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Google Latitude App For iPhone Launches
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Starting today, iPhone users may begin enjoying a lot more lunches, coffee breaks, and random shopping mall sit-downs with friends.  The Google Latitude app for iPhone was officially released this morning, and it promises to keep users informed of their (consenting) pals’ locations at all times.

Microsoft and Others Join FairSearch Fight Against Google (Update: Google Responds)
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Update: Adam Kovacevich, Google Sr. Manager, Global Communications and Public Affairs offered us the following statement:

Jackson Hewitt Offering Online Discount Shopping
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 Tax preparer Jackson Hewitt has launched an online Discount Shopping Network that offers cash back rewards from more than 800 retailers, including Target, Sears, Kmart, Best Buy and Staples.

The Discount Shopping Network is part of the first phase of the company’s roll-out of “MyTaxManager,” a new online tax management tool.

LinkedIn Adds New Data Center
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Don’t expect LinkedIn to introduce its own version of the fail whale (as Google recently did with a "whale fail" image) anytime soon.  This weekend, LinkedIn added a new data center, ensuring that the professional networking site will stay in working order.

Online Holiday Spending Nears $22 Billion
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U.S. online holiday spending has reached $21.95 billion during the first 40 days of the season, an increase of 12 percent over the same time period as last year, according to the latest report from comScore.

The most recent week (week ending Dec. 10) reached $5.15 billion in spending, an increase of 11 percent versus the corresponding week last year, as two individual days each surpassed $900 million.

 

MySpace Lets Celebrities “HiJack” its Site to Attract Users
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MySpace introduced what it’s referring to as "MySpace Hijacks" today. This is where curation of featured content on the site is taken over by celebrities, as if they had "hijacked" the site to bombard you with stuff they like. 

"On the heels of the newly redesigned Myspace, Hijacks is one of many content-focused initiatives supporting Myspace’s mission to provide the best social entertainment experience possible for the Gen Y audience," MySpace’s Laurie Spindler tells WebProNews.

Can So-Called “Content Farms” Maintain Quality and Reader Trust?
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Sometimes sites like Demand Studios, Yahoo’s Associated Content, AOL’s Seed.com, and Suite101 are called names like "content farms" or "content mills". You can call them whatever you like, but the fact of the matter is that they’re attracting a lot of writers and producing a lot of content, which is appearing in a lot of search results for better or worse.

Facebook’s Ads: Relevant or Missing the Mark?
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I’ve always seen a great deal of potential in Facebook’s advertising offering. The premise is that ads are highly targeted based on users’ profile information. Theoretically, the more a user adds info about the kinds of things they like, the better idea Facebook has about what they are actually interested in, and can serve ads accordingly. 

Does Facebook serve you ads that you find relevant? Let us know.

Will Brands and Verticals Become More Dominant in Search?
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WebProNews recently chatted with Tim Mayer, who left Yahoo back in August after serving as s VP of Search Products, VP of Search Business, and VP of North American Audience. 

Rumor: Steve Ballmer, Dick Costolo Met For Breakfast
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Brace yourself for another round of rumors about acquisitions, partnerships, and funding possibilities.  Steve Ballmer and Dick Costolo supposedly met for breakfast this week, and it’s a rare person who will imagine all they discussed was the fat content of donuts.

To be fair: no one’s claimed that they observed the CEOs of Microsoft and Twitter signing a single document or even talking shop.  Plus, the source of the rumor hasn’t been cited.

CT AG Hits Google With Civil Investigative Demand
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The tension over Google’s collection of sensitive WiFi data has risen again.  Today, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal issued a civil investigative demand requiring that Google share the information gathered by its Street View cars.

Blumenthal defined the demand as being the equivalent of a subpoena, meaning Google should have little choice but to comply.  It’s supposed to do so in the near future, too, as Blumenthal’s only given the company until December 17th to obey.

Sort Google Results By Reading Level
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A Google Web Search product manager announced a new Google search filter for reading level on the Google Web Search Help Forum. 

