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    Monday, March 25, 2013

    Reuter site - Yahoo acquires mobile news start-up Summly

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    Yahoo acquires mobile news start-up Summly

    Mon, Mar 25 10:37 AM EDT

    (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc has snapped up mobile news aggregator Summly, the companies said on their websites on Monday.

    Summly, founded by 17-year-old Nick D'Aloisio, sorts news by topics in quick bites for smartphones. The start-up works closely with News Corp and is backed by Chinese investor Li Ka-Shing and angel investors including the actor Ashton Kutcher and the artist and designer Yoko Ono.

    The Summly app will be removed from the Apple Inc store and will be integrated into Yahoo's mobile initiatives.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Yahoo has acquired several small mobile and web start-up companies since former Google executive Marissa Mayer became chief executive last year.

    (Reporting By Jennifer Saba in New York; editing by John Wallace)

    Reuter site - BlackBerry shares slide on Goldman downgrade

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    BlackBerry shares slide on Goldman downgrade

    Mon, Mar 25 08:41 AM EDT

    TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry stock fell nearly 4 percent on Monday after Goldman Sachs cut its rating, citing a disappointing U.S. launch for the smartphone maker's new touchscreen device that went on sale in the United States on Friday.

    "Our retail checks at over 20 store locations since March 22, including at AT&T, Best Buy, and RadioShack, revealed a surprising lack of marketing support and poor positioning of the product," Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski said in a note to clients on Monday.

    Jankowski also said advertising of the product launch was limited.

    "As a result, despite the product itself being relatively well received by sales associates and online reviews, sell-through at most locations was less than 10 per day," said Jankowski.

    The brokerage firm cut its rating on shares of BlackBerry to "neutral" from "buy."

    BlackBerry shares were down 3.9 percent at $14.33 in trading before the morning bell in the United States.

    (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

    Reuter site - Analysis: The end of Indian IT staffing as we know it

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    Analysis: The end of Indian IT staffing as we know it

    Sun, Mar 24 17:22 PM EDT

    By Harichandan Arakali and Tony Munroe

    BANGALORE/MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's IT outsourcers are promoting "mini CEOs" capable of running businesses on their own, while trimming down on the hordes of entry-level computer coders they normally hire as they try to squeeze more profits out of their staff.

    The shift by Infosys Ltd and others is symptomatic of a maturing industry that wants more revenue from its own intellectual property instead of providing only labor-intensive, lower-margin information technology and back-office services.

    For young graduates who see the $108 billion IT industry as a sure pathway to modern India's growing middle class, the transformation is unsettling.

    Dozens of industry aspirants who were recruited on campus by No. 4 player HCL Technologies recently protested outside its offices in several cities. They were offered jobs in 2011 before graduating last year but have not yet been given joining dates - or paychecks.

    "Dear H.R. You were also a fresher... once," read a sign carried by two protesters in a photo in The Hindu newspaper.

    HCL's December quarter profits and revenues rose while staff numbers shrank - a rare trick in an industry that has long aspired to break the linear relationship between headcount and revenue growth.

    Just 20 percent of the 5,000-6,000 campus recruits offered HCL jobs in 2011 have been taken on board since graduation last summer, and HCL said it made no offers in 2012 to students who would graduate in June 2013.

    Slower growth, fewer people leaving, greater demand by customers for experienced staff, and increased productivity through automation and software have put pressure on all recruits, according to HCL, which said it expects to accelerate bringing entry-level staff on board from August.

    "It's not that the demand doesn't exist. It exists for different skills," said Ajay Davessar, HCL's head of external communications.

    "Typical roles which a student thinks, 'I'll just go there and start coding, and have a good life,' are being tested to reality... Any applicant, be it fresher or senior, will have to have flexibility in applying the skills elsewhere."

    FEWER 'CODING COOLIES'

    Tech Mahindra Ltd, the No.5 player, is naming 100 of what it calls mini-CEOs who will be given broad latitude to run their parts of the business.

    "We're moving towards a situation like the developed economies, where we're asking the people to be more deep," said Sujitha Karnad, who heads human resources at Tech Mahindra.

