Posts tagged "facebook"

Facebook Chat Now Available in Hotmail Inboxes Everywhere

When it was first announced that Hotmail would offer Facebook chat access from within the inbox, it was only available to six different regions.This week the Hotmail team has expanded the feature to reach customers worldwide.

Dick Craddock, Group Program Manager for Windows Live Hotmail, fully admits that Gmail beat them to bringing chat to the inbox, but Hotmail hopes to earn some kudos back by offering the integration of Facebook chat as well.

If you're a Hotmail user and you want to try it out, first connect your Facebook account to Windows Live and confirm that the “Chat with my Facebook friends in Messenger” box is checked. Once the two accounts have been linked you can start a chat from Hotmail by clicking on the name of a Facebook contact.

Says Hotmail's official announcement

Since announcing the availability of Facebook chat in Messenger worldwide two weeks ago, nearly 2.5 million more people connected their Facebook accounts to Windows Live, bringing the total to over 20 million customers. And with three out of four Hotmail customers using Facebook, we expect that many more people will want to take advantage of this feature, now that it’s available from your Hotmail inbox.

Google's Soft Spots

It's a fairly clever move on Hotmail's part. Consider the alleged battle between Google and Facebook, which was most recently highlighted when the social network nabbed the Internet giant's place as the most-visited website in the United States.

Spokespersons from both sides of the fence will tell you that there's no real competition here, as the companies are inherently different. These claims haven't quelled speculation in the slightest, of course, and we would personally be scratching our heads in wonder if the Facebook chat functionality suddenly appeared in Gmail.

Hotmail's addition further supports the idea that Google might want to watch its back when it comes to Zuck's kingdom, as well as the social media movement as a whole (something Google seems continually unable to latch onto). 

At the same time, it's also a feature that could bring some life back to both Hotmail and Messenger if it's successful. If Facebook chat within Hotmail is something you plan on trying, let us know in the comments below how it turns out, and whether or not you think it has a lot of pull.

Facebook To Automatically Share User Data with External Sites?

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Surprise, surprise! Facebook's making changes to its privacy policy yet again. This time it looks like they foreshadow some of the features and changes to be announced at the f8 Developer Conference in April. Among the most notable—and jarring—is sharing your personal data with select Facebook Connect partners without your consent. 

Say What?

What it sounds like in the proposed policy change outline is that third-party sites will be able to use a person's browser cookies to automatically sign them into Facebook Connect:

Today, when you use applications such as games on Facebook.com or choose to connect to Facebook on sites across the web, you are able to find and interact with your friends. These applications require a small set of basic information about you in order to provide a relevant experience. After feedback from many of you, we announced in August that we were moving toward a model that gives you clearer controls over what data is shared with applications and websites when you choose to use them.

"In the proposed privacy policy, we’ve also explained the possibility of working with some partner websites that we pre-approve to offer a more personalized experience at the moment you visit the site."

 

This move feels a bit similar to when Facebook quietly made their 'Everyone' setting a default toward the end of last year. The setting made user content available to not just everyone on Facebook, but everyone on the entire Internet—including search engines and third-party sites. 

And though Facebook proudly told the Federal Trade Commission that 35% of their users had noticed the popup indicating a policy change and adjusted their personal settings accordingly, that still left 65% in the dark. Social Media researcher Danah Boyd made the following observation during her keynote at this year's SXSW conference: 

…I started asking non-techy users about their privacy settings on Facebook. I ask them what they think their settings are and then ask them to look at their settings with me. I have yet to find someone whose belief matched up with their reality. That is not good news. Facebook built its name and reputation on being a closed network that enabled privacy in new ways, something that its users deeply value and STILL believe is the case.

Absolutely Positively Connected

We admit, it's nice to have one-click access to third-party sites. Proof can be found in the popularity surrounding Facebook Connect, as well as the big names that've followed suit with the technology, such as Twitter and their upcoming @anywhere feature. 

“The right way to think about this is not like a new experience but as making the [Facebook] Connect experience even better and more seamless," said Barry Schnitt, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications and Public Policy at Facebook in an e-mail to ReadWriteWeb. "People love personalized and social experiences and that’s why Facebook and Facebook Connect have been so successful. We think there are some instances where people would benefit from this experience as soon as they arrive on a small number of trusted websites that we pre-approve.”

Then again, Boyd's talk on privacy struck a chord in a lot of people. Sure, we all appreciate one-click action, but that doesn't mean we want zero-click action. 

