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Google Phone Excitement Builds Ahead Of Jan. 5 Event
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The cat has at least started to come out of the bag with regards to the long-rumored "Google phone"; details about the Nexus One have been leaking for weeks.  It looks like the rest of the figurative feline will soon appear, too, as a T-Mobile announcement and invitation to a Google event were issued today.

Google Gives Alex Over a Million Books

Spring Design, the makers of the Alex eReader device, announced it has entered into an agreement with Google, which will see it gaining access to over a million Google Books. Alex users will be able to read these books online or download them using the Android-integrated browser and search applications.

Opera CEO Steps Down, Immediately Replaced

Jon von Tetzchner has stepped down as CEO of Opera, though he will remain with the company full-time in a "strategic and independent" capacity. Opera has appointed Lars Boilesen to take his place as CEO.

Zillow Grows More Than 50% In 2009
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Real estate website Zillow.com said today it broke multiple records for site traffic and user activity in 2009.

An average of 8.2 million unique users visited Zillow each month during 2009, which is an increase of 57 percent year-over-year.

"2009 was a wild year for real estate, with continued home value declines, government intervention, record low mortgage rates, and an enormous amount of consumer uncertainty about what the future holds," said Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s chief operating officer.

Hulu Investor May Help Launch Similar Site In China

An investment group with significant ties to Hulu may now be ready to help a similar site launch in China.  A report’s connected Providence Equity Partners to both Baidu and a new online video destination.

More Media/Ad Trend Predictions for 2010
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In a recent article, we looked at some predictions from Nielsen for advertising trends in 2010. These included optimizing media convergence being a top priority, new models emerging to take advantage of smartphones, more cross-media ad campaigns, an increase in commercialization of social networking hubs, and more interesting and interactive online ads.

Hitwise: Facebook Beat Google On New Year’s Day
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As Facebook employees went back to work this week, they may have been smiling more (or at least less frowning less) than most other people returning from vacation.  Their site performed admirably over the holidays, actually attracting record-breaking amounts of traffic.

On Tuesday, we documented the fact that Facebook received more traffic than Google on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  That made it the most visited U.S. site for the first time ever.

Consumer Groups Want Antitrust Probe Of TV Everywhere
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Free Press and a number of other consumer groups are calling on federal antitrust authorities and Congress to investigate agreements among large media companies to stifle competition for online television programming.

Yahoo Sale Of Zimbra To VMware Rumored

At the moment, the Zimbra homepage bears a "BUY ZIMBRA" button and a stamp reading "a Yahoo division."  But according to a new report, a sale of Zimbra (and not just a Zimbra product) may soon take place, making "a VMware division" a more accurate statement.

ChaCha Closes $7 Million Round of Funding

Answers service ChaCha announced today that it has closed a $7 million E round of funding. The service lets users go online, call, or text questions on mobile phones and receive answers "within minutes" for free. The service has an iPhone app and lets people ask questions via Twitter as well.

This round of funding might be particularly significant for the company. "We believe this latest round provides ChaCha the cash required to reach profitability," says CEO Scott A. Jones.

Flixster Buys Film Rating Site
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Movie social networking site, Flixster, said today it has acquired movie review site Rotten Tomatoes from IGN Entertainment, a division of News Corp.

News Corp will receive a minority equity stake in Flixster as part of the deal, financial terms were not disclosed.

Ping.fm Acquired by Seesmic
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Seesmic announced today that it has acquired Ping.fm. This is a service that has half a million active users posting daily from various devices by sending email, text messages, and chat.

Some Facebook Users Get New Design
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Update: Some Facebook users are reportedly now seeing a new Facebook design that looks like the screenshots here. The design is similiar to the one below, with some slight differences.

Smartphone Owners Frustrated By Poor Mobile Site Functionality

Smartphone owners are more comfortable making purchases from their handsets, but poor mobile site functionality is still a frustration for many, according to a new survey by Compete. 

While m-commerce is set for strong growth in 2010, consumers are still more likely to abandon mobile purchasing on sites that are not optimized for the on-the-go experience, similar to shopping cart abandonment in the early days of ecommerce.

Chrome Cruises By Safari
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Last month, Google acknowledged Apple’s importance by releasing a beta version of Chrome for Mac.  New statistics show that Google sort of put Apple to shame, too, however, as Chrome passed Safari in terms of market share.

Will Google Phone Bring Spotify to the US?

Even if you haven’t used Spotify, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of it. The service’s description goes: "A world of music. Millions of songs on your computer, on your mobile and available offline. Brought to you ad free."

Googler Could Become Vermont Governor
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Vermont residents may want to start giving a little extra thought to whether or not they like the way Google does things.  It seems that Matt Dunne, the Manager of Community Affairs at Google, is trying to become the state’s governor.

An important note: Dunne hasn’t sworn to turn Vermont into one giant Googleplex.  There’s been no fanatical talk of data collection.  And the words "Google" and "search" don’t even appear on Dunne’s homepage (part of which you can see below).

Amazon Customers Most Satisfied Online Shoppers
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Customers of the largest online retailers are more satisfied than ever according to ForeSee Results’ annual report on holiday shoppers.

The ForeSee Results E-Retail Satisfaction Index (U.S. Holiday Edition) jumped 7 percent to 79 on the Index’s 100-point scale, a new all-time high. Websites for Macys, SonyStyle, The Gap, The Home Shopping Network and Overstock.com had the greatest increases in satisfaction year over year, with all five seeing increases of 10 percent or more.

Twitter Starts the Year with Some New Faces
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Just as many of us get back to work after the holidays, Twitter has some new people starting work with the company altogether. Twitter reportedly has ten new people (most starting today), and some of them have interesting backgrounds, which could have interesting implications for the company’s future.

Most Stumbled Sites Of 2009 Named

Today is, for better or for worse, the last day many people will have off before heading back to work or school and resuming normal life.  And if you have lots of stuff to do, good luck.  But if you’re a bit bored – maybe still stuck at a relative’s house or just out of books to read – here are some of the "Most Stumbled Sites of 2009."

Google Loses Domain Name Dispute
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Google’s empire hasn’t exactly crumbled, and to be honest, the average person will probably never even realize what’s happened.  But what’s happened is this: for just the second time in its history, Google’s lost a domain name dispute.

Google submitted a complaint about a site called Groovle to the National Arbitration Forum (which ICANN lets decide domain name disputes) on November 6th of this year.  The search giant argued that Groovle is "nearly identical or confusingly similar" to its own name.

YouTube: Rush Limbaugh Says Nothing Was Wrong
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Rush Limbaugh was released from the hospital today and says doctors found nothing wrong. It makes you wonder if the thousands of hysterical people wishing Rush Limbaugh death on Twitter are feeling a little foolish. Probably not. :)

Below is the video of Rush speaking to the press about his good health: 

Unplugging From Social Media and Getting Social (And Original)
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Content Syndication Is Your Friend
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Content duplication has been a buzz topic in SEO for a while now. You can read about it til you puke and never have to leave WebProNews.com. It’s one of the modern webmaster’s favorite things to fret over and has been for at least two years.