Google Acquires Aardvark
Google acquired Aardvark, this week, a social graphing site that draws on a user’s social network to answer user generated questions, for 50 million dollars. Founded by former Google employees, the social search engine has accrued 90,000 users since its launch in October. So, why did Google pay 50 million dollars for a 90,000 person network? Well, according to Hadley Reynolds, a search industry analyst for IDC, “The success of the social sites is a threat to Google, and the Buzz announcement and the Wave before it show how seriously it is taking the challenge. This acquisition is another sign.” If anyone has any thoughts on how Aardvark could affect Google’s social strategy, please comment below.
Google Buzz Receives Mixed Reviews
Google went live with its new social media product this week Buzz. Built into Google’s Gmail, Buzz allows users to update their statuses, like on Facebook, and chat with other Gmail users. A cross between Twitter and Facebook, Google Buzz is a clear attempt to solve Google’s social media problem, i.e. their lack of any successful social media product to date. Not surprising, the blogosphere exploded after Tuesday’s announcement with criticisms and praise of Google’s newest product. Whether or not the social networking sphere needs any more buzzing, remains an open question.
For a more complete analysis of Google’s recent social media activities, check out Richard Waters’ article.
ComCast Releases 2009 Numbers
ComCast released their “The 2009 U.S. Digital Year in Review” report this week, which summarizes the prevailing trends from 2009. According to the report, “despite these economic headwinds, consumers’ use of digital media climbed to new heights in 2009 as the Internet continued to evolve as an integral component of Americans’ personal and professional lives.” The search market not only grew 16% in 2009, but the number of social networking users dramatically increased and display ad impressions grew by 21%. Check out ComCast for a copy of the complete review.
eBay Ordered to Pay Damages to Louis Vuitton
eBay was ordered to pay damages of $275,800 this week to Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) the world’s largest maker of luxury goods. According to the suit, eBay mislead consumers online, by directing users to their site whenever there was an instance of misspelled words in search queries, for example “Viton” instead of “Vuitton.” According to Yohan Ruso, the director general of eBay in France, “This case is about the use of Adwords to direct buyers’ listings for authentic goods from eBay sellers. This issue is being used by certain rights owners as an excuse to retain total control of what people can buy, where they can buy it from, and how much they have to pay. This is why 750,000 Europeans signed a petition to the European Parliament last year, protesting barriers to Internet trade.”
Amazon to Offer Classics for Free
Amazon is going to release 65,000 classics of English literature, for free, to their Kindle. The works of Dickens and Austen were digitized by the British Library in partnership with Microsoft Live Search Book search project.
MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta Resigns
MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta unexpectedly quit on Wednesday after less than a year on the job. Van Natta was hired last April my Rupert Murdoch, who owns MySpace as part of a larger News Corp conglomerate, to turn things around at the struggling dot com. According the LA Times, Van Natta’s resignation is in part a result of conflicts between News Corp. digital media chief Jon Miller and Van Natta. Van Natta will be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Mike Jones and product chief Jason Hirschorn, who will assume the titles of co-presidents.