LinkedIn Goes Wide with Media Content, Native Ads

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wants a piece of the media action. The professional network, generally regarded as a venue for job-seeking and recruiting, has morphed into a daily destination to read, share and comment on news. If it sounds a little like Facebook and Twitter, it is. And so is the advertising approach.

"There is a lot of content. Our job is to package up the most relevant content we can find for members," Weiner said on stage earlier this month at a tech conference in San Francisco.

And people are checking it out. Pageviews have shot up 69% from a year ago. But LinkedIn executives won't call the company a media business. That's because only about a quarter of its revenue comes from ads. Recruiting is still the major revenue source.

But like many other media and tech companies, it is trying to make its mark with native advertising, the hottest trend of the moment for marketers -- and publishers. LinkedIn joins an advertising craze embraced by Facebook, Twitter, Google, BuzzFeed and even The New York Times.

What's at stake is social network ad-spending dollars, expected to rocket from $7.3 billion in 2012 to $14.5 billion by 2015, according to eMarketer.

"People are really going to talk about this with Twitter going public, because Twitter's main ad product is native advertising -- sponsored tweets," says Altimeter Group analyst Rebecca Lieb. That will be especially so during Ad Week in New York City this week as thousands gather to discuss all things digital advertising.

Native advertising generally runs right in the midst of the content stream and resembles it, generally with a reminder that it is sponsored content -- advertising -- to differentiate it. Sometimes the demarcation is clearer than others. Advertisers see this as a much better way to showcase their digital messages than traditional...

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Kaspersky: Icefog Hacking Group Based in Asia

The group thought to be behind a 2011 cyberattack on Japan's parliament is also responsible for a string of electronic break-ins at Asian defense companies, security company Kaspersky said in a report Thursday.

The Moscow-based antivirus vendor said the hackers, who hit personal computers used by Japanese lawmakers in a widely publicized attack two years ago, also stole commercial blueprints, design material, and budget documents from a string of South Korean and Japanese military contractors in the months that followed.

"They are targeting the supply chain for the bigger defense contractors," researcher Costin Raiu said in a telephone interview.

He said the speed of the break-ins -- the quickest of which ended less than an hour after the hackers began scanning their victims' computers -- and the highly selective nature of the files they stole suggested they were guns for hire.

"Our opinion is that they do it on contract," Raiu said. "They don't do it in a mass market style, selling information by the gigabyte."

Kaspersky said it was able to get an insight into the hackers by taking over some of their servers and decoding their log files, which basically serve as a running tally of which files are being stolen from whom. Kaspersky named a series of Japanese and South Korean firms as being among the group's targets, but it did not specify whether they actually had data stolen.

Kaspersky gave the group the name "Icefog," after a line of code found on one of the group's servers. As for who's behind Icefog, some mystery remains. Raiu said the attackers used Chinese characters and, in one case, appear to have inadvertently left their names in the code of one of the component pieces of their software.

But he said the group appeared to fluent in Korean and Japanese and said forensic data gathered by...

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Baseball Demos Location Tech with Apple’s iBeacon

As good as GPS is at helping smartphones guide you, the technology isn't very precise and doesn't work reliably indoors. Apple is trying to improve that with a new iBeacon system, which comes with last week's iOS 7 software update for iPhones and iPads.

Better location information will improve a range of features, including recommendations based on what's popular nearby. It will also enable ads and coupons from nearby retailers and potentially allow mobile ordering and other transactions.

The technology also promises to work better indoors, particularly in multi-story environments such as shopping malls and stadium concourses.

Major League Baseball showcased some of iBeacon's potential Thursday in front of about a half-dozen journalists at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. MLB's free At The Ballpark app can customize fans' experience from the moment they get off the subway or out of their cars.

For instance, MLB officials showed how its app can offer bonus features such as video when fans are within a few feet of landmarks. The stadium map is customized based on the entrance used and the fan's seat, and a coupon pops up the moment the fan walks into a souvenir shop.

Phones can do some of this now, but not as well.

Eric O'Brien, director of wireless product development for baseball's interactive business, MLB Advanced Media, said the new technology is precise enough to deliver coupons right at the door, not 10 feet past the store.

He said GPS technology can be a half-mile or so off at times, and supplemental location technology such as cellular and Wi-Fi signals are more complicated to configure. With iBeacon, a handful of sensors are placed around the stadium to enable specific functions.

So far, Apple has said little publicly about iBeacon, other than that it uses a low-energy variant of Bluetooth wireless technology to pick...

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Apple Ousts Coke as Most Valuable Brand

Apple has been taking it on the chin for a lack of Steve Jobs-like innovation since the company's co-founder lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. But the Mac-maker is winning on the global branding front.

For the first time in the history of Interbrand's Best Global Brands report, there is a new number one brand: Apple. As its name suggests, the brand consultancy's annual list identifies and examines the top 100 most valuable global brands.

Coca-Cola held the number one position for 13 straight years, but drops to the third position in 2013 as Apple takes the lead and Google climbs to second. The total value of the 100 Best Global Brands in 2013 is $1.5 trillion -- an 8.4 percent record increase over the total value of the 100 Best Global Brands in 2012.

