March 30, 2012

RIM CEO cleans house as BlackBerry maker posts loss | Reuters

A BlackBerry handset is displayed in Washington, in this December 15, 2011, file photo. REUTERS-Jonathan Ernst-Files

(Reuters) - Research In Motion on Thursday reported a quarterly loss as BlackBerry shipments slumped again and said former co-CEO Jim Balsillie stepped down as director, part of a shake-up of the company's senior ranks by its new chief executive.

RIM's shares dropped as much as 9 percent after the company said it would no longer issue financial forecasts and is reviewing "strategic opportunities" such as partnerships and joint ventures licensing, and other ways to leverage its assets.

Chief Executive Thorsten Heins, who took from Balsillie and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis in January, would not rule out a sale of the company, though he said the company was still focusing on a turnaround.

"I did my own reality check on where the entire company really is. Having had the benefit of going through this process from the vantage point of CEO, it is now very clear to me that substantial change is what RIM needs," he said in a conference call with analysts.


For RIM graphic:


The Waterloo, Ontario-based company shipped 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones in the fourth quarter ended March 3, down 21 percent from the third quarter, but slightly ahead of analysts' expectations.

Even so it was the first quarterly decline in the period covering Christmas since 2006 and only the second time RIM has reported the metric dropping for that crucial period.

RIM sold more than 500,000 PlayBooks in the fourth quarter, a number inflated by deep discounts offered to boost sales of the product.

The decline in BlackBerry shipments suggests that RIM, at best, is treading water until it releases its next-generation of BlackBerry smartphones late this year. Most analysts consider that a do-or-die launch for the company as it falls further behind Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad and devices powered by Google's Android.


The company is now paying the price for failing to heed calls to move quickly to license its operating system and consider other strategies to compete with industry titan Apple, said Peter Misek, managing director of Jefferies & Co.

"It's going to be absolute gong show for the next few quarters," he said. "They're going to scramble around now for the next three to six months, and every poor shareholder that had faith in them is going to be potentially impoverished. I'm so angry as a Canadian - every Canadian investor should be angry."

After Heins took over in January, he immediately raised investor doubts about his turnaround chops by declaring RIM didn't need drastic change, a stance he later clarified as meaning RIM was not going to be split up or sold.

But the results issued Thursday showed a major shakeup in the works at the Waterloo, Ontario-based company.

RIM said Balsillie - long one of the company's public faces - had resigned from the board. David Yach, a chief technology officer, and Jim Rowan, a chief operating officer, also stepped down.

"Ultimately, RIM is taking half measures, baby-stepping their way to a reorganization and they're not moving fast enough," said Ed Snyder, an analyst with Charter Equity Research. "They need a wholesale change in the culture and the management of the company."

RIM has also decided to end the practice of providing specific financial guidance for the current and future quarters, saying only it "expects continued pressure on revenue and earnings throughout fiscal 2013."

That expectation reflects weakness in the company's U.S. business and competitive pressure in global markets as it sells more low-end devices.

RIM historically has provided a forecast for BlackBerry shipments, earnings per share and revenue, but has faced scathing criticism in the past year for missing these targets.


In its fourth-quarter, the company announced a net loss of $125 million, or 24 cents a share, after booking write-downs on its legacy BlackBerry 7 phones and goodwill.

On an adjusted basis, profit dropped to $418 million, or 80 cents a share, from $934 million, or $1.78, a year earlier. Revenue slumped to $4.19 billion from $5.56 billion.

Analysts, on average, had expected RIM to earn 81 cents a share on revenue of $4.54 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"They clearly have no fix on when this process will bottom, and until it really does, it's going to be very difficult for a lot of investors to come back in," said Eric Jackson, a hedge fund manager at Ironfire Capital in New York.

Shares of RIM were trading down 2.4 percent at $13.40 after the bell. Soon after the company released its results, the stock fell as much as 9 percent. The shares have fallen as much as 80 percent since February 2011.

by Alastair Sharp Reuters Mar 29, 2012

RIM CEO cleans house as BlackBerry maker posts loss | Reuters

Best Buy is closing 50 stores after losing money

Troubled big-box electronics retailer Best Buy announced Thursday that it would close 50 large-format stores in the U.S. during the next year and focus on smaller mobile stores that sell wireless phones and tablet computers.

The company did not say how many of its 25 big-box stores in Arizona, including 17 in metro Phoenix, could close.

"We will announce details about specific store locations and timing for closings once they are finalized," Best Buy spokeswoman Kelly Groehler said. "We are working to ensure the impact to our employees will be as minimal as possible."

The company closed its Scottsdale Pavilions store at Pima and Indian Bend roads on the Salt River Reservation in January, and at the time it said more closures weren't contemplated. Additional Best Buy closures could add to the glut of vacant big boxes in the Phoenix area that have been weighing down retail real estate.

Best Buy announced the 50 closures along with its fourth-quarter earnings. That report included a $1.7 billion loss as comparable year-over-year sales and margins at its 1,100 retail stores continued to slip.

The closures, along with other measures, including the elimination of 400 corporate and support jobs, are aimed at saving the company $800 million per year.

"Best Buy is trying to cope with falling margins in selling traditional consumer electronics such as televisions and Blu-ray players, and getting squeezed by the likes of Walmart and Costco," said Jonathan Gaw, research manager at IDC, a market-research firm based in Minneapolis.

Consumers increasingly use Best Buy stores as showrooms where they can view merchandise before purchasing online, often from a lower-priced retailer such as

The company has been hurt by growing online purchases of music, videos, games and electronics that have diminished in-store sales and undermined its big-box retail format. The shift to online sales has left large voids in the company's stores where CDs, videos and games once were displayed.

