Tumblr, a place for posting cat memes and duck faces, is apparently in Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s sights, with Allthingsd reporting that she is the main driver of a possible acquisition. Yahoo and Tumblr are in “had been in serious talks,” with Mayer having had her eye on the company ever since she worked for Yahoo rival Google.
The report also claims that Tumblr has been “stepping up its efforts” recently to raise funding that could value the company at $1bn, seemingly interested in a potential buyout by Yahoo as long as the price is right.
Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman quoted said that the firm is looking to attract more 18-24 year olds, which is the demographic of the blogging service.
“One of our challenges is we have had an aging demographic,” Goldman said. “Part of it is going to be just visibility again in making ourselves cool, which we got away from for a couple of years.”
One of Allthingsd’s closely guarded sources said that Yahoo acquiring Tumblr fits in nicely with Mayer’s plans.
“If you could pick a company that fits in with what Marissa Mayer has demonstrated in her career – aesthetics, software technology and fast-growing – you could not land on a better choice,” the unnamed source said.
The merger will come as no surprise, as Tumblr boasts 117 million visitors each month, the majority of which are in the 18-24 demographic. However, it still remains unclear what Yahoo would do with Tumblr.
Yahoo will reportedly announce this afternoon.
Google Inc announced on Thursday a half-dozen apps specially designed to work on its Glass devices. News network CNN, fashion magazine Elle, as well as online apps Tumblr and Evernote were among the half-dozen new apps for Glass unveiled during Google’s annual developer conference in San Francisco.
Google Glass is a stamp-sized electronic screen mounted on the left side of a pair of eyeglass frames which can record video, access email and messages and retrieve information from the Web.
Google began distributing the devices last month to a limited number of developers, but it has yet to specify when a version will be available for consumers or at what price.
The futuristic-looking devices have been a common sight at the Google conference this week, with many of the attendees and staffers wearing Glass. But Google executives gave Glass short shrift during the more than three-hour keynote talks on Wednesday, barely mentioning Glass among the litany of new products and services discussed on stage.
Microsoft research is showing that there has been a spike in malware targeting Java vulnerabilities since the third quarter of 2011. Much of the activity has focused on vulnerabilities which are already patched. This suggests that attackers are hitting vulnerabilities that are in multiple versions of Java, rather than just one specific version. Jeong Wook Oh of Microsoft said that in Q3 and Q4 of 2012 two new vulnerabilities, CVE-2012-4681 and CVE-2012-5076, were found.
“But we didn’t observe any prevalence of Java malware abusing these newer vulnerabilities above malware abusing the older Java vulnerabilities, CVE-2012-0507 and CVE-2012-1723. The reason behind this might be that only Java 7 installations were vulnerable to CVE-2012-4681 and CVE-2012-5076, whereas CVE-2012-0507 and CVE-2012-1723 also target Java 6,” he said.
As there are still many users that use Java 6, the malware writers might have tried to target Java 6 installations by including older vulnerabilities in the exploit package. During 2012 there were two kinds of Java vulnerabilities one applied to both multiple versions of Java including Java 6 and 7, and the others only applies to Java 7.
“So when new vulnerabilities that are only applicable to Java 7 are discovered, the attacker’s strategy was usually to combine it with older vulnerabilities that cover more versions of Java. In that way, they could achieve more coverage than just using a single exploit in one package,” Oh said.
Of the four Java vulnerabilities from 2012 only one of which was a zero day vulnerablity. The other three flaws already had patches available when the malware targeting them appeared. The warning here is to install patches as soon as they come out.
Google Inc unveiled a music service on Wednesday that allows users to listen to unlimited songs for $9.99 a month, challenging smaller companies like Pandora and Spotify in the market for streaming music.
With its new service, announced at its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, Google has adopted the streaming music business model ahead of rival Apple Inc, which pioneered online music purchases with iTunes.
Google’s “All Access” service lets users customize song selections from 22 genres, ranging from Jazz to Indie music, stream individual playlists, or listen to a curated, radio-like stream that can be tweaked. It will be launched for U.S. users first, before being rolled out to several other countries.
At the conference, Google also unveiled improvements to other services, including new mapping features and a voice-activated search. The focus was on giving more options to users of mobile devices using its Android operating system.
Google’s shares jumped more than 3 percent while Pandora Media Inc shares were down more than 1 percent on Wednesday afternoon.
