Monthly Archives: February 2010

Lexmark’s latest range of all-in-one printers give users far more than they might expect.

Lexmark Prestige Pro805 I have been testing has the usual all-in-one copying, scanning and printing functions, but there is also a kitchen sink of extras thrown in. Read more

Shortages of the Nintendo Wii console will continue until the end of March in the US after the company was caught by surprise by December’s record sales.

In an interview at Nintendo’s Media Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday, Reggie Fils-Aimé (pictured), president of Nintendo of America, told me Nintendo had been “hand-to-mouth” in supplying retailers with product in January and February after 3.8m Wiis were sold in the US in December. Read more

Nintendo is moving closer to eReader and iPad territory with the launch of a large-screen version of its DS handheld console.

Cammie Dunaway (pictured), head of American sales and marketing, unveiled the Nintendo DSi XL to a US audience at a “media summit” in San Francisco on Wednesday. Read more

A new breed of publishing services on the web are rapidly expanding their offerings to fresh markets and devices.

Docstoc, which allows the sharing of professional documents, opened its DocStore to individuals  on Tuesday, while Scribd, its larger rival, announced on Wednesday easier ways of making its documents accessible on eReaders  and other mobile devices. Read more

Local reviews site Yelp is facing some unflattering reviews of its own service.

In a class action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court, the red-hot startup is accused of unfair competition and what amounts to extorting small businesses.

The plaintiff in the suit, an animal hospital in Los Angeles, alleges that after negative reviews about its business appeared on Yelp, sales representatives from the company called and said that for $300 per month, they could make the ads disappear.

Don’t be surprised if this sounds familiar. In a lengthy article last year, the East Bay Express leveled similar charges against the company. But in an interview with the FT, Yelp chief executive Jeremy Stoppelman flatly denied the claimsRead more

Last week’s announcement by Facebook that it would use PayPal as its payments provider brought together two of the most potent forces on the internet – e-commerce and social networking.

Yet for all the promise each sector holds, the two have been slow to converge. Online shopping is still a generally solitary affair, while social networking has yet to place much emphasis on buying stuff. This may soon change.

Today the chief executive of Ebay, which owns PayPal and is the world’s largest online auctions site, offered new insights into how e-commerce and social networking might work in concert with one another, and what he sees as the next big opportunities for collaboration. Read more

It was only a matter of time before Brussels began looking at an antitrust complaint against Google. Murmurings of discontent about the dominant search engine have been going on for several years now, and recently there has been a rash of smaller cases against the company.

Three particular cases are being considered by the European Commission. A complaint by Foundem, a UK vertical search company, one from, a French legal search site, and a complaint made initially in Germany by Ciao!, a vertical search site recently bought by Microsoft. Read more

Google faces Brussels antitrust inquiry FT news story
Committed to competing fairly Google blog post
Why Europe could prove Google’s undoing Bobbie Johnson, The Guardian
Google Hit With Antitrust Investigation in Europe Mashable
Why The Big Smile, Mr. Ballmer? Google Been Slapped With an Antitrust Probe in Europe? All Things Digital

In what may be the first of many such formal disclosures, Intel included an unusual admission in its annual 10k filing to the SEC on Tuesday: It had been subjected to a “sophisticated incident” of computer hacking that might have been an act of “industrial or other espionage”.

The top semiconductor manufacturer said that the incident in question occurred last month, around the same time Google made a startling and more detailed announcement along similar lines. Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said there was no definitive link between the attempt to break into Intel and the spying campaign that targeted Google and as many as 30 other technology companies, including Adobe and Symantec. Read more

It looks like Microsoft has won a significant victory in its ongoing campaign to exert its claims over some of the key intellectual property in the Linux open source operating system.

Late on Monday, it announced a patent cross-licensing deal with Amazon. Among other things, this will cover the e-commerce company’s use of Linux in its servers. That is a big deal: given Amazon’s ambitions to become one of the biggest operators of public computing “clouds”, this amounts to a major endorsement of Microsoft’s claims over some of the core IP in Linux.

