Monthly Archives: June 2009

Chris Nuttall

Icann, the internet organisation that decides on generic top-level domains (TLDs), is being lobbied at its meeting in Sydney this week by supporters of a rival bid emerging for the .eco ending to web addresses.

In March, no less a figure than Al Gore, the environmentalist and former US vice president, threw his weight behind an application by Dot Eco LLC for the TLD. The company, founded by US internet entrepreneurs and a Hollywood producer, plans to sell .eco addresses to businesses wanting to tout their green credentials and then pour back more than half the profits into environmental causes, including Mr Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection.

It sounds a laudable idea, but a Canadian company, Big Room, thinks it has a better one for .eco, as well as superior environmental experience. Read more

Joseph Menn

Hewlett-Packard, which is trying multiple ways to get people to keep printing things instead of just posting them online, will roll out something truly novel this fall: a printer that doesn’t need a computer.

The high-end HP Photosmart Premium will sell for about $399 and has its own 4.33-inch touch screen, allowing consumers to select pages to print from a limited number of providers. Read more

The FT’s editorial page argues that Europe’s data-protection commissioners are right to pursue a new regulatory framework to protect online privacy on sites such as Facebook:

Users must be made aware of how much personal information about them has built up and prompted to think again about how they want that to be used, with tools that promote an informed decision rather than simply pester users with constant requests for permission. Read more

Chris Nuttall

What’s next in personal computing after netbooks? The answer, it seems, depends very much on what directions the makers of microprocessors are taking.

If you were to ask Intel – at its Research Day this week - the answer would be Mids (mobile internet devices). AMD said in a briefing it was “thin and light” or “ultrathin”, while Freescale came up with some interesting-looking “smartbook” concept machines (pictured) at this month’s Computex trade show in Taiwan. Read more

Jerry Maguire, the fictional sports agent played by Tom Cruise, summed up well the spirit of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s new Open Innovation Platform initiative.

“Help me . . . help you,” Mr Maguire implored his one remaining client in the 1996 film.

Morris Chang, founder and recently chief executive again of the world’s biggest contract chip maker, has a far larger network of customers than Mr Maguire but found himself preaching the same message this week when he addressed clients at TSMC’s annual technology symposium.

“We don’t want to play a zero-sum game with our clients”, the 77 year-old Mr Chang told them. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Apple watchers have been queue-observing today to try to gauge the success of the latest iteration of the iPhone, the 3G S.

Apple Stores opened early, at 7am, for launch day around the US. I was outside the Corte Madera outlet (pictured) where enthusiasm seemed almost as strong as when the original iPhone launched two years ago. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony tried to breathe new life into its Blu-ray format on Thursday, just as a new poll suggested interest in its high-definition disk was waning among US consumers.

At a San Francisco event, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment told us it was launching what it believed was its first “killer app” using the internet-connected BD-Live features of the standard. Read more

Richard Waters

  • The Federal Communications Commission said it would look into the exclusive ties in the US that have limited some mobile handsets to particular operators. The promise came as AT&T prepared to welcome another spate of new customers, thanks to its exclusive deal to carry the iPhone in the US. Three students were the first to start lining up to buy the iPhone 3G S in New York, arriving 24 hours before the official Friday morning launch of the device. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted sales of 500,000 this weekend.

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Richard Waters

Does Microsoft really have the stomach to pour another $10bn or more into the seemingly bottomless pit of internet search?

Steve Ballmer was certainly talking tough on Thursday, declaring that the company was prepared to commit 5-10 per cent of its annual operating income (2008 total: $22bn) to search for the next five years.

This is not really surprising. He has made similar comments in the past. And as Youssef Squali at Jefferies points out, based on the last few quarters Microsoft is already losing around $2bn a year in online services. So all Ballmer’s statement really adds up to is a declaration that he is prepared to stay the course.

However, coming nearly three weeks after the launch of Bing, it is the timing, rather than the content, of the message that is important. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Anyone doubting that social gaming is the next big growth area for the video-game industry should note which way top executives in the industry are moving.

