This is the last technology news round-up for 2011. We’ll return in the new year. So, until then, here’s the latest tech news from around the web:

Israelis are the world’s biggest users of social networks, TNW reports. According to a survey by Comscore, Israelis spent, on average, 11.1 hours on social networks during October 2011 – more than double the global average of 5.7 hours and ahead of markets like the UK (seven hours) and US (6.9 hours). Slightly behind Israel comes Argentina (10.7 hours), Russia (10.4 hours) and Turkey (10.2 hours). Read more

Tech news from around the web:

PayPal, eBay’s payment service, is looking to take on Groupon and LivingSocial with plans to start offering coupons tailored to users’ buying habits and mobile phone locations, according to Bloomberg. The company will launch its mobile deals in the first quarter of 2012 in partnership with several US retailers. Read more

Joseph Menn

Ebay chief executive John Donahoe said the Chinese government  won’t let foreign-owned  internet companies win in that country, but added PayPal will nonetheless bend to fit new rules and stay in the market. Read more

Facebook and eBay have joined forces to integrate social networking features into online shopping applications, as both companies attempt to breathe life into the flagging field of social commerce.

While several companies have experimented with setting up storefronts on Facebook to sell directly to consumers while they network with friends, actual purchase rates indicate that people are not interested in buying when they’re socializing online. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

Sony has revealed that a third party had this month tried to sign into 93,000 accounts on its PlayStation and other networks, Reuters reports. The company said it had frozen the accounts and informed the affected customers, adding that it believed only a few of the accounts were actually accessed.

Traffic to Google+, the online search company’s social network, has fallen since the massive peak in interest seen when it was opened to everyone late last month, according to Mashable. Quoting research from analysts Chitika, Mashable says traffic to the site has fallen 60% since its public launch. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

US prosecutors have launched an investigation into whether eBay employees took confidential information from classified ad website Craigslist as it sought to build a rival service, Reuters reports. The two companies have already been fighting in the civil courts over allegations that eBay took a stake in Craigslist and then misappropriated confidential information while it secretly planned its own classifieds site. An eBay spokeswoman told Reuters that the company would co-operate in any inquiry related to the disputes with Craigslist. Read more

Joseph Menn

As UK police said they arrested the alleged second of four co-founders of the hacking supergroup Lulz Security, one of those still at large branched out into a legal form of protest, promoting a boycott of PayPal. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

On eBay at least, we are already living in the “post-PC era”.

Figures from its UK site show that tablet devices such as Apple’s iPad – which prompted Steve Jobs to coin the “post-PC” phrase – are now outselling traditional desktop computersRead more

Joseph Menn

An unscientific survey of employees at major US technology companies found that only 50 per cent of Yahoo workers approved of chief executive Carol Bartz’ leadership during the past year, down from 77 per cent as she got started. Read more

David Gelles

Indian PayPal users can once again use local banks to withdraw money from their accounts, resolving a hiccup that for weeks had prevented users in the world’s second most populous country from getting cash from their accounts.

The trouble began last month, when Indian regulators threw a wrench into PayPal’s business in the country as they investigated whether PayPal, the world’s largest online payments company, should be considered a remittances business.

As a result, PayPal stopped allowing users to transfer funds directly from one personal account to another, and also made it impossible for its customers in India to withdraw PayPal funds through a bank, effectively shutting down the only method for retrieving an account’s balance. Person-to-person transfers will likely be suspended for a few months as the company works with regulators to obtain new licenses that will allow it to legally handle remittances. Read more

David Gelles

Last week’s announcement by Facebook that it would use PayPal as its payments provider brought together two of the most potent forces on the internet – e-commerce and social networking.

Yet for all the promise each sector holds, the two have been slow to converge. Online shopping is still a generally solitary affair, while social networking has yet to place much emphasis on buying stuff. This may soon change.

Today the chief executive of Ebay, which owns PayPal and is the world’s largest online auctions site, offered new insights into how e-commerce and social networking might work in concert with one another, and what he sees as the next big opportunities for collaboration. Read more

David Gelles

As Ebay has moved to attract bigger sellers and more fixed-price listings better to compete with Amazon, critics say the e-commerce titan has abandoned the small auctioneers that fuelled its early growth.

John Donahoe has worked to reverse that perception since he took over as chief executive almost two years ago — seeking to woo back the basement auctioneers, even as he keeps the big sellers happy.

On Tuesday Ebay made changes to its already complicated pricing structure it says will reduce seller fees and spur new activity on the site. But the changes also include higher commissions for Ebay on some transactions, while pressuring high-volume sellers to sign up for new monthly fees. Read more

David Gelles

For a company of its size, Ebay has a surprisingly small footprint in the real world. While it enjoys a sprawling campus in Silicon Valley, it doesn’t have brick and mortar stores to staff, or the vast warehouses maintained by rival Amazon.

