failures can often be sourced back to limitations of conventional JVMs, which constrain application resources and make it challenging to scale apps beyond a few gigabytes of memory, which can effect performance under load.

Conventional JVMs also suffer from stop-the-world pauses because the JVM needs to clean up its internal memory, the impact of which causes applications to freeze and become unresponsive.

Programmers must tune Java to work around the JVM's limited scalability and very carefully manage the amount of memory a given application uses. For e-tailers, this is bad news, because e-commerce applications must handle users loads that are never static and require more memory for each user and transaction to ensure consistent user response times and high sustained throughput.

What if e-tailers had a JVM that could elastically manage application memory allocation before it ever became a limitation?

The Java runtime (i.e. the JVM) would sense the demands of the application in real-time and grow its memory beyond the static limitation of conventional JVMs and never encounter those nasty stop-the-world pauses. Rather than freezing during demand surges and peak requirements, e-commerce applications would stay highly available and responsive. Such a JVM would enable the Java runtime to be consistent regardless of sales volume.

Now that's a win for retailers and their customers alike.

Scott Sellers is the CEO and co-founder of Azul Systems, a company focusing on Java and JVM performance and issues. His company delivers highly elastic Java runtime platforms with scalability, manageability, and production-time visibility. Designed and optimized for commodity servers running in virtualized and cloud deployments, Azul's Zing platform is a Java runtime that allows throughput-intensive and QoS-sensitive Java applications to run and perform better virtualized than non-virtualized.

Filed under: dev

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Nintendo Network will replace Nintendo’s current online infrastructure

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 02:34 PM PST

Nintendo Network Logo

Nintendo has officially unveiled its new Nintendo Network, a collection of services that will include personal user accounts on the Wii U, downloadable content on both the Wii U and the 3DS, and digital distribution of retail products.

Although we have known about Nintendo Network ever since the logo appeared on Theatrhythm Final Fantasy’s box art, there was no clear indication of exactly what the service would offer. During Nintendo’s third quarter financial results briefing, it was specifically outlined how Nintendo Network is going to be integrated into the two big Nintendo consoles: the 3DS and the Wii U.

Nintendo Network FeaturesUnlike the current, archaic Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, Nintendo Network will be a more integral part of how the systems function, much like PSN and Xbox Live for their respective consoles. There were mentions of DLC earlier in the month regarding the new Fire Emblem, and Nintendo of America chief executive Reggie Fils-Aime discussed the paid add-on content that would be coming to the 3DS late last year. Now it appears all of these plans are linked to Nintendo Network.

Paid DLC is not the only thing Nintendo will be adding with its new network. Wii U owners will be able to create a personal account system, a step Nintendo hopes will alleviate the frustration of countless families who share a Wii, but do not have dedicated profiles. Competitions and online communication will also be handled by Nintendo Network, a feature that has already been implemented in Mario Kart 7 as “Communities.”

Nintendo cautiously discussed the idea of offering digital distribution of full retail games, something the company says both the 3DS and Wii U are already capable of. There was no detail in terms of Nintendo’s long term plans regarding digital distribution, but the company is exploring the option. The huge losses and falling stocks have set a fire under Nintendo, one that will hopefully catch them up with the rest of the video game world.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is expected to be the first North American release that will include paid downloadable songs. We can expect to see a lot more of Nintendo Network in the near future leading into a very important showing at E3, and the launch of the Wii U this fall.

Filed under: games

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Google Earth update offers smoother graphics, Google+ integration

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 02:13 PM PST


Google rolled out a new version of its Google Earth software, replacing the patchy, quilt-like mapping graphics with smoother, more cohesive graphics.

“The Google Earth globe is made from a mosaic of satellite and aerial photographs taken on different dates and under different lighting and weather conditions. Because of this variance, views of the Earth from high altitude can sometimes appear patchy,” wrote Google Earth Project Manager Peter Birch in a blog post yesterday.

