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Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg prefers underdogs

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts great opportunity for entrepeneurs, whereas larger companies could struggle.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts great opportunity for entrepeneurs, whereas larger companies could struggle

San Francisco, California: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg favors the little guy, but that attitude can pose obstacles for popular websites that want to work with his company.

Apple and Google, which are among the biggest technology businesses in the world, find themselves stonewalled at times by Zuckerberg and company. That sometimes results in less functional applications.

Apple launched its music-centric social network, called Ping, as part of an iTunes update that contained a Facebook component. But Apple had to remove integration with the world's largest social network hours after Ping launched. Last week Twitter announced an agreement with Apple's Ping.

Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, spurned Facebook for what he considered were "onerous terms."

When questioned about this in an interview onstage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said with a shrug, "It's fine."

Then Zuckerberg pointed out that the two work together in many ways. For example, Facebook's app "is on the vast majority of iPhones," he said at an event earlier this month at Facebook's Palo Alto, California, headquarters.

As for Facebook's relationship with Google, the two are in the midst of a public spat about letting users import and export personal data between the social network and Gmail. Facebook, which launched an email service on Monday, doesn't let users easily migrate addresses to other apps.

Zuckerberg said at the conference on Tuesday that this move was meant to protect the private contact information of a user's friends. He backtracked near the end of that fireside chat and highlighted the data export issue as a potential mistake.

"I've made so many mistakes in running the company so far," he said. "We still make mistakes all of the time." The trouble, he said, is figuring out which of the company's myriad problems "really matter."

Zuckerberg also seemed to distance himself from Google, the undisputed leader in search, last month when Facebook announced a deal with Microsoft's Bing.

"They're just trying to rapidly gain [market] share by doing awesome stuff," Zuckerberg said of Microsoft at the Bing event. "They're really the underdog here."

But Microsoft wasn't spared from criticisms during Tuesday's event. Microsoft, a massive computer software company and an investor in Facebook, has thousands of engineers, Zuckerberg pointed out; Facebook has fewer, and is therefore seen by developers as a more effective and attractive employer, he said.

Zuckerberg makes it known that he has a soft spot for budding entrepreneurs. When asked about "The Social Network" -- the film based on the founding of Facebook -- Zuckerberg boasted of fan mail from people who say his story inspired them to become entrepreneurs.

His mission is to "enable others to build" social networking services, which can be accomplished using Facebook's platform, he said. Small-time developers can freely make use of Facebook's offerings, but larger companies must work directly or be locked out.

Despite amassing 500 million people actively using the service, Zuckerberg still doesn't consider Facebook a giant company. "In some ways, I actually think we're only now entering the zone where a lot of entrepreneurs will consider working with us," he said.

But during Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz's onstage interview earlier Tuesday, she described Facebook as Yahoo's "competition." This sentiment could create even greater disconnects between Facebook's service and popular apps, as is the case with Gmail and Ping.

Without being specific, Zuckerberg derided some large internet companies, saying they won't make it past a social networking revolution.

"Some aren't going to make it," he said on Tuesday. "I think there's an exciting opportunity for some entrepreneurs."

Zuckerberg's advice to "incumbents," as he calls technology giants: "Get on the bus."

But that doesn't mean he's going to make it easy for them to board.

Resource: CNN

Official: Israel to pull out of strategic border town

Israeli soldiers take their positions in the village of Ghajar on November 10, 2010.
Israeli soldiers take their positions in the village of Ghajar on November 10, 2010

Jerusalem : Israel's security cabinet tentatively accepted a plan to withdraw the nation's troops from the strategic border town of Ghajar, one of the Mideast's more complicated locations, Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser said Wednesday.

The Foreign Ministry has been authorized to finalize details with the United Nations as soon as possible, Hauser said in a statement.

Final approval of the plan would bring Israel in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution that ended Israel's war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006.

Ghajar was a Syrian village that Israel took control of after the 1967 war and its residents took Israeli citizenship in 1981. In 2000, the United Nations drew the border line between Israel and Lebanon through the middle of village.

During the 2006 war, Israel retook control of the northern half of Ghajar, which it maintains to this day. The town sits on the border between Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Israel has cited security concerns for its continued control of the northern part of the village.

Under an agreement negotiated with the United Nations, Israeli soldiers would secure the southern part of the village, while U.N. soldiers would assume security responsibility for the northern part.

The villagers in Ghajar say the community of 2,300 belongs to neither Lebanon, nor Israel, but instead is in Syria.

"We demand today the return of al-Ghajar village with both parts, north and south as one village with all its land to Syria," according to village spokesman Najib al Khatib.

Resource: CNN

Iran accuses German journalists of spying

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to death by stoning.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to death by stoning.

Iran has charged two German journalists who interviewed the son and lawyer of a woman condemned to die by stoning with espionage, Iranian media reported Tuesday.

"Their reports and propaganda in Tabriz proved that they are in the country for spying," Malek Ajdar Shafiee, the head of the Justice Department of East Azarbaijan, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars News Agency.

