Monthly Archives: February 2009

Chris Nuttall

Twitter’s usage has been soaring into the stratosphere of late; now its finances are receiving a similar boost.

The microblogging service announced on Friday it had closed a funding round led by A-list VC firms Benchmark Capital and Institutional Venture Partners.

The figure is $35m, but there is no official word on what valuation that gives the company. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The victors in the Shorty Awards in New York on Wednesday night – the first celebrating the best users of the short-form Twitter service – were positively rambling in their acceptance speeches compared to Webby Award winners.

The Webbies, also held in New York, for the best websites and services, restrict winners to five-word acceptance speeches – last year Stephen Colbert’s was “Me, me, me, me me!!!”. Read more

Richard Waters

No, YouTube hasn’t shut down.

That’s the headline Google chose to put on its blog post announcing that YouTube is about to move onto iTunes’ turf. To be specific: the video site is offering its first experimental video downloads for sale (it first started offering a handful of downloads last month.) Read more

Chris Nuttall

Expect the debate over the future of wireless internet connectivity to become a little more heated over the next few days.

Next week is the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where announcements will emphasise the crossover and convergence in this area. Think 3G netbooks and wi-fi phones. Read more

  • Apple iPhone sales are steady and strong and the Palm Pre is looming on the horizon. But Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry family of smartphones, is having a bumpy ride. Revenue was up, but RIM warned fourth quarter profits could fall on the low end of forecasts in spite of growth in subscriptions.

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Richard Waters

After the debacle of the long Vista development cycle and rocky launch, Microsoft must be breathing a sigh of relief over the very positive reception for Windows 7 since a beta version was made available early last month. But it may still be too early to turn the page and move on.

Certainly, a lot of corporate users are starting to weigh whether to skip Vista altogether and move to 7. That much is admitted in a blog post today by Gavriella Schuster, senior director of the Windows product management group. The growing likelihood that 7 will come out in time for this year’s Christmas season – and possibly as early as July, to catch the back-to-school sales – has added to the sense of expectation. Read more

  • Shrugging off the recession, Intel is investing $7bn in new US facilities. The work, which should preserve 7,000 jobs, will go towards a new manufacturing process that will make already tiny chips even tinier. By increasing capital spending during the slump, Intel is proudly holding itself up as a model corporate citizen.
  • While the murky origins of Facebook continue to be a source of endless intrigue, one new wrinkle has emerged. Reports say Facebook paid the founders of ConnectU $65m to settle lawsuits that accused Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg of stealing the idea for the site. The claimwas mistakenly printed in promotional material for the law firm that represented ConnectU.

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Chris Nuttall

If the daily bad news about semiconductors continues much longer, Silicon Valley may shrink to a gulch.

The headlines were unrelentingly dismal on Tuesday as the industry reeled from collapsing demand.

Consider these lowlights: Read more

  • Amazon introduced a new version of its Kindle e-reader, which has been a breakout hit for the company. The Kindle 2 is slimmer and more powerful, but still comes with the same $359 price tag. At a glance, our critic was sufficiently impressed.

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David Gelles

It is a well-established fact that celebrities use Twitter. Ashton Kutcher is fond of tweeting about Demi Moore. Britney Spears tweets about her babies.  And of course, Barack Obama tweeted his way to the presidency.

In a similar high-profile foray into social media, it was just last month, that the Pope, in an effort to connect with a new generation of Catholics, launched his own YouTube channel.

So it was not entirely surprising when reports began circulating this weekend that the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, had launched his own Twitter stream. Read more

Richard Waters

First, full disclosure: I have a very direct interest in Plastic Logic’s electronic reader. That is partly because, today, the company announced a deal with the Financial Times and others to put content on its device, which is due out next year. But there’s more to it than that.

The Plastic Logic Reader offers an alluring promise to publishers who depend on advertising. With a bigger screen than Amazon’s Kindle (latest model out today), it may one day become a device onto which newspaper and magazine publishers can transfer their existing products – and business models.

One side-effect of that would be to keep me in a job. Unfortunately, though, that day still looks some way off. Read more

Richard Waters

… is that the founders tend to speak their minds. The culture of open source does not allow for toeing the party line.

Case in point: Monty Widenius, founder of database software company MySQL. Sun’s $1bn acquisition of MySQL was a high point for the open source movement (even if Sun is now generally thought to have grossly overpaid). But when Widenius quit Sun on Friday – along with Marten Mickos, the former MySQL CEO – he did not mince words. From his personal blog:  Read more

  • While the chiefs of Detroit’s big three automakers are still employed despite their companies’ dismal results, not all executives are so fortunate. As Lenovo, the Chinese computer maker, reported a sharp decline in sales and profit, its American chief executive, William Amelio, was replaced. The company is the latest tech giant to be hit by the pullback in corporate spending, providing further evidence that PCs upgrades are one expense that companies are prepared to put off during the recession.
  • Stock-options backdating is no longer confined to tech companies in Silicon Valley. Executives from Toronto-based BlackBerry maker Research in Motion have agreed to pay nearly $75m to settle charges related to their role in backdating that occurred between 1996 and 2006.

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Richard Waters

google-book-search.jpgThe timing is surely not coincidental. Next Monday, Amazon looks set to unveil the second version of the Kindle. So today, Google came up with a version of its Book Search that works on mobile handsets.

“Book Search” is a bit of a misnomer: it’s actually shaping up to be more of a “Book Read”. With the mobile service, Google says you can access the full text of 1.5m out-of-copyright books on your handset . And lest there be any doubt, it had this to say about its long-term ambition: Read more

  • With corporate spending down, it was all but inevitable that Cisco Systems, the leading supplier of network equipment, would experience a sharp drop in sales. The company’s latest results were accompanied by a grim forecast, and points to deepening problems for the technology industry at large. Still, Cisco is sitting on a mountain of cash, and in coming months plans to introduce low cost servers that will compete with products from traditional partners like Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
  • Like so many other Japanese electronics firms, Panasonic has fallen victim to stingy consumer spending and a strong yen. The company, one of the largest and most diverse in its field, said it would lose $4.2bn in the year to March 2009, and that it was cutting 15,000 jobs.

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Chris Nuttall

SpongeBob gameTo borrow an EA game title, it feels as if there is an Army of Two, or perhaps three, benefiting from booming video game software sales.

That best sums up the paradox of strong industry sales but disappointing revenues and losses for individual publishers. Read more

  • Absent an heir apparent to the Razr, Motorola Inc. is ready to abandon the mass-market cellphone business. This news came as the company announced a $3.58bn loss in the fourth quarter, suspended its dividend and said it would cut 4,000 jobs. It also raised a more ominous question for the industry: how to expand when most people already have a phone?
  • The revolving door at Time Warner’s AOL unit keeps spinning. Former Yahoo executive vice president of global sales, Gregory Coleman, is taking over as AOL’s president of Web advertising, replacing Lynda Clarizio. Mr Coleman will be the third executive in just over a year to try and energize the division, which sells ads on AOL and thousands of other sites, and suffered an 18 per cent decline in revenue between 2007 and 2008. While this won’t be easy given the lousy climate for ad sales, Coleman seems a likely candidate to succeed.

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