Google Brings Desktop Version Of Docs To iPad
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Many people have pointed to the iPad as a replacement for laptops, or at least netbooks.  Google Docs, meanwhile, is supposed to take on programs like Microsoft Word.  And now the two newcomers can work together more effectively, as Google’s moved to bring the desktop version of Google Docs to the iPad.

Google Voice Lets You Send Calls From Santa
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Google has introduced a new feature to its voice service that allows people to send and receive free personalized calls from Santa.

Users can visit sendacallfromsanta.com and choose from a number of options to send unique, often humorous , customized phone calls to anyone in the U.S. Users can also send the messages from Santa via email, Facebook and Twitter.

 

Anonymous Wikileaks Avengers: We Don’t Want Your Credit Card Info or to Prevent You From Shopping
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"Anonymous" is an "Internet gathering" of people that has perpetrated Operation Payback, which took down MasterCard.com, Visa.com and others, because of how they’ve handled their relationships with Wikileaks, has issued a press release in attempt to clarify what it is trying to do. 

Google Tests NFC Tech, Holds Hotpot Contest In Portland
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Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is not mainstream.  Indeed, the average consumer probably hasn’t heard of it yet.  But Google’s going to give NFC and its new Hotpot service a push in Portland, encouraging local businesses and consumers to get involved.

Cast Your Vote For The YouTube Symphony Orchestra
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YouTube has narrowed down finalists for its second YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 to be held at the Sydney Opera House and is calling on users to vote on the best musicians.

Users can vote on the remaining 336 finalist from 46 countries over the next seven days to determine who will be going to the Sydney Opera House from March 14-20 to perform for a global audience.

 

Facebook Announces Hacker Cup
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Computer engineers interested in a free trip to Palo Alto, some cash, and perhaps a job offer should pay attention.  Facebook’s announced something called the Hacker Cup, and top competitors will receive at least those first two prizes for sure.

Google Brings Priority Inbox to Android
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Google announced the launch of Gmail for Android 2.3.2, which brings Gmail’s well-received Priority Inbox feature to mobile. 

"While Priority Inbox on your Android phone doesn’t have all the features offered in the desktop version of Gmail, we think this is a good start and plan to add even more functionality moving forward," says Paul Westbrook of Google’s Gmail for Android team. 

Google Slides To Third Place In Chinese Online Ad Market

It’s a pretty well-known fact that Baidu’s beaten Google in China, and all of Google’s efforts to reverse that fact haven’t accomplished much.  Unfortunately for the company, those efforts also failed to hold off another rival, as a new report puts Alibaba ahead of Google in the online ad market.

Google Instant Goes Mobile Globally

Google announced today that Google Instant for mobile is now available globally – in 28 languages and in 40 countries. You have to have an Android 2.2+ or iOS4 device to use it though. 

If you have one of these devices, you can simply go to google.com in your mobile browser, and it tap on the Google Instant link beneath the search box to enable it. This is somewhat interesting considering when Google Instant was first launched, you had to disable it if you didn’t want it, rather than enable it if you did want it. 

Google Takes Aim at Microsoft Exchange with “Message Continuity”
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Today Google introduced a new service called Google Message Continuity, which Microsoft must be incredibly thrilled about. The service, powered by Postini, is described as a way to bring "Gmail’s reliability to Microsoft Exchange". 

E-Reader Sales Set To Double This Year
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E-reader sales are on track to total 6.6 million units in 2010, up 79.8 percent from 2009 sales of 3.6 million units, according to a new report from Gartner.

Hugues-De-La-Vergne In 2011, global e-reader sales are forecast to surpass 11 million units, a 68.3 percent increase from 2010.

YouTube Nixes Video Time Limit For Some Users
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Some YouTube content creators will soon get the opportunity to test their artistic abilities – and their audiences’ patience – more than ever before.  YouTube announced today that it will let select guideline-abiding users upload videos of any length.

The previous limit, which will still apply in many cases, was 15 minutes, so this represents a big adjustment.  YouTube credited advances in its Content ID system, since it now has to worry less about people uploading entire movies divided into multiple clips.