Mac app store, European browser wars, Facebook buoyant as MySpace sinks

Apple's Mac App Store launchThe Mac App Store launched this week offering over 1,000 desktop software programs but, once the hype settles, the question is will it be a game-changer like the iPad or a dead duck like Ping

Initial interest was predictably high, with one million downloads in less than 24 hours even though for now the Mac App Store is only open for business to Macintosh owners, so long as their computers are running the latest version of OS X. But Apple has another operating system in its sights.

“The App Store revolutionised mobile apps,” chief executive Steve Jobs said back in October when first announcing the App Store. “We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun.”

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Signs Internet Explorer’s dominance is in decline continue to come after its market share dipped below 50% for the first time in September, pushing the once-mighty web browser into second place in a major market for the first time.

Figures from StatCounter show open source browser Firefox accounted for 38.1% of the market in Europe, compared to the 37.5% held by Microsoft’s former market leader. The web statistics company says the popularity of Google Chrome has been rising, wooing users away from Internet Explorer while Firefox managed to maintain its existing fanbase.

It may be the European Commission anti-trust settlement that required Microsoft to offer EU users a choice of browsers from last March is behind the change. When you look at the US picture IE retains a lead over its Firefox, its nearest rival, of more than twenty per cent.

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News that Facebook is now worth $50 billion following a $450 million investment by Goldman Sachs can’t help but revive memories of other spectacular, but short-lived, social network valuations.

This week coincidently also saw former social media darling MySpace announce a restructure that will mean most of its international staff are given their marching orders, possibly ahead of a sale for a relative pittance to a venture capital fund (see also Bebo’s fate in June when AOL sold it for $10 million, having paid a whopping $850 million in 2008).

But so far the numbers argue against such an ignominious fate for Facebook. In 2010 it beat Google to be the most visited website in the US, and Facebook says in the last 12 months its users uploaded more than 2.7 million photographs, shared one million links and ‘liked’ 7.6 million pages every 20 minutes.

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