>> eBay buys Gmarket in South Korea. AT&T launches a location tracker for the entire network. And CNN feeds me to 1 million Twitter followers. It's Thursday, April 16th. I'm Natali Del Conte, and it's time to get Loaded.
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While eBay is selling off assets like Skype and Stumble Upon, it is also on a buying spree. The company put in an offer to buy Gmarket, the Korean online retailer, for 1.2 billion dollars. eBay has already secured 67 percent of Gmarket since shareholders have agreed to the cash offer. Yahoo is one of the shareholders, and they stand to make 120 million dollars off the deal. It makes sense that eBay would get rid of companies that have nothing to do with their core business, and then go and buy companies that do. eBay's South Korean operations are currently called Internet Auction. Gmarket would be combined with Internet Auction, making eBay the leader in the sixth largest auction marketplace.
AT&T launched a location-based tracker for cell phones this week. Their version is called "Family Map." It lets you track other people on a Microsoft Live map, using GPS and cell tower triangulation. It's free for a month, but then $9.99 per month for two phones, or $14.99 per moth for up to five phones. That's a lot for such an intrusive service. You'll get random text messages reminding you that so and so is tracking you, and you'll also get text messages when someone new starts tracking you. I'm not so opposed to these tracking programs per say, but I don't know why you would pay for this when Google Latitude is free. And also, I don't like the name Family Map. Let's just call this what it is, obsessive spyware for tracking people you do not trust.
The PC market shrunk during the first part of 2009, but not as badly as some had feared. Shipments of computers were down 7.1 percent from the previous year during the first quarter, to 63.5 million units. That's better than the 8.2 percent analysts had projected. They're attributing this to the dropping cost of computers and netbooks. Dell was hit especially hard with a 16.2 percent fall, but HP shipments actually rose 12.2 percent in the US. Acer's shipment also rose 13.4 percent, and even Apple, the darling of the tech industry, saw a hit. Their sales are down 1.2 percent from the same time last year.
Microsoft launched a new line of Zune originals this week. They are spring themed, which would seem nice if we ever got a spring here in New York. The designs come from artists whose names I do not recognize but feel like I should. The designed Zunes come at no extra charge, and they include a tree-like design, a tapestry-like design, and a giant queen bee because that is what your MP3 player has been missing, right?
The European Union has filed a legal action against the United Kingdom for breaking Internet data privacy rules. According to the EU, Britain has been testing a system called "Forum" that has been analyzing Internet users behavior in an effort to better target advertising, most grievously, without the user's knowledge or consent. Talk about Big Brother. In an increasingly connected world, the EU is very concerned with Internet privacy as well as developing technologies like RFID that may potentially allow companies or governments to track your location. Britain has two months to respond to the complaint.
>> According to comScore, Twitter is growing faster and faster every day. In the US, Twitter saw its traffic grow 130 percent between February and March. During that time, they had 9.3 million visitors. In more Twitter-related news, CNN has won the race to 1 million Twitter followers. The news outlet was neck and neck with celebs Ashton Kutcher and BritneySpears, but the company just hit the 1 million-follower mark this morning. Not that it matters, but I wouldn't mind 1 million followers, although what kind of responsibility comes with 1 million followers? Twitter me your guess at Natali Del Conte.
Yelp has released the 2.0 version of their iPhone application. Users will, of course, be able to browse restaurant reviews, but the new app features some enhanced GPS capabilities and a new feature called "Quick Tips" that allows users to create 140-character reviews, much like Twitter. The app will also use GPS to list reviews of photos and restaurant taken near a user's location and even include some social networking features like Friend Feed. The app will also include GPS to list reviews and photos of restaurant taken near a user's location and even include some social networking features like Friend Feed. Already the Yelp iPhone app accounts for five percent of the sites traffic.
>> We reported yesterday that Nintendo will be releasing the Wii Motion Plus on June 8th. The problem is that the first game to support the enhanced motion sensing, Wii Sports Resort, won't be available for another month and a half. Users had hoped that Nintendo would release updates to existing games to take advantage of the new capabilities. Unfortunately, Nintendo replied tersely to a Game Daily inquiry, saying, "The Wii Motion Plus accessory is only for games that are designed to make use of its abilities.
Engadget is reporting that Verizon is already planning on releasing an app store for its Hub in the next month. There aren't any details at the moment, but sales of the Hub, as many had predicted, have been a bit lackluster, especially given that the device is kind of hard to explain and expensive. Rumors are already afloat that Verizon will be releasing a sleeker Hub II. Sleeker is nice, but how about cheaper?
New York City cab drivers are about to get a lot less friendly if this new law is passes. The Taxi and Limousine Commission of New York is considering blocking cell phone use to anyone in the front seat, most notably, the driver. It is already illegal to drive with a handset, but the hands free sets would also be outlawed. This legislation is only in discussion, but I don't see it going over nicely. New York City cabbies are always on the phone, 24/7. I don't know who they're talking to, though. I presume one another?
Those are all your headlines for today. And that wraps up your week of getting Loaded. Before I go, I want to wish a happy birthday to Rodney, Zachary, Allie [assumed spelling], Scott, Charles, Nico [assumed spelling], Septnum [assumed spelling], and Adam. I will see you next week or today and tomorrow here on Buzz Out Loud. Thank you for watching. I'm Natali Del Conte with CNET TV, and you've just been Loaded.
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