links for 2009-08-21

  • eMarketer has revised its forecast of US retail e-commerce sales growth after a lackluster first half of 2009. Retail e-commerce sales, excluding travel, are expected to contract by 3.1% this year.
    Growth will resume in 2010, at 5.5%, as consumer spending recovers from the recession. By 2011, eMarketer expects pent-up demand to accelerate growth, peaking in 2012. Retail e-commerce sales will continue to increase, but the rate of growth will fall off in 2013, continuing the pre-recession trend of strong but slowing growth.
    (tags: ecommerce)
  • It’s the single most famous story of scientific discovery: in 1666, Isaac Newton was walking in his garden outside Cambridge, England – he was avoiding the city because of the plague – when he saw an apple fall from a tree. The fruit fell straight to the earth, as if tugged by an invisible force. (Subsequent versions of the story had the apple hitting Newton on the head.) This mundane observation led Newton to devise the concept of universal gravitation, which explained everything from the falling apple to the orbit of the moon.
    There is something appealing about such narratives. They reduce the scientific process to a sudden epiphany: There is no sweat or toil, just a new idea, produced by a genius. Everybody knows that things fall – it took Newton to explain why.

  • A top operational official in charge of protecting civilian government computer networks has resigned, dealing another blow to the federal effort to enhance cybersecurity.
    Mischel Kwon, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, submitted her resignation letter this week. “Moving on is a hard step for me, but one I must take,” she said, according to the letter obtained by The Washington Post.
  • A White House official tells Fox that cyber security adviser Melissa Hathaway leave her post on August 21,2009.
    The White House, through spokesman Nick Shapiro, denies her departure will complicate the already slow process of appointing a cybersecurity coordinator (the WH doesn’t call it a czar). It’s been 2 months since President Obama announced his intention to name the coordinator/czar and Hathaway’s departure is related to frustration over the delay.
    Hathaway has been on detail to the National Security Staff from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Her initial assignment was up on 9 April and her second detail goes through 9 August. She will stay in her current assignment of Acting Senior Director for Cyberspace until August 21st.
  • Face-to-face or face-to-cyberspace?
    Common Sense Media conducted a survey to examine how social networks were affecting kids and families. The results? Kids increasingly connect with friends, classmates, and people with similar interests through social networks — often outside their parents’ awareness.
    The poll results illustrate a continuing disconnect between parents and kids when it comes to kids’ digital lives. In today’s society, there’s more technology and less time for parents to supervise their kids’ actions and behaviors on Facebook, MySpace, or any other digital environment. Communication and socialization in our kids’ world is increasingly moving from face-to-face to face-to-cyberspace. Families need to keep up regular conversations about life in a digital world and what it means to be a safe, smart digital citizen — including ethical behavior, privacy, bullying, and reputation management.
  • Women who are core social network users expect a lot, according to “The Power of Social Networking For Women Research Study” from female-oriented social networking site ShesConnected. Participants in the survey were recruited through several social networks and were encouraged to share it with friends.
    ShesConnected respondents were heavy users of social networks: 59% reported visiting such sites multiple times per day, with a further 14% logging on daily.
  • Growth in UK business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales (including travel) slowed in 2008, as the recession became a reality for many consumers. And the financial squeeze is expected to continue to influence online buying activity through 2010.
    The news isn’t all bad.
    eMarketer estimates that 72.5% of UK Internet users ages 14 and older will buy at least one item online in 2009.
    (tags: ecommerce)
  • Dozens of auto dealers in the New York area and at least one in Maryland are pulling out of the U.S. government’s popular “Cash for Clunkers” program because of problems in getting reimbursed.
    The general manager at Toyota of Bowie said the dealership stopped participating earlier this week because it cannot afford to advance the money for more rebates while waiting on the government to pay. And about half of the 425 members in the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association have also left the program, according to the group’s president.
    “We’re sitting with $1 million out,” said Jim Bee, general manager of the Toyota of Bowie dealership. He said he has taken in between 150 and 160 clunkers and has not been paid a dime from the government.
  • Universal McCann’s “Power to the People: Social Media Tracker” study, now in its fourth year, indicates that social networks continue to climb in popularity around the world. But the research firm believes a change is happening in social media: Internet users are “starting to focus their digital life” around single networks, rather than around many specialized tools with social features.
    The study found a major increase in the percentage of US Internet users with a social network profile between 2008 and 2009. This year, 59% of active Web users—those with access at least every other day—reported having a profile, up 16 percentage points. Previous gains were in the single digits.
    (tags: social media)
  • Federal Authorities indicted three men in New Jersey in a massive identity theft case that the Justice Department is labeling as the largest in American history.
    Albert Gonzalez of Miami, 28, is charged with acting with two unnamed conspirators to locate large corporations and steal vital account information in a crime that the Department of Justice calls “the single largest hacking and identity theft case ever prosecuted.”
    Authorities say more than 130 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen in a corporate data breach involving three different corporations and two individuals. The card numbers, along with additional account information, were allegedly stolen from Princeton-based Heartland Payment Systems; 7-Eleven Inc., a Texas-based convenience store chain and Hannaford Brothers Company, a Maine-based supermarket chain.
    The indictment also mentions two other unidentified corporate victims as being hacked by the co-conspirators.
  • Some e-commerce sites looking for a way to deal with confused or inquisitive online shoppers have begun offering live chat capabilities, where shoppers can interact with customer service representatives in real time to ask questions or get help.
    Bold Software, creator of one such e-commerce live chat solution, conducted a survey of US online buyers to investigate whether the feature had an effect on online shopping habits.
    The study found that online buyers who had used live chat were more likely to make online purchases at least once a week (40%) than buyers who had never chatted (22%). Respondents who hadn’t used live chat were likely to be infrequent online buyers, with 36% making a purchase less than once per month compared with 18% of chatters.
    (tags: marketing)
  • Online retailers want their marketing e-mail messages to reach as many eyeballs as possible. Taking advantage of subscribers’ natural desire to share info about a great deal with their friends is one way to do just that.
    Dedicated links that allow e-mail subscribers to easily “forward to a friend” (FTAF) or “share with your network” (SWYN) are two ways marketers can help their messages go viral. Though social networking is hipper than old-fashioned e-mail forwarding, marketers are much more likely to provide a “forward” link (48%, including those who provide both links) than easy sharing capability (13%, including those who provide both links), according to data from Smith-Harmon.

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