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The Things Google Did in 2010 (The First Quarter)
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I started off aiming to write an article about all of the things Google has done over the course of the year, and quickly realized that this would be one massive article, even if I only briefly mentioned everything. So I have decided to split the article up into quarters, so you don’t have to take everything in all at once. Check back for each subsequent article. 

9 Things Businesses Have Learned About Social Media
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Social media has walked the fiery coals of skepticism and has brilliantly performed as a marketing, customer service and relationship building tool beyond expectations.

The Things Google Did in 2010 (The Third Quarter)
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We’re looking at the things Google has done over the course of the year. For the first quarter, read this article. Then find the second quarter here. Now we’re on to the third quarter. 

Watch: New Year’s Celebration from Times Square Online
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If you want to watch tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square live online, you’re in luck, because The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment have partnered with Livestream to stream the event. 

comScore Documents Record Online Retail Holiday Season

Heading into the holiday season, many economic experts seemed to fear that the average present would be a homemade scarf or coffee mug.  Instead, the latest (and probably last) comScore data concerning the holiday shopping season shows that U.S. online spending hit a record $30.8 billion.

That works out to an increase of 13 percent compared to the same period (November 2nd through December 27th) in 2009, which isn’t at all bad.  It certainly beats the rate of inflation and hints that people weren’t trying to be tightfisted.

Facebook Reference Appears On Chinese Social Network
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Before diving in, we should perhaps remind everyone that trademarks don’t mean a lot in China.  Knockoffs of all sorts are produced in massive quantities.  But not long after Mark Zuckerberg toured the country and met with business leaders, Facebook’s name has been spotted in connection with a Chinese social network.

Google and FairSearch Argue ITA Acquisition on TV

As you may know, Google is trying to acquire ITA Software, but it has faced various hurdles, mainly led by a coalition called FairSearch, made up of travel sites. Now, the Department of Justice is looking at the deal. 

Barnes & Noble Declares Nook Devices Bestsellers

Three days after Amazon declared the third-generation Kindle the best-selling product in its history, Barnes & Noble has responded with a similar claim.  It seems the Nook line of devices now qualifies as Barnes & Noble’s all-time bestseller.

One small nuisance: like Amazon, Barnes & Noble chose not to share any specific sales figures, so don’t think we failed to repeat the number of Nooks that have found their way into consumers’ hands.  The company only said that almost 1 million "NOOKbooks" were sold on Christmas.

How to Increase Your AdSense Earnings
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When you are an Adsense publisher, or even if you are just looking to make more money from your hobby website, one of the most important things you can do is experiment with sizes and placement.

Pew Finds 65% Of Net Users Have Paid For Online Content
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When it comes to paying for online content, there are lots of outlooks.  Some people subscribe to multiple news sites and spend hours on iTunes every week.  Others set the Pirate Bay as their homepage.  Now, following a study, Pew’s claimed that 65 percent of Internet users have paid for digital content at some point.

Note that the past tense definitely applies here; Pew’s question included the phrase "if you have ever paid," so it’s hard to draw conclusions about future or even current spending patterns.

Try Looking At Quora For What It Is
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Quora has been around for a while now, but it’s getting a whole lot of attention from the tech Blogosphere this week. Naturally, many have questioned its value, but bloggers seem to love it. Why is that? Is Quora the "biggest blogging innovation in 10 years" as Robert Scoble asks?

Amazon, Netflix Earn Top Customer Satisfaction Scores

People who shop for things online wind up happiest when they buy from companies including Amazon, Netflix, Newegg, Apple, and eBay, according to new research.  ForeSee Results’s E-Retail Satisfaction Index ranked these sites among the best online retailers in the U.S.

Indeed, based on a survey of almost 10,000 people who had recently visited the top 40 retail sites, Amazon and Netflix actually tied for first place with scores of 86 for "shopper satisfaction."  That’s compared to an average score of 76 for the top 40 group as a whole.

