Monthly Archives: February 2009

Richard Waters

Forget the vanity licence plates and the personalised URLs: what about owning your own top-level internet domain name, to put yourself on a par with the .coms and .govs? You’ll probably be able to apply for one by the end of this year – though it’ll cost you $185,000.

There is a serious side to the explosion in top-level domain (TLD) names that is about hit the internet. When anyone can pay up to create one – not to mention the myriad of new URLs that will suddenly become available – how on earth will companies protect their trademarks? And how will internet users find their way around a confusing virtual world in which www.coca.cola could be competing for attention with www.cola.coke? Read more

David Gelles

Yelp has won fans around the globe by providing a neutral platform where users can share reviews of local businesses. If a Vietnamese sandwich shop makes the best banh mi around, reviewers will rave and send more customers that way. If a kosher deli’s pickles are stale, reviewers will say as much, and other readers will steer clear.

But what if it wasn’t users, but Yelp’s own advertising team that determined the balance of — and in some cases wrote — the reviews that make up the meat of the site? Worse, what if Yelp’s advertising reps punished businesses that refused to advertise by the deleting positive reviews and promoting negative ones?

These are the claims being leveled against Yelp in a raft of recent articlesRead more

David Gelles

Facebook is always walking on eggshells when privacy is concerned. Last year it came under fire for storing user information after an account was deleted.  In 2007, it revised its Beacon service, which shared users’ activity on other sites with their Facebook friends. Now Facebook is facing allegations that it is trying to take ownership of users’ content.

The latest row occurred after the blog Consumerist called attention to minor but potentially wide-reaching changes to Facebook’s so-called terms of service (TOS), the set of rules users tacitly agree to when using the site. Read more

Richard Waters

It has only been a month, so I suppose some patience is needed. But so far, the new Obama White House has shown little of the Internet savvy that was on display during the campaign.

That has been brought home by the handling of public “discussion” surrounding the stimulus package (which was signed into law on Tuesday). Before assuming office, Mr Obama promised to open all non-urgent legislation for online comment five days before signing it. The stimulus package got nearly that amount of time (according to TechPresident) – but the discussion was entirely one-way, which doesn’t really make it much of a discussion at all. Read more

Richard Waters

As expected, smartphones have taken centre-stage at the big mobile industry bash in Barcelona (our coverage from the Mobile World Congress is here).

Also as expected, a company not even represented at the show is very much on everybody’s mind: Apple.

The fact is, Apple’s rivals have fallen badly behind in the smartphone business – even companies like Nokia and Microsoft, which have dominated the segment. Just how far behind was apparent when my colleague David Gelles and I set out to talk to independent developers to find out what they thought of the coming wave of App Store copy-cats and iPhone wannabes. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Energy harvesting – drawing power from our surroundings – has seemed a tad futuristic, but a new advance by chipmaker Freescale being unveiled today promises practical applications within a year.

Freescale has found a way of tapping tiny amounts of voltage and amplifying them to usable levels. Read more