Where possible, Best Buy has been giving back portions of its big-box stores to landlords. It also has been exploring other products to sell in the space, including more appliances and sports equipment such as treadmills.

The announcement Thursday indicated the company would step up the move toward smaller stores.

Concurrent with the closure of 50 big-box stores, some as large as 40,000 square feet, the company said it would open 100 significantly smaller Best Buy Mobile stores. The company did not say how many could open in Arizona.

Best Buy announced it would convert certain big-box stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul and San Antonio metro areas to a connected-store format that the company tested in 2010 and 2011.

The connected stores are remodeled big-box stores that focus on broadband voice and data packages and services and act as delivery points for consumer goods purchased online. Based on the success of the tests of the new format in the two markets, the connected stores could be rolled out nationwide.

The company estimated that in Minneapolis-St. Paul and San Antonio, the new formats and store closures could reduce Best Buy's retail space by 20 percent.

by Max Jarman - Mar. 29, 2012 06:07 PM The Republic |

Best Buy is closing 50 stores after losing money

March 28, 2012

FTC seeks law to shed more light on data brokers

NEW YORK - The Federal Trade Commission is calling for a new law that would allow Americans to review the vast amounts of information being collected about them as the Internet, smartphones and other technology make it easier to create digital dossiers of just about anyone's life.

The proposal, outlined in an online privacy report released this week, is an unusually tough one from a consumer protection agency that prefers to coax companies into adopting voluntary principles. It comes a month after the Obama administration issued a proposed "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights" and urged technology companies, consumer groups and others to work together on developing more safeguards.

As part of a 57-page report that also touched on other topics, the FTC said Congress needs to impose more controls over so-called "data brokers" that profit from the collection and sale of files containing sensitive information that can affect people's ability to get a job or find a place to live. These data brokers range from publicly traded companies such as Acxiom Corp. to a hodgepodge of small, regional services that may only have two or three employees.

"Consumers are often unaware of the existence of these entities, as well as the purposes for which they collect and use data," Monday's report said

An investigation by The Associated Press last year found that data brokers often store incorrect or outdated information, including criminal records. In some cases, people are denied jobs because data brokers incorrectly report them as convicted felons. Widespread complaints about inaccurate records triggered a class-action lawsuit that culminated in one database company, HireRight Solutions Inc., to settle the case for $28.4 million last year.

The FTC is pushing for a law that would let consumers see their files and dispute personal data held by information brokers. It would be similar to current federal laws that guarantee consumers free access to their credit reports once a year.

"We would be happy to engage in a dialogue about what should be included in a law and what shouldn't be," said Jennifer Barrett Glasgow, Acxiom's chief privacy officer. She predicted it could take at least three years to get a law approved. It took years of political haggling before the Fair Credit Reporting Act was amended in 2003 to include free annual access to credit reports.

The FTC is recommending that Congress base a data-broker law on a bill that was passed by the House in 2009, but died in the Senate. The FTC is also trying to persuade data brokers to create a centralized website where they identify themselves and disclose how they handle consumer information.

By focusing on data brokers, the commission is opening "an important new front in the battle to protect consumer privacy," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy rights group. "Today, consumers face an ever growing and largely invisible data apparatus that collects and pools their information."

The FTC's report also addressed the need for Web browsers and other key Internet services to offer simpler ways for consumers to prevent their online activities from being tracked and stored. That echoes a recommendation that the FTC first made in late 2010.

Although it has been gaining momentum, "Do Not Track" faces resistance because it threatens to undercut the growth of Internet advertising, which has become a more popular marketing vehicle as websites learn more about their visitors' specific interests.

Nevertheless, the major Web browsers made by Microsoft Corp. Google Inc., Apple Inc. and the Mozilla Foundation have been working on features that enable users to block tracking. That still hasn't prevented some Internet companies, including Google, from coming up ways to get around the blocking features built into some browsers. Google says its recently detected bypass of the privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser was inadvertent.

If the Internet industry doesn't voluntarily offer effective anti-tracking tools, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has indicated the agency will urge Congress to pass a law to address that privacy issue, too.

by Associated Press Mar 27, 2012

FTC seeks law to shed more light on data brokers

Soldier stole Microsoft co-founder's ID

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in December 2011.
AP Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in December 2011.

PITTSBURGH - A U.S. soldier's scheme to defraud one of the world's richest men has landed him in federal custody.

In a criminal complaint unsealed Monday, federal investigators allege Brandon Lee Price changed the address on a bank account held by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, then had a debit card sent to his home so he could use it for payments on a delinquent Armed Forces Bank account and personal expenses.

Price was absent without leave at the time.

Price called Citibank in January and changed the address on an account held by Allen from Seattle to Pittsburgh, then called back three days later to say he'd lost his debit card and asked for a new one to be sent to him, an FBI investigator wrote in a criminal complaint filed in February.

The card was used to attempt a $15,000 Western Union transaction and to make a $658.81 payment on the Armed Forces Bank loan account the day it was activated, according to the complaint. Surveillance footage captured Price trying to make purchases at a video game store and a dollar store, authorities alleged.

Investigators found Price was listed as absent without leave from the Army and wanted as a deserter, authorities said in the complaint. He was arrested March 2 and ordered detained until April 2 unless the Army takes him into custody.

An email to Price's public defender wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.

Allen made the bulk of his fortune founding Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. He left the company in 1983. He is the founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., the company that manages his business and charitable undertakings. Forbes estimates Allen's net worth at $14.2 billion.

