Google Chrome Now Comes With Flash Built In

Last March, Adobe and Google jointly announced that Flash Player would soon come built in to the latter’s Chrome browser, eliminating the need for users to download, install and update it separately.

On Thursday evening, Google released Chrome 5.0.375.86 to the Stable channel on Linux, Mac, and Windows, with a fix for a number of security issues. More importantly, the integrated Flash Player has now been enabled by default.

As Stephen Shankland over at CNET points out, built-in Flash was previously only available in the developer and beta releases of the speedy WebKit-based browser, and the release to the Stable channel means the integrated plug-in is now available in its mainstream version.

The update comes a mere two days after Google re-enabled the integrated Flash Player plug-in by default in the Beta channel after disabling it for some time.

Not only is Google giving Adobe’s Flash technology another vote of confidence (Flash Player 10.1 for Mobile, which was announced earlier this week, will be rolled out on Android 2.2 phones first), but the integration also means any updates to Flash Player will be delivered directly via Google Chrome’s updating system, ultimately minimizing security risks that tend to surface when one uses outdated software and components.


Playdom Continues Shopping Spree; Acquires Social Gaming Startup Hive7

Fresh off a $33 million funding round, Playdom is making its fifth acquisition of the year today. The gaming giant is buying social gaming startup Hive7. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hive7, which is backed by True Ventures and was founded in 2005, develops social games for Facebook and MySpace. The startup is best known for its flagship game, Knighthood, which combines combat and diplomacy in a medieval setting. Other titles include Youtopia, Kick-Off, and Sindicate. Hive 7′s developers and team have already joined Playdom’s Mountain View offices.

Playdom has been on quite a shopping spree over the past few months. The company, which recently brought on a new CTO, has steadily been expanding its presence on Facebook and in the social gaming space, most recently acquiring MMORPG developer Acclaim Games, Facebook game developer Offbeat Creations and developer Three Melons. Playdom also invested $5 million in Facebook game developer MetroGames. And Playdom bought popular branded game developer Merscom.

Of course, the gaming company has been raising large amounts of money to fuel these acquisitions of gaming platforms and talent. This week, the company raised $33 million from Disney’s Steamboat Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and New World Ventures. And in November, Playdom raised a massive $43 million at a $260 million valuation. According to our stats from November, Playdom has 28 million monthly game users. 60% of traffic is from MySpace v. 40% from Facebook. Playdom’s main competitor is gaming giant Zynga, which is a leading game developer on Facebook.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Steve Jobs Responds To The Antenna Issue: Hold It Different Or Use A Case

By now you’ve heard about the antenna issues some people are having with the new iPhone 4. Basically, it seems like wireless signal strength degrades if you hold the lower left corner on some, but not all devices.

This has been shown on video and there are many reports out there about this issue — something that is particularly troublesome for left-handed people. I’m sure a lot of people have asked Apple about the issue — I have too.

So far, I have yet to hear anything back other than they’re looking into it. But one man did hear something back about the issue — from Steve Jobs himself.

C.K. Sample emailed Jobs earlier this afternoon about the issue. A few hours later, Jobs responded with the following:

Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.

The first part of his statement is likely true, but the thing is, Apple specifically manufactured this version of the iPhone to have an antenna that wraps around the entire body of the device. Most devices, obviously, don’t do this. Apple undoubtedly did this with good intentions — to both improve reception and make the device itself more compact. But is it possible they miscalculated the trade-off?

Jobs’ solution to hold the phone differently is a bit unreasonable. His other solution to buy one of the new cases is, sadly, expensive (each one costs $29). If the problem is as widespread as some are making it seem, perhaps Apple should be giving these bumpers away.

Sample also let me know that Jobs actually just sent the exact same email to him again. This may mean he’s sending this to all the people who emailed him about this issue today.

Despite the busy launch day, Jobs is clearly going through his email. Earlier, he responded to someone about the new FaceTime feature replacing the Hold button on the phone.

Update: Sure enough, the statement Jobs emailed out is the official statement Apple is now using. Also check out the one-liner Jobs sent to another user that Engadget obtained:

Just avoid holding it that way.

Best “that’s what she said” ever?

