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.


4INFO CEO: Expect More Acquisitions, Revenues Will Quintuple [Video]

4INFO CEO Zaw Thet is trying to shed the title, “King of SMS.”

The mobile advertising company dominates the US SMS market, delivering some 400 million text messages each month (its monthly rate has roughly doubled from early 2010)— but Thet is tired of his crown, or rather, he’s eyeing a different one. 4INFO is trying to position itself as the largest mobile advertiser, SMS and beyond, and the company is ready to acquire other players to get it there.

“The way we look at it now is let’s be the best damn mobile company in the world,” Thet says. “[We want to] be the only mobile media platform that works with top tier publishers and advertisers to deliver the highest value per interaction…That means across every mobile channel (SMS, display, apps, etc.) and every type of mobile interaction.”

The first part of this (some might say overly ambitious) campaign is its acquisition of Butter, a company that specializes in creating customized mobile solutions and ad campaigns for the iPhone and Android platform. The all-stock deal, announced this Tuesday, is a modest takeover— a source believes Butter’s valuation didn’t break seven-figures— but it embodies 4INFO’s major shift in strategy.

Butter is not incredibly unique in its basic products, a few other companies are trying to create rich mobile ad experiences (like Medialets, Apple iAds) but Thet says he was drawn to their team, the roster of clients, which includes Coca-Cola, and especially their approach:

“The thing that we found very interesting about Butter was the fact that most of their advertising buys that they were getting weren’t coming from the mobile ad budgets. For viewers who are not familiar with the way that media works, there’s typically line items in each different advertising plan, for how they’re going to spend their money, x amount goes to TV, x amount goes to the web…what Butter had done is they had been able to break out of that bucket of just being an experimental, mobile ad budget line item… That meant to us that there’s something valuable there beyond just the technology, which was interesting, but the actual relationships and the network that they built in a very short amount of time.”

From Butter’s website:

As I noted above, this will be the first of many acquisitions for 4INFO, as the company tries to create a one-stop shop, mobile ad destination. Thet has a decent purse to work with, the company has raised approximately $40 million since 2005 and revenues are climbing at a feverish pace. According Thet, revenues will likely quintuple—possibly sextuple— this year. So they have the money, but will it work?

They’ve certainly proven themselves in the SMS category, the company boasts a network of roughly 3,000 publishers, with some of the biggest publishers paying as much as $75,000 per month to use the platform. For those unfamiliar with their B2B product, the main backbone of 4INFO is a publishing platform, “msgHaven,” which helps publishers manage their SMS content and delivery. The company also features an advertising platform, called “adHaven,” which includes an ad network for mobile ads. The company has expanded beyond SMS, notably moving into mobile display ads in 2009, but it definitely has a lot of ground to cover.

Of course that ground has also become more challenging. Now that Google and Apple have rushed onto to the scene with their recent acquisitions of AdMob and Quattro, their shadows loom over the market. Noah Elkin, a senior analyst at eMarketer, says 4INFO had a better chance of dominating the market 6 months ago (pre-Google/Apple takeovers), but he says their fundamental strategy of building a comprehensive mobile ad house is sound, as more companies look for rich ad experiences and one-stop shops: “SMS has had the greatest reach but it’s probably the most unsexy form of advertising there is— as more and more consumers buy smart phones you can see the tide shifting… It’s not too late for his peer group to get in the game.”

Thet discusses the value of Butter, his acquisition strategy, and potential suitors in the video above.


Bing Entertainment Brings Full Music Streams To Search, Plus Games, Movies, And TV Shows

Bing’s iPhone app isn’t the only thing getting an upgrade today at Microsoft’s search engine. Bing is also starting to roll out close to 100 new features to its main search engine on the Web. The biggest change is a new major search category under Bing Entertainment, which will include better ways to search for music, movies, TV shows, and games. “We did travel, health, shopping and local last year,” explains senior VP Yusuf Mehdi. “Now the Web has unlocked all of this entertainment, but for many people they are spending too much time looking for what they want to do instead of enjoying it. We are trying to remove all of those hurdles that block you from enjoying it. You should be able to watch a show, listen to online music, or play a game with a few clicks.”

