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INTERNET SPACE
70% of Americans have high-speed Internet: study
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Aug 26, 2013


US mobile shopping revenues top $10b in 2013
Washington (AFP) Aug 27, 2013 - US mobile shoppers spent more than $10 billion in the first half of 2013, in a segment making strong inroads in retailing, a survey showed Tuesday.

The comScore survey showed retail sales from consumers using smartphones or tablets in the first half rose more than 25 percent from the same period a year ago and now account for 9.5 percent of all digital ecommerce sales.

"While mobile devices are already extremely influential in the overall buying process, they are also beginning to drive a meaningful percentage of digital commerce," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

"One out of every ten consumer e-commerce dollars is now spent using either a smartphone or a tablet, and growth in this segment of the market is outpacing that of traditional e-commerce by a factor of 2x, which itself is growing at rates in the mid-teens."

The report showed "m-commerce" revenues, which are highly seasonal, at $5.9 billion in the first quarter and $4.7 billion in the second quarter. With the largest spending likely in the fourth quarter, sales are on track to top last year's pace of $20 billion.

The report said smartphones accounted for some six percent of e-commerce sales in the first half of 2013 and tablets for 3.5 percent.

The biggest categories for m-commerce were apparel and accessories, computer hardware and event tickets. Video game, consoles and accessories showed the highest percentage of digital commerce spending via m-commerce at 23.7 percent, according to comScore.

More than half of US adults own a smartphone, and about one-third have a tablet computer, according to recent surveys.

Yahoo buys image search specialty startup
San Francisco, California (AFP) Aug 26, 2013 - Yahoo on Monday confirmed that it has bought image search specialty startup IQ Engines to add the company's technology to its Flickr photo service.

"IQ Engines is joining the Flickr team at Yahoo," the startup said in a message at its website.

"As longtime Flickr fans and fellow photography enthusiasts, we look forward to working on improving photo organization and search for the community."

IQ Engines is known for software that analyzes, sorts, and categorizes images using techniques including facial recognition.

In May, Yahoo unveiled a dusted-off design of its Flickr photo platform with chief executive Marissa Mayer saying her goal was to make the online service "awesome again."

Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo has been on a buying spree since Mayer became chief last year with a mission to revive the withering Internet pioneer.

The list of more than 20 acquisitions includes Qwiki, a New York operation behind an application that converts video and pictures on iPhones into sharable movie clips complete with music soundtracks.

Yahoo in June completed a billion-dollar deal taking over the popular blogging platform Tumblr, a move aimed at bringing more youthful users into the company's orbit.

Mayer's plan for reviving Yahoo's fortunes includes making priorities of mobile devices, video, personalized digital content, and elevating the company's popularity outside the United States.

Yahoo shares were boosted last week by a survey showed the struggling Internet giant topped a survey for US Web visitors for the first time since 2011.

In late afternoon trading Monday, Yahoo was trading down fractionally at $27.97.

The comScore survey showed Yahoo edged past Google with 195.6 million unique US Web visitors. It was the first time Yahoo was on top since May 2011. The figures exclude Yahoo's newly acquired Tumblr blog sites. gc/rl

The percentage of Americans with high-speed Internet connections at home has reached 70 percent, while just three percent still use dial-up to go online, a study showed Monday.

The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project said the percentage of high-speed users represented a small but statistically significant rise from the 66 percent of adults who said they had home broadband in April 2012.

The percentage using dial-up as of May 2013 has held steady at three percent for the past two years, Pew found, but is down sharply from a peak of 41 percent in 2001.

Overall, 85 percent of Americans use the Internet, the report said. Of those who lack a high-speed connection at home, 10 percent have smartphones that can access the Web.

As previous research has found, those with the highest rates of home broadband use continue to be college graduates, adults under age 50, and adults living in households earning at least $50,000 per year. Whites and adults living in urban or suburban areas also had above-average rates.

"We've consistently found that age, education, and household income are among the strongest factors associated with home broadband adoption," said Kathryn Zickuhr, research associate for Pew and lead author of the report.

"Many dial-up users cite cost and access as the main reasons they don't have broadband, but for adults who don't use the Internet at all, a lack of interest is often the main issue."

The survey notes that more than half of all American adults own a smartphone, but it did not determine whether this constitutes "broadband" speed.

"Broadband users can consume and create many types of content in ways that dial-up users cannot, and our research has long shown major differences in these two groups' online behavior," said Pew's Aaron Smith, a co-author of the report.

"Smartphones may offer an additional avenue for Internet access that surpasses the dial-up experience in many ways, but those who rely on them for home Internet use may face limitations that are not shared by those with traditional broadband connections."

US judge approves $20 mn settlement in Facebook suit
San Francisco, California (AFP) Aug 27, 2013 - A US judge on Monday approved a deal in which Facebook will pay $20 million for using members "likes" as endorsements for ads.

The pot of money is to be divvied up among attorneys, Internet privacy rights groups, and Facebook users who filed claims in the class-action lawsuit.

US District Judge Richard Seeborg reasoned that the sum, a small fraction of the billions being sought in the case, was fair given the challenges of proving Facebook members were financially harmed or that signaling "likes" for products didn't imply some form of consent.

Facebook's Sponsored Stories program used members' names or likenesses to endorse ads without getting their permission, according to the legal filing.

Seeborg estimated the size of the class represented in the suit as 150 million people, but noted that so few had filed claims that there was ample money in the settlement fund.

"The settlement as a whole provides fair, reasonable, and adequate relief to the class, in light of all the circumstances, including the low probability that a substantially better result would be obtained through continued litigation," the judge wrote in a ruling endorsing the deal.

The settlement calls for Facebook to modify its rules to give members greater control when it comes to how their information is used regarding Sponsored Stories.

"Sponsored Stories, in Facebook's view, does nothing more than take information users have already voluntarily disclosed to their "friends," and sometimes redisplays it to the same persons, in a column that also contains more traditional paid advertising," the judge wrote while detailing his decision.

"Plaintiffs faced a substantial burden in showing they were injured by the Sponsored Stories."

So few Facebook members have filed claims that those negotiating the settlement proposed paying out $15 to each person and having enough cash left over for attorneys fees and routing funds to Internet privacy groups, according to the ruling.

An original settlement rejected by the judge recommended the same pool of money, but allocated none of it to Facebook members.

The lawsuit was filed in early 2011 after Facebook launched its Sponsored Stories advertising program.

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