David Gelles

Though Google still makes the lion’s share of its revenues through search advertising, that may begin to change as Android, YouTube and display advertising mature, writes the FT’s Lex column.

Google is not the font of all knowledge, rather the rummage bag in which it resides. However, it has made bold predictions this week as it tries to grab the advertising industry’s attention. By 2015, the Googlers think mobile phones will be the most popular screen for web browsing, and the display advertising market will grow to $50bn. Read more

David Gelles

Back in February we reported on a truly unsavoury story of compromised privacy in the digital age. School administrators outside Philadelphia had issued new laptops to 1,800 students, then used the webcams to remotely spy on the students.

A student sued and weeks later, when a separate criminal investigation was announced, we said that “The Lower Merion School District is not going to get off with just a slap on the wrist.”

Turns out Federal prosecutors had a different opinion. This morning they announced that no charges will be brought against the school district or its employees, according to the Associated PressRead more

David Gelles

Facebook has just invited us to an event on Wednesday afternoon at which the company “will provide an update on the service’s features and products.”

Sounds like a product launch, and Facebook is likely to unveil some features that will help it defend its turf from Google’s imminent social networking push.

At the top of the list of features Facebook watchers are anticipating: Places. Read more

David Gelles

In Silicon Valley, success breeds imitation. Witness the glut of doomed e-commerce sites during the Dot Com bubble or, more recently, the plethora of mafia-themed social games on Facebook.

The latest hot trend is group buying. By offering daily deals for restaurants and local businesses, a handful of companies have become profitable middlemen between deal-hungry consumers and businesses looking for new patrons.

Groupon has the early lead, with operations in 80 markets and $135m in fresh funding. It also has plenty of clones — from LivingSocial Deals to Woot to BuyWithMe. Now add another one to the list — Zagat. Read more

David Gelles

Big companies’ Facebook pages are getting more sophisticated all the time.

At first they were simple placeholders to remind Facebook users that a brand was hip to social networking. Then, as social media caught on, they became interactive collaborations between companies and consumers. Soon, the first fully functional storefronts appeared, allowing users to buy flowers and shoes with real, not virtual currency.

Now Delta has upped the ante. Starting today, you can buy airplane tickets on Facebook. Read more

David Gelles

Groupon is already the leader of the pack when it comes to local deals .

By offering deep discounts to restaurants, shops and services in more than 80 markets, the two-year-old company is minting cash (it has been profitable for more than a year). Its success has inspired a raft of imitators, and helped the company draw in a $135m investment from Digital Sky Technologies earlier this year.

When businesses are featured on Groupon, they are slammed with an influx of new customers. It’s a happy problem to have, especially in tough economic times. But demand has overwhelmed Groupon of late, with as many as 700 local businesses a day wanting to offer Groupons. Now, chief executive Andrew Mason thinks he has found the solution — personalised deals. Read more

David Gelles

Amazon has just updated the Kindle, giving the world’s most popular e-reader a much-needed facelift just in time for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.

The new device is sleeker, stronger and faster than the previous Kindle. Its body is 21 per cent smaller and 15 per cent lighter at 8.7 ounces. It has double the battery life at one month, plus double the storage capacity — enough for 3,500 books.

At $139 for a wifi only version and $189 for 3G, the new Kindle puts e-readers firmly within reach of mainstream consumers. For those looking for a cheap way in to digital reading, the Kindle is a compelling package. Read more

David Gelles

How do you say “Farmville” in Japanese?

Zynga, maker of the popular social game, wants to find out.

To do so, the San Francisco company is entering into a joint venture with Softbank to develop and distribute games in Japan. As part of the deal, Softbank is investing $150m in Zynga, and will help launch the new business unit, Zynga Japan, in Tokyo.

Details of the partnership are scarce, but it will be interesting to see how Zynga’s games go over in Japan, a difficult market for foreign companies to crack. The deal also brings social gaming, which originated in Asian markets, full circle.  Read more

David Gelles

Bebo founder Michael Birch thinks that becoming a multimillionaire nearly killed him. Shortly after selling his social networking site to AOL for $850m in 2008, a long-term benign defect became dangerous

But just weeks after AOL unloaded the social networking site for pittance, Mr Birch is feeling rejuvenated. In a profile in Wednesday’s FT, technology correspondent Maija Palmer talks with Mr Birch about his health, his investments in new tech companies, and his new company incubator in San Francisco. Read more

David Gelles

Foursquare, the social networking company that lets users “check in” to locations using mobile phones, has taken its first significant round of funding after acquisition talks sputtered.

The $20m series B investment was led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm founded by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. Other investors include Union Square Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. The deal values Foursquare at $95m. Read more