    "We want more solution architects to be here. We don't want the coding coolies anymore, that's clear," Karnad said, employing a term commonly used in India in association with menial laborers.

    While plenty of Indian back office work such as technical support, processing insurance claims or staffing call centers will remain labor-intensive, software services firms are looking to move up the value chain, which means relying less on the time and toil of staff.

    Growth in revenue per employee across the industry could expand to 5 percent a year in the next two years from about 3 percent over the past five, said Forrester Research principal analyst Frederic Giron. The growth rate is likely to accelerate from around 2015 as intellectual property-based work accounts for a growing share of the total, he said.

    India's IT services industry grew in large part because of the availability of cheap skilled labor, an advantage that is eroding as wages and other costs in India rise.

    In years past, it was cost-effective for IT companies to hire new graduates by the thousands and keep a portion on the "bench" awaiting deployment on a client project.

    But budget-constrained clients now demand shorter lead times. IT vendors that might have hired people six months in advance of an expected contract are now working with a one- or two-month window, said Surabhi Mathur Gandhi, senior vice president at TeamLease, a staffing consultancy.

    Traditionally, about 30 percent of Indian IT services industry staff are on the bench at any given time, often in training, as they await deployment to client work.

    In the December quarter, about 70 percent of Infosys staff and less than 65 percent at No. 3 provider Wipro were deployed on billable projects. At Tata Consultancy Services, the largest Indian IT services company, the figure was 72 percent, within what Ajoyendra Mukherjee, its human resources head, calls the comfort range of 70 to 74 percent utilization.

    "I think we can push it up to 75, 76," he said.

    Another IT services company, iGate Corp, envisions a future where just 10 percent of staff sit on the bench, said Srinivas Kandula, its human resources head, who predicts that the size of its bench will shrink by 2 or 3 percentage points a year over the next five years.

    BACK-UP PLAN

    Shorter benches mean a smaller share of hiring is direct from campuses, as seasoned professionals moving from a competitor would be less willing to wait to be deployed and firms are reluctant to pay them to do so.

    Companies are also binding hires, especially experienced ones, with three-month notice periods and no-buy-out clauses, compared with one-month notice periods previously.

    Among top-tier companies that are most actively trying to push non-linear growth where revenues are not constrained by the size of the work force, about 70 percent of employees are experienced staff, up from 60 percent in 2008, said Rajiv Srinivas, an associate director at Tech Mahindra, who expects that to rise to about 90 percent in the next two or three years.

    At Infosys, while the net quarterly addition of employees fell from 4,906 people in the March quarter last year to 977 in the December quarter (excluding an acquisition), lateral recruitment held steady at an average of about 4,300 staff per quarter through December, meaning the percentage of campus hires was much lower.

    "Earlier, the focus was more on career ... You get into a job, you start learning, and slowly acquire knowledge over a period of time," said Sunil Gupta, who joined Infosys as vice president of quality about six months ago from the Indian unit of CGI Group's Logica Plc.

    "Today the value of a professional is judged by how quickly you're learning, how quickly you're adapting yourself and changing along with the environment," he said.

    For young Indians who saw IT as a ticket into the middle class, the change means that career path is becoming less clear. Those who do break in and build valuable skills will remain in demand, but the days of young IT staffers brandishing five or more competing offers are over.

    Yet that hasn't necessarily translated into slower wage growth. Mercer LLC expects industry salaries to grow 12 percent this year, the same as in 2012. As India's economy diversifies, graduates have more attractive career options, including at multinationals with a growing India presence, such as Google Inc, which means IT vendors must fight to stay attractive.

    "We see IT companies as a back-up," said S. S. Jayaram, a final-year engineering student in Bangalore who says he chose a job in India with Mu Sigma Inc, a fast-growing U.S.-based data analytics company, over offers from IBM and TCS.

