links for 2010-02-02
It used to be that Twitter followers were worth something, or at least people thought they were worth something, which is the same thing. It was only about a year ago when Jason Calacanis was offering $250,000 to buy a spot on Twitter’s Suggested User List, which would have guaranteed him perhaps a million followers before Twitter ended up revamping the SUL to be less monolithic. He never got on the list, but if his offer would have come to roughly $0.25 per follower. Today, you can “buy” followers on eBay for less than a penny each. Some of the Buy-It-Now listings include 5,000 followers for $20 (which comes to 0.4 penny/follower), $5,500 for $40 (0.7 penny/follower), $1,100 for $10 (0.9 penny/follower). You are not actually buying followers outright (Twitter doesn’t allow people to transfer their followers), but rather services which “guarantee” getting your account up to the promised number of followers through “proven and safe methods.”
Users of Apple Inc.’s popular iPhone may now be able to save money by making Internet-based phone calls over AT&T Inc.’s cellular network. Apple this week allowed new versions of several Voice over Internet Protocol services to begin working on the iPhone, according to those services. Previously, iPhone users needed a wireless Internet connection to make such calls, but the change will allow calls from anywhere that receives a strong enough 3G cellular signal. By using VoIP applications to sidestep the phone’s normal calling software, iPhone owners could avoid using up their monthly allocation of minutes from AT&T, potentially allowing them to choose cheaper plans.
China, the United States and Russia are among 20 countries locked in a cyberspace arms race and gearing up for possible Internet hostilities, according to the head of web security firm McAfee. Dave DeWalt, chief executive and president of the US firm said the traditional defensive stance of government computer infrastructures has shifted in recent years. “This movement from a defensive posture to a more offensive posture is just very obvious,” he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. McAfee said it has identified at least five countries with cyber weapons, including the United States, China, Russia, Israel and France. “We’re now seeing 20 plus countries, governments arm themselves for cyber warfare, cyber espionage, cyber offensive capabilities,” said DeWalt. “There’s an arms race going on in cyberspace,” he told AFP.
Booming demand for new, cheaper smartphones helped fuel a recovery in the overall handset market late last year, but rivalry for a piece of this lucrative business will turn fierce in 2010 as many new vendors enter the market. “The smartphone market will become ultra-competitive in 2010,” said analyst Neil Mawston from research firm Strategy Analytics (SA). “The smartphone wars will be good news for consumers, but the fierce competition will inevitably place downward pressure on vendors’ pricing and margins,” he said.