Additional rumors about upcoming stuff from Facebook include the infamous "Like" function being spread out to sites outside of the social networking platform. Imagine everything you enjoy on the Web, no matter what site it's on, feeding back into your Facebook stream. The benefits for all sides are obvious. 

Though details aren't rock solid, it's obvious that Facebook is working on spreading its tentacles out to the far reaches of the Web and everywhere in between with as little permission from its users as possible. Which side of the fence are you on? Read through the latest privacy change proposal and let us know.

Webtrends Optimizes Social Media Marketing for Facebook

Today it was announced that Webtrends (site) has decided to expand their analytics capabilities for Facebook yet again. The upcoming measurement tools—slated to be released with the next iteration of Webtrends Optimize—will enable both marketers and developers the ability to test, segment and target their specific campaigns inside the popular social network.

Marketers + Facebook

Webtrends has been poking around Facebook for a little while now. In February of this year the company gave marketers a peek into their promotional efforts (tabs, apps and share features), claiming Facebook to be a critical step in the marketing journey. 

“The ability to have concrete measurement on investments within Facebook and compare them apples to apples with other digital channels is critical to marketers,” explained Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Webtrends' vice president of marketing. “Our comprehensive approach to measuring Facebook, beyond just applications, allows marketers to understand the broader picture of how their Facebook investment is performing.”

Making Sense Of It All

The Webtrends Optimize platform allows users to test content in real-time. Add that to the massive level of popularity Facebook has reached and the climbing interest in social media marketing, and you get a ton of campaigns and investments being made within the social network. The need to optimize them seems like a natural next step.

"Giving marketers the ability to optimize Facebook campaigns is an important step for us,”  continued Kaykas-Wolff.  “With the ability to measure ads, custom apps and tabs, Flash, and testing, Webtrends undoubtedly provides the most comprehensive way to measure and optimize what marketers are doing inside the most densely populated and active site on the web.”

Meanwhile, Coremetrics offers a similar solution. Fully integrated into the Coremetrics Optimization Platform, Impression Attribution enables businesses to analyze how Facebook investments drive website sales and conversions. The tool links activity around Facebook fan pages, ads and applications, to behaviors and conversions.

"Facebook campaigns – just like any other marketing program – must support strategic business objectives,’ said Coremetrics’ Chief Strategy Officer, John Squire. ‘Our approach to social media analytics is built on the premise that people interact with a brand in many different ways, through many different channels, and that the true measurement of ROI demands a fully integrated view of your customers."

Basically everyone's on the same page. To learn more about Webtrends' approach, head over here for a detailed look at Webtrends Optimize.  

#SXSW: Don't Worry, Privacy is Alive! (But Tech is Stupid)

We’ve certainly heard plenty from CEOs about privacy being dead and all, but considering the heat coming from related debates, perhaps it’s time to hear from the opposing team.

Danah Boyd, social media researcher for Microsoft, took the stage at this year’s SXSW conference, and with her 10+ years in the social realm, claimed privacy is alive (but not well), and schooled us on the intricacies of screw-ups from some of the biggest names out there: Google and Facebook.

Where Google Went Wrong

It was such huge news that even if you’re not big on Internet life, chances are you’re aware that the blogosphere virtually bitch-slapped Google Buzz back to the laboratory. The arguments mainly revolved around privacy flaws—even Google has admitted to releasing the tool much too early—but Boyd made an interesting point: Nothing the Buzz team did was technologically wrong—it was just stupid.

What does that mean? It means Google tripped up on a personal expectation level. After all, regardless of how difficult it was to find them, the options to opt out of all the things that sent users into conniption fits were available since day one.

Here’s a look at Google’s non-technical mistakes, according to Boyd:

Google launched a public-facing service within a very private one. That is, the outspoken Buzz set up shop within Gmail. For many tech geeks it was a logical move on Google’s part simply because Gmail is used regularly by a ton of people. But the integration of opposing natures confused a lot of non-tech users, and caused them to believe their e-mails were being made publicly accessible

Google assumed that people would opt-out of Buzz if they didn't want to participate. “I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one because a more insidious framing would be to say that they wanted to force people into opting-in because this makes the service more viral and more monetizable,” said Boyd. “While I'm trying not to let conspiracy theories cloud my analysis, I can't help but notice that more and more companies are opting people in and waiting until they flip out to adjust privacy settings.”

