Google's in tents and Facebook's in trouble

Google Plus
Google staged a big thing in a tent this week - it still loves Google+

How much is Facebook really worth, and is it about to get crappier? Those are the big questions this week after Facebook's IPO became mired in controversy.

The initial share price valued the site at £66 billion and netted Facebook an impressive £10 billion in cash, but the price began to plummet amid claims of dodgy dealing and massive overvaluation.

That matters to more than just Facebook's investors. If, as some pundits suggest, its valuation is based on hopelessly optimistic growth projections and predicted revenues, then Facebook's going to be under enormous pressure to make money - and that could mean more invasive advertising or possibly even charging for bits of the service.

Mark Zuckerberg has promised that Facebook will always be free, but he didn't promise that it would never have paid-for services too. Fancy paying extra to ensure everybody definitely sees your status updates?

Meanwhile, over in Google

While Facebook weathers the storm, things at Google are intense. Sorry, in tents. Google's Big Tent event brought chairman Eric Schmidt to the UK, and he was in typically bullish form: it turns out that Google+ isn't, as many people believe, rubbish. "Do I think it's a success?" he said. "Absolutely. Absolutely."

The problem, Schmidt suggests, is that outside observers are "comparing us to a competitor that is exceedingly well managed, well-run and is 12 years old."

CEO Larry Page wanted to talk about Google+ too, comparing it to the Google search of five years ago. "I think if you used Google five years ago you'd be astounded by how bad it is, or how bad it was, right?" he said. "And you know search has got a lot better." For Page, Google+ is part of the evolution of search to make it more personal and useful.

Meanwhile in his tent, Eric Schmidt spoke about the firm's plans for its Motorola Mobility acquisition.

"There will be more investment in Motorola devices under the Motorola brand and a lot more investment in Android," he promised. The purchase wasn't just to get hold of MM's patent portfolio, although that will certainly come in handy: "We wanted a stake in a hardware business."

Consoles on the way?

Did somebody say hardware? E3, the annual entertainment technology showcase, is imminent, and that means big news from the big names in gaming. Could the PlayStation 4 put in an appearance at Sony's E3 event?.

We're not convinced: Sony is currently bleeding money, and while it wants to beat Microsoft to the next-gen punch there's plenty of life — and profit — in the PS3 for some time to come. Our money's on new games but not new hardware, and if the games are as exciting as The Last of Us then that's fine by us.

Don't hold your breath for an Xbox 720 either: Microsoft is adamant that this year's E3 is all about the 360. As Dan Grillopoulos explains: "So, this year Microsoft is likely to show off three things: a middling exclusive game line-up, bolstered by exclusive downloadable content in other games; a host of free-to-play games; and an improved user experience, including web browsing."

It looks like the only new console we'll see this year is the Wii U.

If you'd rather play pranks than games, there was sad news this week: Rickrolling, the age-old practice of tricking people into watching a Rick Astley video, was taken off the web after a copyright claim by security firm AVG. Maybe they were trying to trick us, though, because before long the clip was resurrected and Rickrolling was available once more.

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