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Feb 5, 2009 - Spotting things you'll want to see today.


Google as a friend finder
You won't easily lose your best friends with Google Lattitude

On Wednesday Google announced a long anticipated location based service named Latitude. The service, which will allow users to track the physical location of their friends, was tested and reviewed by Katherine Boehret in the WSJ. Privacy was an obvious concern with Mark Evans leading the Orwellian charge. Latitude does, of course, provide a number of privacy settings as detailed in a video produced by Google. Users can blur their location by friend and they have the ability to override their actual location with one that they manually enter (a feature likely to be popular with cheating spouses and moonlighting employees).

The technology was universally acclaimed as exciting but several bloggers, including Alexander Van Elsas wondered if it was in search of a true need. Google's boast that you could see that a buddy is in town might seem helpful but, as Louis Gray pointed out it also assumes that your good friends somehow failed to let you know via Facebook status, Tweet, SMS, email or phone that they would be in the neighborhood and ready to party. Many bloggers (including ReadWriteWeb) insisted that the service would best be handled by an entity where you actually had friends, such as Facebook or MySpace as opposed to Google (or even the fledging mobile networks such as Loopt, Where, Pelago's Whrrl, or Brightkite). The monetization angle of mobile ads is huge. MediaPost took a look at what Google stands to gain from recommending a nearby McDonalds where you and your lucky friend could sit down for a happy meal.

 

Facebook at five
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reaches a milestone

Facebook turned five years old yesterday. The social network reached middle age in impressive style according to usage numbers supplied by Hitwise showing increased user engagement. The users themselves seem to be having a large number of birthdays, with 25-34 now being the largest age cohort. The blog Connect With Your Teens looked at the graying of Facebook and wondered if teens would soon want to hang out somewhere else.

Still, the future of the huge network is viewed brightly. The Social ascribed the ongoing vitality of the Palo Alto company to its northeast Harvard roots. Inside Facebook looked at how the site has changed over the years and Valley Wag spoiled the party just a bit by mentioning the problems of monetizing a growing cost base.

Will Facebook find new ways to make money from their huge base? They provided an ironic clue last Friday when they announced a plan to automatically send out birthday gifts to friends.

 


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