Monthly Archives: October 2009

Chris Nuttall

Seven days in tech, seven days (counting today) till Windows 7 launches. In this edition of FT techtalk, the San Francisco bureau looked back on a week of recession-busting earnings from the likes of Google and Intel and forward to the next booster for the tech industry.

Find out what Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer thinks is the best thing about Windows 7 and why his chum over at Yahoo, Carol Bartz, is in the hot seat next week, in our transcript of the conversation after the jump.

And don’t forget to join us live for FT techtalk, a multimedia chat with the FT’s tech correspondents, at the same time – 0800 Pacific (1500GMT, 1600BST) next Friday.

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Richard Waters

Why is Google so tone-deaf to the interests of Wall Street?

The company’s latest quarterly earnings look good, and are enough to warrant Eric Schmidt declaring the search advertising recession well and truly over. All segments of advertising are improving again, he said, and pricing recovered from the second quarter (cost-per-click up 5 per cent.)

The earnings call that is currently underway, however, once again reveals the company’s lack of sensitivity to the way analysts work, and its over-enthusiasm for using technology to replace human interaction. Read more

Richard Waters

Paris Hilton must be breathing a sigh of relief.

Losing control of all the personal stuff on her Sidekick once was bad enough, without the threat that Microsoft would then just swallow it all. So for all the users of the “hiptop” device, the news on Thursday that the software company believes it can recover “most, if not all” of the data that was thought to have been lost after a data centre failure will come as a big relief.

It leaves some uncomfortable questions for Microsoft, though. Read more

David Gelles

Ebay’s attempt to offload Skype to a group of investors just got even more complicated.

Joost and Joltid, the companies owned by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, today filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Mike Volpi and Index Ventures, two of the players in the group seeking to buy Skype. If granted in full, the injunction would essentially ban Mr Volpi and Index from participating in the deal for the time being.

The motion is the latest move in a legal onslaught from Mr Zennstrom and Mr Friis that began even before the current deal for Skype was announced, and seems designed either to get them control of Skype or, more likely, make sure they get a piece of the action after a sale. Read more

Maija Palmer

ShazamShazam, the mobile phone music discovery service, could be on track for an IPO, with Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers taking a stake in the company. Shazam, which was the original service that allowed users to hold up their phone in a noisy bar to identify what music track was playing, has seen phenomenal growth over the last few months, reaching the 50m user milestone this week.

The company has seen rapid growth after launching the service free on the iPhone App Store in the summer of 2008. The iPhone app has been downloaded more than 10m times. Read more

Chris Nuttall

HP has launched a new PC lineup, ranging from laptops with innovative drains, aimed at preventing ruinous keyboard spills, to enhanced versions of its TouchSmart all-in-one PCs.

At a sneak preview of the new machines in San Francisco,  HP demonstrated an impressive guttering system underneath a laptop keyboard. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Intel, which reports third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, has been talking up the emerging markets prospects for  WiMAX, with the technology it has heavily backed failing to gain much traction so far in the US and Europe.

But, according to a new report by the Ovum consultancy, WiMAX will only be a niche technology in emerging markets as well. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

More details are emerging about Project Canvas, the ambitious joint venture by the BBC, ITV, Five and BT to bring internet video services such as the iPlayer from the bedroom PC to the living-room TV set.

Our interview in today’s FT with Marc Watson, head of BT Vision, revealed how BT envisages Canvas will work for consumers and content owners, should the BBC Trust approve the service. Read more

Joseph Menn

Apple’s iPhone continues to attract not just customers but out-and-out fans, which can be a bit of a double-edged sword.

The company this week racked up the highest owner satisfaction ratings from J.D. Power. That’s especially impressive considering that it won the rankings for business use as well as personal use.

The catch is that when something does go wrong, the chorus of Apple chatterers can amplify criticism. Read more

Chris Nuttall

A battle of the bands is coming to the iPhone. No sign of Guitar Hero yet, but Electronic Arts showed off Rock Band for the iPhone and iPod touch this week at the CTIA show in San Diego.

That will put it in competition with the hugely successful Tap Tap Revenge from Tapulous, a similar rhythm game that has brought out special editions for musicians such as Coldplay, Lady Gaga and Nine Inch Nails. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Android phones loomed large at the CTIA show in San Diego this week, while the FCC chairman made the trip to the West Coast to warn the wireless industry’s convention of a looming spectrum crisis.