Information provided by CrunchBase


Yahoo Search VP Larry Cornett Leaves

Larry Cornett, Yahoo’s Vice President of Search Consumer Products, is leaving the company he’s worked for four years, he announced today on his personal blog. His departure was first reported by Search Engine Land. The news comes just over two weeks after Yahoo laid off a portion of its search team, likely as a result of the Bing/Yahoo search deal. At the time, Yahoo declined to give any numbers on the number of people who were axed, but they did give us this statement:

“Yahoo! remains focused on innovating the overall Search experience over the long-term, and the Yahoo! Search group is hard at work on some new experiences that we believe will convert Yahoo! users to Yahoo! searchers. To accomplish our new product objectives, we have decided that we need a different combination of talent and are making changes within the search group in order to more deeply invest in other areas of the group. “

Cornett’s departure probably isn’t a coincidence. In his blog post, Cornett writes that he’s going to be launching a new startup (currently in stealth) and will also be starting a consulting firm. Cornett also took the opportunity to recap some of the things Yahoo’s Search team did in the last few years.

From his blog:

• Relaunching Yahoo! Search in Oct 2007 with industry-leading Search Assist features
• Bringing structured data into Web Search for the first time with Y! SearchMonkey
• Opening up Search technology to the world like never before with the Yahoo! Search BOSS platform
• Bringing true applications to Search with Search Pad
• Launching an entirely new Y! Search experience again in Sep 2009
• Creating incredibly engaging Image and Video Search experiences
• Integrating Twitter and real-time content in Nov 2009
• An addictive entertainment Search experience that launched this March
• And finally, the truly fun Yahoo! Sketch-a-Search app on the iPhone


Bing Tries To Take Over Web Search On Your iPhone By Making It App-Beautiful

Bing is on a roll. Yesterday, it released Bing Entertainment and a new iPhone app. And today it is following up with an update to its mobile web search at http://m.bing.com. Bing only recently became a search option on the iPhone, but it really wants to become your default mobile search engine.  In fact, if you are not careful, Bing will take over as your default search engine the first time you use it on your iPhone.  A message box pops up asking you, “Do you want to change your search engine to Bing?”  (Yahoo, the other search options, is using the same notification). Once you do, the hope is there will be no going back.

The new mobile web site looks gorgeous in the iPhone’s mobile web browser (as well as on Androids, Palms, Windows phones, Kins, and Zunes). It looks more like an app, with simplified menu buttons along the bottom (local, maps, directions, movies, weather, favorites) and smooth scrolling in maps. The homepage features Bing’s signature background photo, which looks great on an iPhone screen). And right under the search box, you have the option to “Locate me.” It was able to find my exact street address immediately, something which Google’s mobile web search was having trouble with for me (I had to manually enter my zipcode to get local results). Once you let Bing locate you, it remembers your location on subsequent searches.

The menu buttons take you to asearch experienced tuned to your location. The “Local” link takes you to a page that lets you drill down further to restaurants, theaters, hotels, arts, dining, nightlife, shopping, automotive, and more. It acts as a mobile-friendly local directory (and a vehicle for Bing’s local search ads). All of the results are based on proximity. For each listing, there is a phone icon which lets you call from the phone or driving directions which pulls up Bing Maps. You can also save any business listing to your favorites.

Hit “Movies” to see a list of flicks playing nearby, click on a title to see individual showtimes, an overview, or even trailers. Instead of hitting the back button to find more movies, you can simply scroll through the movie poster thumbnails in the top third of the screen. Who needs an app? Google’s mobile search for movies pulls up similar information, but it is all laid out an endless-scroll format with too much white space. It just doesn’t look as good. And as we all know, on the iPhone, looks matter. When I try “Weather,” again Google has trouble locating me and it ends up giving me the wrong temperature.

I’ve already switched to Bing on the iPhone. Who’s with me?

SIde-by-Side Comparison

Bing Mobile Vs. Google Mobile


Looks Like Apple Is Suing HTC (Again)

It appears Apple has filed yet another patent infringement lawsuit against HTC and its subsidiaries.

From the looks of it, the new suit, which was filed earlier this week in the same Delaware court as the initial lawsuit filed in March 2010, is adding two one additional patent to the twenty the Cupertino company alleged were being infringed upon by HTC.

As the court documents (embedded below) show, Apple mentions four of its patents in the suit. However, two of them had already been included in the initial suit, and it appears like they are being re-included because of some minor corrections that needed to be made by the USPTO.