Where Facebook Went Wrong

Perhaps you remember Facebook's changes in December? The world's favorite social network asked users to reconsider their privacy settings via popup. Unfortunately, tons of users bypassed the popup as if it were an ad because they just wanted to get to Facebook itself. Problem is, if the popup wasn’t addressed, Facebook automatically changed all of the "negligent" user’s settings to public.

This from a platform  that built its reputation on being a closed network—something users have always valued in a big way. 

“By continuously arguing that Privacy is Dead, technologists justify their efforts to make publicly available data more public,” continued Boyd. “But there's a big difference between something being publicly available and being publicized. I worry about how others are going to publicize this publicly available Facebook data and, more importantly, who will get hurt in the cross-fire.”

Ass [Out of] U [and] Me

Do you see a pattern here? It looks like networks are assuming what users want rather than asking them. Unfortunately, that logic would only work if everyone thought like a technologist and loved the idea of optimizing absolutely everything.

"What's at stake here is often not about whether or not something is public or private, but how public or private it is,” explained Boyd. “People are not used to having the paparazzi trail after them every time they leave their house. Yet, when we argue that there's nothing wrong with making something that happens in public more public, we are basically arguing that we have the right to sick the paparazzi on everyone, to turn anyone into a public figure."

The point? We’re a fickle bunch. Just because we put material in public places doesn’t mean we want it aggregated. And just because something is publically accessible doesn’t mean we want it publicized. And using information in unexpected ways is a recipe for disastrous media coverage.

What Hath We Wrought?

And so, what to do? Boyd says there's no magical formula for understanding privacy and publicity (rats). But she left us with some valuable words to chew on:

Wanting privacy is not about needing something to hide. It’s about wanting to maintain control. Often, privacy isn't about hiding; it's about creating space to open up. If you remember that privacy is about maintaining a sense of control, you can understand why Privacy is Not Dead. There are good reasons to engage in public; there always have been. But wanting to be in public doesn’t mean wanting to lose control.

And finally, for all the techies out there:

You are shaping the future. How you handle these challenging issues will affect a generation. Make sure you're creating the future you want to live in.

Open Graph API Extends Facebook's Tentacles

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It's hard to absorb the rest of the web experience if all you have to offer is a walled garden. Facebook's (site) solution? Spread itself out onto the web like vines (or is it weeds?) over the wall through a new API.

The Open Graph API

Part of Facebook's proposed mechanism for integrating itself into the rest of the Web is the Open Graph API. Through this API, page creators can embed various Facebook widgets and API calls into their own sites.

An example of how this new API might be used involves a site's developer embedding a Facebook Fan Box into their main site page. Then, when a user clicks the "Become a Fan" button, this action is sent to Facebook, which records the change (a feature that of course already exists). The difference is that from that point on, content from the site can be pushed to the user's stream. 

Where Is This Going?

The Open Graph API is still under discussion and isn't available for use yet. According to the roadmap, the initial versions are expected in the second quarter of 2010.

More importantly, the Open Graph API is just one prong in a broader movement. As Nick O'Neill at All Facebook discussed in mid-2009, "Mark Zuckerberg has said on a number of instances that the future of Facebook does not exist on Facebook.com."

Instead, says O'Neill, the folks at Facebook are working toward seeing their brand as an "identity platform" that focuses around an ever-expanding Facebook Connect. For businesses, he sees the extension of Facebook Pages out onto the web as another step in the evolution of customer relations.

"One thing that’s changing is the way that customers communicate with businesses," he says. "On Twitter we now regularly see people complain about their Comcast cable experience because they have learned that Comcast will respond. It gives them an outlet for their frustration and a platform for immediate satisfaction. This is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior."

As consumers get used to this level of interaction, his theory is that people will come to demand it. Right now, people complain through whatever social media platform the company appears to listen to. So providing companies with better ways to integrate their presence with Facebook increases the chances that people will use Facebook to complain about the product — and so, to be heard.

And if your platform is the one where people get heard, your platform is the one with the power. It also gives them yet more data for delivering targeted ads and services, just as Google (site) has all of its data from its many properties to do the same. 

So Who Really Wins Here?

Well, if sites adopt the new APIs, companies can win if they use the platform to genuinely interact with their customers and build brand interest, buzz, and loyalty. Consumers might win if they manage to be heard and get results.

But ultimately it's Facebook who needs the rest of the web in order to remain relevant, let alone generate revenue. In the fickle world of social networking, it's all too easy to become a "might have been." Given the drive to evolve through projects such as these, they might yet avoid becoming the Internet version of a ghost town.

