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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why Do Some Advertisers Believe that 90% of Facebook Ad Clicks are From Bots?

Why Do Some Advertisers Believe that 90% of Facebook Ad Clicks are From Bots?

Here’s Mark Zuckerberg discussing how complex Facebook’s internal systems are to track user behavior and the effectiveness of various ad campaigns:

at any given point, we have a lot of different tests, different algorithms running, and we measure engagement of everything downstream from News Feed and the whole system, right? So obviously, clicks and engagement and feedback in News Feed, how many people want to share, but also how many page views and how much time people spend on Facebook overall, ad performance, everything, down to all of the different tweaks that we do in News Feed, and user sentiment as well. So I think we have pretty robust systems that are built out around this. And one of the things that I think is pretty interesting is what we’ve seen is that we can put in good sponsored content and have it not degrade those metrics. So that’s really what we’re trying to do, is we’re rolling some of these Sponsored Stories out more conservatively because we want to make sure that the quality is very high. And we’re basically continuing to run those tests to make sure that we are producing the best product that we can.
And here is a quote from Sheryl Sandberg on how Facebook is working to give its smaller advertisers the tools to be successful with their Facebook ads:

our third area of progress has been to make it easier for small- and medium-sized businesses to advertise on Facebook. Local business advertising is considered by many to be the Holy Grail of Internet advertising since the market opportunity is so great. This is proving difficult, however, because small business owners often lack the time or ability to adopt new technology. Facebook is uniquely accessible to them. As they typically learn to use Facebook by setting up personal profiles or Timelines, they then discover the value our service can provide them as business owners. Many of the world’s approximately 60 million business owners are already Facebook users. Over 11 million businesses already have pages on Facebook. Over 7 million of these pages are actively used each and every month. In addition, hundreds of thousands of small businesses advertise with us. By making it easier to create a business page and run ads, we believe we can increase the number of small and local businesses who use our tools.
Yet, there are two stories out this morning about small businesses who are frustrated with their Facebook ad experience.
The first was reported in Benzinga (via CNET). In it, the owner complains that Facebook has tried to charge them $2,000 to change its name on its own Facebook page. The analytics are poor and they estimate that 80% of the clicks they get on their Facebook page and Facebook ads are from bots:

“They’re scumbags and we just don’t have the patience for scumbags,” said musician and label-based company Limited Run when discussing its decaying relationship with Facebook (NASDAQ: FB)…. While testing Facebook’s advertising system, Limited Run noticed it could only verify about 20 percent of the clicks that were supposedly being converted to users showing up on its Web site. After trying a few analytics services to figure out the remaining traffic, the company built its own software out of exasperation,” CNET reported, stating that bots were to blame for loading pages and driving up costs.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Facebook Abstainers could be labeled Suspicious

Facebook Abstainers could be labeled Suspicious

As examples they use Norwegian shooter Anders Breivik, who used myspace instead of facebook (or as they put it, "largely invisible on the web", haha @ myspace), and the newer Aurora shooter who used adultfriendfinder instead of facebook. So being social on any other website isn't good enough, it has to be specifically facebook that people are using. 

While it is already established that sites like facebook and google+ are no good for political activists, abuse survivors, and people in the witness protection program; abuse survivors will have to take a back seat while more and more insane articles like this come out. 

There seems to be an insanity bubble around older people which has arrived after the initial facebook boom that brought in the youth, where they see facebook as a necessary utility; instead of a trendy website that will have passed in a few years. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

HTC One X will drop to $99 July 29

HTC One X will drop to $99 July 29

Likely as a result of Samsung Galaxy S III (S3) sales, HTC's flagship handset will see its price halved.

Radio Shack announced today it is cutting the price of AT&T's HTC One X in half to just $99.99 this Sunday, July 29.
This new price matches up with similar reports hitting the Internet in the early morning hours. Considering the high-end Android smartphone is only a few months old, the $100 price drop is quite noteworthy. Chances are good that the deep discount comes as a rebuttal to theSamsung Galaxy S3, which is now on sale for as low as $149.
Looking across the smartphone landscape, I'm seeing a trend in high-end models getting closer to the $100 price point. AT&T, for its part, will have three top models at this price including theSony Xperia Ion and Atrix HD. While all three are attractive handsets with drool-worthy specs, the One X is perhaps the best of the pack.