The entry of the world’s largest Internet company amps up the competition in the nascent market for subscription-based, streaming music. Amazon.com Inc and Apple are among the Silicon Valley powerhouses sounding out top recording industry executives, according to sources with knowledge of talks.
Pandora is spending freely and racking up losses to expand globally. Even social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter are jumping onto the streaming-music bandwagon.
All these companies see a viable music streaming and subscription service as crucial to growing their presence in an exploding mobile environment. For Google and Apple, it is critical in ensuring users remain loyal to their mobile products.
Music has been integral to the mobile experience since the early days of iTunes, which upended the old models with its 99-cent-per-song buying approach.
Now, as smartphones and tablets supplant PCs and virtual storage replaces songs on devices, mobile players from handset makers to social networks realize they must stake out a place or risk ceding control of one of the largest components of mobile device usage.
At $9.99 a month, Google’s service is costlier than the $3.99 required for Pandora, but on par with Spotify.
Google executives said their new service takes the work out of managing massive music libraries, noting the streaming model can be endlessly customized.
Analysts regarded the move — announced today at BlackBerry Live — as mostly positive, since it could help an improving BlackBerry expand its reach beyond its own new Z10 and Q10 smartphone customers.
Today, there are 60 million BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) customers, a tiny fraction of the number of messages sent via Facebook or Twitter. But BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said BBM users are very active, sending 10 billion messages a day, and half the messages received are read within 20 seconds.
Opening up BBM to iOS 6 devices and above and Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices and above will expand BBM’s reach, Heins said.
“BBM is so great that it’s too good to keep only to ourselves,”Heins said during an upbeat keynote presentation at the event, which is mainly for BlackBerry developers and partners. “Why now? It’s a statement of confidence, that BlackBerry 10 is strong and the response is so good that it’s time that BBM become multi-platform.”
BBM’s interoperability with Android and iOS is now in beta, and will launch commercially this summer, Heins said. At first, only text messaging will be available to individuals and groups on other platforms. Features already available in BlackBerry 10 on BBM such as voice and video and screen sharing will be added later this year, with updates every two to four weeks.
The company said over the weekend it welcomed Loki, Astrid, GoPollGo and MileWise to its growing mobile team. “We recently added 22 entrepreneurs to our growing mobile team,” the company said in a Twitter message in a possible reference to some of the people from the four companies who have moved to Yahoo.
Loki’s flagship application is its location-aware game, Geomon. “We are thrilled to be joining the exceptional folks at Yahoo!. We believe fully in their commitment to creating outstanding mobile products,” the Loki team said on their website.
Earlier in the week, Yahoo also acquired GoPollGo, a social polling tool. The company’s founder and team said they were moving to Yahoo, and would no longer be supporting their offerings.
It is not clear whether Yahoo has bought all these companies for their products and technology or just to get their experienced staff in the area of mobile as it tries to build up its own mobile capabilities. The way the services are being shut down suggests that their user base did not particularly interest Yahoo. The company could not be immediately reached for comment.
The new tools represent yet another expansion of the Microsoft search site to make it more interactive and useful as the company seeks to distinguish itself from Google search.
In March Bing expanded its center column to incorporate more social information from Facebook, Twitter and Klout into how it displays search results involving people. In January its right-hand Social Sidebar was scaled out to include more content from users’ Facebook friends such as status updates, shared links and comments.
Previously, users could see that content, but could not interact with it without leaving the Bing site. But with the latest expansion, they can.
“Now you can see what your friends might know about what you’re searching for and engage with them directly without leaving the search page,” Bing said last Friday in a blog post.
As an example, if a person is searching for tickets to a Beyonce concert, and a friend posted on Facebook that she has an extra ticket, the person could comment directly on the post on the Bing site to let the friend know that he would like to join her for the concert, Bing said.
The person has to be signed into Facebook for the feature to work. The tool honors the user’s account settings and won’t share any information without the person’s approval, Bing said.
There does not appear to be any restriction on how old the Facebook posts can be.
The feature’s focus is on surfacing the most relevant information for the searcher, but on average the technology looks at roughly two years’ worth of Facebook data for each person, a Microsoft spokesperson said.
For instance, searching for the just-released film “The Great Gatsby” displayed Facebook posts from as far back as 2011, some of which did not even refer to the recent Hollywood adaptation of the book.
The flow of information between Bing and Facebook goes both ways. In January Facebook announced the beta launch of Graph Search, a social search tool designed to let users discover a wider range of information across the social network. When there are holes in the Graph Search results, information from Bing will be weaved in, Facebook said.
