Monthly Archives: October 2008

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

Blackberry StormAs we intimated in last night’s blog post, Rim has been on the verge of launching its own “App Store” for the BlackBerry and it made the official announcement this morning at its first developer conference.

It comes a day before the official launch of the Android Market for the Google-inspired platform, opening to coincide with availability of the first Android phone. Read more

PageonceApple has led the way in turning a phone into an open computing platform in its introduction of the App Store with the second-generation iPhone.

More than 100m copies of applications and games were downloaded in the first 60 days of the store being opened, adding to the appeal of the handset and the iPod touch. Read more

sun-one-year-chart.png Things certainly aren’t getting any better over at Sun Microsystems. Wall Street had been expecting revenues to decline 2-3 per cent in the latest quarter. Instead, Sun just pre-announced figures that suggest revenues are down roughly 7 per cent from a year ago. No IBM silver lining there.

The red ink is also starting to flow again: a pro-forma net loss of 2-12 cents for the quarter, according to Sun, which will release the full gory details on October 30th. Read more

The Silicon Valley job market has turned south remarkably quickly.

eBay’s plans to slice 1,600 jobs could be followed by a second round of cuts at Yahoo on Tuesday. And as we reported today, many tech start-ups are scrambling to cut back now in anticipation of a severe downturn ahead. Read more

SackboySony has suffered a blow to its plans for a strong PlayStation 3 showing this holiday season with a delay to one of its marquee games.

LittleBigPlanet has been released to reviewers, but retail copies are now being held back while a part of the soundtrack considered of possible offence to Muslims is changed. Read more

Death spiral - Sequoia presentationDeadpools, layoff trackers and [expletive deleted] deathwatches seem to be back in fashion in the Valley, even before the ripples of recession hit the technology sector.

Techcrunch launched its job cuts tracker today as became the latest Web 2.0 company to announce layoffs. Read more

If you’re a journalist, you have to love Steve Ballmer. Something quotable always seems to be falling out of his mouth. In public, he is a mixture of loud-mouthed bully, bumbling reasonableness and calculating shark.

So which persona was responsible for his comment today at a Gartner technology symposium in Florida? According to a Bloomberg report, the Microsoft CEO said that a deal with Yahoo “may still make economic sense for shareholders of both companies,” though there are no talks going on at the moment. Read more

I’m a PCMicrosoft marketing has an identity crisis. Which means Microsoft doesn’t know how to talk to its customers, and that’s a big issue for the company.

Leave aside issues of desktop vs cloud software, Google vs Live search, and whether Yahoo was worth $33 per share. Instead, let’s look at how the company actually engages the public. Read more

The latest internet earnings season has got off to a decidedly unappetising start.

eBay kicked it off today with two memorable firsts: the first-ever fall in the value of goods sold through its sites (which slipped by 1 per cent in the latest quarter) and a fourth-quarter financial forecast that predicts its first-ever revenue decline (yes, decline – and this is a company that was growing at 30 per cent this time last year.) Read more

Shazam on iPhoneShazam, the mobile music discovery service, has struck a major chord with wireless operators in their search for profit from consumer data services.

London-based Shazam has been around since 2002, but its usage has shot up 500 per cent and it has expanded from 12 to 60 countries in just the past 12 months. Read more