"Every so often, a company changes our lives -- not just with its products, but with its ethos. This is why, following Coca-Cola's 13-year run at the top of Best Global Brands, Apple now ranks #1," said Jez Frampton, Interbrand's Global Chief Executive Officer. "Tim Cook has assembled a solid leadership team and has kept Steve Jobs' vision intact -- a vision that has allowed Apple to deliver on its promise of innovation time and time again."

Tech Companies Dominate

Apple is no stranger to Interbrand's list. The company ranked number 36 when it debuted in 2000 with a brand value of $6.6 billion. Apple's brand value has since skyrocketed to $98.3 billion, almost 15 times as much. Interbrand points to the way the company has created a seamless omnichannel experience for customers with the growth.

By keeping consumers at the center of everything it does, the firm noted, Apple is able to anticipate what it wants next and break new ground in terms of both design and performance. With...

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Does iOS 7 Make You Feel Sick?

Countless iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are claiming Apple's new iOS 7 is making them sick. The key culprits appear to be visual effects in the user interface that did not exist in previous versions of iOS 7, which is preinstalled on every new iPhone 5c and 5s.

The interaction between the user interface and the iPhone's gyroscope and accelerometer makes the interface appear to be floating over the background image, plus there is widespread use of zooming animations during transitions.

Some users are reporting that this combination of visual effects is causing them to feel dizzy or queasy -- an effect much like car sickness.

"Giving Me a Headache"

On the Apple Support Communities forum, for instance, a user named Ensorceled wrote earlier this month that "the zoom animations everywhere on the new iOS 7 are literally making me nauseous and giving me a headache," and added that "it's exactly how I used to get car sick if I tried to read in the car."

Another user, ajax324: "I can't believe someone when testing iOS 7 didn't say, 'Hey, this animation makes me nauseous.'" A Luxembourg-based user, Guballu, points out that there's a setting that allows one to "reduce motion," while another notes this only removes the parallax effect of a plane of icons moving independently of the background, but does not alter the animations.

Others report employing such workarounds as putting app icons into folders, moving all apps to a page other than the main one, or even downgrading to iOS 6.x.

NBC News talked to a Montclair State University psychologist, Frederick Bonato, who said that, although he and his colleagues have not done any experiments with the new OS, the motion of the screen coupled with the "very sharp, clear" resolution is most likely central to the problem. This results, Bonato said,...

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Moto X Born of New Attitudes at Motorola Mobility

Paul Pierce remembers the reaction his team of designers elicited from their engineering colleagues when they proposed a smartphone with a gently curved back that would nestle into a person's hand.

"We didn't take it as a negative, but they were literally laughing when they saw the concept," recalled Pierce, Motorola Mobility's director of industrial design for the Moto X, the first flagship phone to come out of the company after it was acquired in 2012 by Google for $12.9 billion.

Pierce and the designers loved the natural feel of the rounded device, but the engineers saw a guffaw-inducing challenge: How would they fit a multitude of tiny, rectangular components into a curve without wasting space?

As it turned out, overcoming that engineering conundrum for the Moto X set the tone for solving another vexing problem at the stalled technology giant: Jump-starting a creatively inert culture that, through years of painful restructurings and cuts, prioritized cranking out dozens of products to meet nitpicky technical requirements rather than coming up with groundbreaking ideas. In setting out to reclaim Motorola's long-lost position as a dominant player in mobile technology, designers and engineers were given one directive: Think big.

Reshaping a corporate culture, particularly at a company like Motorola with 85 years of history and thousands of employees, isn't done overnight or through a single product launch. Even so, the Moto X marked a turning point for the Libertyville, Ill.-based company, one that the team hopes will spur the company's rebirth.

"It wasn't like Google bought us and all of a sudden [said], 'OK, guys, let's work on this new thing, we've got this great idea,' " said Joe Allore, the lead product architect for the Moto X. "No, it wasn't like that. Maybe this is old-school thinking, but I was expecting a little of that. If anything,...

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Smartcam Shootout: iPhone 5S, Lumia 1020, Galaxy S4

More photos are snapped every year on smartphones now than traditional cameras, a dramatic shift. The images have gotten surprisingly good, and they're so easy to share.

So when Apple introduced the new iPhone 5s with a greatly improved camera that it said was the best ever, we decided to take it out to see how it compares with two other hot models.

The recent Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone has the most advanced camera features ever seen on a smartphone -- a 41-megapixel sensor and oodles of manual adjustments any pro would love. And the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the top rival to the iPhone, with a generous 13-megapixel camera.

iPhone 5s Specs

The new camera has the same 8 megapixels as before, but Apple says individual pixels are more mega than competitors'. Each pixel is larger -- up 15% from the iPhone 5. Additionally, the new iPhone 5s has a larger lens opening, at f 2.2, up from 2.4. That means better ability to shoot in low light (evenings, parties, indoors). New features include "burst mode" -- hold your finger on the shutter and shoot up to 100 images in fast succession (good for getting a perfect shot of a moving baby or dog) -- slow motion for video and a new dual flash system that gives 2 LED lights for what promises to be a more flattering image. Exposure control: all automatic. The phone comes with 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of internal memory, and has a 4-inch screen with 1136 x 640 resolution.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Specs

The 13-megapixel camera has 12 shooting modes, including automatic, panorama, night shot, sports and others. Exposure is all automatic. The phone comes with 16 or 32 gigabytes of memory. You can add storage via a micro-SD card. The phone has a 5-inch screen, with 1920...

