Monthly Archives: December 2007

Chris Nuttall

Amazonmp3_3 It’s easy to be on the bleeding edge of the latest technology based in San Francisco, but I tend to be more of a follower in other areas, such as music.

I always seem to be one step behind a friend here, who recommends the latest hot bands and the best way of being educated on and acquiring music. 

Richard Waters

… it would crash repeatedly for no obvious reason, refuse to restart until you rebooted the engine, then lock you out until you simultaneously pulled the handle, turned the key and yanked on the radio antenna.

OK, so this was originally a joke told at Microsoft’s expense, but it also points to a truism about a development process widely favoured in the Valley: ship products before they are ready, then rely on rapid improvements to bring them up to scratch. Now it seems that Silicon Valley upstart Tesla Motors is doing its level best to keep the old joke alive.Tesla_roadster  

Richard Waters

Walmart Wal-Mart has the shelfspace to make or break a new DVD release, but its attempt to take that power to the Web has just bombed. The mega-retailer quietly closed its video download store in the run-up to Christmas. So underwhelming was the service that its failure is only just getting noticed.

Leaving aside Wal-Mart’s own particular failings, this is another sign that the movie download business has been going nowhere fast. Earlier this week we reported that Apple’s iTunes store will soon be trying out a new approach, offering movies from News Corp’s 20th Century Fox studio for rental. 

Chris Nuttall

Onyx_synaptics Touch-typing took on a new meaning for me this year as I struggled to hit the right letters with my fingers on the touch-sensitive iPhone.

What was more satisfying was the multi-touch capabilities the iPhone introduced – expanding the size of a photo by the spreading of fingers, stroking through a music collection in Cover Flow mode. 

Richard Waters

Kitchenaid_stand_mixer_2  During their most important sales period of the year, ecommerce companies like Amazon and eBay rely disproportionately on the latest must-have gadget, movie or game.

As John Donahoe, head of eBay’s marketplace division, explained at the start of this holiday shopping season: "When they’re new, we sell a lot on eBay and the average selling prices are huge." Last year the Wii had that new-scarce-and-expensive mix, the year before it was the Xbox 360. Elmo has also leant a hand. 

Chris Nuttall

KwariImagine playing Halo 3 with a lot more at stake than losing a virtual life. What if, every time you were injured by an opponent, your bank account took a hit as well?

That’s the idea behind Kwari, a "first-person shooter skill-based cash-for-kills" online game, set to debut in the New Year. 

Chris Nuttall

Diner_dash_3 Chess and Scrabulous are perhaps the most popular games being fought through Facebook profiles, but more sophisticated contests and environments are now beginning to appear on social networking sites.

At Bebo’s launch of its Open Application Platform last week, an executive from Gaia Online showed how users could step with their avatars into its virtual world from within Bebo to dance in a night club or chat with friends in many other virtual urban environments. 

Richard Waters

Jackpot_2

Full marks to Larry Ellison (not to mention Credit Suisse and WR Hambrecht) for their management of the Netsuite IPO, but it seems that sometimes you just can’t plan for Wall Street’s apparent irrationality. 

Chris Nuttall

Moviebeam The lights have gone out for MovieBeam, a set-top box service that failed to grab a significant slice of the movies-on-demand market.

The service closed at the weekend after its parent company Movie Gallery went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October. 

Facebook appears to be readying the next phase of its application platform – a payments system that would allow application developers to conduct transactions through the Facebook site, according to a announcement unearthed on Tuesday by Valleywag.

When he launched the Facebook platform strategy in May, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, hinted that some kind of payment system could be in the works. Such a system would expand the revenue streams available to application writers by allowing them to charge users for premium services, or even sell items through Facebook outright, rather than relying on advertising to make money. Facebook could also benefit if it worked out a way to pocket a piece of each transaction run over its payments system.