WPXI-TV first reported Price's arrest.

by Associated Press Mar 27, 2012

Soldier stole Microsoft co-founder's ID

March 26, 2012

How Not To Sell with Social Media

Social Media Selling How Not To Sell with Social Media

What makes social media so compelling and attractive for selling? It is a myth or just media hype? How should you sell on social media? Will aggressive selling work on social networks? These are some of the questions I’m often asked by marketers who are wary of how to sell online using social media.

There’s no rocket science involved in understanding how you can make the most of social media to sell online. In fact, all that’s needed is a basic understanding of human nature and some common sense. If you are an online marketer and NOT using social media, you are missing out big time on a massive untapped opportunity. Follow these simple suggestions on how you can sell effectively using social media.

Right Expectations

Social media is NOT a magic wand for online selling which always produces bestsellers. Make sure you have clear objectives and a well defined timeframe to start with. Focus on the right audience and be prepared to have regular conversations with like minded people.

I find it ridiculous that people believe social media is a great shortcut to selling quickly without putting in any efforts. It’s true that social media provided you with an unmatched infrastructure to leverage for selling; however that does not mean that you can shy away from working hard to sell. Coming to the point, have right expectations regarding what efforts you need to put and what returns to expect.

Get Engaged

The USP of social media is the wide audience base that it offers. Grow your network and get engaged in interacting proactively with people. Become fans, friends, followers and buddies with people on popular social networks. However, the quality of your network is as important as the quantity.

Search for key elements to reach out to the right set of people. Make your profile and messages appealing. Social media has a short attention span so you need to ensure that you make the most out of the few seconds/ minutes that a prospect customer spends viewing your profile. Build relationships, not just contacts!

Spread the Word

Whether it’s paid or organic search, it is crucial to get your business profile ranked high in search results. Social web is going through an intense competition and you don’t want to be left behind. Social media coupled with SEO techniques can pay great dividends in promoting a business online.

However, don’t be pushy with your selling on social networks. People hate it and you might even end up being blocked for spamming or abuse.

Learn from Others

His company adopted social media for selling and it turned out to be a complete disaster. I’m skeptical that it would work for me.

I hear similar arguments on a daily basis and I’m amused to say the least. Online selling through social media has its own fans and detractors; it has its own success stories and debacles. There is no ‘One size fits all’ approach when it comes to selling online with social media.

The trick is to learn from others. Be it a success story or a failure in selling through social media, there’s a lesson to be learnt in either case.

What’s your social media selling story? Did social media work well for you? Whatever your thoughts, I’ll be eager to hear from you.

by Douglas Idugboe Smedio Mar 26, 2012

How Not To Sell with Social Media

March 24, 2012

Was Apple serious about Phoenix-area site?

Apple Inc. has selected Austin over Phoenix for a major operations center, but it did spend about a year quietly scouting the Phoenix area, according to two leading Arizona economic-development officials.

The company selected six potential sites in metro Phoenix and especially favored three sites in Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler because they could be built on quickly, according to Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and Don Cardon, CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Without giving Arizonans much of a chance to present their case or to negotiate, the maker of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers settled on Austin for a $304 million Americas Operations Center that is expected to employ up to 3,600 workers in 10 years. It is projected to handle operations in areas such as accounting, human resources and finance for all of North, South and Latin America. The proposed campus eventually is expected to encompass 1 million square feet.

The Austin City Council on Thursday on a 6-0 vote approved $8.6 million in property-tax abatements for the company, on top of $21 million in state incentives already offered by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. During a public hearing, some speakers supported the action because of the jobs while others objected to giving incentives to such a rich company.

Cardon of the Arizona Commerce Authority said Wednesday that he was told by an Apple representative on March 8 that the Texas capital had been selected, pending confirmation of incentives from Austin and Travis County, Texas.

Apple's conversations in the Phoenix area have been shrouded in secrecy, raising lots of questions in the economic-development and political community. Among them:

Was Apple serious about considering the Phoenix area?

Were certain sites in the Phoenix area getting preferential treatment over others?

Did the organizations that took the lead, the commerce authority and GPEC, really do all they could to land the marquee company?

"We were probably behind the curve to begin with," Broome said, noting that Apple has a customer-service center with about 3,500 employees already in Austin. "No one will know the truth. But professionally speaking, we were probably the backup site if things did not go well in Texas and Austin."

Officials with the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant have not returned phone calls or e-mails from The Arizona Republic seeking comment. Arizona officials said company spokesmen offered only limited information to them as well.

In Austin, questions lingered, too, especially about whether Texas governments really needed to offer incentives. Apple is rolling in cash, and it may have intended to locate in Austin all along and perhaps was not serious about the Phoenix area, said Jon Roberts, an Austin economic-development consultant.

"Why is a company that is sitting on $1 billion getting incentives anyway? That is the talk," he said.

Despite their disappointment, Valley officials are thrilled that the Phoenix area apparently ranked at least second in the nation for a chance to land a world-famous company, saying that the experience offers an opportunity to learn how to swing harder next time.

Roberts said that attracting Apple helps Austin diversify its economy.

"Apple is the wealthiest company in the world right now. There is no stronger name-brand company that you can attract," he said.

Pike Powers, an Austin attorney involved in economic development, said Austin is the kind of place to which Apple employees would be drawn.

"I think we managed to build kind of an exciting, interesting, challenging, compelling place," he said. "And place matters, not that Phoenix is bad. ... But we have accomplished a special techie status or creative status or imagination-entrepreneur kind of zone in our city that is really pretty spectacular.

"It didn't happen overnight. We worked really hard."