North Korea Makes A Tablet That Nobody Can Buy

North Korea Makes A Tablet That Nobody Can Buy

North Korea is the odd one out of all the Communist countries left in the world. While other communist nations (i.e. China) have made strides to become more open and work with the world, North Korea is content to be the kid in the corner throwing a temper tantrum every few days. That doesn’t mean the country is behind the times.

According to the North Korea Tech blog, the new tablet is called “Achim” which translates into “morning.” State-run television says the tablet is a hit among students because it provides “teaching materials, references, dictionaries and scientific data.” Unless those school children have connections, I highly doubt any of them can actually afford it.
It’s obvious that the tablet is just another attempt on the part of North Korea to stand up screaming, “Me too!” to the world. After being left in the dust by every other developed nation in the world, the country probably believes that they have to do more than just build nukes to catch the attention of the world.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Zynga CEO cashed out for $200M before stock IMPLOSION

Zynga CEO cashed out for $200M before stock implosion

Though Zynga's stock prices have plummeted since the company's earnings report on Wednesday, CEO Mark Pincus and other insiders managed to reduce their damages from the crash by dumping shares months ago.

Pincus along with other Zynga executives and investors sold a portion of their shares in April, bringing in around $516 million at $12 a share, a couple of dollars above the stock's initial IPO price,according to a report from Daily Ticker.

The company's stock has floated around the $5 mark for a few weeks now, but after Zynga reported disappointing revenues and a third-straight quarter of losses for the April-to-June period yesterday, share prices plunged to a new low of $3.

Of those insiders who sold their stocks early, Pincus made the most and brought in $200 million from the sale, but several others also took home eight-figures. They would have made a lot less if they waited until today to dump their shares like many other investors.

The fortunate timing of their cashouts -- conducted in the same quarter when Zynga's's business appeared to deteriorate to the point that its share prices collapsed once investors were updated on its status -- has raised a few eyebrows.

One law firm, Newman Ferrara, is already conducting an investigation into whether Zynga misrepresented or failed to provide investors information about problems with its social games, such as delayed launches or the company's dependence on Facebook's platform.

Earlier today, analysts expressed doubt that Zynga will be able to continue to dominate the social game space as it has for two years now, commenting "The bottom line is that Zynga over promised and significantly under delivered."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Religion, Like Sex, Sells on E-Books

Religion, Like Sex, Sells on E-Books

DOJ to Apple: You're wrong, wrong, wrong on e-books

DOJ to Apple: You're wrong, wrong, wrong on e-books

  •  The DOJ dismisses most of the 868 public comments on its proposed final judgement (798 of which opposed it) as self-serving, then singles out for quotation individual letters cherry picked from among the 70 that were supportive.
  • It sidesteps the central criticism -- that the government sided with monopoly (Amazon), rather than competition, in bringing an antitrust case against Apple and five publishers last April. It simply states as a fact that it looked into complaints of Amazon's widely-feared "predatory practices" and found "persuasive evidence" lacking.
  • It uses highly charged language -- "seismic shift," "hobbling retailers," "unfettered competition"  -- yet insists that Apple's arguments be "stripped of [their] rhetoric" before it declares the company wrong, wrong, wrong on every point -- as near as I can tell -- of antitrust law.
  • It points to Google's and Microsoft's new tablets as evidence that the e-book market has thrived since the antitrust suit was filed, as if either company were getting into the market a) in response to the suit or b) primarily to sell e-books.

Apple BEARS BEWARE: China 3G subs GREW about 118% from 2011!

Apple BEARS BEWARE: China 3G subs GREW about 118% from 2011!

