Airbnb fined $41K over renting of unregistered Barcelona apartments

Airbnb has been fined €30,000 ($41,000) by the Catalonian authorities in Spain, who say the short-term rental marketplace has been illegally making money off properties that aren’t registered for tourist usage. The authorities, who are partly trying to protect traditional hotels, want Airbnb to stop listing unregistered properties and any individual rooms, which are illegal to rent to tourists. It’s a complex situation – many people in Barcelona make a lot of much-needed cash from renting out rooms and apartments to holiday-goers, but many of their neighbors aren’t so keen on seeing their residential buildings filled with late-partying tourists. There are vocal campaigners on both sides, and echoes of Airbnb’s struggles with New York regulators.

Vodafone lashes out as EU votes to cut roaming charges

European politicians have just voted up proposals to slash roaming charges for mobile users who stray across the continent’s borders. But it’s drawn a violent response from Vodafone boss Vittorio Colao who thinks it could create “hell” for operators.

What’s hot at Mobile World Congress? Services

In Barcelona, telecom vendors, carriers and other companies are showing off devices, boxes and new industry standards. But amid the latest phones is a burgeoning class of services that show that participants understand how the connected world will play out and how they will profit from it.

Do we need another mobile OS? Mozilla thinks so

Searching for a new lease of life, Mozilla is joining forces with Spanish operator Telefónica to build handsets that have web technologies at their heart. But can Mozilla succeed where Palm failed? And is there room in a difficult market for more players?

Box boosts Android clients, continues Windows Phone snub

Cloud storage player Box is beefing up its Android clients with collaboration and batch upload support. It also seems to be favoring Android devices even over popular IPhones and iPads and is definitely backing them at the expense of Windows Phone.

The wireless industry swallows the Wi-Fi pill

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, you would expect LTE to hog the spotlight, but LTE might find itself overshadowed by a less sexy technology: Wi-Fi. As telecom vendors prep their new porfolios for MWC in two weeks, there is a preponderance of Wi-Fi products.

Samsung building buzz ahead of Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Congress is still three weeks and an ocean away, but Samsung is already threatening to steal the show. Analytics blog Anlytk has compiled Twitter data on the most referenced terms surrounding MWC and found that Samsung is already generating an enormous amount of buzz.

Will Viral Video Kill the Music Video?

The first video ever shown on MTV was for the The Buggles’ song Video Killed the Radio Star. Given how successful amateur videos have been lately at boosting record sales, an appropriate song for the modern age might be Viral Videos Killed the Music Video Star. Of course if there were such a song, a video of it would be found on YouTube, and it would probably be made by someone who had nothing to do with the song other than liking it.

Historically, music videos were promotional vehicles that ran on outlets like MTV. Big budgets were spent on lavish productions that would ideally captivate watchers, prodding them into buying the accompanying single/album. But while music videos have proven enormously popular on YouTube, earlier this year the video-sharing giant got embroiled in skirmishes with the record labels and rights holders over costs. The end result of that bickering is Vevo, a forthcoming satellite site founded by YouTube and Universal Music that will showcase — and monetize — music video traffic.
But what if plain ole users prove more adept than the pros?
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