3/13/2008

eBay now letting Skype be Skype, exec says

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Two-and-a-half years after eBay bought Skype, the online auction giant has moved away from trying to create new, merged capabilities through the acquisition and is letting Skype be what it is.

“There’s less focus at eBay today on finding the place where eBay and Skype intersect on the Web and mash up to create a new … communication paradigm for eBay, and more focus on Skype growing its business and eBay growing its business,” said Jonathan Christensen, Skype’s general manager of audio and video, at the Emerging Communications Conference (eComm) in Mountain View, California.

The deal in October 2005 disrupted the pioneering VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) software company for a while, Christensen said.

Microsoft Submits Windows 7 for U.S. Antitrust Review

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft has submitted the follow-up to Windows Vista to the committee that oversees its U.S. antitrust compliance, to ensure the operating system is meeting the terms of the company’s agreement with the government.

According to last week’s status report on the U.S. antitrust case, Microsoft “recently supplied” the Technical Committee (TC) with a build of the OS, code-named Windows 7, and the TC will “conduct middleware-related tests on future builds” of the software. The move was revealed in papers filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The filing was part of regular status reports aimed at tracking Microsoft’s compliance with the 2002 antitrust settlement, which requires the company to ensure its own applications do not have an unfair advantage over competitive software that runs on Windows. The agreement also requires Microsoft to make sure its software can work well with third-party applications. Lack of compliance with a 2004 antitrust agreement in the European Union has cost Microsoft nearly US$2.6 billion to date; the E.U.’s most recent fine against the company last month was $1.3 billion.

AOL to buy Bebo social network

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Time Warner Inc’s AOL Internet division said on Thursday it will buy social network Bebo for $850 million in cash, bolstering its consumer Internet offerings even as the media conglomerate mulls splitting off the business.

Bebo, which claims a global membership of about 40 million users, is the top social network in Britain, Ireland and New Zealand, it said. It is No. 3 in the United States behind News Corp’s MySpace and Facebook.

Unpatched RealPayer bug paves way for drive-by downloads

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

An unpatched bug in RealPlayer leaves the media player open to drive-by-download attacks, which hackers use to trick prospective marks into visiting maliciously constructed websites.

The vulnerability stems from coding errors in a RealPlayer ActiveX control (rmoc3260.dll), which enables content to be played within a user’s Internet Explorer browser. The ActiveX control fails to properly handle multiple properties, including Console, creating a heap memory corruption risk.

RealPlayer version 11.0.1 is confirmed as vulnerable. Other versions of the media player may also be flawed.

Password-Stealing Hackers Infect Thousands of Web Pages

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Hackers looking to steal passwords used in popular online games have infected more than 10,000 Web pages in recent days.

The Web attack, which appears to be a coordinated effort run out of servers in China, was first noticed by McAfee researchers on Wednesday morning. Within hours, the security company had tracked more than 10,000 Web pages infected on hundreds of Web sites.

McAfee isn’t sure how so many sites have been hacked, but “given how quickly some of these attacks have come on, it does seem like some automation has gone on,” said Craig Schmugar, a researcher with McAfee’s Avert Labs. In the past, attackers have used search engines to scour the Internet for vulnerable Web sites and then written automated tools to flood them with attacks, which ultimately let criminals use legitimate sites to serve up their malicious code.

The infected Web sites look no different than before, but the attackers have added a small bit of JavaScript code that redirects visitors’ browsers to an invisible attack launched from the China-based servers. This same technique was used a year ago, when attackers infected the Web sites of the Miami Dolphins and Dolphins Stadium just prior to the 2007 Super Bowl XLI football game.

Google to unveil new ad service for publishers

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Web search giant Google Inc plans to unveil a new service that Web publishers can use to manage their online ad sales and serve up ads each time a consumer pulls up a Web page, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The new Ad Manager service will provide the ad service free, said the Journal.

Google is hoping that Ad Manager users will agree to carry some ads Google sells in any vacant ad spots on their own Web sites, and Google would take a commission on revenue from any ads it sells, said the report.

AOL launches paperless coupons service

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

AOL wants you to stop clipping coupons or even printing them out. The company is launching a new service, Shortcuts, for manufacturers to distribute coupons on the Internet.

Instead of clipping them out of your newspaper insert, you can simply choose the ones you want online and add them to an account tied to a grocery store’s loyalty program. To redeem those coupons, you simply present your loyalty card at the register.

The program is free for consumers and retail chains, while manufacturers pay to have their coupons listed. Charges will be based on how many get selected and redeemed.

Manufacturers can also buy banner ads to accompany the coupon listings at Shortcuts.com.

Blu-ray player prices hit 2008 highs as competition dwindles

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Blu-ray Disc players from Samsung, Sony and Sharp are now the most expensive they have been all year, presumably because HD DVD’s exit from the high-def disc arena has removed some of Blu-ray’s pricing pressure.

Although HD DVD was always seen as a distant second in the HD format war, it constantly received attention because of the lower cost of its players. Because of this, standalone Blu-ray players were not moving off store shelves very steadily.

In a move to expedite HD DVD’s downfall, Blu-ray manufacturers and retailers aggressively cut prices earlier this year, to the point where it was possible to buy a standalone BD player for less than $300.

Now, however, according to Pricegrabber.com’s most recent information, the average price for Blu-ray hardware is around $400, which is right around where it was last year.

Within just the last two weeks, the average prices for LG’s BH200 player and Sharp’s BD-HP20U have climbed significantly. Every standlone Blu-ray-specific player is now more expensive than it was at the beginning of the year.

TiVo to bring YouTube videos to TV screens

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

TiVo Inc said on Wednesday that it would deliver videos from Google Inc’s popular Web site YouTube directly to television screens via its digital video recorders.

TiVo said the service would be available later this year for high-speed Internet subscribers who have TiVo Series3 DVRs. It said that users would be able to log onto their YouTube accounts directly from their TiVo boxes.

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