Monthly Archives: February 2008

Windows Vista Capable logoMicrosoft and Intel have been in such a lockstep for so long in their promotion of the Windows operating system powered by x86 microprocessors that they have earned the moniker Wintel.

But when does such co-operation reach inappropriate levels? Read more

The dusty world of technical standards setting is full of excitement and intrigue again as 120 delegates from 37 countries convene in Geneva to discuss whether to accept Microsoft’s new Open Office XML software as an international open standard under the International Standards Organisation.

Standard-setting does not normally arouse much interest. It’s usually a group of five or six engineers in a small room voting on an incremental modification to a piece of code few people are even aware exists. But this time the stakes are high – especially for Microsoft, which could stand to lose out on a great deal of business if it does not get the ISO seal of approval. Read more

Google SitesAre wikis going out of fashion or just being subsumed as an accepted feature of collaborative websites?

Google makes no mention of wikis in its announcement about Google Sites – the fruits of its acquisition of JotSpot, the enterprise-wiki Web 2.0 start-up, in October 2006. Read more

The downbeat report on click-through rates that sent Google’s shares down 4.6 per cent on Tuesday is sure to rub salt in the wounds of shareholders who were already stinging from a sharp drop in the search group’s share price this year. Many will be anxious to determine whether the data from ComScore, which showed flat growth in the rate at which web surfers click on Google’s ads in January, is merely a blip or a sign of something more ominous.

Google chart Read more

Ring of Death - source WikipediaAround 10 per cent of Xbox 360s have been suffering from that irretrievable breakdown known as the “Red Ring of Death”, according to the warranty company SquareTrade, although the figure could be much higher.

The problem forced Microsoft to take a charge of more than $1bn for the cost of repairs in its last financial year, but the company refused to reveal what percentage of its consoles were suffering from the failure. Read more

RoostRising home inventories, falling house prices and tighter mortgage lending do not seem the ideal conditions to be launching a real-estate site.

But Alex Chang, chief executive of, says it is the best of times. Read more

Dead SpaceOne interesting comment from this morning’s Electronic Arts conference call on its proposed take-out of Take-Two was on the subject of games for grown-ups.

“EA is notably underrepresented in M-rated [Mature audience] content, this gives us additional M-rated content, in fact it gives us the world’s best M-rated content,” said John Riccitiello, chief executive. Read more

Tony Hsieh, Zappos

Not many internet retailers have made it to $1bn in revenues. Amazon got there in less than four years and didn’t look back, but for most others the going has been tough. After the first flurry of dotcom hopefuls it was left to the bricks-and-mortar brigade to invade the internet. Read more

Yahoo HQ

At least Microsoft and Yahoo can agree on one thing. Noone wants the best brains to bolt (last week Bradley Horowitz, head of the company’s Advanced Development Division, left for Google, joining a brain drain that has been underway for some time – and yes, the A.D.D. acronym seems to have been a deliberate joke, to judge from Horowitz’s blog.) Read more

Bill Gates has kept out of the public eye on Yahoo, leaving it to Steve Ballmer to lead the charge. So it was intriguing to hear him talk about the situation when I spoke to him on Monday (the conversation had been arranged to discuss Microsoft’s decision to give away its developer tools to students, but how could it not turn to Yahoo as well?)

With Microsoft and Yahoo apparently waiting to see who blinks first (Is a Yahoo alliance with Google or News Corp really just a bluff? Will Microsoft sweeten its bid?) Gates was not about to negotiate in public. But he talked fairly freely about competition with Google. Read more

Yahoo It’s hardly surprising that Legg Mason is the only major Yahoo shareholder to speak out on Microsoft’s takeover bid thus far – strongly hinting it would be happy to sell if Microsoft raised the price.

It is the only one of the top institutional shareholders in Yahoo without a major stake in Microsoft as well. It can therefore see a clear profit from the deal, while the rest have been buried in silence as they carry out frantic calculations on how much their Microsoft holdings may be hit by buying Yahoo. Read more

Zeemote The Zeemote on first use seems to be a solution looking for a problem.

This separate joystick controller for playing games on mobile phones appeared an unnecessary peripheral to me – who wants to carry around something extra in their pocket just to play a few games on their phone, when the regular buttons on the handset work just as well? Read more

Valentine08 Some parts of Google are more romantic than others.

While my Google Mail and Calendar looked the same as ever this morning, Google Docs had turned pink, with hearts adorning the menu bar and broken-heart icons appearing against all the docs I’d not favourited. Read more

1950_remington_shaver A bit like Victor Kiam and his Remington shaver, some bloggers liked the Seesmic video product they tested so much that they decided to buy the company.

Well, almost: a long list of industry “names” has been announced as investors in Loic Le Meur’s hot San Francisco start-up. Read more

Spore_creature Spore, the game that has been spawning cell-like in Will Wright’s imagination since 2000, was born as a fully-formed franchise idea.

At the Electronic Arts analyst day yesterday, the creator of The Sims showed off the eagerly awaited title and detailed numerous commercial spin-offs. Read more

These days, no big industry conference is complete without a good deal of public posturing over global warming, and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week is no exception. Nokia, the world’s largest mobile handset maker, and China Mobile, the world’s largest operator, have both jumped on the eco-bandwagon.

Wang Jianzhou, the chief executive of China Mobile, told delegates that companies had to take responsibility for climate change. China Mobile itself is taking action by collecting old mobile handsets, building mobile base stations that run on solar and wind power, and buying low-energy equipment from suppliers. They clearly want to be seen to be doing their bit ahead of the Beijing Olympics. Read more

John_riccitiello John Riccitiello did not mince his words about the performance of Electronic Arts over the past year.

“This outright pisses me off,” said the chief executive at EA’s analyst day today, referring to a graph showing a three percentage point loss in market share in 2007. Read more

Nvidiaphone Apple is not the only Silicon Valley company trying to shake up the mobile world with more graphically rich phones.

Nvidia, known best for its PC graphics cards, unveiled an applications processor at the Mobile World Congress today that enables 10 hours of high-definition video playback and 100 hours of audio on a phone. Read more

The way to achieve a certain mystique for a mobile product is to not attend trade shows like the Mobile World Congress. Last year Apple stayed away, but the iPhone was the word on everyone’s lips. This year Android is the new, much discussed, threat to the establishment and Google’s presence is minimal – especially as Andy Rubin, head of the Android project, had to suddenly race back to the US, cancelling planned demos of the software. Was it really an emergency calling him back – or is it just the new style of brandbuillding?

Steve_berkowitz Steve Berkowitz, once billed as a saviour for Microsoft’s internet business, has made little impact since he arrived two years ago, so it’s not surprising that he now looks to be on the way out. It seems that bringing in senior outside talent, something Microsoft has shown itself increasingly willing to do, has not always gone smoothly.

CNET is reporting that Berkowitz, once the head of, is going as part of a reorganisation that will also involve the departure of Mike Sievert, a former AT&T executive. We can’t confirm all the details of that report, but the conversations we’ve had suggest that Berkowitz won’t be around too much longer. Read more