Bing originally rolled out its right-hand Social Sidebar last year, and since then “we’ve been exploring ways to make it more useful,” the site said last Friday.
A former FBI counter-terrorism agent Tim Clemente appeared on CNN to claim that most of the great unwashed did not know the real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state. The comments stem out of anonymous government officials claiming that they are now focused on telephone calls between one of the Boston Bombers and his wife to see if she had prior knowledge of the plot or participated in any way.
The only problem with that was that if the calls were already made, how could the FBI listen to them. Tim Clemente, a former FBI counter-terrorism agent was asked about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could.
He said that there were ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out. He said that all of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether people know it or like it or not.
Amazon.com has updated its mobile app store to include support for its Chinese customers, a potential signal that the U.S. company may be preparing to sell its Kindle e-readers and tablets in the country.
The update effectively launches a new version of Amazon’s app store built in the Chinese language. The store comes in the form of an Android app, and the company has been promoting it since this past weekend.
The arrival of the new store comes just months after Amazon launched its Kindle e-book service in China last December. Both are key platforms for bringing content to the company’s Kindle devices in the U.S. market. But in China, Amazon has yet to start selling its tablet and e-reader hardware, and its local offices have been mum on a future release date. The company on Monday did not immediately respond for comment.
Despite the absence of official sales, the Chinese market is showing some “pent-up demand” for Amazon’s e-readers, said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting. Research data from last year showed that Chinese consumers were increasingly buying the e-readers from overseas markets, he added.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets could also sell well in the country, Natkin said. Apple currently dominates the nation’s tablet sector, but the company largely focuses on the higher-end market. Amazon’s Kindle Fire products, which start at $159, could appeal to many consumers wanting a lower-priced device from a well-known brand, he added.
Lenovo became the country’s second-largest tablet vendor after Apple, with a 14% market share, by its focus on budget tablets, according to analysts.
Though a big name in the U.S., Amazon is, however, a small player in China’s e-commerce market. It faces fierce competition from the local rivals, including Alibaba Group’s Taobao sites and 360buy, another major online shopping mall. Both Taobao and 360buy also sell e-books.
China’s market is also already saturated with local app stores, some of which are operated by handset makers and telecom operators. Amazon’s new Chinese app store has been designed to include more local products. Software from Chinese social networking site Sina Weibo and video-sharing hub Youku Tudou are listed, but U.S. apps including Netflix and Twitter are not.
Twitter, which announced Gaylor’s hiring in a tweet on Thursday, is expected to be the next big IPO to emerge from Silicon Valley. But executives have kept quiet about the company’s precise plans.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Gaylor led “technology execution efforts” at Morgan Stanley, including equity and debt securities issues, as managing director of mergers and acquisitions at its global technology group.
She has also advised on high-profile deals such as Amazon.com Inc’s purchase of Zappos and Google Inc’s acquisition of AdMob.
“Look forward to joining and focusing on M&A + strategy,” Gaylor tweeted on Thursday. “Pointed north … let the migration begin!”
Eagle-eyed Twitlio developer Jonathan Gottfried noticed the apparent confirmation of a Twitter app for Google Glass, having seen someone tweeting a picture from the source “Twitter for Glass” .
Is @mogroothmuddler beta testing an official Twitter for Glass app? Certainly looks like it. twitter.com/jonmarkgo/stat…
— Jonathan Gottfried (@jonmarkgo) April 29, 2013
According to Allthingsd, this leak is likely to be the real deal. Why? Because Twitter restricts the creation of apps with “Twitter” in the name, so it’s unlikely that someon has knocked up a fake application with the word “Twitter” in its name.
What’s more, the tweet in question came from @MogroothMuddler, an account that has since been deleted. However, this Twitter account has been traced back to a man called Shiv Ramamurthi, who works as an engineering manager at Twitter. If anyone was going to get their mitts on an early release of Twitter’s Google Glass application, it would be a Twitter engineer.
It’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing the release of Twitter for Google Glass any time soon, given that Google recently said that it is unlikely to release its spectacles until 2014.
However the leak does suggest that other software developers like Facebook and Instagram might be working on apps for Google’s eyewear.
Twitter said that it was unable to comment.
Facebook has to deal with a mass exodus of users who are no longer interested in giving up all their personal data so that they can be inundated with pictures of cute cats, conspiracy theories and US gun lobby propaganda.
