Monthly Archives: September 2009

The major video game publishers have switched development of next-generation games from consoles to the OnLive platform of internet-based gaming, according to the service’s founder.

Steve Perlman, (pictured) OnLive chief executive, said his service was also gaining considerable attention from investors, as he announced a major funding round led by AT&T Media Holdings. Read more

Listing its cars on Ebay was evidently not a novel enough gimmick to drive new sales to slumping Detroit automaker General Motors.

A month and a half after announcing their “virtual showroom”, America’s biggest automaker and biggest online auction site are calling off their partnership.

The trial  was set to end on September 30, and will not be renewed. The trial programme, which let California buyers haggle with local dealers online, was heralded as a “win-win for both sides” if it worked.

But after 50 or so days, it looks as if it didn’t. The Ebay site may have attracted 1.5m hits, producing 15,000 leads for dealers. But neither Ebay nor GM would say how many cars were sold, suggesting that the results were less than stellar. Read more

Yahoo director Maggie Wilderotter, a onetime Microsoft strategy executive, will leave the company’s board at the end of the year, Yahoo said in an SEC filing late Friday.

Yahoo said Ms Wilderotter, whose day job is in Connecticut as CEO of telecommunications provider Frontier Communications, wanted more time to devote to other pursuits and didn’t leave as the result of any disagreement. Read more

Nokia has acquired Dopplr, an online community of frequent travellers, giving an early payday for the site’s large group of high-profile backers.

The acquisition is part of Nokia’s plan to create a comprehensive set of services for its mobile devices, including maps, music and gaming.

Dopplr – whose tagline is “where next?” – allows its members to indicate to chosen contacts where they are travelling to. Read more

For all its talk of publicly sharing information with an ever-larger audience, Twitter kept curiously quiet when conversation turned to its own finances this time round.

It was first reported last week that Twitter was about to close a new round of funding. We confirmed as much yesterday, after new details of the funding emerged.

Insight Venture Partners, a New York private equity firm, and T. Rowe Price, a fund manager, are leading the $100m round, which values Twitter at $1bn. This is Twitter’s fifth round of funding, and brings total investment in the company to $155m.

But despite all the chatter, Twitter didn’t tweet about it. Read more

The App Store is becoming as overused a buzzphrase as Web 2.0, with San Francisco now implying the city itself, as much as any device, can become a platform for applications.

Gavin Newsom, the city’s trendy Twittering mayor, guest-posted on the Mashable blog on Friday. He announced the launch of the DataSF App Showcase, “a City App Store to highlight and centralize programs created from City data.” Read more

The Tokyo Games Show kicked off with a keynote speech by Kazuo Hirai, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment, at 1030 local time in Japan.

There had been rumours that Mr Hirai would give further details of the new motion controller for the Playstation 3, but in the end, the event was little more than an update on the state of Sony’s various game platforms.

1120 The event is over and I’m afraid it was a bit of a disappointment. I think Sony used up its announcements with the slimline PS3 and price cuts in August. We’ll have to wait to find out more about the PS3 motion controller. Read more

While some cast yesterday’s news in the Google books saga as the death of the settlement that would have resolved the search king’s long fight with publishers, the bigger picture is that out-of-print books for all just got a lot closer to reality.

True, the New York federal court filing was officially a request to withdraw the deal Google struck late last year with publishers and authors, in the wake of objections Friday from the US Justice Department. But that version had a good chance of getting rejected by the judge, given that the regulatory concerns followed major objections from the non-profit world, other interested parties and the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo. Read more

Original version of Space Invaders

For gamers who want to know what they will be able to play on the Xbox 360’s ‘Natal’ motion controller, here are a few more details from the FT’s interview with Don Mattrick, head of Microsoft’s games business.

There will be a ‘creator’s panel’ at the Tokyo Game Show on September 24 featuring three of Japan’s top developers discussing the possibilities of Natal. They will be Keiji Inafune of Capcom, the man behind zombies-in-a-mall hit Dead Rising; Sega’s Toshihiro Nagoshi, the creator of Super Monkey Ball; and Hideo Kojima, previously of Konami, the director of the Metal Gear Solid series. Read more

Starbucks unveiled a first-of-its-kind app today that lets users pay for in-store purchases using their iPhone, a move that could pave the way for a new generation of e-commerce applications on Apple’s popular phone.