    (Editing by Emily Kaiser)

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    Reuter site - U.S. oil billionaire’s divorce is no private affair

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    U.S. oil billionaire's divorce is no private affair

    Fri, Mar 22 14:37 PM EDT

    <strong>By Christopher Swann</strong>
    <em>The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.</em>

    American oil billionaire Harold Hamm's impending divorce is not simply a private affair. Investors swiftly stripped half a billion dollars from the market value of Continental Resources on Thursday following news that founder and 68 percent owner Hamm and his wife are splitting. That may not do the threat justice. Any division of the tycoon's $11 billion fortune leaves Continental exposed to hefty stock sales or a feud at the top.

    Business leaders, even prominent ones, normally escape the scrutiny of their private lives that is reserved for politicians or celebrities. Hamm is an exception. That's not because he dabbled in politics, as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's energy adviser. Rather, it is because of his stranglehold over the oil company he took public in June 2007. Since then, Continental has surged fivefold in value, making Hamm one of America's richest men. It has also given minority holders in the $16 billion driller a legitimate interest in his personal affairs.

    The divorce settlement is set to be a whopper. Sue Ann Hamm, who married Harold 25 years ago, is a corporate lawyer who held top executive posts at Continental and can make a plausible claim to have contributed very directly to her husband's success. A lengthy court battle creates uncertainties.

    Continental seems to have avoided many of the governance issues that plague the oil patch. But Sue Ann is likely to be aware of any lapses. If the Oklahoma courts award her a big chunk of her husband's Continental stake, the result would most likely be an overhang of stock as she winds down her holding.

    Worse still, the company could be left with two large stakeholders at loggerheads. That could be far more damaging than the pinprick investors have so far inflicted on Continental's share price. Shares in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, for instance, dipped about 10 percent in the week after his separation from his second wife Anna was revealed in April 1998 and again a few months later after divorce proceedings began.

    Any pain for Continental's existing shareholders would create winners too. The company's small free float has made it harder for outsiders to get a taste of the fast-growing business at a reasonable price. A bigger fall in the stock price and a larger float would provide that opportunity. In the meantime, investors would be wise to follow the courtroom drama almost as closely as Continental's financial releases.</p>
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    Reuter site - Maybe “Gucci” didn’t work. But “Kering”: really?

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    Maybe "Gucci" didn't work. But "Kering": really?

    Fri, Mar 22 13:06 PM EDT

    <strong>By Quentin Webb</strong>

    <em>The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.</em>

    It sounds like caring, there's a hint of Breton, and it comes with an owl. PPR is becoming "Kering". Renaming the parent company will hardly deter buyers of the French group's illustrious brands, such as Gucci or Bottega Veneta. But this latest corporate offence against language hints at worrying groupthink within PPR &#8211; sorry, Kering &#8211; HQ.

    Perhaps PPR was due a rebrand. Boss Francois-Henri Pinault has focused the 22-billion-euro company on luxury and sportswear, shedding the "Printemps" and "Redoute" in an outfit whose initials used to stand for Pinault Printemps Redoute. But, still: Kering … Take a deep breath. Ker means home in Breton, reflecting PPR's roots, while "-ing", as a verb ending, expresses movement, we're told. An owl on the logo bestows vision and wisdom. Of course.

    There have been uglier reincarnations: think of PwC Consulting's "Monday" or Royal Mail's "Consignia" (both quickly scrapped) or Yell becoming "hibu" (almost an owl, in French at least). The obvious alternatives for the French luxury-and-sneakers maker, Pinault or Gucci, would have linked the listed vehicle too closely either to the controlling family or to the flagship brand.

    Still, business is already ill-served by its own empty talk of "key takeaways" to adopt "going forward", while thinking outside the box. This cloaks bad ideas. Kering is a reminder of just how readily executives also fall for the slightly cooler moonshine of branding gurus. ("We believe in Create Generously", says Dragon Rouge, PPR's adviser here.)