The two men, identified only as a reporter and photojournalist, were arrested last month in the northwest city of Tabriz, Iraq, after they interviewed the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was convicted of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to death by stoning.

The Iranian government also says Ashtiani was involved in her husband's murder, a charge her family has denied.

The charges against the two Germans comes the day after they were shown on Iranian state-run television. The program produced by Iran's Channel 2, quoted one of the men saying that they were "tricked" by an activist with the German-based International Committee Against Stoning, into entering the country illegally.

The unnamed man told the television station that the committee's spokeswoman, Mina Ahadi, used the journalists for her own gain.

"Mina Ahadi sent me to Iran because she knew she would benefit from my arrest, and I'll sue her when I get back to Germany," the man said.

Ahadi denied that the journalists traveled on behalf of the anti-stoning organization.

Meanwhile, a German diplomat based in the embassy in Tehran, Iraq, was granted consular access for a second time Tuesday to the two German nationals, the German Foreign Office said in a statement.

Monday's broadcast also showed a woman identified as Ashtiani. The woman, whose face was blurred and whose words were translated from the Azeri language to Farsi, blamed Ahadi for spreading false information about her case around the world.

Ashtiani's son Sajjad Gaderzadeh and her lawyer Hootan Kian, were also interviewed on the program, the first time they have appeared on television since their arrests last month.

Kian, a government-appointed lawyer, has been critical of the government's handling of Ashtiani's case. He said in August that she was being tortured while in prison and that he also feared for his own life.

Gaderzadeh said Kian had told him that his mother was being tortured. "Unfortunately I listened to them and lied to the foreign media about everything," he said on the program.

This is the third time Ashtiani has appeared on state-run television confessing to the charges of adultery and murder.

"I am a sinner," she said Monday on the program.

The International Committee Against Stoning condemned the televised confession.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran's goal in airing this program is to agitate public opinion against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and Mina Ahadi, yet despite all efforts, in and of itself the program is a powerful reflection of the international campaign to save Sakineh," said a statement from the organization.

Iranian courts have said Ashtiani's case is still under review.

Resource: CNN

Apple finally approves Google Voice app

Google Voice allows for cheaper calls to other countries, compared to most telecom rates, and free text messages.

Apple began carrying Google's free voice app for iPhone on Tuesday, after the application hung in limbo for more than a year.

The Google Voice app interfaces with the Web service by the same name. Voice lets users register a new phone number where calls can be forwarded and organizes voice mail, text messages and call logs in a central inbox.

Google submitted its iPhone app in June 2009. Six weeks later, Google said its app still hadn't been approved. At the time, Apple carried a handful of third-party apps that hooked into Google's voice service.

Not long after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission inquired into this public dispute, Apple took down all apps that interface with Google Voice, including one called GV Mobile.

In Apple's response to the FCC, the company expressed concern that these applications replace key functions of the phone and may cause confusion. Apple tests all apps for bugs -- as well as compliance with the company's contentious and somewhat ambiguous rules -- before they are admitted to its online App Store.

Google has other apps for the iPhone, including one for its search engine that allows users to input text, voice or pictures from the phone's camera.

But with no way to get the Google Voice app past Apple's guards, Google created a mobile-optimized website for iPhone and other smartphone owners to use with Voice. However, websites cannot achieve features that apps can, such as system notifications and integration with a phone's address book.

But then Apple suddenly began approving third-party voice apps a couple of months ago. They were mainly pay-per-download programs. Google declined to comment at that time, instead pointing people to the Web version.

On Tuesday, Google's free software appeared in the App Store.

Google already has voice apps for its own Android mobile operating system and for Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices. Those apps work more seamlessly with those phones than the iPhone version.

But in our testing, we found Google Voice for iPhone to be well designed. While calls made through Gmail on a computer are connected over the internet through a technology called VoIP, the iPhone app routes calls through traditional cellular telephony protocols.

Google Voice allows for cheaper calls to other countries, compared to the rates telecoms like AT&T charge, and free text messages. It can also transcribe voice mails into text, although that technology is far from perfect.

Apple has taken verbal beatings this week at the Web 2.0 Summit, a conference in San Francisco, California, frequented by high-tech executives.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt painted Apple's system as "closed," which clashes with his company philosophy, he said in his fireside chat on Monday. "The Android model is very different from Apple's on just about every point," he said.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in his most recent earnings call that Schmidt's argument is a sort of smoke and mirrors, and called Android "fragmented."

Jobs took shots at RIM in that call. So RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie joined the fight on Tuesday at the Web 2.0 Summit, echoing Schmidt's sentiment about Apple's policies. He also appeared to express some contempt for Jobs' "sit back and say things" attitude.

But with the Voice app finally available, Apple may be lowering the barrier on the types of software it will allow in its store, and at the same time smoothing its competitive relationship with Google.

Resource: CNN

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