MediaFunnel Consolidates Social Media Marketing Activities

MediaFunnel, the “Team Tool for Social Media” previously known as TweetFunnel, has rebranded to reflect the company’s focus on providing a single interface from which businesses can manage all of their social media channels.  

All Together, Now

Imagine a funnel. Toss all of the social media outlets you utilize into that funnel. Watch the combination of information flow out the other end in a kind of supreme social concentrate. This is MedaFunnel.

Simply put, it’s a tool for managing corporate or social media network workflow. The company’s streamlined dashboard houses team-generated posts from across the social realm, and allows them to be reviewed before publishing to multiple feeds. 

When in Doubt, Add Facebook

You can probably tell by the  tool's original name that Twitter support has been covered, but with re-branding comes new and exciting functionality, and this time that means—surprise, surprise!—Facebook.

MediaFunnel now allows multiple users to post text and attachments to their company's Facebook Wall, and features that same handy editorial control previously offered (cross platform messages can be posted immediately, scheduled or released in pre-defined intervals).

Businesses can respond quickly to both queries and complaints using MediaFunnel’s nifty assignment feature, set alerts for brand monitoring, submit posts by email/SMS, use co-tags to personalize posts, or review analytics to gain market knowledge. 

“Social media marketing has gone mainstream,” said Andreas Wilkens, MediaFunnel Co-Founder. “What’s important are conversations, real-time engagement and meaningful content, not so much the application it streams on. We’ve seen networks fade and new ones emerge. That’s why we’ve built MediaFunnel—so businesses can concentrate on creating genuine dialogue from one familiar dashboard while we connect the platform to their social networking channel, whatever it might be.”

Social Media Marketing

Yeah, it's kind of a big deal right now. We've seen a good number of solutions crop up this year alone, including TweetShare, a Twitter-based marketing application, Seesmic Look (also for Twitter), and Facebook analytics tools from both Webtrends and Omniture. 

“The ability to have concrete measurement on investments within Facebook and compare them apples to apples with other digital channels is critical to marketers,” said Webtrends' vice president of Marketing, Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, when his company's solution was announced earlier this month. 

We imagine that means good things for solutions like MediaFunnel—especially considering the fact that it's not limited to one network. Ready to try it for free? Off with you.

Social Media Minute: Twitter Makes a Deal with Yahoo, Passes MySpace on Status Updates

Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • Social Networks Continue To Draw More Visitors
  • Yahoo Signs Partnership to Integrate with Twitter
  • Betty White Has a Shot at SNL, Because of Facebook Fans
  • Twitter Passes MySpace For Number of Status Updates

Social Networks Continue To Draw More Visitors

Nielsen, one of the world's most quoted research companies, has reported that social networking use amongst Internet users has increased sharply over the last year. In the month of December 2009, global consumers spent around 5.5 hours on social networking sites, an 82% percent increase over December 2008.

Also, social networks and blogs still rank amongst the most popular online activities, even beating out online gaming and instant messaging. What sites were the most popular online? Facebook won this honor with 207 million unique visitors in the month of December. An impressive 2/3 of all global social media users say they visited Facebook during the month.

Looking internationally, Australians lead the world in time spent on social media sites, with more than 6 hours per person spent on social media followed closely by the United Kingdom.

These numbers should be welcome news to sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It suggests that not only are they adding more new users each day, but these folks are lingering around more on the site, making social media advertising more attractive.

One figure not mentioned in the Nielsen report is if mobile access to Facebook/Twitter are included in the hours per month.

Yahoo Signs Partnership to Integrate with Twitter

As readers probably know, Twitter is a highly addictive property that gives you instant updates on your friends' status, current events and more. Recognizing this, Yahoo has recently announced a deal with Twitter that will bring Twitter integration into many of Yahoo's popular services and portals. In effect, Twitter users can now update their status from the Yahoo home page, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo News, Sports and many other Yahoo properties. Also, Twitter users will be able to see their Twitter timeline on Yahoo sites as well.

As a second part of the agreement, Yahoo will have access to real-time Twitter results in its search engine, much like the deals signed last year between Twitter and Google/Bing.

It is apparent that with this deal, Yahoo is recognizing that Twitter is a sticky service that is likely to be around for quite some time. The Twitter integration is similar to another social networking partnership Yahoo has already built with Facebook.