With the Starbucks Card Mobile App, users can sync their prepaid Starbucks Card with the app, check their balance and refill it using a credit card. At some stores, they can also use the app to pay for Venti coffees and Frappuccinos.

When users select the “payment trial” function on the app, a QR code appears on the iPhone screen. A barista then scans the iPhone, deducting the cost from the Starbucks Card balance, and completing the purchase.

The trial is being rolled out at 16 locations in Seattle and Silicon Valley, where there is high usage of both iPhones and Starbucks Cards. But expect the programme to go nationwide soon, and for other retailers to follow. Read more

From John Gapper’s blog

Google Voice, the company’s new free phone service in the US (you cannot yet use it in other parts of the world) is a smart service that deserves to succeed. It does, however, place Google in a tricky intellectual position.

Google has come up with a clever way of circumventing the barrier to using Skype or other free services on phones. Instead of you dialing out, Google Voice calls your number and simultaneously connects you with the one you want, like an automated assistant. Read more

Intelius provides background check and public records services to companies and individuals using the internet to sniff out personal data that sometimes people would rather forget. This is serious stuff that can make or break a job applicant.

Now however the company has turned its technology spotlight onto another area where reputation really matters: Dating. Read more

DemoFall 09 kicked off in San Diego today and the first session included some interesting new applications and technologies. Here are a couple of my favourites – one software, one hardware:

Sunnyvale-based Micello launched an indoor mapping service for the  iPhone that provides users with a clickable layout of indoor facilities like shopping malls, college campuses and so forth and potentially fills a hole in Google’s otherwise excellent mapping service. Read more

HP today came up with a videoconferencing product that could work out 1,000 times cheaper than the telepresence mega-productions itself and Cisco have been pushing.

Cisco’s TelePresence or HP’s Halo can cost more than $300,000 for a boardroom suite setup, but HP’s  SkyRoom could link two boardrooms for less than $300. Read more

It is perhaps with good reason that Larry Ellison does not speak in public that often. Whenever he does, the famously bombastic Oracle chief executive seems certain to trash his rivals, make bold predictions about Oracle’s future, and wander off topic.

Last night at a meeting of the Churchill Club, Mr Ellison said that Sun Microsystems was losing $100m a month as European regulators scrutinise Oracle’s proposed takeover of the struggling hardware maker.

On the economy, Mr Ellison said it would be at least another five years before the US begins to recover. He said it would not be a V shaped recovery with a sharp rebound, or a W shaped recovery with a double dip, or a U shaped recovery with a pause before an uptick, but an L shaped recovery — “down and not coming back up.” Read more

Googlers will be breathing sighs of relief today that the European Court of Justice has indicated the search group can continue selling trademarked advertising keywords to anyone.

But for advertisers, the legal battle is far from over. Read more

This is a guest post from the FT’s media correspondent, Kenneth Li

Finding a good movie is generally a hit or miss proposition, Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix, explained on Monday.

That’s a problem for Mr Hastings, whose billion dollar mail order movies rental business hinges on subscribers being progressively happier about what they watch next or risk dumping the service.

Netflix, which discovered early on that movies that were recommended generally pleased customers more than even new releases, spent a decade struggling to take the guesswork out of what to watch next and were unable to boost accuracy by 10 per cent.

Mr Hastings turned that challenge — telling customers what they want before they want it –- into a million dollar global challenge. The winners were announced todayRead more

It was hard for Dallas Cowboys fans to look away from their team’s opening 33-31 home defeat to the New York Giants on Sunday night.

The Giants’ victory was writ large on huge Mitsubishi-made screens getting their National Football League debut in the Cowboys new $1.2bn stadium. Read more, the  service we highlighted as competing to be your cell phone’s “social address book”, has also launched a Web “TV” version today. lets users record four-second video status updates and these are now being streamed in channel-like themes, several of them started by Justin Timberlake, its pop-star lead investor. Read more

Google’s email service is finally returning to its original Gmail branding in the UK after a four-year absence, after Google settled a trademark dispute.

Google paid £226,324 for the intellectual property rights for Gmail to a small UK-based financial research firm, Independent International Investment ResearchRead more