Oh Facebook, how you’ve changed since the beginning…The biggest internet-company IPO is coming up. For the last several weeks, Facebook has begun preparing for it’s inevitable initial public offering estimated to take place in early May. Facebook has begun to cease trading of private shares on private exchanges. They are also preparing a roadshow to attract institutional investors for pension plans, mutual funds & hedge funds.
The recent development here is the ‘Book’s acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock. Many wonder how on earth the social photo app can be worth so much, but beneath it all there are 2 reasons why. The obvious first is their upcoming IPO. The second is that Facebook wants to become more dominant in terms of photo sharing and mobile markets overall. Instagram has a massive userbase. In terms of investing, Forbes says:
…investors may have been wondering, Why are we buying into a massive IPO for an Internet company with no clear (or massively successful) mobile strategy? Even if Instagram is not ultimately successful within Facebook, for big buyers in the IPO, it now looks like Facebook has a legitimate property in the space with tons of growth. This doesn’t mean Facebook bought Instagram just to appease these institutional investors. But it was a factor.
Via LA Times & Forbes
I saw on a forum post today some night driving footage of the BMW i8 Spyder concept car. I’m sharing with all the news surrounding electric and hybrid vehicles as of late not to mention the perfect crossroads of tech and motorsport, a second passion of mine. The vehicle has been created under BMW’s “i” sub-brand and is a spirited performer slash eco-cruiser. For those with a short commute, the 20-mile electric range with a 0-62mph rating of 5 seconds looks very enticing – I know it does to me…It gets a combined 94mpg with the gas engine and only takes 2 hours to charge using a household socket. The bonus is the 2 electric scooters BMW plans to put in the trunk to ride around town while you’re parked! Want one yet?
Where performance meets efficiency, everybody wins.
Among the most eye-catching features of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder are the upward-swivelling, windowless doors and a range of purpose-oriented on-board equipment including electric kickboards stowed under a transparent tailgate. The sports car is based around the innovative LifeDrive architecture, itself underpinned by a lightweight modular construction and the use of high-quality high-tech materials. The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is a plug-in hybrid powered by an eDrive drivetrain combining a high-performance electric motor and petrol combustion engine. The lithium-ion battery supplying the motor with power can be recharged in an extremely short space of time from any domestic power socket. Together, the car’s minimised weight, low centre of gravity and finely judged balance, coupled with a combined system output of up to 260 kW (354 hp), promise unbeatable dynamic capability, exceptional efficiency and unbridled driving pleasure.
- High performance 3-cylinder petrol engine (164 kW) in rear with i3’s electric motor (limited to 96 kW) in front
- Total torque of 550 Nm (300Nm petrol engine + 250 Nm electric motor)
- 3 driving modes – electric, petrol, or both engines at once
- 1,630 kg
- 0-100kph (62mph): 5.0 seconds
- 80-120 km/h (50-75 mph): 4.0 seconds
- Top speed: 250kph (155mph) (limited)
- 3 L/100km / 94 mpg imp
- 50:50 weight distribution
Instead of using your data solely for marketing purposes, Google is offering more tools to allow users to view their personal usage trends across many of their services:
- Designed to offer you transparency and control
- Summarizes the data associated with each product you use when signed in to your account
- Provides links to change your personal settings
Google’s dashboard (which can be found here) shows you a ton of information ranging from popular Gmail contacts, models of Android devices associated with your account, metrics on Google Voice usage, search information, Google Finance portfolios among many other things. For hardcore Google service users, this could prove to be a very valuable tool.
A more recent tool launched by the search giant is known as “Account Activity” which you can view here. Specifically, the tool shows account sign-in activity (including country, ISP, browser & platform), number of monthly emails and most contacted addresses, Youtube video statistics & Latitude history. Lifehacker had a good example which you can see below. The Google user recently planned a trip to Italy, so the most contacted email address was a hotel and most frequent web searches related to the trip as well.
The surge in mobile software and other apps has also led to a surge in jobs, almost half a million just in the U.S., estimates a study out today from CEO network TechNet.
