Brian X. Chen and Nick Bilton of the New York Times wrote this article last week about a Facebook-powered Android phone. They, like me, wonder if there is even a desire for a phone like this.
The idea of a Facebook-powered Android phone is not new. In 2008, Inq, a phone maker based in London, released a phone called the Inq1 that integrated Facebook services into crucial areas of the device. In 2011, it said it would release an Android phone called the Inq Cloud Touch, which had some of Facebook’s services integrated into the home screen.
But early last year, Inq pulled the plug on theCloud Touch, saying it would instead focus on other products. Frank Meehan, the former chief executive of Inq, said in an e-mail interview that the Inq had felt too threatened by Samsung Electronics, now the biggest maker of phones in the world, so it abandoned its plans.
“Samsung was already on a path to crush everyone, and we decided to get out of hardware and turned the company into software only,” Mr. Meehan said.
Facebook’s approach to modifying Google’s Android software is similar to Amazon’s, said a former employee of Facebook who had been briefed on the product. For its Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon removed Google’s apps and promoted its own services, like the Kindle e-book store, Amazon’s video service and Amazon’s own app store. The tablet is essentially an Amazon-powered shopping console.
A smartphone that gives priority to Facebook services is good for Facebook, but it is unclear whether that is something consumers want. Jan Dawson, a telecommunications analyst at Ovum, said the concept was “a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
“There are lots of people who love Facebook, but I doubt if any of them feel like they need a more Facebook-centric experience on their phones,” he said. “There isn’t anything obviously missing.”
He agreed that it was unlikely that wireless companies would put much support behind such a device, because they are already worried about the way Google and Facebook are supplanting carriers in people’s minds as providers of content and communication services.”
Jan. 6, 2013 – This week in social media: Google’s drastic measures, a tale of two Al’s, the French Minister of Women’s rights, and an Oscar or twoPosted: January 6, 2013
Week one of the New Year has already proven to be quite exciting.
1. Google forces public exposure, intensifying Google+ integration
Google+ gets about a third of the traffic that Facebook does on a monthly basis. This data, based on an October 2012 comScore report, is not acceptable news to Larry Page.
On January 2, the Wall Street Journal reported that as Chief Executive, Page has set a new, draconian measure forcing anyone who creates a Gmail, YouTube, Zagat restaurant review account, or any other account for a Google service, to be part of the Google+ network. At the time new users set up an account, Google also sets them up with a public Google+ page, which can be viewed by anyone online…
2. Current TV: From one Al to another
Al Gore inked a deal to sell Current TV to Al-Jazeera this week. The New York Times first broke this story on Wednesday.
Gore, co-founder and chairman of the online- and television-based network, said of the decision:
“We are proud and pleased that Al Jazeera, the award-winning international news organization, has bought Current TV… Current Media was built based on a few key goals: To give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling. Al Jazeera has the same goals and, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.”
Al Jazeera, a broadcast and multimedia outlet based in Doha, Qatar, is funded by the Qatari government. It launched its English-language channel in 2006, one year after Current TV was founded. Today, Al Jazzera purports that nearly 40% of its online views come from the United States. The company will receive entrance into an additional 40 million homes (at least) through the deal.
The news came as a surprise to most, although everyone knew Current TV has been struggling since its start.
In addition to Al Jazeera, interested buyers of Current TV included Glenn Beck’s online network TheBlaze. Gore reputedly rebuffed their offer “within 15 minutes.” Glenn Beck’s producer Stu Burguiere said of his surprise about the deal:
“The guy who was vice president of the United States and was 537 votes away from being president during 9/11 is ideologically aligned, by his own definition, with the network that Osama bin Laden went to every time he wanted to get a message out.”
Gore will have an unpaid seat on the board of the new Al Jazeera channel…
3. French Minister calls on Twitter to ban hate speech
Najat Belkacem-Vallaud is France’s Minister of Women’s rights. She wrote in Le Monde this week that Twitter should ban hate speech and that she would start working with the social media site starting January 7 to explore ways to do so.
Belkacem-Vallaud has become increasingly concerned about a slew of recently trending topics that are anti-semitic, racist and homophobic.
According to the story on Mashable, #SiMonFilsEstGay (“If my son is gay”), #unjuifmort (“a dead Jew”), #unbonjuif (“a good Jew”) and #SiMaFilleRamèneUnNoir (“If my daughter brings home a Black”) have trended in France over the past two months.
She argued that this sort of speech is illegal according to national law in the French newspaper Le Monde. Belkacem-Vallaud wrote:
“…I want, without prejudice to any legal action, to call upon Twitter’s sense of responsibility, so that it can contribute to the prevention and the avoidance of misbehavior like this…I want us to be able to work together, along with the most important associated agencies, to put in place alerts and security measures that will ensure that the unfortunate events that we have witnessed in recent weeks will not occur again.”
4. Oscar nominations delayed due to glitch in email voting system
Seems like the word “deadline” has lost all meaning to everyone — everyone in Washington, and now everyone in Hollywood. This week, the voting period for Oscar nominations was extended by a day. The reason? A glitch in the new email voting system.
Early last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences moved voting for the Oscars to an online, e-voting system for the first time in its history. No more paper ballots, they said. However, due to a glitch that causes members to receive faulty passwords to log in with, paper ballots are being sent out once more.
E-voting sounds like a great idea, except when you consider that some voting members don’t even have internet access. Observers say that these “moves into the future” and glitches will have an impact on the types of films that get nominations (more progressive and contemporary) and take home the gold guy.
Winners of the Oscars will be voted on using the same “Everyone Counts” system. Let’s just hope that everyone’s vote does get counted on time.
The nominations will be announced on January 10. The Oscars will take place on February 24. You can bet Seth MacFarlane will do at least one joke about this during Oscar night.
Read Marketplace Technology’s story on why the Academy has been so resistant to online voting. A hint: security.
Let’s review what we’ve learned this week:
- Larry Page is still scared shitless of Mark Zuckerberg
- The only green thing Al Gore ever cared about is money
- Not all French are laissez-faire
- Ted is going to win best film at the Oscars this year
Happy Halloween, Facebookers! Hope it’s pumpkin-likin’ good.