    Should investors care? Numbers speak louder than words. But for this clunker to get approved suggests top brass at PPR all drink the Kool-Aid (assuming that has not also been rebranded). If that extends to financial decisions, yes, they should care.</p>
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    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    A gift from me to you Alibaba Manufacturer Directory - Suppliers, Manufacturers, Exporters & Importers

    http://m.alibaba.com/products/nano_fiber_cloth.html

    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

    Winning. Duh. Business Insider

    http://www.businessinsider.com/think-like-an-olympian-if-you-want-wins-2013-3

    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

    Reuter site - Google's Chrome, Android systems to stay separate

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    Google's Chrome, Android systems to stay separate

    Thu, Mar 21 08:25 AM EDT

    By Devidutta Tripathy

    NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Google Inc's Chrome and Android operating systems will remain separate products but could have more overlap, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said, a week after the two came under a single boss.

    Google last week said Andy Rubin, the architect of Android - the world's top-selling mobile operating system - was moving to a still-undefined role while Sundar Pichai, in charge of its Chrome web browser and applications like Google Drive and Gmail, was taking on Rubin's responsibilities.

    Schmidt, Google's chief executive from 2001 to 2011, is becoming more outspoken on issues involving technology and world affairs, and was in India as part of a multi-country Asian tour to promote Internet access.

    After the Indian capital, he is visiting Myanmar, which is seen as the last virgin territory for businesses in Asia.

    In January he went to North Korea, saying it was a personal trip to talk about a free and open Internet.

    Only about a tenth of India's more than 1.2 billion people have access to the Internet, although that is changing fast with growth in low-cost tablet computers and cheaper smartphones.

    Schmidt called on India to clarify a law that holds so-called intermediaries like Google and Facebook liable for content users post on the web.

    In 2011, India passed a law that obliges social media companies to remove a range of objectionable content when requested to do so, a move criticized at the time by human rights groups and companies.

    Schmidt also said rumors he may be leaving Google were "completely false." He was responding to a question on whether his plan to sell about 42 percent of his Google stake was a signal that he was leaving the world's No.1 search engine.

    "Google is my home," he said, adding that he had no plans to take on a job in government.

    (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Writing by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

    Reuter site - BlackBerry shares higher after Morgan Stanley upgrade

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    BlackBerry shares higher after Morgan Stanley upgrade

    Wed, Mar 20 13:56 PM EDT

    TORONTO (Reuters) - Shares of BlackBerry rose more than 7 percent on Wednesday after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock and doubled its price target for shares of the smartphone maker, as it sees the company's new BlackBerry 10 devices boosting margins.

    The brokerage firm did a double upgrade on BlackBerry's stock, bumping it to "over weight" from "under weight," saying that it now believes the firm's handset unit can support itself moving forward and will no longer have to rely on its services arm to support it.

    Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum, who raised his price target on the company to $22 from $10, said he still believes that BlackBerry will remain a niche player, mostly selling to its existing base of Blackberry users.

    "However, in contrast to our prior thinking, we now believe there may be room in the handset market for niche midrange players." said Gelblum in a note to clients.

    Blackberry shares were up 7.8 percent at $16.20 in afternoon trading on Nasdaq, while it's Toronto-listed shares rose by a similar margin to C$16.62.

    BlackBerry is expected to report its fiscal fourth-quarter results on March 28, giving investors a glimpse of the kind of traction its new Z10 touchscreen device is generating.

    The device is currently on sale in over 20 countries, but is only set to begin launching with major U.S. carriers at the end of this week.

    (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    iGoogle

    From Evernote:

    iGoogle

    It's going. It's not an iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac, iNothing. It is/was iGoogle. And it's going. I don't know if any of my friends ever used it.  I don't think I personally know anyone who used it. It was started in 2005 and it will end in 2013.  When I started using It was probably in 2007. I used it religiously for three to four years. I'm sad to see it go. 

    I haven't used it in a long time mainly because of chrome.   It use to be my home page. It's where I first saw the word audrino. Where I first saw lifehacker. Where I learned what a widget was. Where I understood third party vendors. 

    Where I first had a feed of anything I wanted on the web in one hub. A graphical one. Not a live feed like twitter of Facebook with scrolling teeth. A linear view. Hulu widgets. Stock widgets. Customizable search engine widgets. You could create your own widgets. The one thing I couldn't do with it was share it. My i google page was/is amazing.     It still is.  