1-hour pitch

As far as metro Phoenix was concerned, the Apple opportunity came -- and went -- fast. Cardon and Broome learned in December that the region was a finalist for an operation with a major company but wouldn't get details for about two months.

Economic-development experts say it is common for companies that are looking to locate or expand in an area to ask that their names not be disclosed. Property owners might raise prices if they know a Fortune 500 company is a potential customer. Competitors could be alerted.

And since Apple is a publicly traded company, it has to be sensitive to strict federal rules about disclosing matters that could affect its share prices, Broome said.

In early February, Broome got a call from an Apple representative saying the company was interested in Phoenix, and Broome called Cardon. They were asked to appear at Apple's global headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., in three business days, Feb. 7.

In Cupertino, they said they were given only one hour to make a presentation and had to sign standard confidentiality agreements promising not to reveal the name of the company or to disclose details.

A number of people were brought into discussions, including Gov. Jan Brewer, several Valley mayors, commerce authority and GPEC board members, and others.

Cardon and Broome said they were told they were competing with one other region. Documents submitted to Austin confirmed that the company was considering Phoenix as an alternative "given its supply and cost of labor as well as its proximity and ease of travel to and from Cupertino, CA."

The Arizona officials were led to believe Apple wanted to act fast. Cardon said they wanted a site that could become operational in the first quarter of 2013. Yet in Austin, the company is proposing to build up to 1 million square feet, starting with a Phase 1 of 200,000 square feet that could take several years, according to presentations at Austin City Council meetings.

Cardon said the company did not ask for any special incentives that any other company would not have received. He did offer access to the commerce authority's deal-closing fund, which is available to give companies special incentives that could "seal a deal."

Cardon and Broome said they really never were allowed to negotiate.

"This was programmed," Broome said. "This wasn't a big give-and-take."

Apple officials said they had narrowed their search down to six sites, and Cardon and Broome learned for sure only of the three: near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa; northeast of Lindsay Road and the Santan Freeway in Gilbert; and in the Continuum Science and Technology Park in the Price Corridor in Chandler.

Cardon said others might have been the Desert Ridge area in north Phoenix and near Tempe Town Lake.

Lots of frustration

The secrecy and speed with which the Apple discussions occurred created a lot of frustration, confusion and tension among business people and elected officials in the Phoenix area, particularly since Apple communicated directly with so few people. There have been no public hearings or presentations here as there have been in Austin.

Jerry Colangelo, co-chairman of the commerce authority, said while there are always issues that can be handled better, in this case that might not have mattered.

"They (Apple) pretty much knew what they wanted and where they wanted it, and the real question is, was it an even playing field to begin with? ... The efforts were extraordinary on our part," he said.

Candace Weist, president and CEO of West Valley National Bank, said, "I heard some stuff, and I don't know how accurate it is. But really and truly my feeling is they (Apple) weren't really ever planning on coming. They were going to go to Austin anyway."

Weist is a member of the boards for both the commerce authority and GPEC.

Mayors of Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert have said they never got a lot of detail about what Apple wanted and several expressed frustration at Apple, GPEC and the commerce authority.

Phoenix officials have complained that the southeast Valley was favored over a site on state trust land in northeast Phoenix near the Mayo Clinic and Musical Instrument Museum.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton acknowledged that state trust land can take longer to be turned into commercial uses but said the city has managed that before, such as with a Sumitomo microchip plant brought there in 1997.

"I have the impression this company (Apple) was in a hurry. By the time I was involved, it was late in the game," he said.

Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, a former state lawmaker, was frustrated that his city did not get enough time to promote its Price Corridor, which is anchored by an Intel plant with more than 9,000 workers.

"We have done as much as we can. Since Commerce (Arizona Commerce Authority) is handling it, they have kept us at arm's length," he said.

In contrast, he said, the city was allowed to participate directly in negotiations for an Intel expansion that led to an announcement last year of a $5 billion expansion.

"I just really think at the state level they really need to take another run at Apple if they can, because the magnitude of a locate like that would be unbelievable for the Valley. It's like over 3,000 jobs in 10 years, and all the ancillary construction and business that would flock here. There is a great trickle-down effect," he said.

In response, Cardon and Broome said they were being as aggressive as they could. Cardon said he offered to fly back to Cupertino on Monday for further talks.

"We aggressively competed for the biggest prize. I am proud of what we did, and I wish it had a different outcome," said Cardon, who announced in January he is leaving the authority to return to private business as soon as a replacement is found.

Despite the frustration, several officials said Apple's consideration of the Phoenix area shows that the region can be competitive.

Broome pointed out that it was better to hear of Phoenix competing against Austin as a finalist instead of another city in that role, such as Denver vs. Austin.

"Everyone is disappointed when you have a chance for this type of excitement and it doesn't happen," he said.

Echoing others, Stanton said, "If we are not successful, we should use this as an example and kind of look at our systems and see where we can improve. We should always look for ways we can improve so we are the most competitive region on economic development."

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said, "We are in the game, and when you are in the game, opportunities will continue to come, and you will get better at the game."

Phoenix vs. Austin

In this comparison of the Phoenix and Austin metro areas, the only indicator on which Phoenix comes out ahead is housing affordability.

Phoenix / Austin

2009 per capita income

$34,452 / $37,544

Bachelor's degree or more, 2010

27.2% / 39.4%

Job growth, January 2011-January 2012, preliminary

1.9% / 3.5%

Venture capital, first nine months, 2011

$173 million / $415 million

Per capita gross domestic product, 2010

$41,169 / $47,470

Housing affordability, 2011

86% / 74.3%

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Venture Capital Association, National Association of Home Builders

Apple Inc.'s proposal

What: Americas Operations Center for North, South and Latin America to house accounting, human resources and finance.

