Monthly Archives: June 2009

The FT’s Gideon Rachman writes in his column:

One of my very last tweets was: “This is possibly the most moronic form of journalism I have ever done.” Since then, I have fallen largely silent.But now I am having to rethink my disdain. Read more

Nintendo’s flagship summer title, Wii Sports Resort, has got off to a strong start since its launch in Japan last Thursday June 25th.

According to figures from publisher Enterbrain in its Famitsu magazine, Wii Sports Resort sold 353,827 copies in its first four days on sale. That makes it the third most successful launch in the history of the Wii in Japan. Read more

  • Facebook appeared to move a step closer to an IPO with its appointment of David Ebersman as chief financial officer. He joins from biotech company Genentech and is the “someone with public company experience” that Facebook said it had been seeking.
  • The European Union has endorsed a decision by 17 mobile phone companies to agree on standard chargers for mobile phones. The move to the mini-USB standard should mean “interchargeable” phones will be in stores in 2010.

 Read more

We  wrote about the boom in social gaming applications on Facebook back in April. Then in May, as the two-year anniversary of Facebook’s platform rolled around,  we looked at how social games were by far its most popular category of applications. Now, there are signs that social games are growing up:

Social gaming, where social networks become venues for virtual pets and fantasy mob wars, is becoming a real world battleground for industry players trying to cash in on the phenomenon. The console industry is exploring social gaming, traditional video game companies are losing top executives to the sector and there is infighting among the new wave of developers as they seek to copy each other’s successes.

 Read more

Pixar, Dreamworks and LucasArts are major data crunchers in the Bay Area, with their studios using vast ranks of servers to render the latest animations and special effects. But there will soon be an opportunity here to reflect on animation technology before the computer dominated.

The new Walt Disney Family Museum, in San Francisco’s Presidio national parkland, will not open until October, but, in a media preview tour this week, we were introduced to innovations such as the 13-feet-high Multiplane Camera and the optical printerRead more

Joseph Menn, Richard Waters and Kathrin Hille report on Chinese internet censorship:

“This week, an open letter appeared on Chinese blogs and online bulletin boards. “Hello, internet censorship institutions of the Chinese government,” it said. “We are the anonymous netizens. We hereby decide that from July 1 2009, we will start a full-scale global attack on all censorship systems you control.”” Read more

A boy lies on his back on a boardroom table in a high-rise office block in Toyko. He pulls out his Nokia, takes a photo of the setting sun – upside down – and sends it to his girlfriend in New York, where dawn is breaking. “Now I know we share the same horizon,” says the voiceover. “My sunset is your sunrise.”

It’s a brilliant Nokia ad – the sort of simple, well-executed idea that agencies charge six-figure sums for. Only this one wasn’t made by an ad agency – it was made by Hiroki Ono, a 23-year-old film student from Yokohama, Japan, who’d never made an ad before. The film, “Feel the globe”, took just two days to make. Read more

  • The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, better known as ICANN, picked as the nonprofit group’s chief executive Rod Beckstrom, who until earlier this year served as cyber-security czar at the US Department of Homeland Security. Like his predecessors, Mr Beckstrom didn’t accomplish much there, but it later emerged he had a skeleton staff and equivalent funding. ICANN is as close to a governing body as the internet gets, but its core mission is minding the process by which Website names and numeric addresses are assigned.
  • Some early buyers of Windows 7 will get it for the knock-down price of $49.99. Rob Enderle thought the limited-time special offer was a direct response to the $29 Apple is charging for an upgrade to Snow Leopard. Michael Gartenberg called it a “missed opportunity” to give all Vista users the chance to move beyond the much-maligned operating system.

 Read more

It’s renowned as the most digitally savvy election campaign yet. The story of how Barack Obama used social media to build grassroots support has become the stuff of social-media legend.

But when David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, took to the stage at the Cannes Lions  International Advertising Festival today, the surprising message for marketers was to keep  it “old school”: email and TV are still critically important. Read more

Microsoft has announced what consumers will be paying for Windows 7 when the new operating system is launched in October, which may seem a bit rich to those who feel they have been paying for a long time for choosing to use the current Windows Vista.