All of the must-have applications available on iOS, Android, Blackberry & other smartphone platforms translate to literally thousands of jobs for programmers, designers, managers, marketers etc. The jobs the Technet study looks at a range from development roles at companies who specialize in applications (Zynga) to internal app developers at companies such as Bank Of America.
Check out the size of the “app economy” as well as this awesome infographic about mobile applications:
Via CNET and FrugalDad
Apple has already collected a small back catalogue of patent lawsuits over the last few years. Some it has handled successfully and some less so, like their ongoing battle with Proview over the ‘iPad’ trademark.
Proview Technology is suing Apple over the rights to the ‘iPad’ brand within China’s borders, seeking around $38 million for “damages” and, perhaps most unusually, an apology from Apple.
Apple is no stranger to patent lawsuits, this example being no exception. Essentially, Chinese company Proview Technology alleges that it originally filed an intellectual property patent in Taiwan back in 2001 trademarking the name “ipad”. In 2006, a company “IP Application Development” bought the patent for a mere $55k USD – once Proview realized the company’s ties to Apple, they took action against the tech giant. In 2010, Proview sued Apple for $1.6 billion but lost – according to Proview’s lawyers, the rights had only been purchased to use the trademark in Taiwan. Chinese patent laws have been accused of being biased towards Chinese companies which doesn’t bode well for Apple. On the other hand, the Foxcon (Apple-affiliated) facilities in Shanghai are one of the cities largest employers which certainly will draw negative attention to patent officials if they choose to aware Proview the damages. In the past, Apple hasn’t always come out on top in these debacles.
Stories like this bring to light how massive corporations such as Apple use shell companies for intellectual property purchases to get better bargains. Had Apple gone directly to Proview asking to buy the patent, it would have been assumed it could be a multi-billion dollar product thus a high price tag. Using a company whose name spells out the IPAD acronym is sneaky Apple, very sneaky.
Image Via Androidguys.com
On March 1st of this year, new data collection methods will be deployed by Google which will essentially link search history and browsing patterns on all of their services. While collection of browsing data & search history are not a new concept for the folks up at Mountain View, this new initiative seeks to put searches in a better context. Google knowing individual search records is useful, but being able to put these searches in the context of all of their other searches, youtube viewing history & other Google usage data is even more valuable for their targeted advertising initiatives. Consumers could also benefit from this. For example, when Google users are searching for “Jaguar”, Google’s new service will help to target results based on your previous history and either bring up results for the auto maker or the animal.
From a privacy perspective, this news is certainly alarming. The general public does not expect content of their personal Gmail messages to have an impact on targeted advertisements on web pages or even Youtube viewing suggestions. Although there is no official “opt-out” option, there are a few things you can do to “depersonalize searches”:
- Sign out of GMail & other Google services while browsing
Make Sure This Says "You" and NOT Your Name
- Turn off Web History Tracking for your account. Click the Options icon on the top right of a Google page (gear icon). Click “Web History” at the bottom and when that page loads, turn it off.
Turn Off Web History
Via Washington Post
In a recent New York area SAT cheating scandal, a male student was found to have taken the test for many others, including females for rates of up to $2,500 US. As a way to make it impossible to cheat, researchers at Stony Brook University are looking at the possibility of implementing DNA identification for test takers. This technology would make it impossible to cheat and would protect the integrity of standardized exams. How would the technology actually work?
The student’s unique digital DNA code is created and assigned to an ID card with covert authentication marks printed onto it. Proctors can verify instantly with a simple UV light and smart phone scan.
What worries me about this initiative is the security of the DNA data – as I have posted on here before, who will be responsible for making sure DNA and other biometric records aren’t compromised to undisclosed recipients? While cheating throughout all levels of education is a big issue, there may be some safer ways to combat it such as providing multiple forms of of valid identification such as passports or birth certificates which are more difficult to fake then school ID’s or drivers’ licenses.
Via CBS New York
Image Source: CBS New York