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Facebook to Revamp Mobile App, Values itself at $3.7 billion

facebookFacebook says 13% of its users use the service from their mobile phones. Facebook is getting ready to launch a significantly revamped mobile app to better accommodate mobile users. One of the most significant features will be the ability to easily sync your Facebook contacts with your mobile phone book and add Facebook profile pictures as your caller ID. However, recently, tech blogger Robert Scoble tried to use Plaxo to export his 5,000 Facebook contacts to Outlook, only to have his account disabled for apparent terms of service violations. Now, this certainly raises ethical questions here, especially because not all people on Scoble’s friend list would want their personal information stored, especially because they don’t even personally know him. Should data portability on the social web be really open? What are the implications for Twitter accounts that have 55,000+ followers (including Robert Scoble with 58,000+ followers), should they be able to mine the data out? Read the full story

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Facebook Paid $65M to ConnectU That Alleged Zuckerberg Stole Idea

Harvard grads Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra originally hired Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, to program their ConnectU social network. They allege Zuckerberg stole the code to create his own social network, Facebook. The law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oilver & Hedges represented ConnectU, and now, the law firm leaked the settlement price with Facebook to have been $65 million in cash and Facebook stock options. The law firm now apparently regrets the release. Facebook did not comment.

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Nokia Building Google Latitude Location Sharing Competitor

nokiaPhone makers are starting to understand that people want more social features on their phone to help keep them connected with friends. You can easily send messages and update your status right now, but it is difficult to get timely information of where your friends are. Google has just launched Google Latitude, allowing you to see your friend’s geographic position on a map in real-time. Read the full story

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Facebook Giving More of Your Data to Advertisers

facebook24-year old founder and CEO Mark Zukerberg of Facebook showed everyone at the World Economic Forum in Davos something very kool. He polled more than 100,000 Americans asking them if they thought President Obama’s new fiscal stimulus package would be enough to get out of recession. Two out of Five thought it would not be enough.

What is interesting is how he was able to get more than 100,000 responses from very targeted groups of people in a matter of minutes. Facebook has amassed a wealth of information from its 150 million strong user base (check out Facebook Planatir to see a geographical representation of users communicating) and it now plans to capitalize on the wealth of information by giving more access to corporations for market research purposes. Marketers will be able to use information you put on your Facebook profile, including your current mood, your location, content you upload, to poll and analyze you.

Read the full story

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Facebook Planatir, Visually See People Connecting

A team of Facebook engineers have developed an application dubbed Palantir which visually shows activity on facebook in real time geographically on a map. The project isn’t going to be scaled right now, but it does look really kool and gives a great insight as to how people are using Facebook to connect with friends worldwide.

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Facebook to Charge App Developers $375

There are almost 50,000 custom Facebook Applications running now on Facebook, and many more will spring up. Developers never had any costs, until now. Facebook has made its Verified App Program official. The idea is that trust worthy apps would be approved based on their usefulness and bad ones would essentially be screened out. However, the catch is that developers must pay a $375 USD fee to Facebook just to try to get approved. If your app is approved, it will get more publicity including in a new approved app list and in the news feeds. If your app isn’t on the list, it will become increasingly difficult to scale your app because it will be less visible and people simply won’t install it due to security concerns – no matter how good it really is.

Facebook is continuing to experience exponential growth, according to Compete, its traffic is up 84.1% (to 45 million visitors per month) year over year (Oct 08). Facebook has never released any financial information, though it is believed it is operating cash flow negative because of the immense operations costs and its main source of revenue is simply from advertising. This is probably why we won’t be seeing a Facebook IPO. Facebook needs to become more competitive given increased competition from Google and Apple. It must also diversify its business model to generate more revenue, but charging all developers a hefty fee shouldn’t be one of the ways. However, I do agree that it would be reasonable for Facebook to apply some fee to the highly profitable apps – it’s only fair, right? Hopefully Facebook will change its stance about charging all developers, especially as developers can easily port their apps to the iPhone. The new Facebook principles can be found here.

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