     Lifehacker. Hack of the day. The dark web.  Blackhats. Dark net. Psp hacks. Where I first saw the word hombrew.  I wish I could share my iGlggle page.  At one time they were promoting the iGoogle feeds of celebrities. I saw Anderson Cooper's feed. I was surprised to see he had. Facebook widget. I had a twitter widget.  I was always searching for widgets. 

    The fact that you could compress a website into a widget and embed on a web hub like a live magical scrapbook. Awesome awesome. 

    I hope someone rips off the iGoogle concept and sells it the right way. It just need the right ambassador and the right guidance,  it wasn't created in a vacuum I'm sure. Facebook was in its infancy when I first started using it. 

    A matter of the time before Facebook was the biggest time waster on the web iGoogle was where I spent my lazy hours soaking in knowledge I will nevere forget. 

    It's. A Tragedy it's going because scrolling time feeds a la twitter does not feel as good as looking at iGoogle pastich of the web that you curated to transform and evolve live infront of you like dancing knomes on a garden of will. 

    When Facebook cought stride and started taking up all the time people spent on the web, iGoogle became a 'what was that?'

    But think back. Back then at the turn of this decade Facebook was all about nostalgia and MySpace was all about the ego and google was all about knowledge. 

    Well the decade is in full swing now and whoe google plus is awe inspiring on the iPad and placid on the desktop and while Flipboard is relaxing and mobile has become viral, there is something to be said about faith in one product. 

    I saw what was happening and I said to myself, 'google has nothing to fear from facebook because all they have to do is make iGoogle social' and reclaim they're dominance.'

    Well I guess that didn't happen did it?

    Keith Nation


    Monday, March 11, 2013

    Time

    Hey y'all. It's me The Black Rider himself.  Been a long time since I spoke in this forum.  Last time was probably October or November 2012 and before that probably August 2011.

    Before then I can't really remember.  The last two times I actually blogged her was in times of great change and upheaval in my life.

    I can and I can't say the same fore this instance.

    But what I know about this instance is this, I've seen many roads, I met many people, I've done many things. I have great friends and family undeservedly.  I don't have everything I want.  Not even close.  But I have everything I need.

    Tomorrow is greater than yesterday always, and now is greatest of all, only when you make it so.  And Action,



    click here for more news and cool stuff The Black Rider

    Reuter site - Insight: On Facebook, app makers face a treacherous path

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    Insight: On Facebook, app makers face a treacherous path

    Mon, Mar 11 01:09 AM EDT

    By Gerry Shih

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Last spring, the future for Viddy, a video-sharing Facebook app, seemed as sunny as southern California's skies.

    Based a block away from Venice Beach, the 30-person startup impressed prospective investors with skyrocketing user growth figures and won funding from them at a $370 million valuation. The tech press hailed it as the "Instagram for video," potentially ripe for a billion-dollar-plus buyout. Justin Bieber wanted to invest — and the pop star eventually did just that.

    But this month, the company fired its chief executive, laid off nearly half of its staff and blamed plummeting user numbers on something it once believed to be its ticket to success: Facebook Inc.

    "Everyone has known for years that Facebook can be a huge driver of traffic, but Facebook also frequently changes who gets traffic," said Brian O'Malley, a Viddy director and a partner at venture capital firm Battery Ventures, which is an investor in Viddy. "We certainly didn't anticipate the decline."

    Viddy's dramatic reversal of fortune is a common tale among builders of software and services that rode the No. 1 social network to viral stardom, only to plummet when Facebook made one of its frequent changes in the way third-party apps can communicate with and solicit customers.

    Investors and entrepreneurs say that the unpredictable way that Facebook cuts off apps or suppresses their presence has made them increasingly wary of building companies that rely on Facebook. Some believe Facebook could eventually attract regulatory scrutiny because of its ability to make or break companies that rely on its billion-strong base of users.

    Douglas Purdy, Facebook's director of developer products, said the company boosts traffic to apps that prove to be popular and takes it away from those that overwhelm people with notifications or are otherwise abusive or unpopular. In the past year and a half, Facebook has cut down spam complaints by 90 percent, he said.

