When the news came in June that the Federal Trade Commission was narrowing in on Google with an antitrust investigation, the media and Google alike were unclear as to the details. All we knew then was that Google’s business practices would be under scrutiny.
Now, as the Wall Street Journal learned this week, the probe will largely be focusing on the Android OS. The question now, says the WSJ, is â€œwhether Google prevents smartphone manufacturers that use its Android operating system from using competitors’ services.â€
But the FTC has other concerns as well and will be investigating whether Google gives preferential rankings to its own products on its search engine, and whether it unfairly demotes its competitors’ search rankings.
Google, of course, is maintaining the position it put forth when the FTC announced its probe back in June. Essentially, the company is claiming these antitrust allegations are spurred by its rivals’ envy of Google’s dominance.
â€œWe understand that with success comes scrutiny,â€ the WSJ quoted a Google spokesperson as saying. That is almost word for word the same explanation Google gave in June on their blog:
â€œOur product innovation and engineering talent have delivered results that users seem to like [â€¦] Still, we recognize that our success has led to greater scrutiny.â€
The idea comes after Amazon announced its plans to build three distribution centers in the state this year, in Lebanon, Chattanooga, and Cleveland.
The Tennesseanreported August 11 on Governor Bill Haslam’s eagerness to resolve the issue of ecommerce taxation, as specifically related to Amazon, before year’s end. Haslam told the paper:
â€œWeâ€™d like to work out some arrangement that works for them to stay and grow in Tennessee and yet for us to collect the sales tax that we need. We would hope to do something prior to the legislature coming back.â€
That would be in January.
In this case, Haslam does not appear as hard-line on the issue of collecting online sales taxes as have governors in other states where similar legislation has been proposed. Perhaps that’s because the previous administration, under governor Phil Bredesen, had â€œassured Amazon that its centers would not trigger sales tax collections.â€
The Tennessean points out that, though Haslam’s administration is reluctant to â€œrenege on the stateâ€™s promises,â€ a bill is being considered that would include nexus tax legislation. That bill has been put on hold until 2012.
Study shows QR codes got 14 million American users in June
An August 12 report from comScore indicates that QR code technology is indeed catching on.
The study showed that, during June 2011, 14 million Americans with mobile devices used those devices to scan a mobile bar code. That’s 6.2 percent of the total mobile audience in the country.
Most of the QR code audience had scanned a code from print media, like magazines and newspapers, or from product packaging, and they had done so most often from home or from inside a store.
According to comScore’s Senior VP of mobile, Mark Donovan, the popularity of these types of locations shows demonstrates â€œ just one of the ways in which mobile marketing can effectively be integrated into existing media and marketing campaigns to help reach desired consumer segments.â€
Not only did the report gauge the overall popularity of the technology, it also provided a demographic profile of QR code users for the month, finding they were â€œmore likely to be male, young to middle-age and upper income.â€
Donovan argues the data presented in the study is invaluable to marketers working with the new technology:
â€œFor marketers, understanding which consumer segments scan QR codes, the source and location of these scans, and the resulting information delivered, is crucial in developing and deploying campaigns that successfully utilize QR codes to further brand engagement.â€
eBay caters to fashonistas with scheduled launch of outlet mall
The news came August 12 that eBay is planning to launch a virtual fashion outlet mall, another step away from their single auction roots and toward fixed prices. In the first quarter of this year, their fixed price sales were up 4 percent, and represented 61 percent of their sales overall.
The site, which is scheduled to go live September 19, will see partnerships with companies like Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers and others.
The move reflects eBay’s growing interest in the fashion retail business, but it is uncertain whether the change to the company’s branding and model will be as simple as all that. As Kevin Ryan, CEO of Gilt Groupe (a definite contender in the online fashion retail business) told Daily Finance, â€œWhen you think of eBay, you think of auctions. It’s hard to change your brand.â€
Demand Media buys IndieClick and RSS Graffiti, renews Google deal
Despite Google’s recent algorithm changes, which had a negative effect on some Demand sites, like eHow, the company has decided to renew its advertising relationship with Google for the next three years. Demand says its search rankings shouldn’t be a problem, as it will be improving its content, as well as removing about 300,000 pieces of low-quality content.
Demand also took the opportunity to announce two new acquisitions. The first, IndieClick, serves multi-platform ad campaigns with a focus on the teen and young adult demographic. The second acquisition announced, RSS Graffiti is a social media company that helps brands and publishers automatically post content to their Facebook pages by checking their websites and relevant social media.
Google+ could be the second biggest social network in the U.S. by next year, study says
A new report from Bloomberg indicates that, as early as next year, Google+ may have signed up as much as 22 percent of the adults in the U.S., making it the second most popular social network in the country.
Since it was launched at the end of June, Google+’s membership has already grown to include 13 percent of the adult U.S. population, a number representing much quicker growth than either Facebook or MySpace enjoyed at the outset.
The study reviewed the results of a poll conducted by Bloomberg and YouGov, gathered from 1,003 people between July 29 and August 2.
According to the study, Twitter and LinkedIn’s users are also expected to increase within the next year, though the findings predict Facebook will lose roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population in that time.
That’s not to say that Facebook has anything to fear from Google plus. Not yet, that is.
According to comScore, Facebook’s active users total over 750 million, as compared to Google+’s 25 million worldwide. Though, to be fair, the latter achieved that number in less than a month.
About Emily Wilkinson
Emily Wilkinson is a Montreal writer and editor who recently joined ReveNews.com. Her experience comes largely from her work at print publications like La Scena Musicale, where she alternated between positions as content manager, copy editor and journalist.
She believes in the importance of strong writing, be it in journalism or in other media, like blogging or even social networking. Her prerogative: though language will and ought to evolve, a good writer need never sacrifice the communicative power of text that is written with thought and care, whatever the venue.
Find Emily on Twitter @EditorWilkinson