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Google Maps Photo Layer Gets Improvements, MapQuest Launches Atlas

There are a couple interesting things happening with online maps today. Google has updated its Photos layer and MapQuest has introduced Atlas. 

Yahoo and Ad Council Launch “Create for a Cause” Contest

Yahoo and the Ad Council have announced the launch of the 2010 "Create for a Cause" contest. The competition looks to highlight the best and most creative in non-profit-focused digital advertising.   

AOL Officially Acquires TechCrunch
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Update: AOL has now officially announced its acquisition of TechCrunch for an undisclosed amount. TechCrunch will continue to operate independently as a wholly-owned AOL unit.

Texting Bans Not Reducing Car Accidents

States that have laws banning texting while driving are not seeing a reduction in the number of accidents, according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

In fact, such bans are associated with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims filed under collision coverage for damage to vehicles in crashes. This finding is based on comparisons of claims in 4 states before and after texting ban, compared with patterns of claims in nearby states.

Report: Android Continues Market Share Growth

Millennial Media has released its Mobile Marketing Mix report for the month of August. Among its findings are continued Android growth, as well as significant iPad growth. The firm points to the following as the highlights:

 

Google Named “World’s Most Attractive Employer”
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It looks like the concepts of free food, dogs at work, and 20 percent time (among other things) haven’t lost their appeal.  Universum, a company that specializes in employer branding, has again declared Google the "world’s most attractive employer."

New Tablet from RIM, Amazon Making a Tablet Too?

Amazon may have launched a new web version of its Kindle software, but rumor has it that it is also launching its own Android app store and possibly even its own tablet. 

AOL Acquires 5min Media to Bolster Video Content

AOL has acquired video syndication platform 5min Media. 5min claims to reach 160 million unique monthly visitors and has tens of thousands of videos across 20 categories and 140 sub-categories. 

Amazon Brings Kindle To The Web
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Amazon.com today launched a beta version of “Kindle for the Web,” allowing users to sample books directly through browsers without having to download anything.

To promote the offering, Amazon is allowing bloggers and website owners in its Amazon Associates Program to be part of Kindle for the Web by embedding samples of books on their websites. Website owners will earn referral fees from Amazon when users buy books using the links on their websites.

Google Reportedly Buying Plannr
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Google is buying Plannr, according to unconfirmed reports. Plannr is a mobile social calendar app, or as it’s officially described, "Plannr is the up-to-the-minute, simple way to make plans with your friends."

Facebook Investor Rules Out 2011 IPO
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Would-be Facebook investors will have to wait a while before the company has a ticker symbol like GOOG, MSFT, and YHOO.  Peter Thiel (re)confirmed this afternoon that Facebook won’t go public until 2012 at the earliest.

Bloomberg reported the same thing in July, meaning this isn’t exactly breaking news, but there is a difference between three anonymous sources and Thiel.  Thiel’s about as close to Facebook as anyone other than Mark Zuckerberg can get.

David Fincher Shares Real Thoughts on the Facebook Story
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David Fincher, the director of The Social Network shares some interesting thoughts about the story told in the movie – the founding of Facebook. 

In a press conference following a screening of the film in New York, Fincher lets loose on his thoughts about how the situation among Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin and Sean Parker went down. 

Fincher says calling the Mark Zuckerberg character an "asshole" is a "reductive and overly-simplistic" way of putting it. 

More Devs Bet On Android’s Long-Term Success

Judging by the latest developer survey results from Appcelerator, Android’s future has become brighter than ever.  Exactly 59 percent of the developers involved wagered that it had the best long-term outlook, which isn’t bad by itself and represents a significant rise since June.

A little background data: in June, 54 percent of participating developers bet on Android, and 40 percent bet on iOS, so as the graphic below shows, the gap is definitely widening.

Twitter Reportedly Set to Unveil “Promoted Accounts”
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Twitter will reportedly announce another product for bringing in revenue tomorrow at the IAB MIXX Expo. Peter Kafka at All Things Digital says sources "familiar with the company’s plans" told him they will show off "Promoted Accounts". 

Windows Live Spaces Turns to WordPress for Blogging
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Microsoft and Wordpress announced today that WordPress.com is becoming the default blogging platform for Windows Live Spaces. The two companies have worked together on a  migration service for Spaces bloggers to easily bring all their posts, comments, and photos to WordPress.com.

Segway Owner Jimi Heselden Loses Life While Riding a Segway
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In January, Segway Inc. announced that it had been acquired by a UK-based company backed by Jimi Heselden, an investor in the company. Now Heselden has passed away, in rather ironic fashion. 

On Sunday, the man fell to his death into the River Wharfe, falling from a cliff while riding a Segway. The Telegraph quotes a Police spokesperson as saying:

AOL Launches New Display Ad Format

AOL said today that seven brands have signed on as founding partners for its new display advertising format called “Project Devil.”

Found partners include General Mills brands Cheerios, Pillsbury Crescents, Lexus, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble’s Olay, Sprint, and Unilever’s Suave Professionals.

IBM Acquires Blade Network Technologies

IBM announced that it has entered an agreement to acquire Blade Network Technologies, a company specializing in software and devices for data and transaction routing.  

Blade provides blade server and top-of-rack switches as well as software to virtualize and manage cloud computing and other workloads. It counts over half of Fortune 500 companies among its customers. 

Facebook Announces Further Instant Personalization of Scribd
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Facebook announced today that Scribd has expanded its Facebook-based instant personalization. 

"While it’s rare we read together, reading can be social," says Facebook Platform product marketing manager Fran Larkin. "People share articles on Facebook, form book clubs, get book recommendations from friends, and debate and discuss news stories. Now Scribd, a social reading and publishing site, is making it easier to find great reads through the help of your friends." 

Movie Review: The Social Network (The Facebook Movie)
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It’s not often I get the opportunity to write movie reviews for WebProNews, because it’s not often that major motion pictures are released about subjects within our general scope of coverage. I had the opportunity to attend a screening of The Social Network last night, so it seems appropriate that I offer my thoughts about the film here. 

“Facebook vs. Google” May Extend Well Beyond Social
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The Facebook/Google competition is getting more and more interesting. Last week, we talked about Google’s social plans and what "Google Me" will actually be. Basically, what it comes down to is that it  will not be a new social network, but rather a "social layer" added to existing Google products. 

Online Retailers Losing Revenue Due To Website Issues
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Online retailers may have lost as much as $44 billion dollars over the past year due to transaction problems on their website, according to a new report released by Tealeaf and conducted by Harris Interactive.

The report found more than a quarter (27%) of online shoppers would turn to an online or offline competitor if they had an online transaction issue.

60 Minutes Reaches Out To YouTube Audience

A news program that debuted way back in September of 1968 is now taking steps to embrace a video-sharing site and the latest social media trends.  60 Minutes has launched a YouTube channel and asked viewers weigh in.

The channel-related development is straightforward (though important).  Certain 60 Minutes segments will simply be uploaded to youtube.com/60minutes after they air so that people who miss the show on Sunday night can catch up later.

Sharp Launching Android Tablets, E-Bookstore

Sharp announced today that it is developing a new cloud-based media service business called Galapagos. The company will start by releasing two tablets and an e-bookstore. Sharp says the tablets are developed specifically as e-book readers. They will reportedly run Android as the OS. 

The initiative is aimed at the Japanese market.