Monthly Archives: November 2009

Joseph Menn

Top wired telecom provider AT&T is clearly doing something right with U-verse TV, its cable-like service delivering more than 100 high-definition television channels over internet pipes to what are now more than 1.8m living rooms.

On Thursday, AT&T Chief Technology Officer John Donovan and others came to San Francisco to show off what may be coming improvements to U-verse, among other things, from the research labs that claim 8 Nobel Prizes. Read more

Richard Waters

Two weeks after the launch of Windows 7 come some early data on how it is faring with consumers (while these sales are minor in the bigger scheme of things, getting early favourable buzz going with consumers is an essential part of building momentum for the new operating system).

According to research firm NPD, purchases of the software upgrade in the US were 82 per cent higher in the first few days than they were at the launch of Vista (in dollar terms). You can put most of that down to promotional offers. Read more

Maija Palmer

Google logoGoogle has had several years of tussles now with privacy regulators. Three years ago European data protection commissioners began question what the company was doing with all the personal data it was gleaning from users of its search engine. In the past year, the company has faced outrage – at least in some pockets like Italy, Japan and Switzerland – over Street View, which provides panoramic, eye-level views of every street of major cities around the world.

Earlier this year, a leading privacy group called on the US Federal Trade Commission to consider shutting down Google’s web services until the company could better safeguard personal data. There have been a number of instances where Google Docs, Google Desktop and Gmail have had glitches which made users personal documents visible to others. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The growth of the smartphone category is causing intense competition among operating systems, handset makers and the chipmakers that supply them.

Paul Jacobs, chief executive of Qualcomm, the biggest wireless chipmaker, sees that competition intensifying over the next year in smartphones and other handsets, which will translate into lower prices. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Backers of the Android mobile operating system today acknowledged they needed to do more to promote applications, as Apple extended its lead with the iPhone to more than 100,000 apps now available in its App Store.

That’s 15,000 more than the last update of 85,000…and the growth is more than the total number of Android apps – 12,000 – created in the past year.

At the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco today, Cole Brodman, T-Mobile chief technology officer, said discoverability of apps on Android represented a challenge for consumers. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The Second Life virtual world has suffered the reality of company firewalls in its attempts to break into the corporate world.

But not for much longer. Second Life Enterprise, announced on Wednesday, is a version of the virtual world for business, packaged as an appliance that can be plugged easily into a corporate network.

This behind-the-firewall product should give a second enterprise life to Second Life, satisfying the reservations of businesses who feel the consumer-driven open world does not have enough security, controls and content for their needs. Read more

Chris Nuttall

We did wonder about the timing two weeks ago, when the first eReader with dual screens, one of them colour, appeared 24 hours before another eReader, also with dual screens, one of them colour.

Draw your own conclusions, but Spring Design, which launched the Alex on the eve of Barnes & Noble’s Nook, now says it has filed a lawsuit alleging “Barnes & Noble misappropriated trade secrets and violated the parties’ non-disclosure agreement when it copied Alex’s features into its recently announced Nook e-book.” Read more

Richard Waters

When it comes to deal-making, predicting what Larry Ellison will do next is never easy – which is just the way he wants it.

So what to make of the fact that Mr Ellison’s pursuit of Sun Microsystems has now reached a point few expected, with the European Commission close to drawing a line in the sand with a formal objection to the deal?

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Brussels will act to block it. But it does show that things have reached an impasse in Brussels, which at the very least means a longer delay – with further detrimental effects to Sun’s business.

Assuming neither side balks before the EC issues its objection, Mr Ellison now appears to have a number of options. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Ribbit, the software-based Silicon Valley phone company, has launched Ribbit Mobile, a Google Voice-type service with some useful extras thrown in.

The start-up,  which was bought by BT of the UK last year, adds “social address book” features to its service and allows users to keep their own mobile number. Read more

Chris Nuttall

From this week’s Digital Business edition:

The arrival of a giant chocolate eclair on the front lawn at Google last month had an extra significance, other than as the latest example of outlandish artwork installed at the headquarters of the world’s biggest internet company. Read more

Richard Waters

It’s not surprising that expectations for Google Wave got way ahead of reality. The all-purpose Web-based communication and collaboration tool is one of the most ambitious things the company has come up with this year.

So it’s also not surprising that some early users of the service, which opened for tests in September, have been critical. Robert Scoble, never one to bite his tongue, was outspoken in his own views.

When I met the Wave’s lead developers at Google in Mountain View recently they were open about the service’s shortcomings, and outlined the changes they are working on.

That is likely to start with an end to the anarchic free-for-all that lets any participant in a Wave change or delete anything another user has written. Read more

Richard Waters

It’s been apparent for some time that the spate of touch-screen smartphones now hitting the market will dent profit margins in the hottest part of the mobile business, but Wall Street seems only now to be digesting that fact.

The slumping share prices of Research in Motion and Palm over the past fortnight make this case eloquently. Two weeks ago, not coincidentally, was the weekend that Verizon began its guerrilla marketing campaign for Motorola’s Droid (see Chris Nuttall’s first impressions last week). Since then, Palm’s stock is off 35 per cent and RIM is down 20 per cent, while Motorola is up.

It’s clearly ridiculous to think that one handset can cause this much damage: what is sinking in are the implications of the much bigger wave of competition that is about to hit. Read more