Monthly Archives: March 2008

Richard Waters

gears.jpgGoogle’s anti-Microsoft strategy continues to unfold. Today brings news that its online Docs applications will soon step beyond the Web and onto the desktop. (This is accomplished with the Google Gears browser plug-in, which lets you access internet applications while offline by using the hard drive as a cache – a company representative offered to “whitelist” me so I can start using it today, but the less privileged among you will have to wait until this feature becomes generally available over “the next few weeks.”)

Google likes to cloak its new product features in uplifting rhetoric: the company only looks to delight its users, it isn’t motivated by the sort of competitive strategy that other companies employ, and so on. But the evolution of Docs has always looked like a very deliberate plan hatched with its Redmond rival in mind. 

Chris Nuttall

Triple-core processorThe maths for guessing the future of computer processing power is no longer “Think of a number and then double it.”

It should be getting easier in this multi-core world. We’ve gone from single brains to two brains and now quad-core microprocessors, so eight should be next, right? 

Richard Waters

click.jpg So the fall-off in paid clicks on Google wasn’t a one-month phenomenon. The comScore report a month ago that the number of clicks on the search engine’s adverts had fallen slightly in January from a year before touched off fears that the Great Google Slowdown had set in. It didn’t matter that comScore itself later argued that quality improvements in Google’s ad system could account for the decline: the seeds of doubt had been sown.

The latest figures show that this was not an isolated phenomenon. The research firm now says that Google’s paid clicks in the US edged up by 3.1 per cent in February, which is at least better than the 0.3 per cent decline the month before. But this still represents a major deceleration from the 25 per cent increase in the fourth quarter of last year, and with search queries still growing strongly it points to a big change in the way searchers respond to adverts. 

Richard Waters

clouds.jpgThere’s an interesting new twist today to Amazon.com’s ambitious “computer-in-the-cloud” plan. From now on, companies which rely on the etailer to run aspects of their computing for them can choose where those tasks get handled.

This raises interesting legal implications. For instance, Amazon now says customers can select whether they want their computing to take place in a datacenter in the US or in Europe. So anyone concerned about the snooping eyes of Uncle Sam (think Patriot Act) might prefer to go off-shore. 

Chris Nuttall

MytopiaInteroperability between different social networks should not only empower users but also boost widget makers who can aggregate their audiences and increase revenues.
Mytopia, launching today as a “social gaming community”, is a case in point.

It allows users to come onto its network and play games with one another whether they are within Facebook, MySpace or Bebo. Users of Apple Dashboard Widgets, iGoogle Gadgets, Microsoft Vista Toolbar Widgets and Yahoo Widgets can also join in. 

Richard Waters

wireless-tower.jpg Despite what you may read, Google and other internet companies didn’t really get everything they wanted from the US spectrum auction that just ended - in fact, in many ways the status quo remains exactly what it was.

The auction “winners” were announced today (that word is in inverted commas because only time will tell whether they got a good deal or overpaid.) Google shareholders were at least able to breathe a sigh of relief that it was Verizon Wireless, not the search company, that had paid $4.74bn for the all-important C Block of spectrum. That is the block that the FCC, after cajoling by Google, subjected to “open access” provisions. 

Maija Palmer

Phorm logoAny company hoping to launch targeted advertising services should be watching the fate of UK start-up Phorm with great interest. In particular, they should take note of what this says about the public’s double standards on privacy.

Phorm is trying to build a new ad platform, serving ads targeted around users’ internet habits and interests. It is hoping to make this acceptable to the general public with reassurances that no personally identifiable information is kept or stored as part of the process. 

Chris Nuttall

Harvard hearing courtesy Free PressNo one should be nodding off when the Federal Communications Commission holds a hearing at Stanford University next month into “broadband network management practices.”

Comcast can expect to hear some strong criticisms of its “practices” from technologists and Web activists in the heart of Silicon Valley with the FCC just announcing that a second “field hearing” is needed on the subject. 

Richard Waters

michael-arrington.jpg Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame still dreams that blogging will eventually produce a media business capable of dwarfing even tech news giant CNET in size (that was also on his mind when I spoke to him 18 months ago.) These days, though, Arrington has a new plan: a “dream team” of star bloggers that would bring together the biggest talents – and egos – in the blogosphere.

His pitch today for this Uber-Bloggers’ Cooperative sounds a bit of a stretch. The most interesting thing about it, in fact, is what it says about Arrington’s thoughts on how to catch up with CNET: maybe it’s not as easy as just starting a handful of blogs and trying to raise hell after all. 

ipod_classic_fam.jpgNews that Apple is in talks with record labels about a possible ‘all-you-can-eat’ model for iTunes is making the rounds on the blogs this morning following last night’s story in the FT.

Over at TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld asks whether music companies would be willing to go along with a subscription model. We think the answer is clearly yes.