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Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer Says Goodbye: Who’s Taking Over?

As CEO Steve Ballmer gets ready to leave his beloved Microsoft this year, the hunt is on for a new head of one of the largest, most respected companies in the world. One of the frontrunners for the position is Alan Mulally, who is currently the head of Ford Motor Co., but with Ballmer still active in Microsoft, a replacement has yet to be announced.

Today was definitely an exciting day for Microsoft employees, with a potentially record breaking number of employees coming out to see Ballmer at the last Microsoft company-wide meeting that he will ever lead. More than 13,000 Microsoft employees signed up to attend Ballmer's address.

Ballmer's Goodbye

During the meeting, Ballmer presented the usual corporate material, but near the end, he broke into a tearful farewell. Ballmer -- who is well-known for his yelling and jumping -- even got up and danced to Michael Jackson's "Wanna be Startin' Somethin'" during the event.

Just trying to get into the event appeared to be a struggle as Microsoft employees such as Bob Ulrich tried to enter the meeting area. Ulrich tweeted: "Must be the year to go to the @Microsoft company meeting. Insane line."

Even though it took a while for people to get in, the employees who were able to attend likely felt it was worth the extra effort. Ballmer slowly cried as he ended the event stating, "I've had the time of my life," with the Dirty Dancing song playing in the background.

Could Ford's CEO Take Over Microsoft?

Now that Ballmer is leaving and plans to be be completely removed from the company by 2014, Microsoft needs to find his replacement. According to reports from people close to the Ford CEO and Microsoft, Mulally is now considering the CEO position at Microsoft.

Even though earlier analysis of potential CEOs led people...

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What Martha’s Twitter Rant Says About Post-Jobs Apple

There's the power of social media. Then there's the power of celebrity social media. Martha Stewart demonstrated both on Friday when she went on a tirade against Apple on the micro-blogging service.

Apparently, Stewart's iPad shattered. No one would be happy after watching her iconic tablet crack but Stewart may have been more than a little upset, given that it was a personal gift from the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Instead of just buying a new one or even taking it to the Apple Store for a repair, Stewart let her fingers do the talking -- on Twitter. She tweeted: "I just dropped my iPad on the ground and shattered two glass corners. What to do? Does one call Apple to come and pick it up or do I take it in?"

"Pissed Off" and "Upset"

About two hours later, at 8:49 a.m., she tweeted again: "I am still waiting for an apple rep to come pick up my IPad. No action yey.(sic)" By 1:29 p.m., Stewart was seemingly growing impatient. She tweeted, "Maybe I have a good entrepreneurial idea? Apple Now? Like same day delivery from Amazon? I think I am on to something. Same day fixit!!!"

Then, finally, at 6:29 p.m., she wrote, "So is it time to put out the fires and admit I was just pissed off at the fact my precious ipad shattered and I wanted to make light of it??" Apparently, Stewart's tweets upset Apple's public relations team, to which she replied, "i cannot believe that Apple Public Relations is mad at me for tweeting about my Ipad and how to get it fixed! steve jobs gave it to me!"

The Twitter rant goes on and on. Stewart went on to say, for example, that she wished she could explain everything on Twitter about the broken iPad, the stolen...

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Google Could Face Fines by France over Privacy

France isn't dropping its privacy beef with Google. French officials on Friday took another step closer to fining the search engine giant, deciding for the moment to impose sanctions on the company for failing to change its privacy policy.

France's CNIL (La Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes) declared it would start "a formal procedure for imposing sanctions, according to the provisions laid down in the French data protection law."

France's moves come in the wake of the European Union's Article 29 Working Party investigation into the company's privacy policies. From March to October of 2012, the group reviewed whether or not Google was meeting the requirements of the EU's Data Protection Directive.

France: Google Didn't Cooperate

"On 19 March 2013, representatives of Google Inc. were invited at their request to meet with the task force led by the CNIL and composed of data protection authorities of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United-Kingdom. Following this meeting, no change has been seen," CNIL said in a statement.

After finding Google did not comply with the requirements, regulators gave the company four months to make changes necessary to comply. Google contested the French request for data the day before the deadline, "notably the applicability of the French data protection law to the services used by residents in France," according to CINL.

Each nation is now carrying out further investigations according to the provisions of its national law implementing the European regulations. All authorities in the task force launched actions in April. But France is the most aggressive.

Google Says It's Engaged

Google could not immediately be reached for comment. But Al Verney, a Brussels-based spokesman for Google, told Bloomberg, "Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We've engaged fully with CNIL throughout this process and will continue...

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