The skeptics who completely misjudged Apple's iPhone sales in April did so, aspredicted, because they forgot about China -- the company's second-largest market after the U.S.
For those analysts who have reduced their iPhone estimates in the past week -- including a couple new ones today -- the note Topeka Capital's Brian White issued to clients Monday might serve as a wake-up call.
The last of the major Chinese carriers have now reported their June subscriber totals, and despite weakening economic growth in the country, they are huge.
  • Total wireless subscribers: 1.05 billion, up 0.9% from May, and the fourth consecutive month that mobile subscribers in China exceeded 1 billion. (The U.S., by comparison, had 332 million wireless subscribers as of Dec. 2011.)
  • Total Chinese 3G subscribers: 176 million, up 118% year over year. Interestingly, China Mobile's (CHL) share of the country's 3G market actually fell. China Mobile is the world's largest telephone company, but as White notes, it "is the only major carrier in China that does not have a relationship with Apple to sell the iPhone and we believe this is showing up in the company's [monthly] 3G subscriber growth."
"We believe the country's mobile Internet is at an inflection point," White writes, "and Apple (AAPL) will prove to be a major beneficiary."
Apple will report its quarterly iPhone results (along with everything else) after the markets close on Tuesday. We expect sales into its "greater China" region to be a major factor.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Apple Earnings Preview: 5 Numbers That Matter

Apple Earnings Preview: 5 Numbers That MATTER

Apple will deliver its summer earnings update on Tuesday afternoon, reporting its June quarter results and September-quarter forecast. Here's a rundown of the most important numbers to look for.

1. iPhone Sales

The iPhone is Apple's most important product line, representing half its revenue over the past year (and likely much more of its profit). So the iPhone's strength or weakness has a big effect on Apple's overall performance. Consider this: 1 million iPhones shipped represents about $650 million in revenue.
The newest iPhone is more than 6 months old, but signs point to a good quarter nonetheless: Verizon's iPhone activations (2.7 million) exceeded expectation. Enthusiastic reception in China could help further.
Anything below 25 million iPhone shipments would be disappointing, while anything more than 30 million would be very strong. Something in between is most likely.

2. iPad Sales

The iPad represents Apple's future, especially as the company reportedly plans to start selling a cheaper, smaller iPad later this year.
Now that the latest model is no longer supply-constrained, we're about to see what current iPad demand really looks like. Wall Street expects around 16 million iPad shipments for the June quarter. A number north of 20 million would be impressive.

3. China Stats

China is Apple's second biggest market and could someday become its first. Meanwhile, the company has been providing greater visibility into its business there. Last quarter, for instance, it disclosed revenue for greater China, relative iPhone sales velocity, Mac growth, and more. Any updates here will shed light on future prospects.

4. OS X Mountain Lion On-Sale Date

Apple used its earnings call last July to announce that OS X Lion, the latest Mac operating system, would ship the next day. If Apple decides to follow a pattern, it could announce that OS X Mountain Lion will ship on Wednesday. That would fit the previously announced July time frame.
OS X itself isn't a big money maker for Apple, but shipping on time is an important qualitative milestone: It's now a company that can "walk and chew gum at the same time," in the words of writer John Gruber. That wasn't always the case. Apple previously took resources away from the Mac to squeeze iPhone development through.

5. Gross Margin

Most casual observers probably don't care about Apple's ability to remain profoundly profitable, but investors do - especially in a quarter when the less-profitable iPad plays a bigger role than the iPhone in the company's overall results. Anything above 45% would be solid, especially if it's near the 47% Apple posted after the iPhone-heavy March quarter. Anything below 43% would be disappointing.

Apple options beckon eager investors, no matter how small

Apple options beckon eager investors, no matter how small

Roger Carlsen, a retired investor in Frankfurt, Illinois, has happily watched his holdings of Apple Inc rise to more than $600 a share, having held the stock for 12 years.
But with the company's earnings report due Tuesday, he's not sure the stock has much further to go. So he's been in the options market, selling call options to take some profits because he expects the shares in the world's most valuable company to have peaked, at least for now.
"I don't why, but it seems like Apple has lost some of its luster," said the 68-year-old Carlsen.
He's not alone. The stock has slipped from its $644 all-time high hit in April, trading on Monday afternoon at $603.00, hit by a broader-market sell-off and concerns that worldwide economic weakness will hurt consumer demand.
Through good times and bad in the equity markets, plenty of investors have held onto Apple. They have watched shares of the iPad and iPhone maker deliver outstanding returns year-in and year-out, even when broad markets have floundered.
But Apple faces an unusual phenomenon when reporting earnings this time around: lowered expectations. With consumers holding off on purchases ahead of the next iPhone around October and with slowed demand around the world, few expect the company -- which has topped Wall Street expectations with near regularity -- to deliver another big quarter.
As a result, uncertainty in Apple has increased, part of the reason the options have been so active.
Apple options are pricing in about a 5.5 percent move in the shares in either direction after earnings, based on weekly options expiring this Friday, said Enis Taner, global macro editor at RiskReversal.com. That is above the average 3.7 percent one-day move over the past eight quarters.

