Monthly Archives: July 2008

StudiVZWith its push into international markets heating up, Facebook appears to be setting its sights on a handful of popular ‘copycat’ social networks whose web sites bear an uncanny resemblance to its own.

StudiVZ, the German social network that the company filed suit against on Friday (Click here for a copy of the complaint), claims to have 10m users scattered across Germany, Austria, and a handful of other countries in Europe. That’s a lot of people, the most active of which ostensibly aren’t using Facebook’s German-language site.

From the looks of it, StudiVZ should be an interesting test case for Facebook’s intellectual property claims. The site, it’s fair to say, looks almost exactly like Facebook – except that it’s red, not blue. It has groups, a section for photos, and even its own version of the Facebook “wall” where friends can leave each other messages. Many of the page layouts look identical to those on Facebook.

Ten million users is nothing to sneeze at (StudiVZ recent sold to a big German publisher for a suspected 100m euros). But a bigger challenge to Facebook could come from clones elsewhere, especially in China, where Xiaonei, another site that bears striking resemblance to Facebook, boasts more than 15m registred users and has raised $435m in venture funding.

Various tallies around the web have identified at least nine other major alleged Facebook clones. It’s not clear whether Facebook intends to pursue other alleged copycats. But with its lawsuit Friday, Facebook has put them on notice.

Update: StudiVZ responds

It took almost 48 hours (thanks in part to Facebook’s decision to file its suit late in the afternoon on a Friday, long after Germany closed down for the weekend) – but StudiVZ has finally issued a response to the Facebook suit. The money quote, from Marcus Riecke, chief executive:

“There are numerous social networks. Facebook was not the first and certainly isn’t the only one. By attempting to harm studiVZ through a meritless California lawsuit, Facebook is arrogantly laying claim to an international monopoly over social networking sites that the facts show it does not deserve.”

Full statement after the jump. Read more

Richard Waters

OK, so it wouldn’t do to make too much of one month’s worth of data. But credit where it is due: Microsoft in June finally managed to take back a small amount of market share from Google in the US search business, according to comScore.

Its share of search queries had declined steadily over the previous 12 months, dropping two percentage points or so to a low of 8.5 per cent in May. So an increase back to 9.2 per cent has at least stopped the rot – for now. Read more

Richard Waters

Wall Street’s trigger finger always starts to twitch when Google’s earnings roll around. In the most recent quarters the shares have notched up one day movements of – 9 per cent and + 20 per cent the day after earnings reports. That’s made it a bumpy ride for investors this year.

google-6-month-chart.png Read more

Gartner and IDC released their latest PC shipments figures on Wednesday, showing computer shipments up either 16 per cent or 15.3 per cent in the second quarter, depending on who you ask.

Given the uncertainty in the global economy, it’s tempting to view the numbers – which were better than expected – as a sign that trouble in the financial and housing sectors has yet to spread to the IT sector. But do not be fooled: beneath these rosy headline figures lie clues about an impending slowdown. Read more

Richard Waters

It looks like London ad agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay is the first to have cracked the code for using Apple’s new App Store as a vehicle for corporate sponsorship.

The free game it produced for Carling, which makes great use of the iPhone’s accelerometer, has made it into the top ten list of most-downloaded free apps. That puts it ahead of things like Google’s new mobile search application and MySpace. Read more

Richard Waters

Google doesn’t set the prices for its adverts, advertisers do, by bidding in an auction. So if advertisers are willing to pay more on Google, it must be because Google delivers better clicks (or leads.) Why should anyone get hurt if Yahoo wants to feed some of its own inventory into the Google auction to take advantage of this?

That’s the basic argument that the two companies pulled out again today as they locked horns with Microsoft in front of two Congressional committees. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Will Wright at E3As a marketing exercise to boost interest in its forthcoming game Spore, Electronic Arts’ release of  Creature Creator has been something of a masterstroke.

The software allows users to create all manner of strange creatures and objects that can be placed in the surreal world Spore develops, from single-cell creatures to masters of the universe. Read more

Richard Waters

carl-icahn.jpgMicrosoft might have no experience at big-time Wall Street wheeling and dealing, but you have to wonder how it got itself into the mess that was spreading in all directions on Monday.

For weeks it stayed clear of Carl Icahn, letting the veteran activist do the dirty work of roughing up Jerry Yang and the rest of Yahoo’s board. There was still some value in keeping to the high ground. Read more

iphone-3g.jpgSome Apple fans were finding it hard to make use of their new 3G iPhones on Friday as a flood of shoppers trying to activate their new handsets overwhelmed Apple’s iTunes servers. The overload caused Apple’s iPhone activation process to crash for part of the day, turning thousands of new 3G iPhones into glorified paperweights.

Tech-savvy Apple fans, many of whom waited in line for hours - and in some cases overnight – to get their hands on the 3G iPhone should have seen this coming. It doesn’t take a computer genius to figure out that, with tens of thousands of people queueing up from Tokyo to San Francisco, there was bound to be a crushing load on Apple servers at some point during the day. Read more

Rupert MurdochAfter dinner and a few drinks last night, a very refreshed Rupert Murdoch stopped by for a chat outside the bar at the Sun Valley Lodge and revealed that he did not think Microsoft would succeed in buying Yahoo.

“They’re not going to do a deal,” he said. “There’s bad personal feelings…in six months [Microsoft] will walk away.” Read more