Look for apps to further proliferate, but not necessarily monetize, in 2012.
A survey by Millennial Media indicates that apps are still in the 'gold rush' stage of development, with more people rushing to the market than are thinking about how to make money in it. With 500,000 apps already available for Apple, and 300,000 for Android, 40% of app developers still put launching a new app as their top priority for 2012, vs. just 21% who are looking to maximize revenue.
Google's online music store is now fully open for business.
Google Music, which had been in a limited-availability beta test, has now been opened to the general public, drawing another battle line between Google and Apple. Google Music is trying to position itself as more user-friendly, by accommodating the free storage of music you already own.
A new app lets shoppers combine the best of in-person and online shopping.
An updated app from ShopSavvy allows users to scan an in-store barcode, and see if the item is available at a better price online. Making the offering especially robust are ShopSavvy's network of 40,000 retail partners and its incorporation of daily deal offers into the app.
Facebook continues to push the envelope in tracking member activity.
Facebook has now twice been caught tracking activity even after users have logged off of the site, despite insisting that they are not trying to do this. Even though this has been branded a "PR nightmare," it has done little to interrupt Facebook's march to 800 million users worldwide. However, Facebook may soon encounter a challenge to its privacy practices that is tougher to ignore, in the form of US Senate scrutiny.
Search Engine Journal
Yelp plans an IPO with an ambitious valuation.
Although the details have not yet been finalized, review site Yelp has filed paperwork for a $100 million IPO that would give the company as a whole an implied valuation of $2 billion. That would be an extraordinarily strong valuation for a company with just $58.4 million in revenues for the first nine months of this year, and which has yet to turn a profit.
Search Engine Journal
Living Social turns to private equity to raise $200 million.
In contrast to Groupon's high-profile IPO earlier this month, competing daily deals site Living Social is taking a much more low-key approach to raising cash. Living Social is reportedly talking to private investors about a $200 million equity deal. This would give Living Social an implied total valuation in excess of $5 billion. The valuation of Groupon is now above $16 billion, thanks to the strong performance of its stock since being issued.
The New York Times
Online retailers plot to poach in-store customers.
While in-store specials create much of the shopping frenzy associated with Black Friday, online retailers plan to capture some of the action with a series of mobile-targeted specials timed to coincide with peak Black Friday shopping periods. The idea is to catch shoppers while they are waiting in lines, and influence them to make their purchases online instead.
The New York Times
JCPenney targets Target on Twitter.
It was already clear that online advertising would play a bigger role than ever this holiday shopping season, and with that greater emphasis comes a heightened tactical intensity. Case in point: JCPenney has purchased promoted Tweets on Twitter linked to a number of keyword phrases involving the word "target," clearly trying to draw the attention of shoppers looking at retail competitor Target. JCPenney played defense in the meantime, locking up keywords involving its own brand name.
Yahoo! attracts 1 million users to streaming promotion of Twilight movie.
Yahoo!'s multi-faceted campaign for the latest movie in the Twilight series set a new high for attracting viewers to coverage of a movie premiere. Over two days, Yahoo!'s stream of the red carpet ceremonies drew over a million viewers, doubling the previous record set last year by the premiere for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Facebook has established a dominant position among small businesses.
Facebook has established clear leadership in the minds of small business executives, according to a new survey by Constant Contact. 83% of small business representatives surveyed perceive Facebook as a very or moderately effective social media marketing outlet, compared to 46% for second-place Twitter.