Amazon Shows What People Bought (and Wanted) Most in 2010
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Amazon released its "Best of 2010" lists today, which list the bestselling, most-wished-for, and most popular gift products of the year. 

Kindle Dominates Electronics

Facebook Named Most Searched-For, Most Visited Site Of 2010
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Earlier this month, Time magazine named Mark Zuckerberg "Person of the Year," and now, although Experian Hitwise isn’t in the business of handing out such titles, it looks like Zuckerberg’s site has become the online equivalent.  Experian Hitwise announced late yesterday that Facebook was both the most visited site and most searched-for term of 2010.

Skype Takes Video Calls to the iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch

Skype has launched a new version of its iPhone app that features video calling – a bold move considering Skype is fresh off a major outage issue, and that this will directly compete with Apple’s new FaceTime feature of the latest iPhones. 

Hudson Square Research Labels Google, Yahoo “Buys”

Anyone who’s looking to invest a little Christmas money might want to listen up.  While we’re neither backing nor attacking this advice, Hudson Square Research has initiated coverage on Google and Yahoo, labeling them both a "buy" and setting price targets significantly above the stocks’ current prices.

Experian Hitwise Finds Holiday Retail Traffic Consistently Up
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As we wrap up 2010, there’s still more evidence online retailers came out of the holiday shopping season in good shape.  Experian Hitwise shared data indicating that retail traffic has been up on a year-over-year basis for the better part of two months.

The differences haven’t always been huge; on both Christmas and the day after Christmas, Experian Hitwise recorded just a three percent change in the market share of visits to its "Retail 500" category between 2009 and 2010.

Google Joins Effort To Deter Violence In Sudan

An upcoming election in Sudan is widely expected to be marked by violence, but thanks to the actions of Google, Harvard, the UN, and a group called Not On Our Watch, it’s possible the situation won’t get too bloody.  In an effort to discourage hostilities, the organizations have banded together to support satellite surveillance of Sudan.

Sears and Kmart Launch Movie Download Service
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Sears has launched a new online movie download service called Alphaline Entertainment. It lets customers of Sears and Kmart download movies the day they’re released on TV. 

Report: 7 Trillion SMS Messages Will Be Sent in 2011

ABI Research, which released a study on Mobile Messaging Services, is saying that over seven trillion SMS messages will be sent in 2011. That’s worldwide, from about 4.2 billion mobile subscriptions.

ABI says SMS is being increasingly regarded as something of a commodity by users, due to falling delivery costs and high competition. 

PayPal Plans China Expansion
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Different estimates put China’s population in the neighborhood of 1.3 billion people, and soon enough, PayPal intends to start helping them do business worldwide.  PayPal will open an ecommerce hub in Chongqing with the local government’s blessing.

This won’t be a simple matter of encouraging people to use the online payment system when making purchases and accept it when making sales.  Instead, it looks like the company means to interact with merchants in a number of ways, presumably earning their respect and loyalty in the process.

Skype Talks Outage and Prevention of Future Outages

Last week, millions of Skype users lost their connections and experienced various other issues with the service. Though the outage didn’t last much longer than a day, the sheer number of those affected created a huge blunder for the company. 

It didn’t take long for Skype to go on damage control mode, however. CEO Tony Bates himself jumped on the Skype blog a few times to provide updates, explanations, and of course apologies:

eBay Mobile Holiday Sales Up 166 Percent
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Earlier this month, eBay released two separate statements saying that mobile sales rose over a very short period.  Now, the company’s opened up a third time on the subject, and it turns out mobile sales for the complete holiday shopping season (defined by eBay as November 25th through December 25th) grew by an impressive 166 percent.

That 166 percent was measured on a worldwide basis year-over-year, and helped eBay record $230 million in gross merchandise volume.  The company may be able to report a pretty profitable fourth quarter as a result.

Netflix Plotting Global Expansion?

Reports would suggest that Netflix is looking at going global soon. According to AdWeek, the company has been talking with advertising and media agencies about "potential international assignments".