Employees: 2,000 to 3,600 over seven to 10 years. About 1,100 could be contract or vendor employees. The average wage of the employees would be almost $64,000.

Footprint: Apple proposes to build a 200,000 square foot building initially and eventually another 800,000 square feet.

Source: Office of Economic Development, City of Austin

by Betty Beard - Mar. 23, 2012 12:02 AM The Republic |

Was Apple serious about Phoenix-area site?

March 19, 2012

What Facebook and Twitter Mean for News | State of the Media

Perhaps no topic in technology attracted more attention in 2011 than the rise of social media and its potential impact on news. “If searching for news was the most important development of the last decade, sharing news may be among the most important of the next,” we wrote in a May 2011 report analyzing online news behavior called Navigating News Online.

At the moment, Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter, dominate this intersection of social media and news. As written about in detail in the Digital chapter of this report, eMarketer reports that Facebook had 133 million active users in the U.S. at the end of 2011.


Facebook defines “active users” as those who interact with Facebook content at least once a month. Despite debates about defining “active users,” there is little question about the site’s popularity or its “stickiness,” the degree to which some users are there a lot: Facebook users spent an average of 423 minutes each on the site in December. By contrast, a PEJ analysis of Nielsen Net View data puts the average time on a top 25 news site at just under 12 minutes per month.  Even in 2010, all but one of those top news sites, with the exception being Google News, obtained a portion of their traffic from Facebook. And in 2011, Facebook furthered the news element of its platform with developments like the Social Reader, which allows users to follow, read and share news without ever leaving the network.

How much are consumers relying on Facebook for their daily news information, especially in comparison with using search or going directly to news websites or apps? And when they do get news on these networks, does it come from friends and family or from news organizations they follow? And finally, how is this news viewed?

A new survey released as part of this year’s annual State of the News Media Report probes news consumption and habits on different digital devices, including how news consumers use social media. The broader findings are covered in a companion special report on mobile devices. This report explores in more detail the findings as they relate to social media and news. It explores not only the extent to which social media are used to access news, but also how news behavior on Facebook compares with that on Twitter, and who these social media news consumers are.

Overall, as noted in the companion report, the survey confirms that Facebook and Twitter are now pathways to news, but their role may not be as large as some have suggested. The population that uses these networks for news at all is still relatively small, especially the part that does so very often. Moreover, these social media news consumers have not given up other methods of getting news, such going directly to websites, using apps or through search. In other words, social media are additional paths to news, not replacements for more traditional ones.

The survey also finds that Twitter and Facebook function differently from each other, both in terms of where the news links come from and the degree to which people believe they are encountering different news than they would have encountered elsewhere.  Each also draws a different population of users, with Twitter users standing out most. Facebook news users get more news from friends and family and see it as news they might well have gotten someplace else if Facebook did not exist. For Twitter users, though, the news links come from a more even mix of family and friends and news organizations. Most of these users also feel that without Twitter, they would have missed this kind of news.

Facebook and Twitter Are Still Relatively Small Drivers for News


Over all, just 9% of Americans very often follow news recommendations from Facebook or from Twitter on any of the three digital devices (computers, smartphones or tablets). That compares with more than a third, 36%, who very often go directly to news organizations on one of their devices, 32% who get news from search very often, and 29% who turn to some sort of news organizer site or app.

Among just digital news consumers (excluding those who say they do not get news online), the percentage who get at least some news from one of these two leading social networks rises to 52%. But this still trails by a large margin other ways of getting news (92% go directly to news websites and 85% use search).
There are also substantial differences in the data between how people use each of these two forms of social media, what they think about it and who those users are.

Between the Two Social Media Options, Facebook Leads

More than twice as many digital news consumers follow news recommendations from Facebook than follow them from Twitter. And that remains consistent across different digital devices (computers, smartphones or tablets). In all, on any device, 7% get news on Facebook very often, compared with 3% who do so on Twitter. Those populations may grow, or at least involve a broader universe of casual users. Another 19% say they get recommendations via Facebook somewhat often, and 4% via Twitter somewhat often.
The populations do overlap, again with Facebook as the leading platform. Fully 82% of those who ever get some news via Twitter recommendations also get some news via Facebook recommendations, and 40% so do very often or somewhat often.  Facebook users, however, are much less likely to be on Twitter than the other way around. Just 27% of Facebook news followers also get news via Twitter, with 11% doing so somewhat or very often.  Over all, 13% of digital news consumers follow news recommendations on both Facebook and Twitter – but fewer than 4% do so very or somewhat often.

But There is No Primary Digital Device for Social Media News

The reliance on social recommendations is strikingly similar across desktop/laptops, smartphones and tablet computers. At this early stage in their evolution, in other words, social media users are social media users, and device seems to have little impact on that.

Looking at the heaviest users – the relatively small number of people who rely on social media recommendations for news very often the percentages are similar across devices. Of those who get news on desktop/laptop computers, 6% get news via Facebook recommendations. The same is true for 7% of smartphone news users and 8% of tablet news consumers. For Twitter, the numbers are smaller but follow a similar pattern: 2% of desktop/laptop users follow Twitter recommendations very often on the desktop/laptop, 3% for smartphone news consumers on smartphones and 3% for tablet news consumers on that device.