    "We don't want to be in the business of king-making," Purdy said. "In the end, users decide what they care about, and they have control over it. If you're a great developer and you're good at sharing really good content, you're going to get traffic."

    He declined to comment on relationships with individual developers.

    Developers sympathetic to Facebook say that the company has rightly prioritized its users, who could abandon the network if they feel overwhelmed by solicitations from apps.

    "Facebook thinks first and foremost about the user," said Riccardo Zacconi, the chief executive of game maker King.com. "For companies that were relying 100 percent on virality, there's been a negative impact, but it's been a better user experience."

    Viral growth occurs when current users recruit other users, by inviting them to join, touting the content or sharing an application.

    It is not clear if Viddy and other firms who have partly blamed Facebook for declining fortunes would have run into difficulties eventually anyway as, for example, rivals came out with new products.

    HOT STARTUPS

    But as consumers spend increasing time on mobile devices, disaffected developers could choose to focus on marketing their apps directly to Apple Inc's App Store and Google Inc's Play market — two platforms that compete with Facebook.

    "Facebook is in a platform battle that they're losing right now," said Nabeel Hyatt, a partner at Spark Capital, a venture capital firm that has backed rival social media companies like Twitter and Tumblr. "When we have startup companies coming in and presenting about where they're going to get users, most of those conversations are about iOS and then Android, and then maybe Facebook."

    For hot startups, the Facebook platform used to be "the cocktail party you had to be at," Hyatt added. "It's becoming just another cocktail party."

    For years, startups like Viddy and news apps like The Washington Post Social Reader used automated messages or posts on its users' Facebook pages to lure other users to install its app. But that put them at the mercy of "EdgeRank," the opaque and closely guarded algorithm that Facebook constantly tweaks to control whether an app's posts are broadly exposed to users.

    In financial disclosures, Facebook has warned investors that a fundamental challenge in its business model is finding the balance between the "frequency, prominence and size of ads and other commercial content we display" with its user experience. While Facebook is under intense pressure from Wall Street to turn its massive audience into growth in advertising revenue, a lot of the changes that rattle firms like Viddy seem to be more related to Facebook's attempts to retain users.

    Viddy's implosion has been spectacular — it fell from 35 million monthly users at its peak last year to half a million recently, according to Appdata.com, a tracking service.

    But the collapse is not unique. Branchout, a business networking service built on top of Facebook, raised $25 million last April from A-list backers including Accel Partners. But now it languishes with just 100,000 monthly users on Facebook, down from a high of 39 million, after Facebook limited the automatic notifications that Branchout used to attract users.

    The poster child for fallen Facebook stars has been Zynga Inc, the game publisher that shot to popularity, and a lucrative IPO, with viral Facebook games like FarmVille that distributed a deluge of notifications about virtual farm animals before Facebook clamped down.

    Zynga, whose shares are trading two-thirds below its IPO price, has since announced that it would loosen its ties with Facebook and develop its own network for gamers. Zynga declined to comment for this article.

    PUSH-AND-PULL

    The fate of Facebook apps have drawn attention to the perennial push-and-pull between large technology companies and smaller developers. Like tech industry heavyweights before it, Facebook recognizes it can expand its market power and offer new features by fostering a thriving ecosystem. But those relationships have historically been fraught.

    In the 1990s, the Windows operating system rose to dominate personal computing, but its maker Microsoft Corp was accused of favoring its own browser and word processor over its competitors' offerings like Netscape and WordPerfect.

    Similarly, Apple Inc's iPhone dominated smartphone sales 15 years later with the help of third-party apps — but it, too, has periodically attracted attention from the Federal Trade Commission over whom and what it lets into its App Store and iTunes platforms. Recently, Twitter has also clashed with some third-party developers.

    Facebook first opened its programming interfaces to outside developers in 2007. The company later rolled out log-in credentials for third-party sites and then the powerful "Open Graph" protocol, which gives apps developers access to troves of data.

