Facebook milestone, Lumia 920 demise & a robotic sea turtle

It’s amazing to think that once Mark Zuckerberg’s technology wizardry was once so frowned upon he was facing expulsion from Harvard after supposedly breaching security by posting photos of his fellow students.

Now, the social media entrepreneur’s invention has hit a major milestone in its history. Facebook, the social networking site which has not only been the subject of a Hollywood movie but has helped to form, keep and break up countless friendships and relationships has one billion monthly active users.

Zuckerberg personally announced the feat on Facebook newsroom, saying: “Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.”

The statistic truly is incredible and soon became the talk of the technology blogs. “It’s just a mind-boggling stat,” said TechCrunch, pointing out “that’s roughly 1/7 of the world’s population logging on to the same social network and actively using it on a monthly basis. Crazy.”

Crazy indeed, agrees Mashable – “it’s an enormous number, dwarfing most other players in the social networking space by orders of magnitude. It took Facebook several years to reach the magical 100 million number back in 2008 but from then on, it seemed like Mark Zuckerberg’s baby could not be stopped.”

Clearly Facebook is on a roll, and it can be a force for good. If you’re on Facebook, you must have had pictures of the missing five-year-old April Jones posted on your wall. Thousands have joined the Facebook group set up to search for the little girl as her distraught parents grow more desperate for news.

But social media also has its dark side. Sick messages and Facebook groups are created all the time by trolls who hide behind the anonymity the internet can give. Just one twisted example is the group “Cancer is funny because people die,” which was illustrated with a picture of tragic Jade Goody. Astonishingly more than 4,000 people liked the sickening post.

Whatever its faults though, Facebook is still growing, although its user expansion rate has started to slow and analysts are saying it will be much harder to get to the two billion mark than it was to reach one.

“The website is now growing fastest in new markets, having reached saturation point in the countries where it first became popular, such as the United States and Britain,” says The Week.

And, if a new report on the BBC’s website it anything to go by, Facebook will soon have another new market to go at.
In parts of the American Rainforest the rich and internationals had satellite communications whereas locals had to write each other letters and send them by mail boat. Now they have a mobile data network, allowing 170 communities to communicate with the outside world.

Now that they have the technology, there is sure to be an explosion in smartphone ownership for those who can afford it. But just which smartphone will they choose? From the runaway success of Facebook to what is being tipped to fail – blogger Matt Burns from Techcrunch is predicting that the Lumia 920 is set for obscurity. While the Lumia 920 was hailed as the saviour of Windows Phone, he says agreeing an exclusive deal with AT&T is just dumb.

Burns describes the new phone as a “fantastic device” but adds: “Until Nokia and Microsoft get these devices on more than one carrier, the Windows Phone doesn’t stand a chance to increase its market share.”

Sony is also experiencing troubles just now. The Japanese multinational is reported to have had to stop selling its Xperia Tablet S because of gaps between the screen and the chassis. Sales have been halted until it can get the production line problem sorted and the company is also promising to repair any of the 100,000 tablets that have already been shipped.

But while your tablet computer may be a vital communication tool for your social life and business, we’re moving on to something we can’t quite see the point of. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want one. While there are lots of robots that do your housework or work in factories, there can’t be many that seem like such fun.

Swiss development company ETH Zurich is working on making the Naro-Tartaruga, a kind of robot sea turtle apparently designed to carry cargo in its shell. It’s all part of the development of underwater autonomous vehicles but we’d just like one to pop in our bubble bath – it sure beats a rubber duck any day.