But, there’s also mention of infringement upon these two (similarly titled) patents, which were not initially included:

6,282,646: “System for real-time adaptation to changes in display configuration” by Hendry et. al. and assigned to Apple Computer, Inc. (Granted 8/28/2001)

7,380,116: “System for real-time adaptation to changes in display configuration” by Hendry et. al. and assigned to Apple Inc. (Granted 5/27/2008)

Update: looks like the patents are actually one and the same after all – the second one is a continuation of the first application. Here’s the summary:

A hot-plugging capability for video devices is achieved by shifting the responsibility for recognizing changes in the configuration of a display environment from a computer’s operating system to a device manager.

When an input/output device is added to or removed from the computer system, an interrupt signal informs a device manager of the fact that a change in configuration has occurred. In response thereto, the device manager determines whether the changed component relates to the computer’s display function.

If so, the device manager makes a call to the computer’s display manager, to inform it of the fact that the display configuration has changed. In response to this call, the display manager reconfigures the display space for the computer system and notifies clients as appropriate, to accommodate display features associated with the added component.

With this change in the configuration of the display space, the added component becomes immediately available for use.

And one of the drawings included in the patent:

I’m not an expert here, but this could be a new lawsuit, given that there’s a unique case number and filing date. The court is the same (Delaware District Court), but a judge has not yet been assigned according to the filing docs. That or this one replaces or expands the initial lawsuit. As I said, I’m no expert.

Either way, it looks like Apple is writing another chapter in the patent wars against HTC (which counter-sued Apple back in May for infringement of five of its patents).

We’ve been in touch with both companies, but have not heard back.

We’ll update as soon as we find out more.

Apple Vs. HTC

Information provided by CrunchBase


Dept. Of Annotation: Bounce Some Website Design Ideas Off Your Friends

In general, I am not a big fan of Website annotation tools. Adding notes to Web pages just doesn’t seem like a natural act to me. I’d rather comment via Twitter or in actual comments. But sometimes you want to be able to mark up a page and communicate more visually. A new free app called Bounce let’s you do just that.

Bounce is very simple. You enter a URL and it goes and grabs a screenshot, which can then be annotated with red rectangles and comments. You draw a rectangle around the part of the page you want to comment on, then add and save your comment. Then you send the newly created link to anyone you want to share your comments with via Twitter, Facebook, or email. They can add their own comments and so on. For instance, here is one showing the TechCrunch homepage.

it is not perfect. The comments appear only briefly when you first click on the shared link, and then disappear. You have to hover over each box to see the comment underneath, which isn’t completely obvious. It also takes a while to process each page. My other pet peeve about the service is that each new comment creates a new URL, so there is no master URL showing the most up to date version of the marked up page. (The new link appears in hard-to-read grey text in a box next to the “save” button). Creating a new link for each revision is a good idea, but the original link should always be the default with all the latest annotations because that is the one people are most likely to pass around. Overall, the comments and other elements could benefit from darker backgrounds so they stand out more

Bounce is a new product from Zurb. It is really a lite version of its other product, Notable, which it charges for and has more features such as private sharing and the ability to mark up images, PDFs, and other documents. We’ve covered Notable before.


Online Targeting Company Resonate Networks Raises $5 Million

Resonate Networks, a US-based online ad targeting company, has secured $5 million in Series A funding, led by Greycroft Partners and iNovia Capital. Greycroft partner Ian Sigalow has joined Resonate’s Board of Directors.

The company had previously raised a $2 million round of funding from some big-name political figures, including Harold Ickes (deputy chief of staff under President Bill Clinton) and Alexander Gage (who was reportedly involved in voter targeting for George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign).

Resonate says it will use the additional capital for R&D, sales and marketing efforts.

Launched in 2009, Resonate claims to have pioneered an entirely new method for reaching consumers based on their values, beliefs, and attitudes, independent of cookie-based behavioral data. The company has stamped a fancy label on said solution and refers to it as ‘attitudinal targeting’ (more about how it works here).

John Elton, partner at iNovia Capital is pretty clear about why the firm believes in Resonate:

“We have seen so many me-too targeting companies that use browsing behavior as a substitute for intent. The results are in and that methodology doesn’t work. There are no shortcuts. You have to do the research if you want to find consumers with a propensity to buy your product.”

Resonate was originally founded to help advocacy organizations and political campaigns reach an audience defined by a more sophisticated set of characteristics than simple demographics or purchase behaviors. Only later, Resonate figured it might be able to apply the same methodology for advertisers who have to date found themselves unable to match their knowledge of their audience to online advertising campaigns.


