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Facebook Is Losing Face on the Web


When Facebook presented its Social Ads strategy on Nov. 6, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was expected to explain how the social networking site came to be worth $15 billion. But as details trickled out about how marketers would target site members based on personal data, a backlash kicked up in the blogosphere. A sample:

Ashkan Karbasfrooshan at WatchMojo.com: "Facebook has...basically sold out its user base."

Matt Asay at CNET (CNET) blog The Open Road: "Surely there's more to Web 2.0 than whoring social data for profit. Right? Right??"

Nick Carr at RoughType.com: "First you get your users to entrust their personal data to you, then you not only sell that data to advertisers but you get the users to be the vector for the ads. And what do the users get in return? An animated Sprite Sips character to interact with."

Who knows if the views represent Facebook's 50 million members. But clearly its honeymoon has ended.

That photo you snapped of Aunt Tilly in front of Notre Dame may help Netizens find their way around the world. Researchers at the University of Washington are using pictures from the photo-sharing Web site Flickr (YHOO) to create richly detailed 3D models of some of the world's most famous, and frequently snapped, landmarks.

The researchers have created software that synthesizes hundreds of photos, digitally editing out the Aunt Tillys and stitching together the images. The challenge in using random travel snaps is there's no consistency from one shot to the next. Lighting is different. Angles vary. Image quality runs the gamut. So the researchers created algorithms to filter out extraneous data and meld the images.

The current modeling lacks color and texture. In time, researchers hope to create city models far more detailed than views from Google (GOOG) Earth. "Instead of looking at a map, you're actually there," says Steven Seitz, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering.

Texas Instruments (TXN) has more than $14 billion in annual sales in large part from its domination of the market for chips that act like wireless modems in mobile phones. But lately a tiny San Jose company, CEVA (CEVA), has been giving TI fits. CEVA licenses designs for these digital signal processors (DSPs) to companies such as Infineon Technologies (IFX), Broadcom (BRCM), and NXP Semiconductors, where they are usually included as a component in chips sold to handset makers.

TI got its 60% share of the DSP market by selling stand-alone chips to large handset makers including Nokia (NOK), Motorola (MOT), and Samsung. But by building DSPs into chips that have other functions, chipmakers can undercut TI's prices. Also, handset makers like the idea of having more than one supplier. As more of them shifted to other chipmakers, TI's DSP sales have fallen for four quarters.

CEVA got its start with outfits like China's Spectrum. Now it's moving into phones made by Nokia, Samsung, and LG, and Apple's (AAPL) iPhone. Because CEVA gets revenues from licensing, sales are minuscule, $35 million forecast for this year. But they grew by 12% in the third quarter.


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