Will Bitter Patent Dispute Erode Apple and Samsung’s $5 BILLION Relationship?

Will Bitter Patent Dispute Erode Apple and Samsung’s $5 BILLION Relationship?

The ongoing patent battle between Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) andSamsung is taking a trip down under as an Australian judge on Monday began hearing evidence for an anticipated three-monthtrial.
While the Australian court decision will have no substantial impact in other jurisdictions like Europe or the United States, lawyers say the trial proceedings could reshape the legal strategies employed by Apple and Samsung going forward.
Mark Summerfield, a patent lawyer and senior associate with Melbourne-based law firm Watermark, told Reuters, “there’s no doubt there’s a strategic and psychological effect” attached to the Australian case. “Courts in other countries will watch what is happening here.”
Apple and Samsung have done battle in 10 countries since April 2011 over patents covering smartphones and tablets. The Australian dispute centers on touch-screen technology used in Samsung’s new Galaxy 10.1 tablet.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Facebook top Brass (Zuckerberg, etc) Meet in Arkansas with Walmart Top Brass

Facebook top Brass (Zuckerberg, etc) Meet in Arkansas with Walmart Top Brass

Apple 2.0 Earnings Estimates

Apple 2.0 Earnings Estimates

Philip Elmer-Dewitt is out with his Apple 2.0 quarterly estimates. As usual the pros are at an average EPS estimate of 10.32 while the independents are at an average EPS estimate of 12.28 for Apple (AAPL). After years of getting soundly beaten by the independents, the pros are making a minuscule effort to lessen the gap.

My very own estimate is 13.04 and can be found 3rd from the top. I am a member of the Braeburn Group. The below tells the whole story.



Kodak loses patent case vs. Apple, RIM; plans appeal

Kodak loses patent case vs. Apple, RIM; plans appeal

"Eastman Kodak Co has lost an appeal of a patent dispute over digital image preview technology with Apple Inc and Research In Motion Ltd, which could set back the onetime photography giant's efforts to raise money in bankruptcy by selling patents.
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday upheld a May 21 ruling by Judge Thomas Pender of that agency that neither Apple nor RIM had violated Kodak's rights in the so-called '218 patent, which covers how digital cameras preview images.
"The investigation is thus terminated," the agency said.
Kodak has been hoping to recover $1 billion, and said on Sunday it plans an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.
"The validity of the '218 patent has been upheld in previous litigation at the ITC and was affirmed by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office in the face of two separate challenges," it said. "We are confident that its validity will ultimately be upheld."
Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors on January 19. Patent litigation has in recent years been a major part of the Rochester, New York-based company's strategy to generate revenue."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Made in America: Apple's supply chain increasing US production

Made in America: Apple's supply chain increasing US production

"Over the last year, some of Apple's key component suppliers have begun increasing their U.S.-based production, which could be a sign that more of the iPhone is already made in America than one might think.
When Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was recently asked at the D10 conference about the possibility of his company building products in America, he noted that some crucial parts for the iPhone and iPad are already manufactured stateside. Specifically, he identified the ARM processors built by Samsung in Austin, Texas, or the Corning Gorilla Glass made in Kentucky.

But the iPhone and iPad — Apple's two most popular products — are made up of much more than the CPU and glass that Cook highlighted. These complex mobile machines include power controllers, proximity sensors, cellular radios, Wi-Fi chips, audio and video chips, accelerometers and more — and a number of those parts come from American companies.

Of course, there's no guarantee that any of the parts found in Apple's products are, with absolute certainty, made in America, even if they're sold by a U.S. company. Many chipmakers build their products at a number factories located around the world. And ever-secretive Apple doesn't even disclose who makes many of the parts found in its products, leaving enthusiasts to tear the company's devices apart and hunt for clues, sometimes to no avail."

