Monthly Archives: January 2008

Chris Nuttall

Mickos_mysql_schwartz_sun Hidden behind some billion-dollar database-company acquisitions – on what must be a record-breaking day for number of deals in the sector – came a little funding news that could eventually have equal significance for the way we organise our information online.

While Sun was paying $1bn for MySQL, Oracle was buying BEA Systems for $8.5bn and SAP was wrapping up its $7.15bn Business Objects acquisition, San Francisco-based Metaweb received $42.5m in second-round funding led by Goldman Sachs. Read more

Apple’s video rentals and the ultra-thin MacBook Air are likely to dominate the headlines out of this year’s MacWorld conference and expo. But new products were not the only juicy tidbits to come out of Steve Jobs’s keynote address. Before he launched into his product marketing pitch, the Apple boss rattled off some interesting new statistics about the iPhone that are worth a second look.

With its consumer appeal and lack of support from business ‘push’ email systems like Outlook and Lotus Notes, it is not qute fair to compare the iPhone to business devices like the Blackberry. But it is an impressive performance nonetheless.  Read more

Richard Waters

Android The second part of Google’s Android plan is about to unfold (OK, the Google version doesn’t look exactly like the character on the left, but you get the point.)

The FCC has confirmed that the boys from Mountain View are on the list of eligible bidders for its much-anticipated wireless auction, which starts next week. If Android (Google’s mobile phone software) is to have life he will need airwaves to ride on, and Verizon’s grand promise last year to open its network to all-comers still feels far too vague. Google must now show whether it is ready to put its money where its mouth is. Read more

Richard Waters

Classroom Classrooms were never going to be the first place you’d expect to find the latest versions of Windows and Office. Nevertheless, the short shrift given to Vista and Office 2007 by the British Educational Communications and Technology Association this week sounds particularly harsh:

From the agency’s summary of its 1-year study: Read more

Chris Nuttall

Xo_laptop The $100 laptop may still not be a reality, but a One Laptop Per Child spin-off is already talking about a $50 version appearing in the next three years.

Mary Lou Jepsen, chief technology officer for OLPC, left the not-for-profit project that has been putting cheap laptops into the hands of schoolchildren in developing countries on December 31. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Mommy_server_gizmodo Bill Gates’ Last Day At The Office video at the Consumer Electronics Show was quite a hit, but it appears to have been eclipsed among geek attendees by the media marketing power of a simple picture book – Mommy, why is there a server in the house?

This faux children’s book explains why home media servers are the coming thing.  Gizmodo has captured each lovingly illustrated page and lines like: "When a mommy and daddy love each other very much, the daddy wants to give the mommy a special gift." Read more

Richard Waters

Ask_jeeves_2 Barry Diller must be feeling pretty frustrated about the search business. When he bought the small but feisty Ask Jeeves three years ago he said his aim was to boost its traffic, partly by plugging it into all of IAC’s other websites. He even took a financial hit, slashing the number of sponsored listings carried on search results pages to make the service less off-putting.

The result? Ask.com (as it is now called) remains decidedly small and feisty. According to comScore, its share of the US search market was just over 5 per cent when IAC bought it: it’s now just below 5 per cent. That is despite a number of user interface innovations that have generally won it good reviews, including the latest "Ask3D" search results pageRead more

Richard Waters

Intel_dotstation Paul Otellini has been setting out his stall for yet another push by Intel into consumer electronics. His keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show this year made much of the "personal internet". In this vision, every CE device connects to the internet, and anything that connects to the internet should be powered by an Intel chip.

At times like this it’s worth remembering previous Intel false dawns from CES. There was the 2001 announcement of a line of Intel-branded CE devices, like the $300 Intel Pocket Concert Audio Player (by October, Intel had decided to scrap the whole idea, along with the Dot.Station internet appliance for the kitchen, pictured above.) Then there was the 2004 unveiling of the LCOS technology that was meant to revolutionise the large-screen TV business (it was dropped seven months later.) Two years ago came the official launch of the Viiv consumer brand, which is quietly being put out to pastureRead more

Bloggers are buzzing about Facebook’s decision today to dispatch a representative to join the DataPortability Workgroup, a group of coders working to develop standards that would allow web users to transport their friend lists, photos and other media between social networking sites. Google, the search engine, and Plaxo, a web site that lets users share their personal contacts, also announced they would join the group.