Evernote Opens Office In Tokyo, Adds Japanese Character Recognition

Apparently information capturing and management startup Evernote is seeing quite some early success in Japan only three months after the release of its Japanese-language version.

Already, Japan is its second largest market after the United States, Evernote says, representing nearly 15 percent of the service’s daily traffic. Furthermore, over 50,000 books about Evernote in Japanese have already gone over the counter.

This popularity is in part due to a number of partnerships with leading Japanese tech companies like Sony, Canon, Fujitsu and more, the company says. And Evernote is keen on capitalizing on the current momentum it is enjoying in Japan.

Much like Twitter did early on, Evernote is going to focus a considerable amount of resources on growing its business in Japan. The company is today announcing that it has formed a wholly-owned Japanese subsidiary, Evernote Japan, and opening an office in Tokyo. In addition, Evernote is also announcing that its image recognition technology now supports Japanese characters.

The objective of the new company is to better serve Evernote’s rapidly growing user-base and its local technology and developer partners in Japan. The Tokyo office will have a full-time local staff focused on support, marketing, community engagement, and product development, we’re told.

The subsidiary will be headed by Takeshi Nakajima, vice president of Japanese Operations. Prior to joining Evernote, Nakajima had a management role within the VAIO Business Group at Sony.

Evernote Japan has also appointed Hitoshi Hokamura, a veteran of the Japanese IT industry, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and former marketing director of Apple Japan, as chairman of the Japan subsidiary.

Coinciding with the launch of the new company, Evernote is also announcing that its image recognition technology now supports Japanese characters. As from today, new images added to Evernote containing printed Japanese characters will be indexed and made searchable for those with Japanese set as their recognition language. Evernote Premium subscribers can have all of their old notes re-indexed.

Evernote is backed by over $25 million in venture capital. Recently, Evernote CEO Phil Libin gave a presentation discussing some of the startup’s key revenue numbers and strategy – you can watch the video of his talk below.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Like A Match.com For Search Marketers, Linker Facilitates Relevant Link Exchanges

Eightfold Logic, formerly Enquisite, will today announce the availability of Linker, which it has dubbed a social marketplace for link building.

Think of it as a Match.com for SEO people, where instead of people looking for a (temporary or long-term) partner, Linker aims to help search marketers connect with businesses that stand to benefit from contextual, relevant cross-linking to one another. Essentially, companies can use Linker to discover and link to relevant, high-quality websites to improve their inbound marketing and boost search rankings.

Just don’t call it link-farming, s’il vous plaît.

Eightfold Logic shies away from the term and other existing paid linking systems, which they say have resulted in an industry filled with noise and FUD, especially when it comes to link exchanges or other means of traffic building through contextual cross-linking on the Web.

Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEO software company SEOmoz, says relevant linking can indeed still prove extremely valuable for inbound marketing purposes and to maximize ROI by upping search rankings in a thoughtful, organic way.

“The value of relevant linking cannot be overemphasized. In a recent correlation study, we looked at dozens of ranking influencers and found that three of the five highest correlated factors with rankings in both Google and Bing are link-based,” said Fishkin.

You can check out SEOmoz’s analysis here.

Thus, Linker enables search marketers to join an opt-in network where businesses can define their profile, requirements, and what types of websites they are seeking to link to and/or from (by category, pagerank, geographical location, and so on). Linker’s proprietary algorithms, combined with some manual interventions, then discover relevant matches between sites. Next, the Web-based platform notifies both contacts, and asks to confirm the desirability of an introduction, self-reportedly “guaranteeing human review and appropriateness” in the process.

If both parties agree, Linker connects marketers by private email so that the parties can engage directly and decide how to take further action.

Because Eightfold Logic only provides introductions to and from opt-in, qualified marketers, Linker claims to eliminate spamming, black-hat link-farm and link-exchange tactics from the SEO marketing process. And since there is no database or network of tracked, stored information, Linker does not in any way violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, nor the guidelines of other major search engines, the company emphasizes.

Linker is free for anyone to sign up for and start using immediately to create website profiles or perform searches for relevant link partners. Payment only occurs if further action is taken, starting at $12.95 per introduction, though the first three are free.