Roughly 10 percent of all searches are entertainment related, according to Mehdi. And 90 percent of people do at least one entertainment search a month. Bing Entertainment is designed to provide a more in-depth and visual search experience for music, movies, TV shows, and games.

One of the most noticeable changes will come in music. Music searches will now come back with lyrics and playable streams for 5 million songs, which have already been licensed through Microsoft’s Zune service. A full stream of each song will be playable once per person, and then 30-second clips will be available in subsequent searches. (In this regard, Bing is catching up to Google, which launched a similar music search late last year). The idea is to make it easier for people to discover music and sample them. There will also be links to Amazon, iTunes, and Zune to buy full downloads.

When you search for an artist or a song, a special Answer Box (informally known as the Bing Box) will appear at the top of the search results page. It may be filled with pictures of the artist, a playlist of popular songs, upcoming events, their Tweets, and a link to the artist’s official site.

Movie searches will create an Answer Box with photo stills, a synopsis, local show times, and links to trailers. The results will be geared to help you plan a night out at the movies, complete with maps, parking, nearby restaurant suggestions and more. For TV shows, you will get TV listings in your area and sometimes playable streams from Hulu, Viacom, CBS and other partners through Bing Videos. Whenever available, trailers and TV shows will play within Bing.

Games searches will be geared toward both hardcore console gamers (teenagers) and casual Web gamers (Moms). For console games, results will be filtered to easily find walkthroughs, reviews, and cheats. Casual game searches sometimes take you to games you can play on Bing like Checkers and Bejeweled.

By bringing entertainment experiences it Bing, searchers might stick around longer. Search used to take you away to what you were looking for on the Web, but data (including music, video, and games) can move anywhere now, even to search engines. It might be time to retire that rule.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Zuckerberg: Facebook Revenue Estimates Of $1.1 Billion “Not So Far Off..”

Earlier today Inside Facebook posted a very interesting interview with Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The conversation touched on a range of topics including the proliferation of social gaming, the argument for instituting Facebook Credits across all games, and why Zuckerberg is no longer afraid of Twitter. It also shed some light on Facebook’s revenue numbers: Zuckerberg said that estimates that Facebook would make between $1 and $1.1 billion this year “are not so far off in either direction that it’s causing us any pain…”

So what did he mean by that? Zuckerberg says that revenue estimates last year were lowballing Facebook’s revenue stats to the point that it was hurting the company. Now that’s changed, at least to the point that Facebook isn’t seeing any adverse effects from analyst guesses. Still, it sounds like those figures might still be a little low — Zuckerberg says that “in general, I think people underestimate the value of the whole thing” (though he may be referring to the overall value of Facebook in the long run as opposed to this year’s revenue numbers). Also note that he says that if the estimates were too high, Facebook would correct them to ensure that people didn’t have overoptimistic expectations.

From the interview:

The reason we corrected it last year is because it was hurting us. People thought it was too low. Now what I would say is that the estimates are not so far off in either direction that it’s causing us any pain, so we feel no need to correct it. Also, if it was too high, we would want to correct it too, because we don’t want expectations to be too high and we don’t want people to be disappointed if they joined. I think people are getting a better feel for it, but in general I think people underestimate the value of the whole thing.


Twitter For iPhone Quick To Add Multitasking And Retina Display Support

When Twitter bought Atebits, the company behind the excellent iPhone Twitter client, Tweetie, there was some concern it would slow down development of that app. Luckily, it doesn’t look like that has happened. As today, Twitter for iPhone version 3.0.1 has just launched, and with it comes suport for both iOS 4 and iPhone 4.

In fact, while other huge apps on the iPhone, such as Facebook, lag behind in supporting the newest iPhone functionality, Twitter is one of the first to implement some of the useful new features.

So what they are supporting with this update? The actual App Store page only vaguely says the app has updated “OAuth support” and has a “Stuck top tweets fix”. But having downloaded the app just now, I can confirm that it is enabled to “multitask” — meaning you can quickly switch into and out of the app and into other background enabled apps. The app also has been customized for the new iPhone 4 Retina display, developer Loren Brichter confirms.