There is a caveat, though: the announcement was short on detail. And that is sure to bring accusations that the software company is once again using FUD to scare other Linux users into submission. Read more

In the latest Personal Technology section of Business Life, we look at ultra-thin but powerful laptops:

“Sony’s Vaio line of Windows-based laptops has always managed to combine elegant design with equal measures of fun and business functionality, and the new Z Series VPCZ114GX/S is no exception. Read more

In the Great Depression, people went to the movies to lighten their mood. In the recession of 2009, they bought a flat-screen TV.

It was a smaller one than they would have liked, but it was cheaper and they could still watch movies, sports and Desperate Housewives in high definition.

This led to sales of 211m TVs globally in 2009, defying all predictions at its outset, according to year-end reports from the DisplaySearch and iSuppli research firms. Read more

An editorial in Tuesday’s Financial Times says China’s policy towards technology companies shows it knows how to tilt markets to its advantage – to the disadvantage of others.

Whereas national security once required controls on what technology could be exported, today it increasingly requires a critical look at what is imported. If the world converges to the standards China requires, computers everywhere risk being at the mercy of its willingness to refrain from cyberattacks. A recent infiltration of Google’s systems, allegedly with Beijing’s involvement, puts that willingness very much in doubt.

 Read more

The Lower Merion School District is not going to get off with just a slap on the wrist.

Last week it was revealed that the suburban Philadelphia school district had installed security software that allowed it to activate the webcams on laptops distributed to 2,300 students, no matter if they were in class or at home.

The programme was made public when a 15-year-old student and his parents filed a class action lawsuit against the district, accusing it of violating multiple state and federal laws, and the Fourth Amendment.

Now district officials are facing inquiries from local prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Read more

According to Rebecca McKinnon, an expert on Chinese internet censorship, China is already getting to grips with Google Buzz, filtering out parts of the new social networking service as they pass through its Great Firewall.

But this is one service that China’s overworked internet censors may actually have a reason to welcome. Read more

Iridium logoThe past has a way of catching up with you. Iridium, the satellite phone company, has been working hard to re-invent itself following its 1999 bankruptcy. Last September it returned to the stock market through a reverse takeover, and has set about raising money for a new fleet of low-earth orbiting satellites.

In the 1990s Iridium launched with the idea of selling satphones to a wide consumer market, but was soon overtaken by the mobile phone industry. It became chiefly a niche provider of phones to aid workers and the military.

Now, Matt Desch, chief executive, believes there could be a big new market to be exploited in tracking all sorts of objects, from trucks and cargo containers to polar bears, by satellite.   Read more

RealNetworks’ founder Rob Glaser stepped down as chief executive in January as the company went on to announce the spin-offs of its games business and Rhapsody music service in response to falling revenues in 2009.

RealPlayer , the audio streaming product that defined the company when it was launched 15 years ago, is now once again the focus, with a new version unveiled today. Read more

This is a guest post from FT media correspondent Kenneth Li

It has taken no less than two years of testing, but HBO Go, the subscription TV channel’s broadband portal, has finally launched in the US.

Initially available to Verizon’s estimated 3m television and high speed internet customers, the Time Warner-owned HBO plans to offer this to all 30m of its subscribers at no extra charge in a staggered rollout. HBO said it was in talks with European pay TV operators on similar versions outside the US. Read more

Not so long ago, I heard a senior internet executive expressing bemusement over the fact that Google had so notably failed to offer any financial support to the cash-starved Wikimedia Foundation, the not-for-profit that runs Wikipedia.

After all, there is a clear symbiosis here. The majority of Wikipedia’s traffic comes from search engines (60-70 per cent was the estimate I was given by Jimmy Wales recently.)

Likewise, Google benefits tremendously from the existence of a massive source of free reference material online. Indeed, many internet searches are started with the aim of finding an article on Wikipedia. Read more

Demand Media has devised one of the most controversial – and apparently effective – new media business models around: acquire massive amounts of online content and distinctive URLs on the cheap, then use that to suck large volumes of traffic off the search engines.

It’s an idea that has earned grudging recognition in the established media, like these pieces this month in The New York Times and Vanity Fair (this was my own take on Demand in its early days).

So I’m very glad to say that Steven Kydd, Demand’s head of content, is a last-minute addition to speak at our Digital Media and Broadcasting Conference in London in two weeks’ time. Putting new media figures like Kydd alongside the heads of established powers like WPP, The New York Times and the BBC should produce a pleasingly combustible mix. Read more