Digital Zone 224: Ping, Not Bing

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In this edition of the Digital Zone, we talked about:

  • Android’s torrid selling pace
  • HP’s Hurd lands at Oracle
  • Google under investigation by Texas
  • Google’s top 10 Adwords buyers
  • Google bringing the web to televisions
  • YouTube turning a profit
  • Apple’s new iPod line
  • Apple introduces ‘Ping’
  • Verizon introduces pre-paid data plans
  • Adults texting more

Android now accounts for 25 percent of mobile operating systems in North America, a 2 percent increase, month-over-month, and an 18.6 percent increase year-over-year. These numbers come from Quantcast, saying Android has owns 17.2 percent of the global smartphone market. Android is starting to chip away BlackBerry’s market share and is the top-selling OS in the U.S., according to Gartner.

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Oracle has hired former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison called HP’s decision to oust Hurd the worst personnel decision since Apple forced out Steve Jobs. The company said Hurd will also serve as a member of the board of directors and will report to Ellison. In hiring Hurd, Oracle doesn’t necessarily get everything he knows. Part of Hurd’s severance package from HP — which could top $40 million — includes a confidentiality agreement that restricts what he can tell a future employer about internal HP dealings.

Google’s methods for recommending websites are being reviewed by Texas’ attorney general because of complaints that the company has abused its power as the Internet’s dominant search engine. The review looks to be focused on whether Google is manipulating its search results to stifle competition. Search engine results can make or break websites because Google’s search engine processes about two-thirds of the search requests in the U.S. Google has been accused of favoring its own services in its results instead of rival websites.

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Ad Age obtained an internal Google document that highlights some of the biggest AdWords buyers for the month of June 2010. According to the documents, the biggest buyers of AdWords in June included AT&T Mobile, Amazon, eBay and BP. BP was a newcomer to the list, spending $3.59 million on search ads in the wake of the gulf oil spill (compared to just $57,000 in the two months prior). The top spender in June, AT&T Mobile, spent $8.08 million on search ads to coincide with the release of the iPhone 4. According to Ad Age, AT&T’s the third-largest U.S. advertiser overall. Other companies making up the top 10 include:

* Apollo Group – which is The University of Phoenix spent $6.67 million in June 2010
* Expedia – $5.95 million
* Amazon – $5.85 million
* eBay – $4.25 million
* Hotels.com – $3.30 million
* JC Penney – $2.46 million
* Living Social – $2.29 million
* ADT Security – $2.19 million

The documents obtained by Ad Age indicate that companies like GM, Disney and BMW spent less than $500,000 on Google ads in June. Even Apple spent just less than $1 million on Google ads, despite the iPhone 4.

Google is bringing the Web to TV screens in the United States this fall and worldwide next year. The service will allow full Internet browsing on televisions and would be free. Sony said last week it had agreed to have Google TV on its television sets, and Samsung has said it was looking into using the service. CEO Eric Schmidt also said they will be announcing partnerships later this year with makers of tablet computers that would use Google’s Chrome operating system, rather than its Android phone software. Reuters reported last week that Google was in talks with music labels for a music download store.

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The New York Times is reporting that YouTube will turn a profit this year on revenue of 450 million dollars. The paper said the site’s revenue has more than doubled each year for the last three years. Google reported a second-quarter profit of 1.84 billion dollars in July on revenue of 6.82 billion dollars. The Financial Times reported last week YouTube is in negotiations with Hollywood studios to launch a global pay-per-view video service by the end of 2010. The paper said viewers would stream rather than download the movies and pay about five dollars for newer titles.

Apple announced that more than one million users signed up for Ping in the service’s first 48 hours of availability. Ping is the music-focused social network built into iTunes 10, which was released last week. Ping lets you follow artists with your friends. The service let you see what your friends are listening to, liking, and purchasing within iTunes. In a related story, the new iPods lines were unveiled last week.

Verizon Wireless has introduced prepaid, no contract, data plans. The plan go on sale September 28. Unlimted 3G access on select handsets go for $30 per month, $10 per month get 25 megabytes, with a 20-cent charge for each additional megabyte. The pre-paid plans can be used on the BlackBerry Curve, the Palm Pre and Pixi, all five models of the top-selling Droid (made by Motorola or HTC), the Motorola Devour and LG Ally, as well as a few multimedia phones. AT&T now offers a $25 plan for two gigabytes of data per month, with additional gigs at $10 each, and a $15 200-megabyte deal with $15 for 200 additional megabytes.

More American adults are texting according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. The survey found that 72 percent of American adults aged 18 and older send and receive text messages, up from 65 percent in September 2009. Eighty-seven percent of teenage cellphone users aged 12 to 17 send texts send 50 messages a day, five times more than the average 10 text messages sent and received by adults per day. The survey found that four out of five, or 82 percent, of American adults now have a cellphone, up from 65 percent in November 2004. The survey also found 91% said their cellphone makes them feel safe and 42 percent said they get irritated when they are interrupted by a call or a text. Fifty-seven percent said they receive unwanted or spam text messages on their phone and 86 percent said they find it rude when people check their phones repeatedly during meetings or conversations. Sixty-five percent of adults with cellphones sleep with the device on or right next to their bed.

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