FryUp: Google to acquire NZ next week

Larry and Sergey could be considering buying the south island; NZ Communications finally gets its behind into the sling

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— Google to acquire NZ next week

— A right mobile Richard

Google to acquire NZ next week

I wonder what Google’s going to announce next week? Could it be… something to do with advertising? Maybe the Unstoppable Juggernaut will attempt to take on Trade Me, which by itself has ripped the classified advertising flesh out of newspapers. If so, it’s time to cover your ears, as the wailing and gnashing of teeth from local media will be unbearable to hear.

Or, maybe it’s just Larry and Sergey buying the south island to turn it into a private adventure golf leisure wonderland. Yeah, that’s probably it.

A right mobile Richard

Finally, at least, here it is then: NZ Communications, or Econet as it was once known, has finally got its behind into the sling and officially announced a roaming deal with Vodafone. Not only that, but NZ Communications has bought some more spectrum as well, from Telecom this time. All in all, it sits on 15MHz now, I believe.

Even though the company restructuring and formation of NZ Communications with less Tex and more Bill O helped speed up things, it’s taken an awfully long time to get where we are today. And there’s no actual network yet.

Comms minister Cunliffe is excited about it still, although the deal popped up in July already (yes, you read about it in Computerworld first).

NZ Communications intends to go for the low end of the market with cheap voice and texting. That’s probably the vast majority of the market, given how much we pay for mobile phone calls here.

If so, it’ll likely hurt Telecom the most but also Vodafone, which is trying to push customers away from cheapo voice/texting deals towards high-value 3G services.

Either way, it’s good to see that there’s some competition coming up.

Err, I hope there will be some competition coming up, that is.

Speaking of wholesale deals, what’s going on between TelstraClear and the Ministry of Social Development? No more supply of telecommunications services there? I think we should be told.

— Triple deal tipped to deliver third mobile operator to NZ

— NZ Communications inks roaming deal

— Telecom sells spectrum to NZ Communications

— Mobile roaming deal will foster rivalry

Cartoon from XKCD

Robert X. Cringely

Has Facebook jumped the shark?

Or maybe, like the late great Evel Knievel, it tried to jump the Snake River Canyon but suffered an equipment failure halfway over. Either way, I'm over Facebook.

Oh sure, it was fun for a while — throwing bovine creatures at friends, writing on their walls, keeping up with every damned thing they did or thought every damned day, week after week, month after month.

I'm not the only old coot who's had his fill of Facebook. Mike Cassidy posted a funny essay on the San Jose Merc's site last week in which he said responding to Facebook requests from people he barely knew makes him feel like a sucker (if he says yes) or an a*****e (when he says no). I felt his pain so much that I immediately sent him a friend request — which he accepted. (Sucker!)

Meanwhile, the Beacon privacy kerfuffle has turned into something deeper and possibly more sinister than first imagined. It's bad enough that Facebook's "social advertising" service revealed people's purchases to their friends without them really being aware of what was happening. According to security researchers at Computer Associates, Facebook is collecting shopping information even when users are logged out of their system and have opted out of sharing their purchases — violating Facebook's own rules for the app.

Assuming the report is accurate, there are only two ways to interpret it, and neither is good. One is that Facebook is collecting this information and not telling anyone. The other is they're collecting this information and aren't even aware of it — in other words, Beacon is broken.

So either they're evil, and can't be trusted. Or they're inept, and can't be trusted.

After CA published a report of its findings, Facebook put out the following statement:

"When a Facebook user takes a Beacon-enabled action on a participating site, information is sent to Facebook in order for Facebook to operate Beacon technologically. If a Facebook user clicks 'No, thanks' on the partner site notification, Facebook does not use the data and deletes it from its servers. Separately, before Facebook can determine whether the user is logged in, some data may be transferred from the participating site to Facebook. In those cases, Facebook does not associate the information with any individual user account, and deletes the data as well."

If this response sounds familiar, that's because it's essentially what every site or service says after it's been caught with its fingers in the data cookie jar — Alexa, Real Networks, DoubleClick, take your pick. "We collect the data but throw it out — scout's honour."

It all comes down to the same thing: Trust us. But having already screwed the pooch once over Beacon, I think Facebook's Trust Fund is pretty much depleted.

Ironically, Evel's last major stunt was an attempt to jump over a shark tank, which ended in tragedy. Beacon is not on the same scale — nobody's going to die or lose an eye over an online advertising service. But this could mark the beginning of the end for Facebook's wild ride.

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