Monthly Archives: August 2009

Joseph Menn

Twitter, which recently became the latest big-name victim of a denial-of-service attack launched from a botnet of thousands of compromised personal computers, has also been pressed into service by the masters of another botnet.

Security researcher Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks said Thursday he had found a handful of streams on the micro-blogging service that were used to tell drone computers where to go to download new instructions. Read more

Richard Waters

Internet filters have become more powerful and continue to be used more widely for government censorship – as shown most recently in this week’s report from the OpenNet Initiative on the state of the art in the Middle East and Africa.

So it’s worth celebrating when the rising tide of official censorship is kept at bay, even if such victories are hedged with qualifications, and are by no means certain to last. Read more

David Gelles

Yesterday Microsoft and Nokia announced an alliance meant to challenge Research in Motion’s lead in the corporate mobile phone market. The FT’s Lex column writes that “the battle is hotting up because this year the smartphone market is the only game in town.”

Shipments of phones that allow web surfing, e-mail and run other popular software applications rose 27 per cent in the second quarter – while overall handset sales remain on track for their first full-year decline. Even during the recession, consumers are abandoning dumb phones when, for just a little more money, they can get a pocket-sized computer instead. Read more

Richard Waters

A mechanism to connect with your friends as you travel around the Web, a place to store and manage your network of relationships, and now… a platform for social apps.

Piece by piece, Google is building many of the core functions that define social networking. They do not all reside in one place, but as it finds more ways to link these things, the utility should increase exponentially. Read more

Richard Waters

A deliberate attempt to use its desktop dominance to protect its browser market share, or an inadvertent glitch that might have had the unintended side-effect of hurting rivals?

Whichever way you look at it, the anti-trust regulators aren’t giving Microsoft an inch in the browser wars that are now raging.

From Tuesday, anyone who uses a non-Microsoft browser on their PC, and who installs IE8,  will be presented with a very clear prompt asking them if they want to make this their default browser (see image after the break). The same will happen for people in future who upgrade to Windows 7. Read more

Joseph Menn

While most tablet-style personal computers have failed, Apple should be able to sell 2m of them next year, analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray said Friday.

Mr Munster estimated that Apple will pack enough quality media software and other gee-whiz quality into the machines to justify a $600 price, which should boost company revenue by about 3 per cent. Read more

David Gelles

A lucrative if relatively unknown side business for is powering the online websites of other major retailers.

The partnerships began at the height of the dot-com boom ten years ago, when Amazon had established an early lead in e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar companies were looking for ways to sell their goods online.

Initially, some retailers opted to maintain “store fronts” on Amazon’s own site. Later, Amazon also provided fulfillment and website management services for some retailers’ new separate sites, including and the UK’s Marks & Spencer, through its enterprise services business.

Now Target has decided to end its relationship with Amazon. Read more

David Gelles

Twitter was down around the globe for at least two hours today after being hit by a denial-of-service attack. By 8:16am in California, the site was back up for most US users. Less than an hour later, Twitter was again working in the UK.

Denial-of-service attacks overload websites with meaningless requests for data in order to slow them down, or take them offline altogether. Read more

David Gelles

If Silicon Valley technology companies go through something like the stages of life, then Facebook is in its adolescence — growing quickly, and struggling to find its identity.

That it is rapidly bulking up is no longer in question. The latest figures from comScore show Facebook to be the fourth-largest site in the world, with a 340m unique visitors, trailing only the sites of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Facebook has added 208m visitors in the past year, a 157 per cent growth rate that has allowed it to surpass MySpace, Amazon and Wikipedia. Read more

Joseph Menn

Online advertising spending fell 5 per cent in the second quarter to $13.9bn from the same period a year earlier, research firm IDC said Wednesday, with the more developed US market declining even more, by 7 per cent.

It marked a second consecutive period of declines, and IDC said that there will likely be between two and four more quarters of the same. In the US, classified advertising dropped 17  per cent in the latest quarter, display ads fell 12 per cent, and search ads held up relatively well, allowing Google to post slight growth. Asia bucked the trend and showed an overall increase in online ad spending.