Social Networks at This Point Are Mostly an Additional Way to Get News, Rather Than a Replacement Source


Another finding is that, contrary to what some observers have argued, the rise of social media recommendations at this point does not appear to be coming at the expense of people going directly to news sites or searching for news topics they are interested in. Instead, social media news consumption is supplemental. This expanded behavior also mirrors what we see in the larger report about news consumptions on different digital devices. Smartphones and tablets do not appear to be replacing computers as much as providing additional ways to get news.

For example, fully 71% of those who ever follow news links on Facebook also get news somewhat or very often by going directly to a news organization’s website or app.1  Among Twitter news followers, 76% also go to home pages or use apps from a news organization very or somewhat often.  Similarly 65% of Facebook news users get news via key word search very or somewhat often, as do 69% of Twitter news users.

Twitter and Facebook Function Differently as News Sources

On Facebook, the news comes mostly through family and friends. On Twitter, people tend to get news from a broader mix of recommenders.
When asked who sends you most of the news stories you read or watch via Facebook, 70% said friends and family. Another 13% get most of their recommendations from news organizations or individual journalists. And 10% said most of the news they looked at from social media came from non-news entities that recommend news stories. And 7% said they didn’t know.
Among Twitter news followers, there is much more of a mix: 36% say they get most of their links from friends and family and while 27% do so  from news organizations This group was also almost twice as likely (18% on Twitter vs. 10% on Facebook) to look at news recommended to them by non-news organizations. A greater portion on Twitter, were unsure where most of the news recommendations come from or chose not to answer (19%).


Consumers Are More Likely to See Facebook News as Replaceable

Those who get news via Facebook were more likely to feel the news they received there is news they largely would have gotten elsewhere. A majority, 56%, of those who get news recommendations from Facebook say they think they would have gotten that news from somewhere else. Only a third, 34%, said they would not have seen it otherwise.


On Twitter, with its somewhat broader mix of sources for news links, there was more sense that the news they encountered this way expanded knowledge or source list.  Twitter users were nearly split between the sense that they would get this news elsewhere (43%) and that they would not (39%).

Men and women responded very differently. Women were more likely to see the news as not special to Twitter (53% versus 30% who said they wouldn’t get it elsewhere). Men were more likely to see it as giving them a unique or broader sense of the news (46% versus 35% who said they would get the news elsewhere).

Twitter News Followers Are More Mobile  

Twitter news followers tend to be more heavily mobile than the public at large, and they lean toward smartphones in particular.

Fully three-quarters, 76%, of Twitter new followers own a smartphone. That compares with 67% of Facebook news followers and 60% of digital news consumers over all.

Twitter users are also more likely to get news on their smartphone, 64% versus 47% for Facebook users and 30% for all mobile news consumers.

Twitter news followers are more likely than others to own a tablet computer, 42% versus 30% among Facebook news followers and 26% for digital news consumers over all. And they are more likely to get news there, 31%, compared with 20% for both Facebook and for digital news consumers over all.

Who Twitter and Facebook News Users Are

There are some strong demographic differences when you break down those who use Facebook for news and those who use Twitter. Over all, Facebook news followers track with the general population fairly closely, while those who follow Twitter news stand out demographically.

Twitter news followers are more likely to be male, 57% versus 44% of Facebook users and 48% of the population over all. They are also younger; 39% are 18 to 29 years old, which is nearly double the population over all (22%), but about the same as Facebook users (37%).

They are highly educated. More than a third (37%) have a college degree or beyond, higher than the 28% for all adults, and fewer have no more than a high school diploma (34% versus 44% over all).  They are less white than the population over all and less white than Facebook news users.

Facebook users mirror in more ways the population over all, but these news consumers are far more likely than the population over all and than their Twitter counterparts to have children in the house (37% versus 29% for Twitter and 31% of all adults).

About the Survey

The analysis in this report, What Facebook and Twitter Mean for News, is based on aggregated data from three telephone surveys conducted in January 2012 (Jan. 12-15, Jan. 19-22 and Jan. 26-29) with national samples of adults 18 years of age or older living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted with a total of 3,016 adults (1,809 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 1,207 were interviewed on a cellphone, including 605 who had no landline telephone). The survey was conducted by interviewers at Princeton Data Source under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. A combination of landline and cellphone random digit dial samples were used; both samples were provided by Survey Sampling International.

Interviews were conducted in English. Respondents in the landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult person who was then at home. Interviews in the cellphone sample were conducted with the person who answered the phone, if that person was an adult 18 years of age or older.

The combined landline and cellphone sample are weighted using an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education, race, Hispanic origin and region to parameters from the March 2011 Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and population density to parameters from the Decennial Census. The sample also is weighted to match current patterns of telephone status, based on extrapolations from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey. The weighting procedure also accounts for the fact that respondents with both landline and cellphones have a greater probability of being included in the combined sample and adjusts for household size within the landline sample. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance take into account the effect of weighting. The following table shows the sample sizes and the error attributable to sampling that would be expected at the 95% level of confidence for different groups in the survey:


 Sample sizes and sampling errors for other subgroups are available upon request.

In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

© Pew Research Center, 2012

Note: Because the populations are relatively small (especially those who get news via Twitter), it is helpful to broaden the base of our analysis out to those who “ever” get news on one of the platforms. 

What Facebook and Twitter Mean for News | State of the Media

March 13, 2012

Pinterest popularity rising on strength of women

NEW YORK -- Oh, you pretty things. Just look at the mama giraffe nuzzling a baby giraffe, that lovely idea for an indoor planter made of mason jars and those perfectly cooked bacon strips cooling on a plate. This is what people are circulating on Pinterest, the latest website-of-the-moment for sharing things you love.