Eightfold Logic is not your average fledgling SEO software startup. The company has been around for years and recently raised $5.2 million from a slew of venture capitalists (they’ve raised close to $17 million to date). Customers in beta include Microsoft, Razorfish, Tribune Interactive and event-food-services giant Aramark.

Also noteworthy: the company is headed by Mark Hoffman, a serial entrepreneur known for having founded and helmed database technology giant Sybase. Hoffman was previously Chairman and CEO of Commerce One and Everdream, which was acquired by Dell.


Why Every Site Should Have A Data Portability Policy

Editor’s note: Today the DataPortability Project announces PortabilityPolicy.org – the result of a 16 month effort that it hopes the industry will embrace. This guest post explains what a Portability Policy is, why your site should have a one, and why you should be looking for them. The author, Elias Bizannes, is the chairperson and executive director of the DataPortability Project.

Why Did We Do This?

The software industry is still figuring out the right balance between open and closed, but we at the DataPortability Project believe that communication is the first step.

Tell your visitors what they can expect from you and what you expect from them in return. Your Portability Policy explains the ways that your customers can use the digital “stuff” they’ve entered into your product, including pictures, settings, messages, sounds, lists, or anything else your product manipulates. Can they bring things in? Can they get them out? Can other products use things in-place, or do they need to make copies? Can your product work with stuff that’s hosted someplace else?

What is a Portability Policy?
Your Portability Policy is a plain-language document that tells your visitors what they can easily bring in and take out. Steve Greenberg, chair of the working group that developed the idea, describes it like this: “In the same way that your Privacy Policy tells visitors what you can do with information they provide, your product’s Portability Policy tells visitors what they can do with it. It should be clear enough that an average user can understand, and short enough that people can actually read it.” The new site, PortabilityPolicy.org, contains a series of questions that will help guide you in creating a Portability Policy as well as several samples.

“We need a Creative Commons for EULAs”
Greenberg and his team started with the idea that the existing ToS (terms of service) and EULA (end user licensing agreement) model was broken, and something new was needed.

The model we use for agreements between people and products comes from a time when the average person didn’t need to deal with very many of them. Developing software was complex and expensive so there weren’t that many choices. The cost of networking to move the our digital data around was enormous. The practical outcome was that you didn’t need agreements with many companies, and your data wasn’t moving around very much anyway. Until four or five years ago this was good enough, but it no longer matches how we use our computers today.

Cheap broadband and a new generation of software development tools changed everything. Today you, the user, have a host of choices for pretty much anything you want to do.There’s no more reason why you need one product to provide everything you do online, like you need one grocery store to provide everything you eat.

The long-term goal of the Portability Policy group is to create a range of standard portability terms and license clauses that improve communication between people and service providers. What we are announcing today is a set of questions that sites can answer to explain how people can bring data in and take it out. Our intention is to expand this set of questions through ongoing industry conversation—along with machine-readable text and simplified iconography—so people can determine at a glance whether the product meets their needs, and product owners can be confident that customers really understand and agree to the terms.

The DataPortability Project wants to open and simplify communication so people make informed choices, enabling market forces to help products meet demand more effectively. In the same way the capital markets have a taxonomy and standard form of communciation when companies disclose their financial results, the DataPortability Project advocates a new specificity in the service agreement language. One that enables full understanding of how personal data can be used in the digital age by companies and their websites.

An applied example: Twitter
There are three important things to note about the questions that make up the Portability Policy: there is no right or wrong answer to the questions nor are they binding; a company doesn’t have to answer all of the questions; and a company can respond to each question as much as it wants, as long as it provides the minimum answers required.

So what would it look like if Twitter had a Portability Policy? If they were to be lazy, a bare-bones Portability Policy might look like this:

…and that’s it. All the above answers can be selected from the page with the questions at http://portabilitypolicy.org/questions.html

If Twitter wanted to say more—for whatever reason—they could write more. For example, they might want to expand on what API’s they provide, or discuss the reasons behind their decision to not allow you to reuse your identify from other sites. This is where the design of the Portability Policy shows its value—it’s easy to implement and hurts no company by answering the bare minimum; and at their discretion, they can expand to provide context on their decisions or add additional transparency, in a comparable way to other similar services.

Why Data Portability matters to companies and users
People should have control over their personal information because it will unlock value in their online experiences. But it’s not a zero-sum equation.