You can find Twitter for iPhone here in the App Store. It’s a free download.


Zuckerberg Admits He “Paid Too Much Attention” To Twitter

This morning, Inside Facebook posted a great interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the state of the company. It’s worth reading in its entirety for thoughts about the Platform, Credits, gaming, and the company’s financials. But one thing that caught my eye in particular was his thoughts about Twitter.

Over the past year and a half, Facebook has been under a lot of criticism that it is drifting away from its core service and into a more Twitter-like state, where short status updates rule and all information should be public. When Facebook failed to acquire the company in late 2008, Twitter’s influence on the look and feel of Facebook became more and more apparent. But Zuckerberg says that the time of Twitter infatuation is now over.

As good as I think they are, I think I personally just paid too much attention to it,” Zuckerberg tells Inside Facebook’s Justin Smith. Why was he so focused on the rival? Their growth rate — it had Facebook worried.

I looked at their rate and thought if this continues for 12 months or 18 months, then in a year they’re going to be bigger than us,” Zuckerberg says. But he says he was wrong in thinking Twitter’s growth rate would continue in the same way that Facebook’s had. “It just turned out that that their growth rate was kind of unnatural. They got a lot of media attention, and it grew very quickly for a little period of time,” he says.

Twitter’s rate of growth certainly stalled at points in the last year, but it appears to be growing at a healthy clip once again. And Facebook, with its new movement to make more data public, appears to be on a collision course with Twitter once again, as they move to add more features — some of which Facebook has.

But don’t tell Zuckerberg that. “It’s a very nice, simple service. They do one thing really well – that’s powerful,” is his view on them now.

He also notes that they’re different because Twitter’s focus isn’t on using your real identity, as it is on Facebook. To him, Twitter seems to be more about self-expression.

Finally, he tells Smith that watching them is going to be “really interesting over the next few years.” And then, unprompted, he brings up the name of another company Facebook has been rumored to be interested in purchasing — Foursquare.

If Zuckerberg is interested in watching Foursquare over the next few years, maybe we can take that to mean he is no longer interested in owning them. From what we’ve been hearing, Facebook and Foursquare have had a number of discussions over the past few months about possible partnerships and/or an acquisition. Nothing came of those, and Foursquare now seems committed to raising its next round of money, from what we hear.

Facebook, meanwhile, is still at work on its own location offering. “Well, we’re developing something, but nothing [to say] besides that. We want to make sure that we do it well, and we’re taking the time to do that,” Zuckerberg tells Smith.

The latest we’re hearing on that is that Facebook will offer simple check-in functionality on its mobile properties, but the emphasis will be on aggregating other services’ (including Foursquare) check-in data. The key to all of this will be to wrap around Facebook Places, a new local merchant-centric area that should launch fairly soon.

For what it’s worth, Zuckerberg hasn’t updated his Twitter account in over 15 months now. He sent a total of 18 tweets in just over a month of use.

[photo: flickr/deneyterrio]


Bantam CEO Tries To Position Salesforce Chatter As Lipstick On A Pig (Video)

Salesforce Chatter just went live to all customers earlier today, but already it is being attacked from below by smaller social CRM players. Taking a page from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s own playbook of getting attention by going after larger incumbents, Bantam Live CEO John Rourke likens Chatter to lipstick on a pig. The pig in question is the underlying Salesforce app which he describes as having “the interface only the mother of a database technician could love.”

Now that he’s got your attention, what Rourke really wants to tell you is that Bantam Live is the social CRM for small businesses. Bantam Live launched last year at one of our Realtime Crunchups, and it came out of beta last February. A couple weeks ago, I got him on video talking about his approach to social CRM and how he positions Bantam Live against the Salesforce juggernaut. He also gave me a demo of his social enterprise app. (Watch the videos after the jump).