While the company is expected to report that its revenues are up, it might also have to tell shareholders that its expansion in the US, UK and other major European countries has peaked. In the last month, the world’s largest social network has lost 6 million US visitors, a 4 per cent fall, according to analysis firm SocialBakers.
In the UK, 1.4m fewer users checked in last month, a fall of 4.5 per cent. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9million monthly visitors in the US and 2 million in the UK. It seems that these new users are not being replaced. Users are also switching off in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan.
Like Catholicism, Facebook is being saved by growing fast in South America: monthly visitors in Brazil were up 6 per cent in the last month to 70 million.
Security outfit Trusteer has recently identified an active configuration of TorRAT targeting Twitter users. The malware launches a Man-in-the-Browser (MitB) attack through the browser of infected PCs, gaining access to the victim’s Twitter account to create malicious tweets.
Dana Tamir, Enterprise Security Director for Trusteer the malware, which has been used as a financial malware to gain access to user credentials and target their financial transactions, now has a new goal: to spread malware using the online social networking service. At this time the attack is targeting the Dutch market. But since Twitter is used by millions of users around the world, this type of attack can be used to target any market and any industry.
Tamir said that the attack is particularly difficult to defend against because it uses a new sophisticated approach to spear-phishing. Twitter users follow accounts that they trust. Because the malware creates malicious tweets and sends them through a compromised account of a trusted person or organization being followed, the tweets seem to be genuine. The fact that the tweets include shortened URLs is not concerning: Twitter limits the number of characters in a message, so followers expect to get interesting news bits in the form of a short text message followed by a shortened URL. However, a shortened URL can be used to disguises the underlying URL address, so that followers have no way of knowing if the link is suspicious.
The service, dubbed #music, uses tweets to cull the hottest new songs, groups and singers. It also focuses on musical artists and their music-related Twitter activity, letting users in on what groups or singers they follow and tweet about.
Twitter #Music can be accessed on the Web or used as an app for the iOS platform that is available for download from Apple’s App Store. Right now, the Web service is only available in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Twitter noted that it is looking to make the service available to more countries and to eventually make the app available on the Android platform.
“Twitter and music go great together,” wrote Stephen Philips, the founder of We Are Hunted, in a blog post. “Many of the most-followed accounts on Twitter are musicians, and half of all users follow at least one musician. This is why artists turn to Twitter first to connect with their fans — and why we wanted to find a way to surface songs people are tweeting about.”
This is a great move for Twitter, according to Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research.
“This adds more value to the Twitter brand,” said Kerravala. “This is important to the future of Twitter as the company tries to expand into other content areas. It’s all about retaining eyeballs and that may be the most important metric for social companies.”
Yahoo wants to speed up its development of mobile products geared toward delivery of personalized content, CEO Marissa Mayer said, as the company works to stay relevant in a world where smartphones and tablets are becoming dominant.
How Yahoo will accomplish that goal is not immediately clear — it has yet to announce any specific mobile apps or services it has in the pipeline — but it was an objective oft-repeated during the company’s first-quarter earnings call.
But if the “how” is not clear, the “why” is more evident. Mobile is top of mind for all Internet firms, Google and Facebook included, and mobile will be crucial to Yahoo’s efforts to increase user engagement and expand advertising revenue.
By 2015, Yahoo expects more people to be accessing the Internet on mobile devices than on PCs. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us, and we’re working hard to take advantage of it,” Mayer said.
Yahoo’s earnings for the quarter were US$390 million, up 36 percent from last year, but revenue was down. Continuous improvements to Yahoo’s products “will set up the company for long-term growth,” the company said earlier Tuesday.
Yahoo is already making some progress in mobile. In the first three months of 2013, the number of monthly, mobile active users on Yahoo surpassed 300 million for the first time, Mayer said. That’s up from 200 million reported in its last earnings call in January.
The number of daily active users on Yahoo-branded apps like Mail and Flickr also increased by more than 50 percent during the quarter, the company said. On Flickr, mobile photo uploads increased by more than 50 percent quarter over quarter.
“Our early results in mobile are promising,” Mayer said, “and there is a lot more in store for mobile in the coming months.”
Yahoo continues to face pressure to demonstrate its value to users, as more people flock to social networks like Twitter and Facebook and to an array of social apps on smartphones. Yahoo currently does not have any social network or mobile phone of its own.