Big Facebook profile changes are coming, sure to impact developers — Facebook has been experimenting with a ground-up redesign of its user interface for months, that it hopes will improve communication among users. Now, the company is providing Facebook application developers with more details on the changes — and how those changes are going to affect applications. The new home page will have a tabbed interface for news feed, personal info, photos, and something tentatively called “boxes.” The “box” tab will house Facebook applications (see screenshot, above), although the apps will also appear in various forms within the other tabbed sections. Perhaps most significantly, the news feeds themselves will include a new range of ways for applications to share stories with Facebook users who haven’t already added the application. If you’re interested in the many, many changes happening, see this detailed post by Justin Smith of the blog Inside Facebook and application company Watercooler. The official preview site here.
Meanwhile, Facebook is seeing an overall drop in the number of new applications that grow quickly, and a probably-related drop in the number of developers working on the platform — even as the site continues to grow around the world. So these profile changes are part of a far-reaching initiative by Facebook to make the site more usable; the company has previously, for example, placed ever-more restrictive measures on app developers, to try to curb abusive practices like spam-emailing users. All in all, these changes will likely benefit Facebook users, the company, and the higher-quality applications, as another top Facebook app developer, Jesse Farmer notes here. The open question about the profile redesign is how Facebook is going to manage explaining the changes to its users.
News Corp. earnings report: MySpace, FIM miss revenue targets — News Corp. executives admitted yesterday that they weren’t monetizing MySpace and other social networking properties like they’d aimed to — bringing in $900 million in revenue versus $1 billion. Surprisingly, quarterly revenue actually declined from $233 million to $210 million. A number of pundits have jumped on this news to surmise that social networks may never monetize very well, as you can read over on Techmeme. But overall, monetization has actually been improving across a number of fronts at MySpace, as Silicon Alley Insider details, even if it’s not as fast as News Corp. chief executive Rupert Murdoch wanted. For example, MySpace is actually earning 49 percent more money per-user compared to last year even as the user base continues to grow, partially through efforts like better-targeted ads. And many forget that monetizing social networks is not just about banner ads. We’ve covered companies that are creating new ways of doing things like distributing music or creating sports communities — companies that are helping to drive ticket sales for live events, apparel sales and other non-banner-ad forms of making money. Basically, social networks are in the process of becoming businesses and there are lots of unexplored opportunities. Here’s another one: Online video, which benefit greatly through being distributed on social networks, also have the opportunity to make money, as blog HipMojo notes.
Fuel cells coming soon to your GPS device? — MTI Micro has introduced a methanol-based fuel cell prototype, essentially a new and longer-lasting form of battery, for GPS devices.
Comcast may introduce a new fee system targeting people who habitually download large files — More here.
Email organizer Zaplets technology bought by email startup Xobni — Zaplets was developed in 2000 to turn long strings of back-and-forth emails into single emails, with the most recent information being displayed most prominently on each message (which sounds not unlike Gmail to me). Zaplets’ parent company, FireDrop had raised more than $100 million, with venture investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. It went bust, some of the patents ended up with an “enterprise process management” company called MetricStream — and have now been bought by email analysis startup Xobni. Zaplets’s problem was that it was ahead of its time, Xobni chief executive Jeff Bonforte tells Techcrunch. So, look for Zaplet technology in Xobni.
MeeVee bought, finally — The Burlingame, Calif. company offers a sort-of TV Guide-style site for online videos. But gaining only around 1.1 million monthly active users after raising $27 million since it was founded in 2000, MeeVee decided last month to try to sell. It has reportedly succeeded, selling to Live Universe for an undisclosed price.