The new way of rendering makes the mapping graphics appear far more like a single image, complete with textures and shading. It really looks like something that came out of a movie — so much so that when I typed in an address I checked my audio setting to find out why the music wasn’t playing. (And then I realized this wasn’t an episode of Planet Earth.)

The update also includes sharing integration with Google’s social network, Google+. You can now easily share a screenshot of any Google Earth view by clicking a button in the upper right-hand corner of the window. This could be pretty useful when giving directions since it’s a little more dynamic than the standard Google Maps street view feature.

The new update is available on both the mobile and desktop versions of Google Earth, which you can download on the official page.

Filed under: social, VentureBeat

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Foursquare familiarizes the unknown, adds nearby locations to business pages

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 12:57 PM PST

Foursquare is attempting to make the unfamiliar less mysterious with the addition of familiar nearby places to hundreds of business pages Friday.

Foursquare, the New York-based location check-in startup, gives merchants the ability to operate their own business and brand pages to share tips and connect with customers.

Now, the company is giving businesses a nearby map that collects all of their venues on a map so would-be patrons can find the closest location. If you’re on a specific venue page, Starbucks for instance, you see other close-by Starbucks locations. The feature is unfortunately web-only for the time being, we’re told.

The update may seem minor, but Foursquare founder and CEO Dennis Crowley told VentureBeat that this improvement points back to the significance of the startup’s growing data pool. Foursquare’s data structure now knows the difference between big chains, small franchises, and mom-and-pop shops, he said, which gives the company the ability to group venues and surface them for members with the appropriate context.

How might something like this come in handy? You could quickly find the nearest Starbucks locale for your coffee fix, visit the closest 24 Hour Fitness on your business trip, or discover that your favorite restaurant has more locations than you realized.

The addition also comes as Foursquare continues to make both incremental and major improvements, including Explore recommendations and menu items, to the overall web experience. Foursquare’s website sees roughly 1 million visitors each day. As such, the property represents an important channel for the startup as it strives to be the go-to source for location-based content.

Filed under: social, VentureBeat

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Jack Dorsey, Ron Conway to attend The Crunchies Awards

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 11:59 AM PST

CrunchiesIt’s time to get excited for The Crunchies Awards. The final line-up of notable guests has been released, making us all the more excited to co-host this star-studded event.

Harris Wittels, “Parks and Recreation” writer and all-around funny guy, will take the stage as the host of the 2011 Crunchies Awards next Tuesday night, January 31. VentureBeat, GigaOm, and TechCrunch are hosting the event, awarding the best tech innovation of 2011.

The event is chock-full of tech celebrities, including Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Kevin Rose (Digg), Marissa Mayer (Google), Kevin Systrom (Instagram), venture capitalist Reid Hoffman, and angel investor Ron Conway, many of whom will be presenting awards.

Tickets for the event are still available if you’d like to attend, but they’re going fast. There is also still time to vote for what company you think should win best startup, app, or device of the year. Are you an Evernote fan? Want to see the Kindle Fire win for best new device? Or maybe you have a soft spot for the new startup Pinterest? You have until midnight on Sunday, January 29 to cast your vote.

Following the ceremony, winners and guests will celebrate at the after-party. Get ready for a fully hosted bar, hors d'oeuvres, a casino game room, and so much more fun.

Wittels is well known for his Twitter handle @Humblebrag, where he retweets boastful and humble tweets. As apart of his hosting performance for the Crunchies, he plans to read out a few tweets he finds. Want to get a shout out? Tweet your best humblebrags between now and the start of the show with the #crunchies and #humblebrag hashtags. Who knows, your 140 character message might get chosen.

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Former Palm head Jon Rubinstein leaves HP, taking a long-deserved break

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 11:23 AM PST

Jon Rubinstein, the former Apple executive who spearheaded engineering for the iPod, and then proceeded to revitalize Palm, has officially left Hewlett-Packard, the company confirmed today.