Site owners have an economic interest to support the portability of people’s data. For example, imagine you are a social network and your revenue model relies on targeted advertising. What value is there in locking in a user’s data, if the data is wrong? Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but being a walled garden is not a competitive advantage; sites need ongoing access to—not storage of—a person’s data, as it changes. (I’ve written about this before.)

In fact, a lot more economic value could be created if sites realized the opportunity of an Internet whose sites do not put borders around people’s data. (You can read more about this in my theory about the information value chain.)

Our belief is that Data Portability is a more complex problem culturally than technically. The Portability Policy attempts to help change that culture through better communication.

So how does the Portability Policy help with the goal of giving users more control over their data? We believe sites and their users have a relationship, and the relationship is stronger if the user can trust the website to protect their domain over their data. The more freedom the user has to move data, the more likely the user is to share it. And as users become more knowledgeable about how sites might control their data without their knowledge, the websites that are transparent about data use will stand in the best stead with the public.

What’s next
Among the future work the workgroup will be looking at:

  1. Evolving the questions. What else should we be asking companies to disclose?
  2. Developing icons. How can we communicate the messages more simply?
  3. Machine readable. How can we create more value in the interpretation of the questions by computers?

We are launching the questions today, and we’ve explored uses cases with the machine readable questions like a status bar when you visit a site. Our icons are also being developed, with an example of the direction below.

This is the beginning of the dialogue between portability advocates, companies and users. As websites adopt the Portability Policy, we will evolve the standard questions. For example, our new credit card potability working group is raising awareness on an important issue—but it’s a business-to-business issue and not one relevant to sites that don’t take credit cards. We will incorporate questions that cater to that workgroup’s suggestions in addition to other issues the community brings up. (The Credit Card group previously was an independent effort, and they decided to come under our umbrella to support our broader goals.)

Recommended practices in answering questions will emerge, enabling us to assess websites on an equal basis, comparing them on the key issues that matter for data portability. We believe this is something all companies can easily support with minimal cost, as they gain greater visibility into user expectations and find common ground for communicating with their users.

To help websites adopt a Portability Policy, we are releasing a basic generator that help companies pre-fill a Portability Policy. We’ve also worked with a select few companies as we announce this today to show the diversity of applications. For example, Topguest.com launched the other week and filled out their Policy with minimal effort. Beyond the web, we can point to the .tel domain registry that has implemented a portability policy, and in entertainment we can point to Tubefilter.

This is the start of a conversation and we look forward to hearing how people can help us grow this initiative. For services interested, feel free to contact me or write a message on our community mailing list.


Twitter Growth: Happening All Over The Globe (Graphs)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may no longer be worried about Twitter and its impressive growth rate – and he shouldn’t be – but that won’t keep the micro-sharing service from continuing to boast impressive growth numbers all around the world.

Online analytics firm comScore noted Twitter’s overall continued growth, even based on incomplete data (third-party client users aren’t included in its numbers), and now Pingdom is doing its share by pointing out where exactly Twitter’s staggering international expansion is happening right now. The short version: just about everywhere.

Pingdom took a look at Google Trends for Websites traffic data for Twitter.com to see where the service is experiencing the fastest growth in terms of monthly usage. Again, that means its findings are far more fit for deducing overall trends than they are able to accurately detail Twitter’s user numbers, since a lot of people use desktop and mobile clients for tweeting.

For your information, Twitter COO Dick Costolo at the beginning of this month said they are currently at 190 million users, who are collectively posting some 65 million tweets per day. And last April, Twitter’s lead engineer for its International team, Matt Sanford, said over 60% of registered Twitter accounts were already coming from outside U.S. borders.

Anyway, these are the regions Pingdom says Twitter’s traffic curve is pointing sharply upwards the most:

Latin America

The fastest growth, according to Pingdom, is in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. Notably, the real turning point seems to have been around January 2010 for all those countries. We’re not sure why – it would have been more logical to see those jumps occur in November 2009, when Twitter was made available in Spanish.

As Pingdom points out, those five countries represent a potential audience of about 150 million Internet users, based on stats provided by Internet World Stats.

Asia

A second region where Twitter seems to be experiencing quite a boost is in Asia, especially in Eastern Asia, accounting for three out of the four top countries: India, Japan (where Twitter actively bolsters its presence with an office and custom ad deals), South Korea and Taiwan. Countries like Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia also seem to be on the rise.

Pingdom pegs the total number of Internet users in the four top countries at some 230 million (about the same as the United States).