    The company said it expects developers to contribute interesting content - rather than game the system for growth.

    "Facebook is a story-telling device," said Purdy, the Facebook executive. "Driving millions and millions of installs is not why we built it."

    "There are always going to be players who, for whatever reason, aren't seeing what they want or feel disenfranchised," he added. "But when we look at the totality of the ecosystem, it's never been stronger."

    And current and former Facebook employees argue that the company has sought to communicate to its developers that they shouldn't be over-reliant on Facebook.

    In Zynga's early years, for example, Facebook employees advised Zynga CEO Mark Pincus on renaming Zynga's highly successful "Texas Hold'em" poker game on Facebook to "Zynga Poker," in order to strengthen Zynga as an independent brand and differentiate it from competing gaming companies, people close to the situation said.

    COMPETITIVE PRACTICES

    But there are signs that Facebook may not be as collaborative as it once was.

    In January, Tom Katis, the chief executive of Voxer, a voice-messaging app that has raised $30 million from Institutional Venture Partners and Intel Capital, received an email from Facebook representatives requesting a phone call. Facebook told Katis that it intended to cut off Voxer, which had used Facebook's log-in credentials for over a year, from accessing Facebook's friends data because it did not share its own data with Facebook - and because Voxer replicated communications features that Facebook wanted to build itself.

    Katis has brushed off the incident, saying he is confident Voxer will continue to grow swiftly independent of Facebook.

    "We were flattered that Facebook called us a competitor," Katis said. "It's their platform. They can do whatever they want. But it's just another cautionary tale."

    Later that month, Facebook blocked Yandex, the Russian search engine, from crawling through its network. Facebook said that those companies took advantage of its network without sharing any information back.

    Facebook's Purdy denied the company is being less collaborative, saying it is seeking to have "nuanced and mature" discussions with developers when conflicts arise.

    Although there are no indications that the Federal Trade Commission, which has wrestled with Facebook over privacy issues, has looked into its competitive practices, experts broadly say that this is all but assured as Facebook continues to grow.

    "One of the issues that Facebook faces that is also true for Google is that it supports so many developers," said David S. Evans, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who has advised Google and Microsoft on antitrust matters. "Just by the law of large numbers, you're going to get complaints. That's a real vulnerability for the big Internet platforms."

    For now, developers say they are frustrated mostly because they cannot anticipate the vagaries of Facebook's EdgeRank. Last week, Facebook took the rare step of publicly refuting comments by a New York Times writer who opined that the social network might be artificially suppressing user posts as a way to encourage people to pay to disseminate their posts.

    "You have the combination of few tools available to build your business and no clear lines of communication," said the founder of a startup who spoke anonymously because his company still depends on Facebook for its traffic. "Is it worth it for founders today to quit your job, raise a bunch of money, hire a bunch of people, only to get to a point where it's really hard to get viral?"

    REAL BUSINESS MODEL

    But even if it left some companies in ruins, app makers who take the long view concede that Facebook's crackdown had an unintended benefit: It helped deflate a social media bubble propped up by unsustainable startups.

    "You need a real business model now," said Aaron Ginn, an expert in Web traffic development who formerly worked for StumbleUpon, a website discovery app. "You can't rely on viral growth."

    Branchout Chief Executive Rick Marini said his company was in the midst of improving its own offering.

    "Facebook made several changes to the viral channels and app developers needed to react," Marini said. "For Branchout, the silver lining is that we're focusing more on our product development instead of viral user acquisition."

    Meanwhile, a much leaner Viddy consolidated operations under co-founder J.J. Aguhob and released a new version of its iPhone app.

    O'Malley, the Viddy investor, said in hindsight, the boom in traffic from Facebook - and the stratospheric investor expectations that followed - set the company on the wrong track.

    "With the Facebook traffic and with the larger round, did we lose focus on what was important? Yes," O'Malley said. "If you can get traffic from Facebook, great. But don't bank on it."

    (Reporting By Gerry Shih. Editing by Edwin Chan, Jonathan Weber, Martin Howell and Cynthia Osterman)

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