So in an effort to put a face on the company for the holidays, Ebay has sent a “mobile boutique” touring around the country. The first-time effort was on display in San Francisco today, and will be in Los Angeles later this week.

A souped-up trailer swarming with Ebay employees in leprechaun green shirts, the boutique has hundreds of the most sought-after products on display. Read more

David Gelles

Ebay is betting big on mobile shopping. Last month we revealed what a hit the Ebay iPhone app already had proved — ringing up $400m in sales.

“More than 4.6m people have downloaded the Ebay app,” we wrote, “using it to buy not just books and clothes, but also a Lamborghini, a $150,000 boat, and a Bentley.”

Now Ebay is rolling out a suite of new and upgraded mobile offerings. In addition to a refreshed Ebay iPhone App and a updated mobile website (m.ebay.com), it is also debuting a new app called Deals. Read more

David Gelles

Ebay’s attempt to offload Skype to a group of investors just got even more complicated.

Joost and Joltid, the companies owned by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, today filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Mike Volpi and Index Ventures, two of the players in the group seeking to buy Skype. If granted in full, the injunction would essentially ban Mr Volpi and Index from participating in the deal for the time being.

The motion is the latest move in a legal onslaught from Mr Zennstrom and Mr Friis that began even before the current deal for Skype was announced, and seems designed either to get them control of Skype or, more likely, make sure they get a piece of the action after a sale. Read more

David Gelles

Part of Amazon’s success is attributable to the ease it has brought to the payments experience. Shopping on Amazon.com is made simple by Amazon storing much of a customer’s checkout information and minimising clicks, and a few years ago Amazon rolled out Checkout, which lets users on other websites pay using their Amazon credits or payments information stored on Amazon. (Amazon doesn’t reveal Checkout has been successful.)

Now Amazon has released a Mobile Payments Service. The programme will let e-commerce sites integrate the Checkout experience into sites designed for mobile phones, presenting yet another option for developers who are eager to encourage more mobile-commerceRead more

David Gelles

Listing its cars on Ebay was evidently not a novel enough gimmick to drive new sales to slumping Detroit automaker General Motors.

A month and a half after announcing their “virtual showroom”, America’s biggest automaker and biggest online auction site are calling off their partnership.

The trial  was set to end on September 30, and will not be renewed. The trial programme, which let California buyers haggle with local dealers online, was heralded as a “win-win for both sides” if it worked.

But after 50 or so days, it looks as if it didn’t. The Ebay site may have attracted 1.5m hits, producing 15,000 leads for dealers. But neither Ebay nor GM would say how many cars were sold, suggesting that the results were less than stellar. Read more

Richard Waters

What would you pay for a fast-growing private internet company with hundreds of millions of active users and revenues of more than $500m?

If the name on the door is Facebook the answer, apparently, is: $6.5bn. That’s the valuation implied by the recent offer to Facebook employees from Digital Sky Technologies (the Russian investment firm also bought a chunk of preferred stock from Facebook that the company claimed valued it at $10bn, but that sounded like hype given that the benefits attached to those shares were not disclosed.)

So the $3.1bn $2.75bn valuation that has just been slapped on Skype sounds respectable – and is certainly more reasonable than the laughably low offers of $2bn or so that eBay was being encouraged to entertain earlier this year (curiously, eBay will not explain the difference between the $3.1bn value implied by its deal and the headline figure of $2.75bn that it claims for Skype). Read more

David Gelles

When Ebay and General Motors last week announced they would partner to let California buyers haggle with dealers online, observers said the deal would be a “win-win for both sides”, if it worked.

After a week of the arrangement Ebay released some figures that suggest if the deal’s not working already, it might.

Through August 17 the new co-branded “virtual showroom” got 630,000 visits, and users performed just shy of 1m searches of GM inventory. More importantly, the company said about 2,400 new car buyers had entered into talks with dealers as a result of the promotion.

But Ebay didn’t release the most important number — how many new vehicles it has helped GM sell. Read more

David Gelles

Skype’s future just got cloudier. In a regulatory filing this week, Ebay, which in 2005 acquired Skype for a final price of $3.1bn, said it might shut down the internet telephony service if it can’t resolve a legal dispute with Skype’s founders or develop an alternative technology.

The technology used to power Skype is still owned by the company’s founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. Their new company, Joltid, licenses the technology back to Ebay.

But Joltid has accused Ebay of violating the terms of that agreement by using parts of the code it did not license, and has threatened to withdraw the technology. Ebay has asked a British court to intervene, and the case is pending.

In this week’s filing, Ebay said that while it expects to prevail in court, it was working to develop an alternative to the Joltid technology. Read more