Betty White Has a Shot at SNL, Because of Facebook Fans

Not long ago, a Facebook page was set up by user David Matthews. Since launching, the fan page has gained almost half a million fans, all rallied around one cause: to give Betty White the chance to host Saturday Night Live. It appears the former star of The Golden Girls has gained some fans on the popular social networking site and these fans want to see the comedy actress on SNL.

Mashable reports that Betty White is not associated with the page, but that she'd welcome the opportunity if the gig came up.

These types of grassroots efforts show how social networking can really affect mass media and public discourse. Obviously, getting Betty White on SNL won't cure cancer or house all the homeless, but it goes to show that when people rally around a cause and use the new "mass media" that is social networking, good things can happen.

Twitter Passes MySpace For Number of Status Updates

Just a few years ago, MySpace was the top dog in social networking. The site had a large user base and was acquired by News Corp. because of the promise it held. However, flash forward to today, where Twitter and Facebook dominate the news in the social media space.

Recently, Twitter announced that they see an average of 50 million status messages posted each day. ReadWriteWeb looked to MySpace to evaluate their figures, and counted that they have around 33 million status messages per day. In effect, this means that Twitter is updated now more than MySpace — a pretty interesting development.

However it should be pointed out that MySpace is still used to a high degree. 33 million status messages per day is a large number in and of itself. So, the old guy on the block isn't dead yet, but he has been passed up by the new kid. How MySpace responds will be watched carefully, I'm sure.

Zoho Integrates Productivity Suite with Facebook Connect

That’s right, Zoho (site) and Facebook (site) sitting in a tree, c-o-n-n(ect)i-n-g.

With already-established support for Google Apps and Yahoo accounts, yesterday Zoho added a social layer by integrating the ability to login through Facebook Connect.

Access Zoho Apps! With Facebook!

Forget your Zoho login information, all you need is your Facebook credentials. Plus, the combination of the two means you can share documents with Facebook users who don’t have a Zoho account. Logging in is simple; you'll see the Facebook icon right on the screen:

zoho_facebook_login.JPGLogin to Zoho with Facebook Connect

This is not to be confused with Zoho’s Facebook app, which allows users to create documents within the popular social network, and view/edit them from Zoho Writer, Sheet and Show.

And the Beat Goes On…

Zoho has tirelessly competed against Google Apps and the like for quite some time now. Their new adoption of Facebook Connect falls in line with the enterprise’s obvious turn towards social solutions, as well as promise a boost in users (how can it not when Facebook comes with a whopping 400 million users themselves?)

But Google is a pretty big—if not the biggest—fish. In recent times, we've seen the G team expand the use of Apps with new collaboration features, and various activities with Google Apps Script. Zoho, on the other hand, is smart for adding more support for what looks like is shaping up to be Google's biggest competitor. But we wonder, after this what moves are left for Zoho? 

Document Management Roll-up: Can't Let Go of the Paper, Has SharePoint Met Its Match?

This week there’s been a couple of wild claims doing the circuit, not least of which is the demise of SharePoint at the hands of Salesforce.com’s Chatter, while Microsoft gets social with Outlook.

Outlook Gets Social

The promised link between Microsoft Outlook and social networking has finally happened with Microsoft reporting this week that software updates between LinkedIn (site) and Outlook have just been released in beta.

Designed for Office 2010, the new set of applications that will also include email links for Facebook (site) and MySpace (site) will go on general release later this year.

The LinkedIn connection to Outlook lets people using the email program stay in tune with any changes in job status, contact information or affiliations being shared by friends at the career-focused online community.

The company says that the new connections are all about bringing, friends, family and colleagues into your inbox and enables you to communicate with them and see their social activities at the same time.

If you’ve been following us here you will be aware of the problems that managing unstructured content in emails is causing enterprises.

Likely that the same companies can hardly wait to thank Microsoft for this new Outlook ability. The test version of Outlook is available online at the Office website.

SharePoint To Be Killed By Chatter?

That Salesforce.com (site) has launched the private beta of Chatter, an enterprise collaboration tool for the cloud will stir some interest; that some of those involved in the private beta say Chatter heralds the end of SharePoint should cause more than a stir.

The end of legacy collaboration software like Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus Notes is here," said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com. "Consumer Internet services like Facebook and Twitter have shown us better ways to collaborate …".

Muscle-flexing aside, Chatter does come with a number of document collaboration tools, amongst other features, that should be useful for those with document management issues.