The news isn’t entirely unexpected. Rubinstein was reportedly a no-show at HP since former CEO Leo Apotheker killed off the company’s WebOS devices. Even before that his role at HP was reduced with a change to a vague “SVP of innovation” title.

An HP spokesperson told All Things Digital, which first reported the news about Rubinstein’s departure, that "Jon has fulfilled his commitment and we wish him well." Rubinstein confirmed that he only agreed to stick around HP for 12 to 24 months after it acquired Palm, in an interview with The Verge.

Speaking to the Verge’s Joshua Topolsky, Rubinstein deftly avoided chatting about where Palm went wrong or complaining about Apotheker’s treatment of webOS:

We built an amazing OS in webOS. It’s very advanced, it’s where things are going. But we ran out of runway, and we ended up at HP and HP wasn’t in good enough shape on its own to be able to support the effort. I had four CEOs! Mark acquired us, Les Jackson took over as the interim CEO, then Leo, and now Meg.

Now Rubinstein, seemingly going full circle, is taking a much-deserved break in Mexico, where the Palm folks initially tapped him to help save the company in 2007. He admitted that he’s still carrying a tiny webOS-powered Veer, and that he hopes to get back into the mobile world in some fashion.

“I think the future is mobile,” Rubinstein told the Verge. “Obviously there’s going to be stuff that comes post mobile, there’ll be a next wave. It could very well be home integration, but mobile’s going to continue to be really important. But I have no idea what I’m going to do next. I haven’t spent a minute thinking about it.”

VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual Mobile Summit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Silicon Valley and Colorado companies — Do you sizzle? (Reminder)

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 11:05 AM PST

Just a reminder to Silicon Valley- and Colorado-based companies: VentureBeat is joining up with two great venture capital firms to offer feedback on your product.

Yes, there’s something in it for VentureBeat. We’re on the prowl to find the most exciting products to write about (eventually, when your product is ready), and also to invite to launch our upcoming DEMO conference. The next DEMO takes place April 17-19 in Silicon Valley.

And yes, there’s something in it for the venture capital firms: They get to establish relationships with smart, ambitious entrepreneurs early on in the history of their companies, without the pressure of a full-on money pitch.

And there’s something certainly in it for you: If you're an entrepreneur based in the Boulder area and think you’re building the next big disruptive tech company, or you’re here in Silicon Valley trying to do the same, we’re going to be brutally honest with you about what we think. We want to give you quick, helpful advice on your your technology, your business model and your go-to-market strategy, so that you can get to the next step. In many sessions, to be honest, we encourage companies to pivot completely, to find a better way.


So if you’re based in Colorado, join us on February 8 for a private feedback session in Boulder, with Foundry Group, one of the best venture capital  firms in town. As previously reported, we're inviting ten companies who plan to launch products soon to pitch their ideas to key partners at Foundry as well as to me (as DEMO Executive Producer, I select the companies to present at DEMO).

If you’re interested in this, please fill out this form. We'll also be co-hosting a party with AARP at the T-Zero Lounge from 6-8pm that evening, and the drinks will be on us (for that, register to attend here). Indeed, AARP is also sponsoring full scholarships for three companies focused on products which also serve the 50+ year-old market, to launch DEMO Spring in April. If interested in that opportunity, apply here)


Or if you're based in the SF Bay Area, join us and one of the city's most respected venture capital groupsKleiner Perkins on February 9  (please fill out this form). We'll also be throwing a party sponsored by AARP that night from 6 to 8 at the Dutch Goose for entrepreneurs interested in coming (register to attend here).

Looking forward to seeing you!

Filed under: DEMO, VentureBeat

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Facebook to file papers for IPO as soon as Wednesday

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 10:56 AM PST

Facebook IPOThe Facebook IPO cometh.

The social network could file papers for its initial public offering as soon as Wednesday, according to sources.

The burgeoning business is exploring a valuation between $75 and $100 billion — numbers that match a smattering of previous reports — and will likely select Morgan Stanley as the lead underwriter for the IPO, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

A VentureBeat source said that the filing is imminent, but did not know the exact date.

