Google’s Friend Connect Open to All

I know that I should be excited about the endless possibilities that Google Friend Connect will bring, but I can’t help wonder how this service is any different from Yahoo’s MyBlogLog.

Anyway, if you’ve been itching to add Google Friend Connect to your own web site, you’re in for a good Friday. Google has just announced that–in no way connected to any threat that Facebook Connect may bring–Google Friend Connect is now open to all.

What’s all the fuss? You can view the video below:

In the meantime, a gold star to anyone that can tell me how this is connected to Google’s core focus? Didn’t the company just say that it was cutting back on anything that wasn’t "search, ads and apps?"

Confirmed: Yahoo’s Dr. Qi Lu Left to Head Microsoft’s Search Efforts

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on rumors that Yahoo’s Dr. Qi Lu had left the company to join Microsoft. Whether or not he left Yahoo with a Microsoft offer-letter in hand–we suspect he did–Dr. Lu has indeed resurfaced at Microsoft.

According to the official release from Microsoft:

Dr. Lu will lead Microsoft’s efforts in search and online advertising and all the company’s online information and communications services. Dr. Lu will report to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.

Dr. Lu played an instrumental role in the development of Yahoo’s search platform, which begs the question; what did Microsoft just achieve?

Is it a) why acquire Yahoo, when you can hire the guy that built its search platform? Or b) hire the guy that built Yahoo’s search platform–which has never lived up to its full potential and still lags way behind Google.

Google Slows Data Center Growth; Opts Out of North Carolina Grant

We have another sign that Google is very much concerned about the current economic conditions. Both the Raleigh News & Observer and the Triangle Business Journal are reporting that the search engine giant has told state officials it won’t be taking a $4.7 million grant after all.

The grant was supposed to be an incentive for Google to create 210 jobs and spend $600 million over four years–all at its new data center in Lenoir, NC. However, Google has thus far only hired 50 employees and has all but stopped the expansion of its data center in Lenoir.

While Google states it didn’t like all of the terms of the grant agreement it also cited “recent volatile economic conditions” in a letter to state officials.

Cyber Monday: Kickstart to Christmas?

By Peter Young

The specter of a credit crunch/recession has been looming large both in the US and the UK over the last year or so, with resulting bottom lines significantly affected. For many retailers this has seen Christmas come later than in previous years, with many retailers only starting to see the increases in traffic normally associated with the festive time of year.

However according to some research on both sides of the pond, things are starting to look a little brighter. A recent report by Comscore suggested Cyber Monday became the second heaviest online spending day in history (eclipsed only be that of Green Monday, December 10th 2007). For those wondering what all these days are, here’s the overview

Marketing News Roundup, December 3-4

Is it Thursday already? Sheesh—I got to get movin’ on those Christmas presents from online retailers! Or should I wait until Dec 15 to give Green Monday an extra push? Hm…

Google Reader Gets a Facelift

Less than a month after Google released Gmail themes, the Google Reader team released a new design for Google Reader. Why the change? According to Jenna Bilotta from the Google Reader team, it is an attempt to speed up Google Reader.

Google is all about speed, both under the hood as well as in the user experience. So, in order to make Reader act and feel more speedy and responsive, we’ve removed some visual clutter, simplified some features and given everything a bit more breathing room.

A bit more breathing room is right. Reader has lost some of the clutter that was found at the top of the old reader design, creating a larger viewing area to read your feeds.

New

Other new features include:

TechCrunch Among First to Adopt Facebook Connect

As we’ve already reported, it looks like Facebook Connect will be taking off after all. Facebook Connect gives you the ability to log into other websites via your Facebook account, track what your friends are doing on those sites, and also broadcast the comments you make on those sites in your stalker friend feed.

Although Facebook Connect is still in its infancy (it launched on November 30, 2008), TechCrunch has decided to become an early adopter and roll it into their comments platform. Now when you want to post a comment on a TechCrunch blog post, all you’ll need to do is login to your Facebook account and it will populate the rest of the data for you (name, email, website, etc). The next time you come back to comment, you’ll just have to press the “Connect” button and you’ll be logged in and ready to comment.