Electronic Arts has just announced that John Pleasants (pictured), its chief operating officer and president of global publishing, is leaving the company. His destination is the chief executive role at Playdom, the leading social game developer on MySpace. Read more

Chris Nuttall

From Digital Business:

“You may well be reading this column online, in a web browser. If that’s the case, take a moment to appreciate this well-worn frame for internet content, it deserves a little recognition.” Read more

Chris Nuttall

  • Lots of activity on the iPhone front. The reviews are now out for the iPhone 3GS and they are generally very positive. The phone goes on sale on Friday, but its new operating system update – 3.0 – became available on Wednesday and sparked an avalanche of downloads. Meanwhile, Apple’s ongoing irritation with its rival, the Palm Pre, continues. It has already made thinly veiled threats about the Palm device’s similar use of a multi-touch screen. Now, it is warning that newer versions of Apple’s iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with non-Apple digital media players – a reference to a popular function on the Pre.

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Chris Nuttall

The “S” in the new iPhone 3GS, which goes on sale on Friday, stands for “Speed”. It could also stand for “Storage” and “Souped-up Software.”

The “S” has double the memory,  a faster processor, compatibility with higher-megabit networks and up to 32 gigabytes of storage. And it may need every bit of this new horsepower and space. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The web browser has undergone a renaissance in the past year, compared to the Dark Ages of underdevelopment of the first half of this decade after Microsoft crushed competition from Netscape.

Google has introduced Chrome, Apple has just issued a lightning-fast version of Safari with a new user interface and HTML 5 is being adopted to enable browsers to run every kind of program normally associated with native desktop applications.

But the browser’s basic design is still centred around representing web pages rather than the activity of users and their connections. Read more

Richard Waters

FT media editor Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson reports from the Wired design conference in New York:

Amazon lined up with those arguing that Google needs to be reined in earlier this week, as Jeff Bezos argued that the search juggernaut’s settlement with publishers should not simply be waved through by the authorities.

“We have strong opinions about that issue which I’m not going to share,” he said, before going on to share at least some of them. “Clearly that settlement in our opinion needs to be revisited and [in reference to the DoJ's recent requests for information] is being revisited.” Read more

Richard Waters

  • After reported intervention by the US State department, Twitter delayed a scheduled maintenance outage so that its service would be available to help disseminate the message from protesters in Iran. With journalists there operating under increasingly heavy restrictions, the micro-blogging service has come to play an important role.
  • How do you salvage a former internet star that has been flirting with irrelevance? Sack nearly a third of the staff. That was the first move by new MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta on Tuesday as he tried to bring entrepreneurial drive back to the social networking site.

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Richard Waters

(Update: Opera chief development officer Christen Krogh’s response: the centralised and decentralised Web will coexist. See below.)

There is something very uplifting about Opera’s vision of a Web that turns every user back into a node on the network, with all the rights and responsibilities that implies (this is the blog post today that explains the idea, and this is an inspirational video.)

The idea behind Opera Unite, in brief: every PC would act as a server on the Web. There would no longer be any need to upload your data to some internet company’s giant datacentre, it would stay under your control and be shared with other PC users through a peer-to-peer arrangement.

Isn’t this what the internet was meant to be like? Read more

Robin Harding

Or it will soon if Japan’s largest telephone company has its way.

Silicon Valley may be atwitter over Twitter but NTT Communications has a different proposition for the future of the internet: Fragrance Communication. Read more

Acer‘s attempt to muscle in on the fast-growing smartphones market can be described as a strategy of offering a cornucopia of choices to the consumer, if one was being charitable.

Unlike Apple, which laboured over perfecting one product – the iPhone – when it made its move into the nascent smartphone market, the world’s third-biggest PC maker yesterday launched four phone models in one go in Taiwan, and promised six more by the end of the year. Read more

Chris Nuttall

  • Facebook, which overtook its social networking rival MySpace in global users last year, has now surpassed it in the US, according to the comScore research firm.  Facebook users almost doubled in the space of a year to 70.28m, while MySpace members fell 5 per cent to 70.26m.
  • Mobile payments are becoming a hot area for investment. San Francisco-based Boku has launched with an announcement of $13m in funding from Benchmark Capital, Khosla Ventures and Index Ventures. It also said it had acquired Paymo and Mobillcash, two other mobile payments companies. In March, Nokia made a $70m investment in Obopay.

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