Digital media

Tim Bradshaw

Yahoo bought Tumblr for its rambunctious community. Despite the coat of paint rapidly applied to its email, homepage and various apps since Marissa Mayer arrived as chief executive less than a year ago, Yahoo was still in need of an injection of youth and energy.

But in solving that problem, Tumblr may have created another for Yahoo. Ad execs and Wall Street analysts alike are voicing concerns about – along with gifs and memes – one of Tumblr’s most popular types of content: pornography. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Google shares rose past the $900 mark on Wednesday as it announced 900m Android activations at its annual developer conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco. Google also launched a new subscription music streaming service, Google Play All Access, and a bunch of new services for developers, including improved gaming capabilities, mapping services and voice-controlled search tools.
Here’s a transcript of the liveblog by Chris Nuttall and Tim Bradshaw, who were reporting from the Moscone Center. 

Chris Nuttall

Adobe’s switch from boxed products to a software-as-a-service offering seems almost complete, with its Creative Cloud announcement at its annual Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles today.

Henceforth, development has been halted on the traditional Creative Suite product and users are being urged to switch to Cloud if they want any updates. Adobe sees its future here in a monthly subscription model, similar to Microsoft’s strategy with its Office 365 online productivity suite. Read more

Images and video poured out of Boston on Monday as runners and spectators of the city’s historic marathon posted their media across the internet after two bombs exploded near the race’s finish line.

As the content hit the internet, individuals online started to piece things together. Certain people were seen carrying black backpacks. Some of these people appeared later without the backpacks. A black backpack found at the scene was believed to hold one of the bombs.

This is the world of internet sleuthing, and depending on who you ask, it’s becoming either a shining example of crowdsourcing or a dangerous vigilante trend. Read more

The digerati are having fun with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ruling that US companies can use social media to distribute market-sensitive information such as earnings reports. “Facebook Flap Forces SEC Into 21st Century,” says Forbes.

Not so fast. The US regulator’s decision to drop its inquiry into Reed Hastings, Netflix’s chief executive, who boasted about new viewing figures on his personal Facebook page, is only an incremental advance into the new millennium. It makes sense for the SEC to acknowledge the growing use of social media (I’m guessing more people saw Mr Hastings’ Facebook post than have viewed any regulatory announcement in corporate history), but I don’t think the decision will prompt fearful CEOs to tweet their earnings much more than they do already – and, even if it does, it won’t make much difference to investors.

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It is 600 miles from Olathe, Kansas, to Englewood, Colorado, and both towns can seem a million miles from the media hubs of New York and Hollywood. Yet two announcements from the US heartland this week provide important pointers to the future of the cable industry and the content companies that depend on it.

In Olathe, Google unveiled plans to roll out the fibre optic network it is testing in nearby Kansas City, offering broadband speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. That is roughly 100 times faster than the country’s typical download rate, for $70 a month or $120 with a video service.

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The hashtag has already found its way into real-life conversations. Similar to airquotes, some people – mostly young – form the square number symbol (#) popularised on Twitter with their index and middle fingers as they talk, to make a humorous or sarcastic point, or reference a cultural meme.

Now Facebook may want to claim the hashtag for itself. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Vimeo, which has established itself as a niche video platform player next to YouTube, is launching an on-demand service where content owners will keep 90 per cent of their sales.

The 10:90 revenue split is exceedingly generous by existing industry standards – Google is reported to be considering taking 45 per cent of subscription revenues for its planned video channels on YouTube. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Angry Birds developer Rovio has already become the first app maker to successfully transfer its brand from digital to physical, with all sorts of merchandising and toys.

Now the Finnish company is making its most ambitious play yet to become – in its words – a “fully fledged entertainment powerhouse” with the launch of a weekly cartoon series this weekend. Read more

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

A more visually engaging newsfeed with additional streams was the focus of Facebook’s redesign this week. Bigger photos, however, didn’t bode well for a few tech observers who argued that the facelift won’t make up for deeper problems with the social networking site’s algorithm. Read more

Chris Nuttall

TuneIn, the leading internet radio aggregator, is launching new features making it easier for listeners to find more of what they like among its more than 70,000 radio stations.

TuneIn Live is a new tiled interface on its website and featured in an updated iPad app launched today that surfaces favourite artists and programmes based on genres chosen by listeners. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

As a now-famous YouTube clip from 2010 shows, kids as young as 2 can operate an iPad, quickly learning how to open apps and play games. Unfortunately, some parents who used their iPad or iPhone as a babysitter ended up with a steep bill when their kids spent hundreds of dollars on virtual items in “free” games.

Five disgruntled parents blamed Apple for failing to provide appropriate controls around in-app purchases, and together filed a class-action lawsuit against the iPhone maker in 2011.

After fighting the case for two years, Apple agreed to settle last week, according to court filings first spotted by GigaOmRead more

Blake Ross, a director of product at Facebook, has signalled his departure from the company, adding his name to a growing list of employees to decamp in the months after the social network’s botched initial public offering.

Mr Ross offered vague plans for his next steps in a post on his Facebook page: “It’s just time for me to try new things,” he said. Read more

There is an empathy gap in technology development. In the analytic, data-driven world of Silicon Valley, emotions often do not get factored into the latest product design.

This comes down to the way engineers and technicians think, says Anthony Jack, the director of the mind, brain, and consciousness lab at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The more people exercise the analytic functions of their brains, the less empathetic they become. Likewise, when we empathise, we turn off the analytic function of the brain.

“There is a cognitive tension between these two different types of understanding,” he said. Read more

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams is building his current start-up with a completely different business – and spiritual – structure in mind.

The freewheeling, non-hierarchical organisation popular in Silicon Valley technology companies is not the order of the day at Obvious Corporation, the re-launched incubator and web publishing platform Mr Williams founded with comrades Biz Stone and Jason Goldman in the pre-Twitter days.

“People romanticise start-up culture,” he said, speaking at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Friday. “People think: Freedom! No job descriptions! Damn with the rules! Actually, it creates tons of anxiety and inefficiency.” Read more

Pinterest, the fast-growing online scrapbooking site, has raised $200m, valuing the three year-old company at $2.5bn.

The San Francisco-based company is adding to its unconventional list of investors with this financing round, rather than turning to the Silicon Valley venture capital firms that typically lead investments for a company at this stage of growth.

The latest round was led by Valiant Capital Management, a hedge fund in San Francisco founded by Christopher Hansen, who is better known for his attempts to bring an NBA basketball team back to Seattle than his technology bets. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer said that she wanted to do more with less on mobile apps and that she wanted to expand the web portal’s presence abroad, in her first appearance at an investor event since becoming chief executive. Read more

Sailthru, a start up that is trying to make “smart data” out of “big data,” has raised $19m in a Series B investment round led by Benchmark Capital.

This is the second investment to close in as many days for Benchmark, which led a $13.5m Series A fundraising round for Snapchat, the ephemeral social networking service that lets people post photos or messages that self-delete after 10 seconds or less. That company is valued between $60m and $70m. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Video chat is becoming more sophisticated and social, with developers working out how better to combine media streams and groups of friends in online conversation.

Rabbit, which launches in beta today on Macs, was designed by game developers and introduces more visually appealing video chatrooms and easier ways to connect with friends. Glide, which debuted at Macworld last week, offers a video group walkie-talkie service on the iPhone. Both are free to download and use. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Twitter has made one of its largest acquisitions to date with Bluefin Labs, to help its advertisers better understand the link between traditional and social media. Read more