Clean and simple to use, Pinterest attracts people who need to organize the chaos of Internet-age information overload. It serves as an online scrapbook of images they find on the Web, a place to post fashion inspirations, decorating aspirations and more. It's a digital dream collage, a recipe box and a corkboard full of magazine clippings all at once.

The site's popularity has exploded in recent months, making it one of the fastest-growing websites in history. Its ascent to 10 million monthly visitors happened faster than Facebook, Twitter or any other site tracked by comScore.

What makes Pinterest's surge unusual is that it's driven not by the usual geek crowd of young men from New York and San Francisco, but by women, many of whom live in the Midwest and the central U.S. They use the sleek, photo-heavy website for fashion ideas, wedding planning and home design, or just to share photos of puppies.

Angela Bitz, a secretary at a hospital in Davenport, Iowa, says she was drawn by the site's layout and ease of use. She uses Pinterest to collect decorating ideas for her home and for general crafting and cooking inspiration. She also turns to Pinterest for ideas on making jewelry from objects she finds.

"It has well-organized information that is easy to save and share with others, as well as the ability to keep up on what my friends like and are doing," she says.

Pinterest's co-founder Ben Silbermann is one of the most-anticipated speakers this week at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas. As part of a question-and-answer session Tuesday, he'll explain Pinterest's rapid growth outside of Silicon Valley and discuss the company's long-term goals. People will be watching closely, especially because Pinterest has been media-shy in recent weeks amid its meteoric rise.

Much of Pinterest's appeal is about displaying your plans and hopes. The trend is hardly new. Oprah Winfrey fans might recall the "O Dream Board" the talk-show host touted as a place to "envision your best life."

Steve Jones, professor of communication at the University of Illinois in Chicago, likened Pinterest to a bulletin board in a bedroom or dorm room.

"It reminds me of my girlfriends in high school who'd cut stuff out of magazines and pin it up on a wall," he says. "This is the Web-based, digital equivalent of that behavior."

Access to Pinterest is currently by invitation only, so those looking to join need to request one from the company or ask a friend already on it.

Once you're in, you can create a board and name it "recipes," "weddings" or anything else. As you find images you like on the Web, you "pin" them to your boards to share with others.

"Because it's images only, it takes the clutter of text and Web pages away," says Jennifer Levy, an interior designer in Brooklyn who uses Pinterest to share images with clients and to get inspiration for designs.

You can follow other users on Pinterest, see the most popular pins or find gift ideas by price range. You can browse categories such as architecture, fitness and weddings. You can "like" anything that catches your fancy, re-pin it to your own board or add a comment.

The cascade of images shared on any given day ranges from quirky nail art to a shirtless Ryan Gosling to ephemeral nature scenes. Clicking on an image can take you to a recipe or a blog post, or at times, an empty page.

Cissy Proctor, an attorney in Tallahassee, Fla., uses it to curate inspiration for home design, entertaining, food, wine and gardening. Before Pinterest, she'd bookmark pages in the print magazines she subscribes to, but that meant "that I have to remember that dining room I loved," she says. "Which issue was that in my stack of magazines?"

Librarians are using the site to "pin" reading suggestions. Nathan Swartzendruber, who works for a library consortium in southwest Ohio, says that because the site is entirely public, unlike Facebook, pins could draw comments from people you've never met.

Pinterest, like game maker Zynga and many others before it, likely wouldn't have grown as popular without the help of Facebook, the world's largest online social network. Facebook said last month that the number of its users visiting Pinterest every day grew by 60 percent after it was integrated into the site in January.

Investors include prominent venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Jeremy Stoppelman, the CEO of reviews site Yelp Inc. Pinterest, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., is privately held and does not disclose how much money it is making.

The site doesn't have advertisements or a clear path to profitability, but that's common with Internet companies just starting out. Facebook and Twitter didn't have ways of making money either when they started. Pinterest says on its website that making money is a long-term goal but not the immediate priority.

The company and Silbermann did not respond to multiple requests for interviews.
Unlike other startups, whose early users tend to be men under 35, Internet tracking firm comScore estimates that 65 percent of Pinterest users are women, and these women drive 85 percent of the traffic on the site. In other words, not only are there more women on Pinterest but they are much more active than men. More than half the women on the site are 35 or older.

Rebecca Lieb, an analyst with the Altimeter Group, believes part of the reason that Pinterest's early adopters are less geeky than usual is that there is, literally, "nothing to adopt." There's nothing to download and no complex controls to master. You simply log in and pin.

Then again, Pinterest may just be a sign that technology is not just for geeky guys any more. After all, women tweet, use smartphones, blog and write code for websites.

Not everyone finds Pinterest useful, though. Lori Choman, who's retired and describes herself as a "DIY-er," short for do-it-yourself, says it's not worth her time. She received an invite and joined at the nudging of her friends about three months ago.

But while she says she saw "great photos" that others pinned, she found it difficult to find out any information about the images. Over and over, she says, she'd "click and click and click," but find herself unable to get names of recipes or instructions for craft projects. Instead, the links often lead to shopping sites.
"It's like getting a Sunday paper circular designed by my friends of things they like," says Choman, who lives in Auburn, Ga.

Because it's rooted in unencumbered image-sharing, Pinterest has also raised copyright concerns. Lawyers, however, say its legal standing is no different than those of other popular websites, such as YouTube or Facebook. A 1998 federal law offers websites vast protections from what their users post as long as they promptly respond to any complaints after the fact.

Pinterest's creators registered in 2009, but it didn't take off until last summer. ComScore says the site had 17.8 million U.S. visitors last month, up about 50 percent from 11.7 million in January and nearly four times the 4.9 million in November. ComScore analyst Andrew Lipsman says he has not seen an independent website reach 10 million visitors faster than Pinterest.