But most of the attention has fallen on Facebook, which in the past had favoured a closed approach in which it would not allow its data to be easily ‘scraped’ for transfer between sites. Just last week, it blocked the account of Robert Scoble, the popular tech-blogger, after he used a tool made by Plaxo, the web contacts company, to mine his Facebook profile for his user information.  Read more

Chris Nuttall

300_warner_bros If HD DVD is about to lose the next-generation DVD format war to Blu-ray, comparisons with the Betamax-VHS battle and even (for UK readers) the squarial versus Rupert Murdoch’s Sky television, seem particularly apt.

Both Betamax and British Satellite Broadcasting offered better technology than their victorious rivals and the same can be argued for HD DVD. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Yang_and_filo_at_ces It seems like Yahoo chief Jerry Yang fell into the usual trap of keynoters at CES of trying to sound relevant by demonstrating products in January, but then admitting they will be delivered who knows when?

And for a company that seems forever trapped in the process of trying to make something synergistic from its disparate parts and acquisitions (think Flickr, Upcoming and Del.icio.us), that can’t be good. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Nvu83t_frontwimage_2 Portable navigation devices should be a godsend for finding your way around the vast Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and there are plenty of new ones to choose from on display in the booths.

Garmin has refreshed its lineup and announced a $100 plug-in that GPS-enables a laptop, with its familiar mapping software and directions included. Read more

Richard Waters

Sony_oled_tv_2 "The subtext of this show is that the internet has won."

So declared Intel executive vice president Sean Maloney when I met him for breakfast at the ungodly hour of 7am in Las Vegas today. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Hdmi_plugend With high-definition images now available from the smallest cameras and even mobile phones, the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is being adapted to provide a link with HDTVs.

Silicon Image, the Silicon Valley company whose technology is behind HDMI, has come up with a proprietary solution for smaller devices that should eventually be adopted in some form by the standard. Read more

Richard Waters

Ces The consumer electronics industry’s big annual bash in Las Vegas got off to its usual start on Sunday evening – a speech from Bill Gates, boss of a company that still often seems to be struggling to locate its own consumer gene.

Gates’ CES speeches (this will be his last) are a useful reminder of just how many eggs Microsoft has in the consumer basket. No matter if HD-DVD has all but lost the next-gen DVD format war, Microsoft is also pushing ahead fast with Xbox Live Marketplace, a venue for selling downloadable video (some cynics, in fact, claim that this is where its real long-term interest lies and it only ever saw HD-DVD as a diversionary tactic to try to stall Sony’s Blu-ray.) Read more

Richard Waters

Things may never return to bubble-era levels. But as this chart (from data released by Dow Jones VentureSource) shows, there is something of a boom underway in cashing out VC investments.

Last year, the amount raised from IPOs jumped by 80 per cent to $6.7bn. The number of deals grew by a third and the average amount raised ballooned as Wall Street threw money at young tech companies. Read more

Richard Waters

Monty_python_and_the_holy_grail_4  The arrival of a former airline executive to run leading Linux distributor Red Hat looks like a sign of the times.

Matthew Szulik, who held the CEO job for nearly a decade, was a warrior of the software holy wars, a man with a strong philosophical belief in the importance of the GPL and a clear distate for proprietary software and the business tactics often used to entrench it. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Wirelesshd HDMI has helped to reduce the clutter of connecting cables around the television and WirelessHD may remove them entirely now it is finally getting off the ground.

Its "special interest group" consortium – led by LG, NEC, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba – has just announced Version 1.0 of its wireless specification for high-definition baseband video transmission. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Robert_scoble Data portability was always likely to become a major issue among the Web 2.0 crowd in 2008, but it has come to the fore sooner than most expected.

Arch blogger Robert Scoble has managed to get his Facebook account frozen by trying to export his contacts to another service. Read more