Monthly Archives: September 2009

Chris Nuttall

Sony’s e-book reader may have been put in the shade by the Amazon Kindle, but the consumer electronics giant is planning a superhero-style comeback in the comics genre.

At a San Francisco event on Thursday night, Sony showed off its new handheld PSPgo console, launching on October 1, some forthcoming downloadable “Mini” games and its Digital Comics, an addictive new service for the PSP coming in  December. Read more

Chris Nuttall

It gets harder trying to spot the next big thing, especially when you can’t see the start-ups for the upstarts among the hundreds of pitches being made at TechCrunch50 this week.

In the end, the judges of this tech jamboree of new ideas in search of funding chose RedBeacon – a local service started by former Google employees to hook up plumbers and painters with customers – as winner of the $50,000 top prize. Read more

Maija Palmer

Opera Mini 5Opera upped its efforts in the mobile browser wars on Wednesday with the release of the next version of its Mini browser – Opera Mini 5. The new version comes with a sleek new look, and features such as speed dials and tabbed browsing.

The Norwegian browser company still enjoys the top spot in the mobile market, with 25 per cent market share according to Statcounter. This puts it still just ahead of iPhone’s Safari browser, with 22.3 per cent.

But the competition is tightening. Mozilla is working on its own mobile browser, Fennec, while Research In Motion recently bought Torch Mobile to improve its browsing capability.  Microsoft is also understood to be improving its Internet Explorer Mobile browserRead more

Chris Nuttall

Intel is to argue that the European Commission provided insufficient proof of wrongdoing when it appeals the record antitrust fine imposed by commissioners in May.

The details of Intel’s appeal asking for an annulment of the decision or a reduction of the  €1.06bn ($1.5bn) fine have been revealed in the official journal of the European Union. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Intuit should have recorded a $170m transaction in its Quicken personal finance software on Monday after buying online rival Mint.com.

That’s a healthy return for investors in the two-year-old Silicon Valley start-up, which raised $32m over three VC rounds. Intuit had introduced Quicken Online to compete with Mint, and had closed in on its rival with 1.4m online users to Mint’s 1.5m.

So why did it feel the need to acquire Mint? – one of several questions answered by Dan Maurer, head of Intuit’s consumer group, and Aaron Patzer, chief executive and founder of Mint, in an FT interview after the jump. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Google is holding out a helping hand to the embattled newspaper industry with a new way of browsing newspapers and magazines online.

Eric Schmidt, chief executive, has criticised the formats of online editions of newspapers as slow and “pretty unpleasant to read.”

Google unveiled “Fast Flip” at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco on Monday as a possible solution. Read more

Joseph Menn

The love-hate relationship between Microsoft and Yahoo will be tuned to “hate” for the remainder of the month.
In private, the companies are working on separate versions of integration plans that will send some Yahoo engineers to work for Microsoft as it prepares to take over delivering automated free and paid search results to Yahoo. Read more

Robin Harding

NEC, Casio and Hitachi announced today that they are merging their mobile handset divisions. The following two graphs explain why:

Handset sales in Japan have been falling steadily since 2007, when the mobile networks cut subsidies on new phones, and the market has now all but halved in size. The blue line shows the twelve-month moving average of sales and the data is from the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Solid-state Flash drives (SSDs ) are making inroads at both ends of the computer market – finding a place in small netbooks and also beginning to replace the traditional hard-disk drive for data storage in the enterprise.

Pliant Technology , a Silicon Valley start-up, says it can show huge savings over traditional drives with its SSDs, the first of which are launched today. Read more

Joseph Menn

Apple has approved RealNetworks’ Rhaspsody music-streaming service for the iPhone, once again opening its doors to an iTunes competitor.

The decision announced Thursday comes a week after Apple, now the world’s top music retailer, blessed an iPhone application by music service Spotify, which for now will work only in Europe. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Tech entrepreneurs are fleeing from social networks and advertising revenue streams and moving into business applications, according to Seedcamp, the start-up investor that holds its annual event in London later this month.

Seedcamp – which was founded by Index Ventures’ Saul Klein and Reshma Sohoni, formerly of 3i – has seen advertising-based business models drop from 30 per cent to 10 per cent of the 1,500 entries to its Pop Idol-style investment contest since 2007.

