Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Google+ Users Spent Just 3.3 Minutes There Last Month / Pay Up for Your Patents

Users spent just 3.3 minutes on Google+ in January compared to 7.5 hours for Facebook, according to a new comScore report.

The gulf between usage on G+ and Facebook has always been large, but comScore’s numbers show a downward trend for Google’s fledgling social network. Users spent 4.8 minutes on the network in December and 5.1 minutes in November, the report said.

The usage figures come after Google has trotted out some impressive stats outlining Google+’s growth. In a call with analysts last month, Google CEO Larry Page said Google+ had 90 million users compared to 40 million in October.

Reps from Google could not be reached for comment on the report. In the past, Google has taken issue with third-party reports about Google+, noting that they don’t track users who access the site remotely, among other factors. (ComScore doesn’t include mobile users in its data, though it plans to soon.)

Google is putting a huge amount of emphasis on Google+. Last April, Page told employees that 25% of their annual bonuses would be tied to the company’s social strategy that year, which primarily involved the yet-to-be-announced Plus. The company also integrated Google+ results into searches in January, a program it calls “Google Plus Your World.”

Despite the latest report, though, there’s some encouraging news for Google: Website-Monitoring crunched the numbers this month and found that Google+ is getting less male dominated and is catching on big in India, where 13.69% of Plussers now originate.


Yahoo to Facebook: Pay Up for Your Patents

Yahoo wants Facebook to start paying for its right to use various Internet technologies that Yahoo says it holdspatents for.

If Yahoo aggressively pursues a strategy of asserting its intellectual-property rights, it could lead to a new phase of patent wars, this one involving some of the biggest names in social networking.

In a statement first reported by The New York Times, Yahoo told Mashable it “has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property.”

“We have invested substantial resources into these innovations,” the statement continued. “We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights.”

Yahoo also said other “web and technology companies” had licensed its technology, but it refused to name any of them when asked.

The patents Yahoo holds involve many different technologies for helping websites deal with data and multiple users. One such patent even has to do with “Centralized registration for distributed social content services.”

That patent appears to apply to basic functionality to any social network, including entering personal information and selecting which parts of it are visible to others.

A spokesperson for Facebook told the Times, “Yahoo contacted us the same time they called The New York Times and so we haven’t had the opportunity to fully evaluate their claims.”

Yahoo’s IP threat is an ominous sign that the world of web platforms could be in for an era of legal infighting similar to what has happened around phones and mobile technology in recent years. In addition to Yahoo,Amazon and Microsoft hold many patents that deal with the modern web.

Amazon, for example, holds a patent on a “social networking system capable of notifying users of profile updates made by their contacts,” which also sounds like basic Facebook functionality.

The move also helps define the new Yahoo. Over the past several months, Yahoo fired its CEO, hired a new one, and saw one of its co-founders and its chairman leave for good.

From the appointment of current CEO and former PayPal guru Scottt Thompson, Yahoo appears to want to make a name for itself as a tech company again.

Does starting a patent war with Facebook serve that strategy? It’s hard to say, though it’s a bold if odd choice as the first order of business for the “new Yahoo.”

Is Yahoo right that Facebook is infringing on its IP and should pay up? Or is this just a dinosaur Internet company’s last roar? Sound off in the comments.

BONUS: How Yahoo’s New CEO Can Make the Company Relevant Again

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