The timing makes sense and aligns with a recent report that suggested that Facebook would like to make its stock market debut in May. In order to meet the May deadline and comply with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s guidelines, Facebook would need to file its papers any day now.

Exactly where Facebook will be traded is still up in the air, according to the New York Post. The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq are said to be aggressively battling for the listing. Facebook remains undecided, but it has reserved the ticker symbol “$FB” and can use it on either exchange, according to sources.

When Facebook does become a public company, it will be the biggest IPO of the year. The 800 million-member social network is anticipated to raise more than $10 billion, a feat that only three companies — AT&T, General Motors and Visa — have ever achieved.

CNBC’s Julie Boorstin tweeted that sources put the companies 2011 revenue at $3.8 billion with an operating profit around $1.5 billion.

[Image via vaguelyartistic/Flickr]

Filed under: deals, social, VentureBeat

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Google Music lets you backup your entire library

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 09:37 AM PST

Google MusicOne of the only disadvantages of Google’s new Google Music service is that, until now, your music has essentially been locked within the cloud — with the exception of any tracks you purchased through the Android Market.

Today, however, Google has rolled out a new version of its Google Music Manager that gives its U.S. users the ability to download a backup of all the songs stored within the service. The feature addition will probably be most useful for people who experience a computer crash or external physical storage drive failure, which virtually eliminates all the personal files they may have saved. Basically, using Google Music now means you never have to worry about losing your entire collection.

The music collection backup doesn’t solve some of the other problems people have with using a cloud-based service to manage their music. If you’ve always got a reliable internet connection and primarily use mobile devices that run Google’s Android operating system, then Google Music doesn’t have many setbacks. But if you’re an iPhone/iPod owner who primarily likes to listen to your music collection in a gym that gets a really bad cell phone reception, cloud-based music services aren’t very appealing.

Google has also added a feature that lets you more easily share YouTube music videos of the songs in your library. Google Music already lets people share tracks with their friends via Google+, but this new feature is a nice addition for people who primarily use YouTube for their streaming media consumption.

Filed under: media, VentureBeat

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Why you should stop trusting online user reviews (if you haven’t already)

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 09:36 AM PST


When you look at products online at Amazon or another site, it’s instinctual to take a glance at the star ratings by your peers. But with a new expose just posted by the New York Times about user review bribery, this is a good time to remind yourself not to trust those reviews.

The article shows how a small company called VIP Deals (which has no website) offered a full refund on a product in exchange for a user review.

On Amazon.com, VIP Deals was selling a Vipertek-made leather case for the Kindle Fire for only $10. After a user purchased the case, VIP Deals would send a letter to the user offering a refund in exchange for a review.

“In return for writing the review, we will refund your order so you will have received the product for free for a review,” the letter said. “Please also rate your five-star experience. We strive to earn 100 percent perfect 'FIVE-STAR’ scores from you!”

Amazon told the New York Times that VIP Deals had violated its guidelines, which prohibit compensation for user reviews. The VIP Deals company page and its products are no longer listed on Amazon.com.

What the story amounts to is another lesson on what sources you can trust online. Not all user reviews are fakes, obviously, but it’s a good idea to do your own research before you buy. And if you want a second opinion then, hell, may just go back to “word of mouth” as your primary trusted source.

[Computer user image: Ivan Nakonechnyy/Shutterstock]

Filed under: VentureBeat

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VBWeekly: Sh*t startup people say

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 09:31 AM PST

Watch out! There’s some adults-only vocabulary in Startup Land.

For this week’s video show installment, we decided to deliver a very special VBWeekly addressing the dangers of myopia and jargon.

Also, we decided to slay what’s left of the “Sh*t People Say” meme.

Since we get a lot of press releases, talk to a lot of VCs and entrepreneurs, and live the dream ourselves as startup employees, who better to skewer the startup community than VentureBeat, we figured.