In this respect the document sharing and security settings are of interest. With Chatter, users can instantly and securely search the Chatter feed to access, share and even download the documents and other information files via an Internet browser.

It also enables users to manage who has access to what information based on Force.com platform security settings, which decides what information can be seen by who.

If you’re interested in more, you can find out more from the website, but nothing there would seem to back up Benioff’s claim that SharePoint is on its way out!

We Can’t Leave Paper Alone

According to AIIM (site) office staff just won’t give up on paper copies, despite the wide availability of scanners and document management systems.

A recent survey by the content management organization found that 62% of important paper documents are still archived as paper. Even when documents are sent off for archive scanning, 25% are photocopied beforehand “just in case” and less than a third of the paper originals are systematically destroyed after scanning.

Despite the fact that the legal admissibility of scanned paper documents has been established for nearly 20 years and is nailed down in legislation and standards around the world, there is still this suspicion among users that they may need to produce the original paper copy at some stage, the study says.

In the survey, 70% of the respondents agreed with the statement, “Users feel that paper records are needed for legal reasons.” Even at the organizational level, in 25% of businesses the legal admissibility of scanned documents is still seen as an issue.

According to AIIM president John Mancini, we still haven’t tapped into the real potential savings of using document management software, because we just can’t let the paper go.

If you are interested in finding out more, you can download the research from the AIIM website.

How Is Your Records Management?

Something else from AIIM this week that might help companies see how effective their records management software: take AIIM’s quick, easy online assessment to find out what stage of records management competency your organization is in, and then learn more about that stage, its risks and the benefits of progressing to the next.

Participants will be asked 13 questions in order to determine their organization's Records Management competency. Once the assessment is completed, participants can download the Solution Brief for their identified stage which includes information on:

  • Current state of records management
  • The risks of your current state
  • The benefits of progressing to the next stage.

And it’s all free.

Iron Mountain Adds Archiving

We couldn’t let this week go by with some mention of the acquisition of Mimosa Systems by Iron Mountain for an estimated US$ 112 million in cash.

Iron Mountain is a major player in the information management market with this deal providing it with an on-premise content archiving solution — in this case Mimosa NearPoint — to complement their cloud based offering.

Mimosa NearPoint is an email archiving and eDiscovery solution. Version 4 was brought to market last June, offering an integrated content archive that includes not only email, but also content in blogs, wikis, documents and more. It also improved content search, case management and came with a new user interface and data capture methodology.

It's these capabilities along with being able to now capture and manage content from additional devices like desktops, laptops and systems like SharePoint that caused Iron Mountain to choose Mimosa.

Facebook Buys Talent, Ready to Counter Google Buzz?

 And the shopping sprees continue! Facebook (nsite) recently bought an under-the-radar company called Octazen Solutions—its first purchase since acquiring FriendFeed seven months ago.

Facebook’s Got Talent

The team behind the second most popular website in the U.S. is referring to the purchase as a “small talent acquisition.” Said the Facebook team: “We’ve admired the engineering team’s efforts for some time now and this is part of our ongoing effort to add experienced, accomplished technical talent.”

It’s worth mentioning that Facebook’s purchase of FriendFeed was also described as an addition of talent, but the conditions this time are different. While FriendFeed continues to operate separately from Facebook a whole seven months after being acquired, Octazen is already closing its doors. Once an importing solution for webmail contacts, the company’s site now states the following:

…effective immediately, Octazen will no longer accept new service contracts or renew existing service contracts, and will enter a transition period to wind down operations. During this transition period, Octazen will continue to honor existing service contracts and will remain your point-of-contact. We wanted to inform you as soon as possible to ensure you have adequate time to select another service provider without disruption to your business. We will do our best to work with you to ensure a smooth transition.

What is Facebook Up To?

These days it’s silly to take acquisitions lightly, especially when it comes to the shopping habits of giants like Facebook or Google (who, incidentally, just picked up social search engine Aardvark and a mobile text-search tool called reMail).

Interestingly, Octazen’s raison d’etre was similar to what Google Buzz got maimed for: Importing social network users' contacts from e-mail services into their social networks, except without all the messy privacy issues of course.

Users can already find new Facebook buddies via major services like AIM and Gmail, but with Octazen’s added capabilities Facebook may be able to determine user relationships on other social networks and e-mail services around the Web.

Could this acquisition be an answer to Google Buzz and the Google consolidation phenomenon? We’re willing to bet so, at least in part.