Google Counters Apple’s HTML5 Showcase With HTML5Rocks (Yes, It’s Really Called That)

Earlier this month, Apple unveiled a new site to showcase HTML5. On it, Apple showed off a number of impressive web demos coded using only HTML5 technologies. However, at least on the main page, these demos were restricted to working on only Apple’s Safari web browser. So now Google is countering with its own HTML5 site — called, get this, HTML5Rocks.

Google and Apple are arguably the two biggest companies attempting to push HTML5 forward. Notably, both also dominate updates to the WebKit rendering engine (with both Safari and Google Chrome use). But both also seem a bit at odds with HTML5 because both have popular mobile platforms that use native applications not coded with HTML5. In recent weeks though, the two companies (which are in the middle of a war with one another) seem to be trying to show that each is fully committed to the open web.

HTML5Rocks features nine tutorials on HTML5 feature. And there’s a code playground to let you mess around with your own code. Obviously, all of this works well in Chrome — but it also works with Safari. That said, Google made sure to add in this note:

The presentation was originally meant to run in Google Chrome. Some experimental features might or might not be coded to run in other browsers for now. (Although you will cry out of happiness when you see so much running in IE with the Chrome Frame plug-in). If you want to run 100% of the demos contained in the presentation you might need to run Chrome with the webgl flag enabled.

Take that, Apple (and Microsoft).

Here’s how Google describes the site:

Because HTML5 and its related technologies cover so much ground, it can be a real a challenge to get up to speed on them. That’s why today we’re sharing HTML5 Rocks, a great new resource for developers and teams looking to put HTML5 to use today, including more information on specific features and when to use them in your apps.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Google Translates “Call Us For Free” To “Skype” In Italian

While incredibly useful, Google Translate is also known for its occasional snafus. For example, an English to French translation of “videos on Vimeo” previously resulted in “des videos sur YouTube.” Another example of a wonky translation took place when Kai-Fu Lee, president of the search giant’s China operations, left the company.

Today’s questionable result comes from an English to Italian translation of “call us for free.” The phrase returns in Italian as “Telefonare gratis con Skype.” The reverse translation results in ‘call us for free.’

This doesn’t seem to work in other languages, so it could just be a glitch in the system. Or it could be a result of a crowdsourced effort to change the translation. We’ve contacted Google for comment. Regardless, it provides for a little lighthearted humor on a Tuesday afternoon.

Update: Google has confirmed that this was a machine translation error and not the result of a crowdsourced effort to change a translation. The translation has now been corrected.


Hands On With The Awesome New Sonos iPad Controller [Video]

Sonos stopped by our office in San Francisco today to show off their newest toy: the iPad controller app. Those familiar with the iPhone/iPod touch version of the controller will feel at home here, though obviously the larger screen allows Sonos to do some more creative music management things with the UI. It looks to be a pretty killer way to manage multiple Sonos systems throughout your home (it can manage up to 32 separate zones).

While the app looks polished and ready to go, Sonos says it’s still pre-beta. The plan is to have it ready to submit to Apple’s App Store by mid-August. Once approved, it will be available as a free download.

They see the iPad version of the app as the most social Sonos controller yet — great for parties. As to why you would buy a CR200 — their dedicated remote that costs $350 — instead of an iPad with this app, they note that the CR200 is still faster to use if you want to access your systems instantly. And the dedicated remote is going to stay in your home, if someone leaves with the iPad, you’ll have no remote.

Watch a video of it in action below. As you can see, it seamlessly runs two Sonos S5s (including the new black one), in two different rooms. Below that, find a video of Sonos telling us a bit more about the strategy behind these apps. Of note, they’re completely focused on Apple’s mobile platforms for the time being (meaning, sadly, no Android app is in the works just yet). And while they may be hesitant to say it, they’d clearly love for their systems to be available in Apple Stores.

For those who can’t wait for the iPad version, check out the iPhone version (which will work on the iPad) here in the App Store.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Zynga’s FrontierVille Breaks 5 Million Daily Active Users

On June 9th, social gaming powerhouse Zynga launched its latest creation: FrontierVille. The game takes many of the gameplay elements found in Zynga’s smash hit Farmville and adds some of adventure and spontaneity (not to mention a Wild West theme) to help spice things up. Today, less than two weeks after launch, the company says that it has 5.2 million daily active users.

