Viacom to buy Last.fm?; Sony launches YouTube competitor; Atari plans its own virtual world; USAToday's social strategy sees results

The social web weekly: a quick-fire roundup of some of the news, announcements and conversations that have occurred throughout the week…

The social web weekly: a quick-fire roundup of some of the news, announcements and conversations that have occurred throughout the week…

  • Viacom to buy Last.fm? The rumor mill is buzzing with news that Viacom is far in negotiations to purchase London web 2.0 poster-child, Last.fm (the leading music-based social network). "The purchase price is said to be $450 million".
  • Sony launches YouTube competitor. Little is known about the new venture, except that it will launch tomorrow, in Japan only -- it should role out internationally, though no timetable has been announced. Notice I didn't use the phrase YouTube-killer?
  • Atari plans its own virtual world. Atari is the latest company to announce plans to build a 3D virtual world, which, like Second Life, will place an emphasis on User-Generated Content. Taking a swipe at Sony's virtual world plans for its PS3, Atari Online Entertainment senior vice president, Chris Bergstresser, said: "We feel user generated content is not just something you just let people dabble in, we feel that it is something where you give people the tools to do whatever the hell they want." Wagner James Au, over at GigaOM, explains that the move is part of a growing trend in which game companies are applying web 2.0 concepts where new content can be produced much more cheaply by letting users create it themselves.
  • USAToday's social strategy sees results. When the US newspaper added a number of social features, the reaction from users and critics-alike was mixed. However, it appears that the bold strategy is paying off. The site has seen a 380% increase in new user registrations (although, most of the new features require registration, where previously it was unnecessary). In addition there has been a 21% increase in unique visitors, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.