Twitter users to receive more ads

If you’re on Twitter, expect to see more ads flowing through your stream of tweets in the next few months.

The ads will show up even if the promotion is from a company that a person hasn’t chosen to follow. Until now, Twitter had only displayed ads that users were tracking.

As has been the case since Twitter began showing ads last year, the promotions must comply with the online messaging service’s 140-character limit.

The ad expansion marks a major step in Twitter’s attempt to make more money from its more than 100 million active users. Twitter says the audience is now sending about 230 million tweets a day. 

Google buys Zagat review service

Google said Thursday it has acquired Zagat Survey, the review and ratings service known for its burgundy-colored restaurant guides, bringing it features aimed at local businesses and advertisers.

Zagat will add an array of reviews of hotels, food, shopping and other categories, Google said in a blog post. The announcement hurt shares of OpenTable Inc., a Google partner that lets users review restaurants and make reservations online.

The deal marries the world’s biggest search engine with a company that got its start in print 32 years ago. Zagat, famous for reviews that mix quotes from different users, will build on Google’s current services, such as Places, which helps local businesses call attention to themselves in search results.

“Moving forward, Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering — delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world,” said Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of local, maps and location services.

Google reveals its energy usage

For the first time, Google Inc. has revealed its global electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, part of a concerted effort to become more transparent about its energy use as it opens new data centers, purchases additional buildings, hires more employees and encourages consumers to use its cloud-based services like Gmail.

The company revealed Thursday that the company consumed 2.26 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2010. For comparison, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says that the average U.S home uses about 11,000 kilowatt-hours a year, which means Google’s electricity consumption is roughly equivalent to 200,000 homes. 

Iridium launching Wi-Fi box

Want to get email on your iPhone or BlackBerry in the middle of the ocean, or in the Arctic? Now you can — but it’ll cost you.

Satellite phone company Iridium Communications Inc. said Wednesday that it is launching a cigarette-pack-sized box that connects to Iridium phones.

The box produces a Wi-Fi hotspot that smartphones and tablets can connect to. The phone relays that connection to satellites overhead, which then shunt the signal to a ground station connected to the Internet.

The data speeds will be slower than dial-up, but they should be good enough for meaningful use of email, Iridium CEO Matt Desch said.

Iridium said the AxcessPoint will cost less than $200, but it needs to be paired with a phone that costs about $1,000.

AT&T Inc. sells an alternative solution for those who need Internet access where there are zero bars of regular coverage: a “Genus” smartphone that connects directly to a satellite. However, that satellite covers only North America, while the Iridium network of 66 satellites spans the entire world.

— From news service reports