To give some context to that stat, it was only eight days ago that Zynga CEO Mark Pincus announced that the game had over 1 million DAUs. Zynga’s Farmville (which just had its one year anniversary) has around 18 million daily active users according to Inside Network’s AppData leaderboard. Treasure Isle, another popular Zynga game, has 5.18 million DAUs.

So why does this matter? Zynga’s Facebook games saw staggering growth last year, but this year its games’ popularity has leveled off (and in some cases, dipped). It’s imperative for Zynga’s future success that it can keep launching hits. At this point FrontierVille has a long way to go before it can match Farmville, but it’s off to a solid start. Still, my hunch is that Zynga will have to start launching games that are innovative — as opposed to iterative, like FrontierVille — before we see another game succeed on the same scale as Farmville did at its peak.

Some other interesting stats about the game so far:

  • 10 Million people have created homesteads
  • Half a million people have had their avatars get “married”
  • 5 million settlers have visited friends and have completed 550 million tasks
  • 2.5 million settlers have ‘hired’ a friend
  • 6.5 million players have chased away 141 million snakes
  • 3 million players have scared the bear (87 million bears have been scared away)
  • Information provided by CrunchBase


Sonos Announces iPad App

I’ve always had a soft spot in my necrotic heart for Sonos. In the face if iPods, Zunes, mobile phones, and everything else, they’ve kept pumping out great, compact products for folks with big houses. They’ve never pretended to be too high-class for the rest of us yet you basically use their products to create soundscapes, just like Disney World, Vegas, and the haunted house I made in my basement as a kid.

Sonos just announced their iPad app – probably available in August – that allows you to control your Sonos system on the iPad’s bright screen. The app allows you to browse your iTunes and Sonos collection, pick radio streams, and even set different rooms with different playlists. When I tested the Sonos kit I used to like to make my bathroom, for instance, the Drum’n’Bass room to ease evacuation.

Video after the jump.


Online Privacy Startup ReputationDefender Raises $15 Million

ReputationDefender, an online security startup, has announced a $15 million Series C round led by JAFCO Ventures with existing investors, Bessemer Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers participating in the round. This brings the company’s total funding to $24 million.

The startup, which just raised $8.65 million last year, helps you monitor your reputation on the Web and take actions to make sure that when someone Googles you they see you in the best possible light. ReputationDefender sells four different security products on a monthly subscription basis (MyReputation, MyPrivacy, MyChild, and MyEdge) which lets you monitor information about you across the Web, as well as in semi-private databases, and helps you remove inaccurate information or counter by promoting your own vetted profile.

The company also just bought Ziggs.com, a social networking site for business professionals and people who would like to ‘market themselves on the Web’. And ReputationDefender recently launched an application, PrivacyDefender, to help you navigate Facebook’s new privacy settings.

The company plans to use the funding for to develop new product and expand customer acquisition efforts.


Foursquare Now Adding Nearly 100,000 Users A Week

Over the past several months, Foursquare has had a number of impressive stats for a startup. Some of them involved SXSW, some involved overall check-ins numbers, some involved deals signed. But at the end of the day, the most important metric for any service remains number of users. And Foursquare is doing pretty well there too.

The location-based service has just tweeted out that they’re now past 1.7 million users. Impressively, that’s up 100,000 users from just about a week ago. Also impressive from this angle, it was only two months ago that Foursquare passed one million users — clearly the rate of growth is increasingly quickly.

At this rate, Foursquare will surpass 2 million users in July. MyTown, another location-based network hit that number in May, but it’s more of a game than a standard location-based network. Another location-based network, Brightkite, hit 2 million users in February. Meanwhile, rivals Loopt and Google Latitude both have 3 million users.

At this rate of growth, Foursquare could surpass many of its rivals in terms of size fairly soon. Of course, Loopt with its new background-enabled iPhone app, and Latitude with its new API, may have something to say about that.

Information provided by CrunchBase