By contrast, marketplaces that take a fee or percentage of transactions have risen by more than 60 per cent in the last three years, while “freemium” businesses have more than doubled. Productivity and business applications have increased 90 per cent while online games have “skyrocketed”, said Ms Sohoni. Read more

Robin Harding

The ever-entertaining Onion is running a skit about Yamaha of Japan under the headline:

Yamaha CEO Pleased With Current Production Of Jet Skis, Alto Saxophones, Snowmobiles, Power Generators, Scooters, Golf Carts*

The Onion futher refers to Yamaha’s production of synthesizers, PA systems, DVD players, tone generators, motocross bikes, power amplifiers, heart-rate monitors, signal processors, analog mixers, engine oil, microphones, HiFi systems, grand pianos, sound chips, ceiling brackets, editing software, race-kart engines, sport boats, flugelhorns, ATVs, sequencers, outboard motors, conference systems, golf clubs, projectors, MIDI controllers, lamp cartridges, portable recorders, subwoofers, component systems, and motorcycles.

It is a bit unfair – Yamaha Corporation now owns only 15 per cent of Yamaha Motor, which makes about half of these products – but the Onion could have added unmanned helicoptors, health supplements, and swimming pools to the mix, with plenty more products left over.

What is so striking is that the US satirists thinks this broad array is funny – whereas Japan’s technology industry sees it as laudable and prudent diversification. Read more

Chris Nuttall

While Steve Jobs deservedly received a minute-long standing ovation at Apple’s iPod event, it was the new nano that was the technology star of the show.

We the media were given a chance to play with the latest device after its unveiling, so some first impressions and photos after the jump. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Apple unveiled a new line of iPods, improvements to iTunes and the 3.1 operating system for the iPhone and iPod touch at an event in San Francisco today.

Chris Nuttall live-blogged the event with photos and readers’ comments. You can read an archive below. Read more

Joseph Menn

UPDATE: follow it live. Chris Nuttall will be providing live coverage from San Francisco of Wednesday’s Apple event, starting at 10am local time. Follow it here.

Apple is holding a music-themed press event tomorrow, where it is expected to unveil a package of  goodies that will start being attached to sales of full digital albums.

The product, code-named Cocktail by the record labels, will include interactive lyric sheets, photos and other virtual extras aimed at replicating and improving on the old experience of opening a vinyl record sleeve or CD boxed set filled with trinkets. Read more

Robin Harding

Sony PS3The first data are starting to appear on sales of Sony’s revamped Playstation 3 “Slim” since price cuts went into effect at the start of September. The data are good. The question is whether they are good enough.

In Japan, research company Enterbrain says that Sony sold 150,252 PS3 Slims in the four days between its launch on September 3 and September 6. That is the highest weekly sales number Sony has recorded for the PS3 since its launch in 2006 and also compares well with products past, such as the 170,779 units of Nintendo’s DSi handheld console sold during its first two days in the shops last autumn. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

It is one of the most hotly anticipated apps yet to appear on the iPhone.

From today, Spotify – the digital music application credited by some for finally luring listeners away from online piracy – can sit alongside iTunes on Apple’s mobile, as well as on phones running Google’s Android software.

On the PC, Spotify allows its users to listen to any of its millions of tracks for free, supported by advertising. On a mobile, users must upgrade to its premium subscription, which costs £9.99 a month or £119.88 a year (and also provides ad-free listening on the PC). Read more

Chris Nuttall

Pico projectors – miniaturised projectors that are the size of a cellphone or can even fit inside a handset -have failed to meet the projections of analysts.

Last year, they predicted 2m-3m units would be shipped in 2009, but it now appears that only around 250,000 units will ship this year.

However, a pickup is expected as the technology improves and consumers are “wowed” by demonstrations of it in more consumer electronics devices. Read more

Maija Palmer

Kai Fu LeeKai-Fu Lee’s time as president of Google China began with controversy, as Microsoft sued the search company for poaching him, then faced a countersuit by Google. His departure was a severe blow for Microsoft’s Chinese operations, and brought out the depth of the animosity between the two companies.

Mr Lee’s impending departure from Google has also sparked debate – not least because it is still unclear exactly why he is leaving and what he is going on to do.   Read more

Chris Nuttall

Microsoft has been reluctant to reveal the technology behind its Project Natal gesture-based control system unveiled at the E3 video game trade show in June.

But at a DisplaySearch conference on emerging display technologies in San Jose on Thursday, a Microsoft partner spilled the beans. Read more