Facebook links up with Vodafone on mobile platform

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Facebook took a new step into the mobile realm on Thursday, launching a platform for operators designed to make its social networking application work better on portable devices.

Vodafone is the first operator to use the Facebook for Mobile Operators platform and has started services in the U.K. and Germany, said Jed Stremel, Facebook’s director of mobile division. Vodafone will soon expand the program to Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal.

The platform involves giving operators a set of technical specifications intended to resolve some of frustrating hang-ups when using Facebook on a mobile phone rather than a PC, such as smoothing out login problems and opening up other features, Stremel said.

Yahoo ends usage charges on small business sites

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Yahoo Inc said on Wednesday it is offering unlimited Web site storage and data transfers for small-business Web site owners for a flat rate of $11.95 per month, eliminating key inhibitors to broader usage.

Yahoo, the largest U.S. provider of Web hosting services for small businesses online, counts more than 1.5 million customers, which one analyst said represents about one-third of U.S. small businesses with Web sites.

“This will really increase usage,” said Sanjeev Aggarwal, vice president of infrastructure and software at AMI Research, a market research firm that specializes in how small businesses use information technology.

Among an estimated 6 million U.S. small businesses, about 75 percent have some form of Web presence, according to AMI.

For a decade, Yahoo and other providers of Web site hosting services have charged for network usage and data storage, creating a trade-off for many small businesses who stood to pay hefty additional sums the more successful their sites became.

While a lesser-known aspect of Yahoo’s business, small business hosting services support many of the store-fronts that are featured on eBay Inc and Amazon.com, the Web’s two top e-commerce sites for small businesses.

The new Yahoo Web Hosting service includes unlimited hard disk space, data transfer and e-mail storage for $11.95 monthly. Previously, Yahoo offered three service tiers starting at $11.95. Two higher-priced tiers of $24.95 and $39.95 a month had offered larger amounts of storage and data transfers.

“It is probably more expensive now to manage this bandwidth usage, data storage and the billing related to that, than it is to offer these services on an unlimited basis,” Aggarwal said.

Google Software Makes It Easier to Share

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google Inc. is introducing an online business software package designed to make it easier for people in the same organization to share documents and information.

The free “Team Edition” software represents the Internet search leader’s latest attempt to attract more users to free applications, which poses a potential threat to rival Microsoft Corp.’s highly profitable word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and calendar programs.

The launch marks the second time Google has upgraded a business program this week - a week when Microsoft awaits a response to its bid to buy Yahoo Inc. in an attempt to undermine Google’s dominance of Internet search and advertising.

Consumers Can Scan Bank Deposits at Home

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Online banking service provider CheckFree Corp. is rolling out technology that could mean consumers will no longer have to go to a bank branch to deposit checks.

Called Remote Deposit Capture, the technology lets people scan checks through their home computers and deposit them electronically has been around for several years, but it has been used mainly for businesses.

Customers want to be able to deposit checks without having to go to banks, said Rod Springhetti, CheckFree’s vice president of global strategic marketing, and banks want to be able to offer that.

“I think the ability to remotely capture a check will become part of the standard features and functions of online banking,” Springhetti said.

CheckFree said the service is available starting this week for any consumers who bank online, as long as their banks offer it.

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