Yahoo made it official today: It is buying micro-blogging service Tumblr for an eye-opening price of $1.1 billion. Some Tumblr users already are threatening to leave, and opinions among business analysts and media commentators are divided as to whether it's worth the big sticker price:
- John Saroff writes for Fortune that it's a $1.1 billion mistake.
- Sam Gustin, writing for Time, notes that Yahoo doesn't have a great track record with its previous acquisitions.
- Nick Bilton and Nicole Perlroth write for The New York Times Bits that Tumblr users are already griping and complaining in their blogs, and one even set up a guide to leaving Tumblr.
- Lauren Indvik writes for Mashable that Yahoo may bring more ads to Tumblr, increasing its money-making potential.
- Dan Gillmor wonders in the Guardian whether WordPress could be the next Tumblr, noting that WordPress offers great value because it's open-source and not proprietary like Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram and similar commercial networks.
Google made a splash in social medialand last week with a string of announcements at its annual I/O developer conference. A few highlights:
Hangouts messaging screen
1) Google Hangouts -- Google announced plans to merge its disparate messaging and chat services into a single new one called Google Hangouts. The new messenger works across multiple mobile platforms, not just Google's own Android operating system. It is designed to replace several of the company's existing communication services, including Google Talk, GChat and Google+ Messenger. To start, Hangouts is available for Apple's iOS devices as well as Google's Android, the Chrome Web browser and Gmail. More about Google Hangouts.
2) Google+ Redesign -- The Internet search giant redesigned and added more than 40 features to Google+, its social networking service. Enhancements include automatic generation of hashtags (based on the content of a post) and automatic improvements to photos, including enhanced lighting, colors and the ability to group related images together. Dubbed "auto-awesome," the photo-enhancing tool also can combine images to automatically generate animated GIFs. How nifty is that?
3) Google Music All Access -- Grabbing the spotlight was a premium streaming music subscription service that debuted at the conference called Google Play Music All Access. It costs $9.99 a month and provides personalized streaming radio that includes millions of songs, curated playlists, unlimited listening and better music browsing tools than those available from Google's existing free music service.
A new social networking service called CollegeFeed officially launched this week, timed for the round of commencement ceremonies taking place nationwide. It joins a bevvy of niche startups trying to become the go-to place for students to network with potential employers. (See our Guide to College Social Networking Sites.)
CollegeFeed offers templates for students to showcase their skills and experience online. It also has developed a "recommendation engine" that analyzes users' online resumes, job listings and how users are interacting with job listings in order to make recommendations of particular companies that might be of interest to each user. The site is aimed primarily at first-time job hunters.
CollegeFeed also functions as a kind of online recruitment fare, offering employers special pages or areas to market themselves and their job openings to recent college graduates. The startup's founder, Sanjeev Agrawal, formerly headed up product marketing at Google.
Facebook announced yesterday it has finished rolling out a Timeline redesign, which includes more customizable options for displaying apps and favorite media in the "About" area on your profile page.
Movies is one of the new sections users can add to profile pages
Yawn.. . I mean, when was the last time you actively edited your Timeline page, anyway?
Facebook keeps monkeying around with the profile page, hoping people will use it more, but it's hard to see a lot of value in the latest enhancements. The more complicated the network makes everything, the greater the amount of fatigue and frustration users likely will experience.Facebook has been busy adding functionality and making things more complex. Wouldn't it be nice if the world's largest social network suddenly started streamlining and simplifying?
Back to Basics
LinkedIn turned 10 last week and has been on a tear as it matures into a full-blown media service focused on professional development, jobs and business networking. It remains to be seen, though, how it will fare as a news aggregator.
Consider two interesting changes that rolled out on LinkedIn this month:
1) NEWS FEED CHANNELS: A revamp of "LinkedIn Today" last week introduced new topical channels of content resembling sections of a newspaper. The resdesigned "LinkedIn Today" news stream is available and can be customized from the "news" pull-down tab in the horizontal menu at the top of each page. Users can click on channels they like in order to subscribe and have that particular stream of content appear in their home page news feed.Read More...
YouTube today rolled out a few dozen paid channels requiring viewers to pony up monthly subscription fees, marking its first use of a subscription model since the video-sharing site launched in 2005.
YouTube earns the vast majority of its revenue from showing advertising, which it shares with some content providers. It also has collected lesser amounts by selling access to movies and TV shows.
It's unclear how many users will be willing to pay the new subscription fees to watch premium channels when there are so many millions of free videos on the site, but analysts have long expected YouTube to move more heavily into paid content.
In a blog post announcing the new pay model, YouTube said a small group of content creators initially will be participating, including "Sesame Street," National Geographic Kids and UFC, or The Ultimate Fighting Championship. Soon, YouTube plans to allow other content providers to charge for channels, too.
Read more about how the YouTube subscription model works.