We took a liberal amount of this script from real life (the number of times we’ve heard “We don’t have any competitors” is astronomical), but some of it is fictional.

Generous thanks goes out to @MochaSips, @CynthiaSchames, @dabent, and @matthewcyan for their Twitter suggestions.

And to the many, many hard-working developers, founders, VCs, angels, bloggers, and PR folks whose work we quote directly, please know that we’re laughing with you, and we know very well that VentureBeat wouldn’t have anything to write about without you. We mock only with the greatest love.

Special thanks to “the talent” and “the crew”: Sarah Mitroff, Meghan Kelly, Garrett McCullum, Amanda Lopez, Matt Marshall, Jason Spangenthal, and Jolie O’Dell.

Filed under: Entrepreneur Corner, video

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Internet economy set to hit $4.2T in 2016, half of world’s population will be online

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 09:27 AM PST

The Internet economy among G-20 nations is expected to nearly double by 2016, reaching $4.2 trillion (up from $2.3 trillion in 2010), according to a projection released today by the Boston Consulting Group.

The big drive in the web economy over the next few years will be a massive influx of new users — with 3 billion users in 2016, up from 1.9 billion in 2010 — the consulting group reports.

“No company or country can afford to ignore this development. Every business needs to go digital,” Boston Consulting partner David Dean said in a statement today. “The ‘new’ Internet is no longer largely Western, accessed from your PC. It is now global, ubiquitous, and participatory.”

While the group’s projections sound like a major shift, they’re actually slightly more conservative than other estimates we’ve seen recently. A report from Ericsson, for example, estimates that we’ll see 5 billion mobile data subscribers by 2016.

Come 2016, almost 70 percent of Internet users in G-20 nations will be from emerging markets, Boston Consulting projects, whereas it was just 56 percent in 2010. The group also estimates that China will have 800 million Internet users by then — “about the same number as France, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. combined,” it wrote in a news release today.

The big takeaway for business owners is that they’ll have to pay even more attention to the Internet over the next few years if they want to survive. Boston Consulting notes that businesses that make extensive use of social media and the Internet grow faster, according to a survey of over 15,000 businesses. U.S. companies with high and medium web presences are expected to grow 17 percent in the next year, compared with just 12 percent growth for those not online.

[Laptop being used outdoors via Shutterstock]

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Google responds to privacy policy criticisms

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 09:19 AM PST

Google Privacy Policy updateGoogle is defending its new privacy policy, stressing that the company isn’t collecting more data, just collecting it in a new way.

“We're making things simpler and we're trying to be upfront about it. Period,” said Google’s policy manager Betsy Masiello in a blog post Thursday evening.

The company recently announced big changes to its privacy policy, posting notifications throughout its products that read, “We're changing our privacy policy and terms. Not the usual yada yada,” and, “This stuff matters.”

Where Google was, in essence, a patchwork of products governed by individual privacy policies, it is consolidating itself into one big product suite under one big privacy policy. But, as with any announcement around privacy, users become scared and unsure of where their data is going.

Google privacy policy alertIn Google’s case, the data is now being used to “improve” other products. Take Search Plus Your World for example. The company’s flagship product, search, now shows “personal” results from its social network Google+. Personal results include photos, posts, and people’s accounts that are relevant to your search term. Your data is shared between the two different services, and more of this personal integration can occur under the new privacy policy.

“We're not collecting more data about you. Our new policy simply makes it clear that we use data to refine and improve your experience on Google — whichever products or services you use,” said Masiello. “This is something we have already been doing for a long time.”

Another issue is the inability to “opt-out” of your data being used in different products. If you don’t want your data collected, your only option is simply not use the service in question. A slightly less extreme measure is to use different accounts for different services, so that data is not shared between them. For example, use one Google account for your mail, another for YouTube and one more for Google+. Additionally, there are always the granular privacy changes you can make within some of the products.

“You can use as much or as little of Google as you want,” said Masiello. “You still have choice and control.”

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