After the hype, a supremely negative take on the prospects of the eagerly awaited Palm Pre smartphone and the company itself from Collins Stewart analyst Ashok Kumar today.
Mr Kumar says his supply-chain checks indicate that “due to multiple hardware and software issues, Palm has dramatically reduced its production orders” with its manufacturing partner. Read more
When I caught up with Bill Hambrecht on Wednesday, he certainly wasn’t overflowing with sympathy for venture capitalists (the NVCA just launched a campaign to counter what it claims are structural obstacles that discourage young companies from seeking a listing on Wall Street, hurting VC returns.)
Asked why there weren’t more IPOs even before the financial crisis took hold, the veteran Silicon Valley financier had this to say: “I think what the [venture capitalists] really don’t like are the valuations.” Read more
Sony opened its online kingdom Free Realms on Wednesday – its response to the success of the browser-based role-playing game, Runescape.
Britain’s Jagex has found a lucrative market among pre-teen boys and girls for Runescape, which has similarities to the world’s most successful online role-playing game World of Warcraft. Read more
Software engineers and device manufacturers continue to push up against the limits of human physiology in the search for the ultimate interface for mobile phones and other handheld mobile devices.
Thumb-operated mini-Qwerty keyboards, virtual keypads and touch interfaces may all have their place, but perhaps the most logical interface for the mobile phone is voice?
Intel, which believes in investing during a downturn to the tune of spending $7bn on new manufacturing facilities over the next two years, is trying to persuade its customers to think the same way.
It released a survey and statistics on Tuesday that suggested investing in upgrading three or four-year-old computers will quickly pay for itself. Read more
The incessant media focus on Twitter (we’re guilty, too), coupled with a parade of celebrity endorsers (from Oprah to Lance) has excited enormous public interest in the micro-blogging service.
Eager to see what all the fuss is about, millions of people around the world are signing up to send their first “tweets.” Unique users of Twitter grew by more than 100 per cent in March, and are now estimated at 14m.
But it turns out most of those users are determining that the fuss isn’t about all that much, after all. A full 60 per cent of new Twitter users fail to tweet again the following month, according to Nielsen vice president of primary research David Martin. Read more
For a little while it looked like things were looking up for Phorm, the internet advertising technology company. There had been a year of controversy about the company’s technology which monitors internet users web surfing behaviour at the ISP level – a technique known as “deep packet inspection”, which has raised accusations of spying with some privacy activists.
But at the beginning of the year, things went quiet. There were a few positive statements about targeted advertising from UK officials like Stephen Carter, and the company launched a trial with KT, the Korean broadband provider.
Now, suddenly, the controversy is raging again. Read more
Travelzoo’s revenues grew 12 per cent in the first quarter and shares of the online travel deal company rose by almost the same amount on Monday’s consensus-beating earnings.
Its Fly.com meta search engine, launched in beta in February, made a negligible contribution, but management sees major synergies from matching an engine that finds users the best flights with some of the hotel and holiday bargains its site and weekly newsletter offers to 15m subscribers. Read more
Facebook was accused of imitating Twitter when it redesigned its homepage last month, making the news feed, or stream, more “real time,” and encouraging users to update their status more often. Today Facebook followed another one of Twitter’s footsteps.
With the Open Stream API, Facebook will allow third-party developers to create external applications that let users interact with their stream. This means users will be able to enjoy much of the Facebook experience without ever visiting Facebook.com itself. Read more
The major movie studios told a US federal judge in San Francisco today that new software from RealNetworks threatens serious harm to the DVD sales that are a major source of their profits.
The $30 RealDVD program allows users to make backup copies of commercial DVDs and store them on their hard drives, which on the surface is the type of activity that courts have determined to be “fair use.” Read more
Why don’t businesses let their customers vote on their key decisions more often?
That’s the question to bear in mind when you consider Facebook’s experiment with “democracy.” The company is today heralding the outcome of its decision to give customers a vote on its privacy policies (this is our earlier coverage of the issue.)
But the fact that a company feels it needs to hold a vote among its customers raises troubling questions. Read more
Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall next time Oracle gets round to negotiating Java licences with IBM and Nokia?
Sun’s aim of countering Microsoft by getting the programming language and development tools widely adopted was a knock-out success, but its business model (make the profits on hardware) failed utterly. Oracle has been pretty clear that it won’t make that mistake.
But will Java licensees be willing to pay up to justify Larry Ellison’s claim that this is “the single most important software asset we have ever acquired”? Read more
It’s an ears race rather than an arms race, but the contest for the coolest and quietest Bluetooth headset has just been stepped up another notch with new releases by Aliph and Plantronics.
San Francisco-based Aliph brought forward the launch of its Jawbone Prime to today, apparently to coincide with the release of the Plantronics Voyager Pro. Read more
For a symbol of the new, diminished expectations of the once swaggering US “greentech” industry, look no further than Ausra.
With blue-chip backers like Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, Ausra was one of those Silicon Valley companies that thought on a grand scale. Using a variety of techniques that included low-cost ways of producing and installing vast arrays of mirrors, it dreamt of building and operating utility-scale solar thermal power plants.
As we reported early on in the financial crisis (and the company went on to confirm earlier this year), Ausra changed course and decided its future lay in selling its technology to established utilities rather than becoming a power producer itself. As the project finance markets seized up, only a company with the balance sheet of a utility could hope to fund such ambitious projects, though Ausra said its decision reflected over strategic priorities as well. Read more