In another sign it's made a mark, Pinterest has already spawned parody. The gender discrepancy is probably why someone thought to create, a site that looks just like Pinterest -- but for dudes.

Instead of pinning images, you nail them. Instead of puppy photos and cupcakes, there are Star Wars references, beer and sneakers. Instead of willowy dresses and floppy hats, the women of Manteresting wear as little as possible.

by Barbara Ortutay Associated Press Mar 12, 2012

Pinterest popularity rising on strength of women

Apple's clout likely to draw more scrutiny

SAN FRANCISCO - -- In everything it does, from product design to business deals, Apple strives for as much control as possible.

But as the world's most valuable company sets out to define and dominate the rapidly evolving markets it created with the iPhone and the iPad, Apple is
 likely to face antitrust regulators who want to curb its power.

Apple's clout is coming under scrutiny as the U.S. Justice Department considers filing a lawsuit against the company and five U.S. publishers on allegations they orchestrated a price-fixing scheme on electronic books.

The involved parties are trying to avoid a high-profile court battle by negotiating a settlement, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper broke the news last week about the government's plans to allege that Apple Inc. and the publishers tried to thwart e-book discounts offered by Inc. and drive up prices since the 2010 release of the iPad.

"I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Apple," says Ted Henneberry, an antitrust attorney for the Orrick law firm in Washington.

Apple declined to comment.

The e-book case demonstrates the market leverage Apple has gained from its system of Internet-connected devices that tie into iTunes, its digital marketplace for mobile applications, books, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, movies and music.

"That platform has become really essential for a lot of people," says David Balto, an antitrust attorney who was a Federal Trade Commission policy director during the Clinton administration. "Apple clearly has gained a lot of power in a number of markets."

Apple has sold more than 315 million iPhones, iPads and iPods that run on its mobile operating system, giving it the keys to a market that will become increasingly influential as more people buy digital content for such devices.

Apple's success has transformed the company from a technology boutique to a trend-setting juggernaut in the past decade. Its annual revenue has soared from $5 billion in 2001 to $108 billion last year. About three-quarters of that revenue comes from sales of iPhones, iPads and iPods. The company, based in Cupertino, Calif., now has a market value of about $510 billion -- more than Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. combined.

So far, though, government regulators haven't paid as much attention to Apple as they did to Microsoft during the 1990s and to Google during the past four years.
Microsoft's efforts to maintain and increase its dominance of personal computer software provoked an antitrust lawsuit that unsuccessfully attempted to break up the company.

Allegations that Google has been abusing its dominance of the Internet search and advertising markets have sparked wide-ranging government probes into the company's business practices in the U.S. and Europe.

Apple may simply behave better than some of its rivals, or it may be doing business in areas that are so new that government regulators are still learning how those nascent markets function, says D. Daniel Sokol, a law professor who focuses on antitrust issues at the University of Florida.

"To attract antitrust attention, you have to be more than just big. You have to be big and bad," Sokol says. "It was only 2007 when Apple released the iPhone, and only 2010 when it released the iPad. The company hasn't had that long to be bad yet, if it is indeed bad."

Apple hasn't fully avoided the government's scrutiny.

In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into whether Apple and Google had been stifling competition by sharing two of the same directors -- Eric Schmidt and Arthur Levinson -- on their respective boards. That inquiry ended when Schmidt, then Google's CEO, resigned from Apple's board and Levinson, former CEO of biotechnology company Genentech, resigned from Google's board.

In 2010, Apple, Google and several other Silicon Valley companies settled a Justice Department investigation into an arrangement that prohibited the employers from recruiting each other's workers. Apple, Google and four other companies, including Intel Corp., promised not to enter into any other "no-solicitation" agreements for five years. A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the workers at the companies is still seeking damages.

Government regulators in the U.S. and Europe are also monitoring Apple, Google and Microsoft for any sign they are wielding key patents to gain an unfair competitive advantage in the mobile phone market.

Apple's stable of popular mobile devices and the conjoined market for selling digital content will become even more pivotal if the vision of the company's late co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, pans out.

The way Jobs saw it before he died five months ago, technology is in the early stages of a phase that will de-emphasize the importance of personal computers running on Microsoft's software. Instead, people will rely on sleek, highly portable devices that traverse high-speed Internet connections to fetch content and other files stored in far-flung data centers.

If Apple fulfills its destiny as foreseen by Jobs, the company will dominate this "post-PC" era with its array of iPhones, iPads and possibly a revolutionary television set. Jobs hinted at Apple's looming breakthrough in TV during interviews with his biographer, Walter Isaacson.

As it is, the iPad already has grabbed 62 percent of the tablet computer market, according to IMS Research.

Even if Apple's market share grows larger, the company may be able to minimize its potential antitrust headaches by pointing to what should still be fierce competition in both smartphones and tablet computers, Henneberry says. For instance, more than 300 million devices are already running on Google's Android software, and major PC makers such as Hewlett Packard Co. and Dell Inc. are hoping to make a dent in tablet computers this year with devices running Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 8.

Apple has already girded for more government attention. At the end of 2010, it hired Kyle Andeer, a former antitrust lawyer for the FTC and Justice Department. Andeer became the first antitrust specialist on Apple's internal legal team.

"Any big U.S. tech company understands that when they are successful enough to create and expand markets, they may get government scrutiny," says David Turetsky, an antitrust attorney with the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf in Washington. "Apple is going to keep antitrust lawyers very busy for some time to come."

by Michael Liedtke Associated Press Mar 12, 2012

Apple's clout likely to draw more scrutiny


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