Vista has been a clunker of an OS from Microsoft, so bad its 8-year-old predecessor Windows XP is a joy to use in comparison and remains the safe OS of choice for the corporate world. Read more

  • Apple‘s new iPhone 3G S, which costs an unsubsidised $599 to buy in the 16Gb version, costs only $179 to make, according to iSuppli. The research firm took the phone apart to price its parts and found Toshiba provided the most expensive component – the flash memory at $24.
  • Google unveiled a public trial of a key piece of its mobile internet strategy - an extension of the AdSense network to mobile app developers. Developers will be able to include adverts in their apps targeted by keyword, demographics and location. This potentially gives developers access to the entire base of AdSense advertisers, posing a big challenge to specialist mobile ad networks like AdMobs.
  • Seagate Technology, which has cut jobs and salaries and restructured to combat slumping hard-drive sales, may have turned a corner. In a trading update, it raised its sales expectations for the current quarter to between $2.2bn and $2.3bn and predicted the industry would sell 120m hard drives, compared to its earlier estimate of 114m.

 Read more

Big companies have been using social media to good effect for some time now. Ford used Twitter to extinguish a public relations crisis. Dell combs the blogosphere looking for disgruntled customers, then reaches out to make amends.

These examples, like most uses of corporate social media, are reactive. Companies, it seems, are willing to engage with their customers, but only once they’ve become upset.

Yet as sophisticated communications teams get savvier with social media, some companies are getting proactive. Read more

The FT’s John Gapper writes that Apple, which just released the new iPhone 3GS, has become the hub of a creative network that is helping it stay ahead of its rivals.

It seems odd that companies can gain an advantage by working with others and by sharing knowledge. Yet being part of a network not only can help a company to gain from others’ knowledge but also can reinforce its market position, as Apple’s contest with Palm shows.

 Read more

RealNetworks is piling on the functionality of its RealPlayer software in the face of strong competition for its well known video and audio player.

Apple announced Quicktime X this month, adding editing capabilities to its player. Mozilla’s Firefox 3.5 browser now has the same ability as RealPlayer to download web video. Meanwhile Apple, Mozilla and Google are pursing HTML5 standards that can do away with the need for separate video-playing software and plug-ins. Read more

The confirmation of Jeff Weiner as CEO of LinkedIn – a job he has effectively been doing for the last six months – looks like the final piece to fall into place before an IPO.

Like all CEOs in this position, Weiner, formerly of Yahoo, insists that he has his eye focused on business and he isn’t distracted by the allure of Wall Street. But when I spoke to him today, he also pointed to the recent strong showings by OpenTable and Solar Winds as signs that the stock market seems to be opening for business again when it comes to tech IPOs. Read more

Boxee is breaking out of that box we had put it in and labelled:   Upstart Internet TV pioneer unloved by the establishment.

At a San Francisco party on Tuesday night, it announced a partnership with Major League Baseball to offer thousands of games live and on-demand in high-definition. Read more

Facebook appears to be moving closer to cashing in on the social gaming phenomenon it has created on its platform and, judging by the numbers being quoted at the second annual Social Gaming Summit, that can’t come soon enough.

In a session on Tuesday featuring executives from leading social-gaming publishers, John Pleasants, the new chief executive of Playdom, revealed its Sorority Life game received feedback from users this month asking for cars as virtual goods, with a pink Volkswagen in particular receiving strong support. Playdom came up with the goods and sold $100,000 worth of virtual VWs in two days. Read more

  • A Tennessee hospital has confirmed it carried out a liver transplant on Steve Jobs, Apple chief executive.  The Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis said Mr Jobs was “the sickest patient on the waiting list at the time a donor organ became available. Mr Jobs is now recovering well and has an excellent prognosis.”
  • Intel and Nokia unveiled plans to work together to create a type of mobile computing device beyond today’s smartphones and netbooks. The move takes Intel a step further towards a breakthrough into the highly prized mobile phone market. Nokia typically works with potential suppliers on joint research for several years before deciding to adopt a particular technology.

 Read more

How exciting can a vending machine get?

If you’re Coca-Cola, the answer is “very” – when it’s a “multimedia Coke machine”.

Also known as the uVend, Coke debuted its interactive, touch-screen vending machines at the Beijing Olympics. It’s now starting to put them into malls across the US. Today, the uVend is a novelty that generates lines stretching around the block – for a machine that still, at heart, just dispenses fizzy drinks.

But for Coke, these networked, brightly lit devices open up a new world of marketing potential. Read more