Monthly Archives: February 2010

Paul Taylor

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

Chris Nuttall

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

David Gelles

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

Richard Waters

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

Maija Palmer

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

Chris Nuttall

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

Richard Waters

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

Richard Waters

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