Kodak Loses Case Against Apple, RIM On Imaging Patent

Kodak Loses Case Against Apple, RIM On Imaging Patent

Eastman Kodak Co. (EKDKQ) lost its patent case against Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) over digital image-preview technology, a U.S. trade agency said today in a decision that could hurt the company’s efforts to get a high price selling its patents.
Kodak said it will appeal.
The U.S. International Trade Commission upheld a judge’s findings that neither Apple nor RIM violated Kodak’s rights in the patent. The commission said it agreed with the judge that the patent claim was invalid. Its reasons for the decision will be released once both sides have a chance to redact confidential information.
Kodak has been seeking a victory to force Apple and RIM to pay licensing fees and bolster the value of the patent portfolios Kodak intends to sell. Kodak said in a court filing that Apple alone owes more than $1 billion in royalties. The dispute has dragged on for about 30 months, almost twice as long as a typical ITC case.
The patent’s validity “has been upheld in previous litigation at the ITC, and was affirmed by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office in the face of two separate challenges, so we are confident that its validity will ultimately be upheld,” Chris Veronda, a spokesman for Kodak, said in a statement.
Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, said the company had no comment.
The patent in the case is in one of two portfolios that Kodak is selling, which may be its most valuable assets. One group includes patents for digital-capture technology and the other covers imaging systems and services.

Google buys Sparrow for 'new Gmail project'

Google buys Sparrow for 'new Gmail project'

Google has no interest in the company itself.
A spokeswoman for the search giant said Google will keep Sparrow up and running, and it will continue to support the application. But the company doesn't plan to offer any significant Sparrow updates in the future.
In their new roles at Google, Sparrow's five employees will work on "new projects" for Gmail.
If Sparrow's team has any hard feelings about ending work on its creation, it didn't say so.
The company has worked to enhance the "mailing experience," Sparrow CEO Dom Leca wrote in a blog post. "Now we're joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision -- one that we think we can better achieve with Google."
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Verge cited sources that said the purchase price was "under $25 million."
It's a familiar story, and one that isn't a great omen for Sparrow's future.
Google last month acquired social advertising service Meebo for a reported $100 million. Google said it would shift all Meebo employees to its Google+ social network.

'50% of worldwide spam is gone'

'50% of worldwide spam is gone'

"Good news for your email inbox: You'll be seeing less spam in it now, thanks to a global takedown effort that knocked one of the world's biggest spammers offline this week.
"About 50% of the worldwide spam is gone," says FireEye senior scientist Atif Mushtaq, who participated in the demolition.
The dramatic decrease is the result of a coordinated attack by security firms and Internet service providers around the globe that took down a network of infected computers known as "the Grum botnet." Grum, one of the world's most prolific spammers, generated around 18 billion emails a day, by FireEye's estimates.
A botnet is a collective of computers infected with malware -- typically without the computer owner's knowledge -- and taken over by an outside attacker. Criminals who gain control of botnets use them for malicious activities like pumping out massive volumes of spam or launching denial-of-service attacks on targeted websites. The bigger the botnet, the more firepower the cybercrimal has at their fingertips.
Grum was an especially vast and nasty spammer. First detected in early 2008, its malware infected several hundred thousand computers around the world and churned out huge amounts of pharmaceutical spam advertising cheap drugs."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Facebook Less Trusted Than Amazon, Google In Data Use, Poll Says

Facebook Less Trusted Than Amazon, Google In Data Use, Poll Says

"Fewer Web users trust Facebook Inc. (FB) with personal data than other Internet companies, including Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. (GOOG), a new poll suggests.
One-third of Internet users said they’re comfortable with Facebook’s handling of personal information to target ads for them, according to a Harris Interactive Inc. (HPOL) survey released today. Twice as many, or 66 percent, are comfortable with online retailer Amazon using data on past purchases to recommend products, and 41 percent of respondents trust Google to show ads based on past Web searches, according to the data.
Facebook, owner of the world’s largest social network, uses data about people’s preferences to help advertisers market their wares. It agreed in November to settle complaints by the Federal Trade Commission that it failed to protect user information or disclose how the data would be used.
The poll, conducted by Harris on behalf of mobile marketing firm Placecast, surveyed 2,262 U.S. adults online in February. It asked about their level of comfort with the use of their data by various companies and types of merchants, including grocery stores and mobile-phone carriers."