Monthly Archives: December 2008

mobile-texting.jpgGiven the explosion of creativity that is underway in mobile applications, and the speed with which new mobile fads can take hold, it doesn’t make sense for legislators to regulate very specific types of behaviour. But that hasn’t stopped them trying.

Take California’s ban on texting while driving, which takes effect with the arrival of the new year. Read more

The internet community has derided proposals by Andy Burnham, the culture secretary, to introduce age ratings for websites – with one blogger “kidnapping” the MP’s online identity in protest.

Mike Butcher, who blogs about technology and start-up businesses at Techcrunch, has claimed the username “andyburnham” at Twitter, the short-form blogging service, in an attempt to educate him about some “essential truths” of the internet. Read more

wal-mart.jpgCompetition in smartphones will be intense next year, now that the giants of the business have finally recovered from the shock of being outpaced by Apple and responded with iPhone-wannabes of their own. So how can Apple capitalise on its 18-month head-start?

Part of the answer lies in today’s confirmation that Wal-Mart will start selling the iPhone this weekend. To go mass-market with the device in 2009 Apple needs much wider distribution, and they don’t come with any wider reach than Wal-Mart. Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, an iPhone bull, is anticipating sales of 45m units next year, up from 15.7m in 2008: by winning over Wal-Mart, Apple has moved a big step closer to that number. Read more

Sackboy SantaThe usual rattle of gunfire and thunder of explosions in our living room has been replaced this Christmas by the even more frightening sounds of prolonged wailing and crashing mis-plucked guitar chords.

Yes, in looking back at this season’s best video games, and playing them, music seems to have been a big winner. Read more

Shetland TimesWhere’s the “link love” this Christmas? Days after the Huffington Post was accused of unfairly copying content, the New York Times has been sued by GateHouse Media for copyright infringement.

GateHouse, owner of 125 local newspapers, alleges that a web site of the NYT’s Boston Globe subsidiary has been posting headlines and news content online from Gatehouse’s local Massachusetts news. Read more

Red vs. BlueRed vs. Blue, the satirical take on the Halo video game,  popularised the art of machinima as well as providing lots of laughs.

Now a collaboration between a machinima site and top Hollywood comedy writers promises a fresh injection of humour and professionalism into a medium often made monotonous by endless amateur Halo soap operas. Read more

Cash-hungry startups beware. 2009 will likely be a terrible year for raising needed capital.

A new survey by the National Venture Capital Association paints a grim picture of probable investments next year. Ninety-two per cent of respondents predict a slowdown in US investments compared to 2008, and 61 per cent say the dip will be severe. Read more

GTA IVVideo game software sales are up 30 per cent this year in the US, but the rising tide is not floating all boats – most publishers appear to be holed below the waterline.

Take-Two, publisher of the Grand Theft Auto series, is the latest harbinger of bad news. For its first quarter, covering the peak sales months of November, December and January, it is forecasting a loss of 70 to 85 cents per share on revenues of $175m to $225m. Read more

Eight days after a critical security flaw in Internet Explorer was publicised on a Chinese website, Microsoft is still working on trying to fix the world’s most widely used internet browser – and the bad guys are having a field day.

When news of the vulnerability was still only three days old, according to Microsoft’s researchers, there was already a spate of malware written to take advantage of it: Read more

jobsmacworld.jpgApparently so. With exactly three weeks to go before the most important showcase event of the year for the world’s most important consumer technology company, Jobs has pulled out (full report here.)

Apple’s explanation is that it no longer needs tradeshows like this (Macworld has been run by IDG) and that special one-off launch events have become a better way to get attention for its new products. Certainly, analyst Michael Gartenberg agreesRead more

Dante’s InfernoGreat works of literature have the ability to resonate down the ages, earning fresh relevance as they are revived and their lessons applied to modern times.

The BBC’s dramatisation of Little Dorrit, just ended, seemed particularly timely as it highlighted Ponzi schemes and bank collapses in the 1850s, while Electronic Arts’ new game, Dante’s Inferno, could not come at a better time…or worse, to be more accurate. Read more

Net neutrality – the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally as it flows over broadband networks – is one of those slippery phrases that means different things to different people, depending on which side of the fence they sit.

Take the argument today between Google and the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper accused Google – which has been the strongest advocate of net neutrality, at least in public – of backing away from the principle by making secret arrangements with broadband companies to have its own internet traffic delivered faster. Read more

Despite deep scepticism in some quarters about the economic impact, California’s Air Resources Board has backed AB32 (governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ambitious plan to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020.)

You could call this the Silicon Valley Full Employment Act. CARB chairwoman Mary Nichols, announcing that the board had adopted the “scoping plan” for how to achieve the required reductions (equal to four tons of carbon dioxide a year for every man, woman and child in the state) made it clear what California hoped to get out of it. Read more

SackboyThere are still 13 more shopping days until Christmas, but the video game winners and losers at US retail this season are already clear.

Take a bow Nintendo, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. Start making your excuses now Sony and Electronic Arts. Read more

Google Chrome has had a strange start to life. The browser is undoubtedly fast, and given it’s very new, has a lot of good features packed into it.

But where are the users? As Google took Chrome out of beta today , it revealed that the browser has gained 10m active users in its first 100 days. That sounds like a lot – until you compare it to others. Firefox – a rival browser that is more firmly established as the main alternative to Internet Explorer – has around 20 per cent of the browser market, compared to Chrome which is yet to break 1 per cent. Read more

Wall Street may be irrational, but it isn’t that irrational.

It’s been clear since Google walked that a search deal with Microsoft is the only way for Yahoo to make a meaningful difference to its performance in the short- or medium-term (notwithstanding the swingeing job cuts that took effect today.)

Nor is Microsoft hiding its intentions: after the last debacle, Steve Ballmer has, rightly, decided to be perfectly direct about his continuing interest, while at the same time stopping short of applying the thumb-screws to Yahoo again – at least for now. Read more

The restructuring that Sony announced on Tuesday – 8,000 job losses plus another 8,000 temporary workers, with five or six factory closures – has been criticised as light on specifics. The goal is to save Y100bn in the 2010 financial year, but there is no estimate of the cost, and little detail on which factories will close.Until Sony makes its intentions clear, all of its factory employees will feel under threat, but a few more details have now emerged. Read more

As we’ve noted before, Amazon has been busy internationalising its cloud computing services step by step. A year ago it started offering the S3 storage service in Europe (an obvious first move, since privacy regulations often require companies to store sensitive data locally.) Earlier this year it announced a content distribution network (known as CloudFront) to put that information even closer to customers.

Now comes the step that will finally turn this into a true European cloud: customers will be able to elect to have their data processed as well as stored and distributed in Europe. Read more

Clerk DogsAs a fan of film, I would have loved to have visited a certain video rental store in Manhattan Beach, California in the mid 80s.

It was there that the director Quentin Tarantino started out, as a video clerk discussing and recommending movies to film buffs all day.

It’s not quite the same, but San Francisco-based Clerk Dogs, a people-powered movie recommendation service launching today, is trying to recreate this personal service online. Read more

It takes more than one or two eye-catching gadgets, and more than a loose alliance of companies, to create a pervasive technology platform.

So Sony Ericsson’s announcement today that it will make an Android handset is an important sign of momentum for the Google-led open source mobile software initiative.

HTC’s first Android phone from T-Mobile got the ball rolling (I’ve already eaten humble pie on that one – it was certainly better than I’d expected based on the lack of buzz in Silicon Valley.) Motorola has also said it is pushing ahead with devices based on the software. Read more