AT&T and others blamed heavy-duty data users and smartphones like the iPhone for a 5,000 per cent increase in data traffic over three years.

It has also been a big week for antitrust cases, as Europe finally ended its battle with Microsoft and the US began one with IBM.

We discussed all of this and more in our weekly FT techtalk – a live, multimedia chat with the FT’s tech correspondents. Read the transcript below and  join us again next week – at 0800 Pacific time (1500GMT, 1600BST) here on Friday. Read more

Richard Waters

As the Department of Justice gets further along with its investigation into how IBM maintains its dominance of the mainframe market, Lacy Edwards is certainly someone it will want to talk to.

Mr Edwards is the boss of Neon Enterprise Software, a small Texas company that is trying to make a living around the edges of the mainframe business.

Big Blue, however, is having none of it. It has written to some of Neon’s customers warning them that if they buy the company’s software, they could be in breach of their licences from IBM – even though it confesses it has yet to get a close look at Neon’s technology.

Does that sound like a case of FUD, designed to scare customers away from a rival’s product? That’s certainly the way Mr Edwards sees it. Read more

Richard Waters

Yes, it really looks like it’s finally over.

Sixteen years after the US justice department first started digging into Microsoft’s Windows monopoly, and six years after the European Commission ratcheted up pressure on the company, the end to Microsoft’s anti-trust battles is in sight.

A lot of lawyers will retire fat and happy on the proceeds of this saga. But what has it all meant for users of technology? On the face of it: not a lot. Read more

That about sums up the outlook for global chipmakers this year and the next, according to Gartner, which yesterday raised its industry revenue forecast for 2009. The US-based research company said at a conference in Taipei that worldwide semiconductor revenues would likely fall 17 per cent this year, less than their previous prediction of a 22.4 per cent drop.

Bryan Lewis, vice president of research, said this was due to a “consumer spending spree” on PCs and mobile phones, driven by falling prices and the effects of stimulus packages by governments around the world. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Nintendo’s US chief says the $50 price cut for the Wii has given the console a significant sales lift.

Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo president in the US, told the FT in an interview that the price reduction was part of a strategy to boost holiday season sales, coupling it with Sunday’s launch of its Wii Fit Plus title. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Due to the enormous cost and technology involved, less than a dozen people have had their DNA fully decoded, or “sequenced”, to date.

But IBM has come up with a method that could make this affordable for everyone – DNA sequencing could be more than a million times cheaper using chips with holes just three billionths of a metre wide, it says. Read more

David Gelles

Part of Amazon’s success is attributable to the ease it has brought to the payments experience. Shopping on Amazon.com is made simple by Amazon storing much of a customer’s checkout information and minimising clicks, and a few years ago Amazon rolled out Checkout, which lets users on other websites pay using their Amazon credits or payments information stored on Amazon. (Amazon doesn’t reveal Checkout has been successful.)

Now Amazon has released a Mobile Payments Service. The programme will let e-commerce sites integrate the Checkout experience into sites designed for mobile phones, presenting yet another option for developers who are eager to encourage more mobile-commerceRead more

Joseph Menn

More than 10,000 user names and passwords for Hotmail and other Microsoft services were anonymously posted over the weekend at a free site for programmers, it was reported Monday, prompting security experts to recommend that users change their passwords.

Microsoft said it was investigating the posting to a coding site called pastebin.com, which hinted at a much bigger password collection: according to tech news site Neowin.net, the account names all started with A or B. Read more

Richard Waters

Internet advertising in the US may no longer be growing, as it still is in the UK, but the current downturn looks like being a short one, and some categories are still doing well.

The latest quarterly internet advertising figures from the IAB and PwC show a 5.4 per cent year-over-year decline in the second quarter, very similar to the 5.2 per cent of the first three months. After six years of uninterrupted growth that saw the market expand nearly four-fold, this setback bears no comparison at all to the much bigger slump that accompanied the dotcom collapse. Read more

Chris Nuttall

There is still no agreement between Adobe and Apple over its Flash technology being allowed to boost the web browsing capabilities of the iPhone, but the same can’t be said for other devices from today.

Adobe is announcing the release of Flash 10.1 at its MAX worldwide developer conference in Los Angeles. It will bring better browsing and HD performance to smartphones, smartbooks, netbooks, PCs and other web-connected devices. Read more