Industries are in flux. Google’s driverless cars are waiting at the intersection of internal combustion and search engines. Payment companies such as M-Pesa, Stripe and PayPal are testing the locks on banks’ safe deposit boxes. Samsung, Apple and Google’s Android have put BlackBerry and Nokia on hold. If you are the chief executive of a carmaker, financial institution or mobile phone maker and you are not yet worrying about the blurred edges of what was once a clearly demarcated border between sectors, you are lost.
Sales of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four have risen since Edward Snowden revealed how the National Security Agency of the US gains access to telephone records and data from technology companies. So far, if people do not exactly love Big Brother, they are prepared to accept some invasion of their privacy in return for security.
Everywhere one looks, Google is doing remarkable things. It could soon overtake Apple in downloads of applications; it is developing self-driving cars; people wear its kooky augmented reality Glass spectacles; it is signing renewable power deals in South Africa and Sweden.
About a year ago I was in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, gazing down at the Golden Gate Bridge from one of Larry Ellison’s many spectacular homes. The Oracle chief executive wasn’t there – he had lent the house out for a reception. In any case, he would be the last person to apologise for enjoying the fruits of his success. But the view from technology executives’ balconies is getting stormier. After banks and bankers, could they be next to feel the sting of a populist backlash?
As Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, launches a new music subscription service and the company’s share price continues to climb, it’s worth nothing what a success he has so far been in the role – despite the doubters, including myself. Read more
BlackBerry phones by RIM. Getty Images
We are about to find out whether Research in Motion can re-establish itself as a serious competitor in the smartphone world, or will go the way of Palm and others, crushed by Apple and Google.
Judging by alleged leaked photographs of the new BlackBerry London phone that will run BlackBerry 10 software, it seems as if RIM has gone through the full five stages of the Kübler-Ross grief model in response to the iPhone, arriving at “acceptance” and abandoning its illusions.
Having initially protested that few people would want a smartphone without a physical keyboard, and continuing to display a lot of anger and resentment, RIM has changed its management and adjusted to the world as it is. Read more
Larry Page, Google's chief executive
It isn’t often that the Daily Mail splashes on a US stock exchange announcement, so the fuss over Google’s botched disclosure of its third quarter results – and the plunge in its shares on Thursday – is a big event.
The lesson I take from it is that it is awfully hard for a public company to ignore the clamour of the stock market. Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, turned up on the earnings call to explain the premature release of the results, despite the medical condition that makes his voice hoarse.
When Google floated in 2004, Mr Page and Sergey Brin, his co-founder, insisted that they would ignore quarterly results and manage the business for the long term: Read more
The outcry over Apple’s switch on its new operating system and iPhone to its own mapping technology rather than Google Maps strikes me as more serious for the Cupertino wizards than past glitches.
There have been widespread complaints over Siri, the voice-activated artificial intelligence application in the iPhone 4GS and now iPhone 5. But Siri is at least an optional extra, while maps are now a key product feature of smartphones.
The trouble is that Apple is playing catch-up with Google over its mapping technology – it switched to its own information service because it felt that Google was favouring Android phones, leaving the iPhone vulnerable. Read more