Monthly Archives: October 2008

Richard Waters

ballotbox.jpgGet ready for wall-to-wall online coverage of US election day. Every butterfly ballot, frozen voting machine lever and hanging chad could get its 15 seconds of fame.

The aim is certainly an admirable one: to make democracy totally transparent. 

Richard Waters

google-android.jpg I have to confess: Google’s mobile phone platform is getting off to a much better start than I had expected.

The generally favourable reviews of the first Android phone, the G1 made by HTC for T-Mobile, were notable (our own Paul Taylor found “many strengths offsetting a few weaknesses.”) They showed how well Google had done from a standing start in just a year and half – though my own brief exposure to the device left me cold. It arouses none of the instant emotional reaction you get from the iPhone. 

Paul Taylor

I am not a big video gamer, but one of the new features that will be introduced on November 19 by Microsoft’s Xbox team as part of a user interface redesign dubbed the ‘New Xbox Experience’ (NXE) could help bolster the consol’s claim to a place in the living room.

The software upgrade, which the Xbox team has been working on for the past nine months and which will be automatically downloaded like any other system update, will bring streaming Netflix movies to the Xbox 360 instantly transforming the device from ‘simply’ a games machine into a new distribution platform for the movies-by-mail pioneer. 

Richard Waters

ray-ozzie-announces-azure.jpg Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles (its first in three years) is classic Ray Ozzie. Historically, the software company has always trailed important technology developments far in advance of their availability – a tactic that has the benefit of securing mindshare among developers, but also opens it to the criticism of talking up “vapourware” in order to undermine competitors.

That is not Ozzie’s style. When I caught up with him for a few minutes this week, the Microsoft chief software architect said that there had been some pressure internally to talk about aspects of the company’s new “cloud platform” earlier, but that’s not the way he likes to do it. He wanted to wait until Microsoft had something concrete to demonstrate. 

Richard Waters

ford-explorer.jpgIf software programs were cars, then Windows Vista would be the Ford Explorer and Windows Mobile would be the Ford Focus.

Why? Because these are both fine vehicles with plenty to recommend them. But tastes and customers’ needs change, and no company wants to be caught with the wrong vehicle line-up or get passed by a competitor with  better styling. 

Richard Waters

Can Microsoft possibly live up to the expectations it has built around it’s Professional Developer Conference, which starts here in Los Angeles today? As Microsoft-watcher Mary Jo Foley says, virtually any question put to an exec of the software company over the past year has been met with the response: “You’ll find out more at PDC.”

This is meant to be Ray Ozzie’s coming-out party. Three years after joining Microsoft, he needs to prove that he has a plan capable of shifting the company’s centre of gravity to the Web. 

Chris Nuttall

Oprah’s favourite new gadgetKindle sales appear likely to get a significant boost on Friday, with talk-show megastar Oprah Winfrey apparently about to endorse Amazon’s digital book reader.

Amazon is featuring a trailer of  her Friday show on its site with Oprah talking about her new “favourite gadget” which is “life changing for me”. From a side-on view, the product she is talking about looks very like a Kindle. 

We all know that Google can count. The company based its IPO on a billion times the mathematical constant “e”, so I don’t doubt the arithmetic credentials at Mountain View.

So the launch of the Android market, the application store for the new G1 phone, indicates that the Android team needs to check their calculations. 

Richard Waters

It’s not all doom and gloom among Sequoia-backed start-ups.

LinkedIn, which raised $53m in June at an eye-catching $1bn valuation, is at it again. This time the social network for professionals has pulled in another $23m – and at the same valuation, despite the collapse in stock prices since then, according to CEO Dan Nye. 

LeeWilliamsThe news from the Symbian smartphone show in the UK was that Lee Williams (pictured) was announced as the new head of the Symbian Foundation, the provider of the mobile software platform supported by many industry players.

But the recent annoucement of iPhone App store rivals by RIM and Google makes the European side of the mobile platform market seem a little behind the curve. While the US is making a marketplace for developers, questions over the Foundation’s independence are still being raised.