Europe and Russia

In Europe, too, Twitter seems to be attracting an increasing amount of visitors to its website, particularly in Italy, Spain and Russia. These three countries have a combined 104 million Internet users, claims Pingdom.

In conclusion: Twitter’s continued growth is undeniable, and we’ve long known this is a global phenomenon unhindered by borders or even languages. As Twitter expands its global footprint through partnerships with mobile carriers and translating its service into more languages, the service is poised for even more growth in the years to come, aided also by increasing smartphone sales and the roll-out of potent Internet and mobile data network infrastructure.

Million dollar question: will Twitter’s own infrastructure be able to sustain this growth in the long run? We’ve all seen what happened with the World Cup stampede, and it wasn’t pretty.

Pingdom tried to pinpoint which countries stand to drive Twitter’s growth the most by looking at the sharpest traffic curves, but if anything the data researched shows that Twitter is gaining ground pretty much everywhere.

How long until Twitter reaches its Big Hairy Audacious Goal of becoming the pulse of the planet with 1 billion users?


Opera Hooks Up With MegaFon To Expand Its Mobile Browser Reach In Russia

Opera Software has struck a deal with Russia’s federal mobile operator OJSC MegaFon under which MegaFon’s special package “Unlimited Internet with Opera Mini” will be distributed to all Russian territories.

That may not sound like much at first glance, but you have to consider that MegaFon boasts over 53 million mobile subscribers, spanning all seven Federal Districts of Russia.

Furthermore, MegaFon serves some 39 percent of all mobile Web traffic in Russian territories, according to recent research (it was first in Russia to run a 3G network based on UMTS). The operator says internal statistics have shown that Opera Mini subscribers effectively generate twice the traffic than any other MegaFon user.


Facebook Has Been Massively Underreporting Twitter App Users — By Over 6 Million

Inside Network’s AppData is a goldmine of information about third-party applications on Facebook. With it, you can see stats like: FarmVille has 63.9 million monthly active users — making it well over twice as large as the number two app on Facebook, Texas HoldEm Poker (also a Zynga game), which has 28.5 million monthly active users. But there was always something a little wonky about certain areas of AppData’s data. For example, they showed that Facebook for Android only had 67 monthly active users — yes, 67. But something happened this past week that seemed to correct the data, and it exposed one new massive Facebook app: Twitter.

As Inside Facebook (another site under InsideNetwork) noted yesterday, some change Facebook recently made appears to have corrected the stats for a number of apps. The aforementioned Facebook for Android shot up to 4.7 million MAU from its 67 — a 7 percent increase. The other big increase in the top 10 gainers? Twitter, which went from it’s previously reported number of just over 400,000 users, to nearly 7 million — a change of over 1,300 percent. And the app still appears to be growing pretty fast. The Twitter app’s own page on Facebook now confirms this new number.

Obviously, the app didn’t jump like that overnight, there was clearly an error before. Still, this information is interesting because it shows just how big an app made by Facebook rival Twitter is on Facebook itself. Its 6.7 million MAU makes it the 40th most popular app on Facebook, according to AppData’s numbers. That’s pretty significant.

Twitter’s app on Facebook has been the center of some controversy on the network for some time. A year ago, the app appeared to be badly broken (or exploited), and neither side appeared to be rushing to fix it. At the time, due to this underreporting, it looked like the app was relatively small (250,000 users, we reported at the time) — now it’s clear it was much, much bigger. Million of users were likely affected.

Earlier today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared some thoughts with Inside Facebook about Twitter. Notably, he admitted that he spent too much time thinking about the rival network over the past year and a half. But now he views it as a “very nice, simple service.” One that just happens to be one of the top apps on his platform.


Babbel Adds Speech Recognition To Aid Language Learning

Babbel, the language learning site, has added “realtime” speech recognition to enhance its practical application and enable users to fine-tune their pronunciation skills. This pits the service up against more traditional players such as TellMeMore or Rosetta Stone, says the company.

The speech recognition functionality was built in-house – much of the team’s background is in audio technology – although it was realised with the latest 10.1 update to Adobe’s Flash plug-in, which enables developers to access audio data captured from the user on the client-side instead of streaming to a back-end server for analysis. For realtime feedback, local processing is preferable, says Babbel, and had Adobe not offered this option, the company would need to have built its own browser plug-in, which is hardly ideal.