Setup screen for Facebook "Trusted Contacts"
Facebook recently rolled out a password recovery feature called Trusted Contacts that lets you choose up to five friends on the network to come to your rescue if you ever get locked out of your Facebook account.
The trouble is, some people think the new buddy system may be more trouble than it's worth, because you have to designate your helpers in advance and it involves a complicated code activation.
Others think that it may be too easy to activate the "trusted contacts" system, so easy that hackers or pranksters could do it to gain access to people's accounts for nefarious purposes.
It seem unlikely, though, that this new system will be used for much of anything other than its main purpose-- helping people locked out of their accounts get back in.
For that reason, if you're an active Facebook user who worries about getting hacked, it's probably a good idea to take a few minutes and designate at least three of your closest pals as your account helpers. Our guide to Facebook Trusted Contacts explains how to do it.
Then again, if you're more interested in leaving than rejoining Facebook, here's a look at how to close a Facebook account.
There's a new kid on the social media block, one that may be worth getting to know. Pheed is a six-month-old social network for sharing text and multimedia updates; it's growing super fast and getting favorable reviews.
Pheed.com offers many of the same features as Twitter and Facebook -- sending updates, subscribing and connecting with other users, maintaining a profile page, liking and tagging content and so forth. It's free and available as both a mobile and Web app. By default, all content shared on Pheed is public.
But Pheed has one major differentiator from other networks: It lets anyone turn their channel into a premium offering and charge other users for access. Subscription options include monthly fees starting at $1.99 a month and going up to $34.99 a month. Users can also create live "broadcasts" and charge one-time fees for access. Pheed pockets half the revenue from both options; the owner keeps the rest.
These pay options are popular with celebrities and lead to another key difference from Facebook and Twitter--there's no advertising on this network. Another useful touch: Pheed lets people send a tweet directly to their Twitter networks or zap a status update directly to their Facebook friends from within the Pheed app. All the better for pheeding the social media beasts!
If you're curious enough to join, our article on how to get a Pheed account and use this new multimedia network can help.
Twitter had another crazy week, with a high-profile hacking incident rocking Wall Street and fresh suggestions from scholarly researchers that celebrities are buying fake followers.
© Twitter logo
The big news, of course, came Tuesday when a hacker gained access to the Twitter account of the Associated Press and falsely tweeted that two explosions had rocked the White House and that President Obama had been hurt.
AP's story announcing the temporary suspension of its Twitter account noted that the Dow Jones industrial average suddenly dropped by more than 100 points immediately after the bogus tweet was sent. The Dow rebounded quickly once the tweet was proven false.
Meanwhile, Italian researchers who have been probing following patterns on Twitter released fresh data about celebrities and politicians whose Twitter accounts have been showing signs of suspicious activity, such as gaining or losing large numbers of followers in a single day.
On the plus side, Twitter released an updated version of its desktop app for MacIntosh computers that makes sharing photos on Twitter easier and nicer. The Mac desktop version is available here.
And since hundreds of millions of people continue to use Twitter, developers are still working feverishly to create new and improved helper apps that aim to make the tweeting life more productive. Our Twitter App Guide identifies many of the best Twitter tools and apps available today.
Lots of news in social media land last week. Here are some highlights:
- Social Media Mob Joined Boston Probe -- Social media exploded with talk and speculation about the Boston marathon bombings last week, as thousands of people collaborated online in an attempt to help catch the perpetrators. These "crowdsourcing" and citizen journalism efforts illustrated both the challenges and the pitfalls of prematurely releasing information in breaking news stories, especially since so much of it turned out to be untrue. The Los Angeles Times explored how social media spiraled " out of control. The Guardian explained how the social media mob worked at sites like Reddit and 4Chan, and led to disturbing cases of "mistaken identity.
- Twitter # Music -- Twitter Music made a big splash as the company released public versions of the app for both the Web and for iOS mobile devices. Twitter #music detects popular songs and artists based on tweeting activity, and then pulls music previews to stream from three partners: iTunes, Spotify and Rdio. More info in a Twitter blog post and on its #music website.
- LinkedIn Mobile Makeover --The LinkedIn professional network revamped its apps for iPhone and Android on Wednesday, releasing design overhauls to both to give greater prominence to the activity feed each user sees from other users and to introduce mobile ads. The mobile redesign comes a week after LinkedIn announced it's buying mobile news reader Pulse, signaling the company's intense focus on mobile. LinkedIn's blog has more info.
- Facebook Takes "Open Graph" Mobile -- Facebook released a new mobile version of its open graph API, which it called Object API. The release came at its Mobile Developers Conference in New York and, along with other technical improvements, is designed to help developers create more mobile apps that will integrate with Facebook's social network. Facebook also released new statistics on its mobile usage, claiming it has more than 680 million mobile users. Facebook's blog post has more statistics.