Monthly Archives: March 2010

Richard Waters

How would you rather see the internet – strained through a filter or mangled by a censor?

With its attempt to score an end-run round the Chinese authorities today, Google is betting on the former. But Chinese officials, who are only now waking up to Google’s middle-of-the-night gambit, don’t sound so happy about the idea.

The Google calculation is straightforward. Redirecting all the search traffic from its local site to Hong Kong, beyond the reach of the censors, then bouncing the results back into mainland China, has two benefits. Read more

Paul Taylor

The Demo Spring 2010 conference kicked off in Palm Desert, California on Monday with a raft of applications, services and products focused on the mobile, social networking and media technology markets.

One immediate observation is that mobile apps, particularly iPhone apps, are everywhere – Gartner estimates that the mobile apps market will be worth between $20bn and $30bn by 2013. Read more

Chris Nuttall

What is it about used textbooks and top internet executives?

Thumbing through the dog-eared press releases of over the past few weeks, we see Dan Rosensweig, ex-Yahoo chief operating officer and Guitar Hero chief, arriving as president and CEO, Barry McCarthy, chief financial officer of Netflix, joining the company’s board and today, Gregory Stanger, ex-Expedia CFO, joining as chief financial officer. Read more

Chris Nuttall

A family argument over whether that was John Barryman on Desperate Housewives last night was resolved with a quick search on the turned-on laptop by our side (I won!).

Unlike John Barryman’s appearance, this is not a rare occurrence apparently – web-surfing is not replacing TV-watching but supplementing and even boosting it, according to research from The Nielsen Company. Read more

Facebook may now attract more visits from users in the US than Google, but it would not do to make too much of the comparison, writes Richard Waters.

Google continues to exert far greater influence over online behaviour, even if Facebook’s hold on its users is starting to register as more than just a blip on the web landscape. Read more

Paul Taylor

In Personal Technology in the Business Life section of the FT this week, we look at the Lenovo ThinkPad x100e and its rivals:

“The Lenovo ThinkPad x100e looks like a netbook, weighs about the same as a netbook and at $450 (£423 in the UK) is priced (almost) like a netbook. However, in terms of performance, its speed, screen resolution and keyboard outperform netbooks. This may be why the manufacturer classifies it as a laptop, albeit a small one.” Read more

Chris Nuttall

Square Enix’s big US marketing push for Final Fantasy XIII appears to have paid off, with the Japanese publisher announcing on Friday that the title is the fastest selling in the franchise’s history.

Square Enix said it sold 1m units in the US in its first five days, following its big launch event for FFXIII in San Francisco on the eve of the Game Developers Conference last week, with Yoichi Wada, chief executive, in attendance. We spoke to Mr Wada at the launch – his thoughts on FFXIII and the parlous state of the industry after the jump. Read more

David Gelles

As anticipated, location-sharing services were the talk of the town in Austin as engineers and entrepreneurs convened for the South by Southwest Interactive festival.

“Location, location location,” Playfish chief operating officer Sebastien de Halleux told me when I caught up with him. “It’s a big theme for the web at this stage.”

That may be true. But despite the genuine promise of location-based services, and all the hype around the budding rivalry between Foursquare and Gowalla — rival applications that let users “check-in” and share their location with friends — this stuff is still a long way from being mainstream. Read more

Richard Waters

The latest round in the heavyweight Viacom v YouTube slugfest has clearly gone to Viacom.

Google fought to keep evidence filed in Viacom’s copyright infringement case sealed, but failed. The full gory details were on display on Thursday. This is Viacom’s application for summary judgment in the case, and this is Google’s version of events.

The result is death by a thousand quotes – the inevitable result of selective quotation from stacks of YouTube emails unearthed during legal discovery (all the email written by co-founder Chad Hurley was said to have been lost, but his replies to his associates are on record). My colleague Ken Li has been combing through the documents. Some highlights after the jump. Read more

Paul Taylor

Those innocuous-looking  ‘wall warts’ that plug into the mains to recharge the batteries in most portable electronic devices including mobile phones, laptops and digital music players have a dark side.

If you leave them plugged in after removing the portable device they continue to consume a small amount of power or ‘vampire energy.’ While the amount of energy wasted by a single wall charger is fairly insignificant, it quickly adds up if everyone does it. Read more

As a new cybersecurity bill paves the way for the US government to share classified information with private sector operators of ‘critical infrastructure’, author Misha Glenny (pictured) writes in the FT that the internet’s uncharted territory is being rapidly nationalised.

While there is clearly a pressing need to define rules that apply in cyberspace, they are emerging at speed with little coherent strategy behind them. Nobody knows where this process will lead for two central reasons. The speed of technological change means that the traditional tools of state used to carve up the world in the 19th century, such as laws and treaties, are often inadequate, if not entirely irrelevant, when applied to this new domain. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

It’s been a tough seven days for Facebook in the UK. Last week the social network was splashed on the front page of most newspapers after “Facebook killer” Peter Chapman murdered a 17-year-old girl he met through the site.

The Daily Mail in particular went to town on the story, even risking legal action with a piece by an “expert” claiming that within 90 seconds of logging into Facebook, “a middle-aged man wanted to perform a sex act in front of me”. The Mail had to apologise when it emerged the site in question wasn’t Facebook after all but a (still-unnamed) “different social networking website”.

It didn’t take long for politicians to jump on the bandwagon in this election year. Read more

HTC, the Taiwan smartphone maker sued earlier this month by Apple for alleged patent infringement, said on Thursday that it “disagrees with Apple’s legal actions and will fully defend itself”.

The statement is HTC’s first official response to the lawsuit, but HTC’s statement reveals relatively little about the company’s planned legal strategy. HTC did not say how and when it would make a formal legal response to Apple’s suit.

The statement, however, did emphasise a long list of HTC’s technological ’firsts’ that predate the iPhone. Read more

With Facebook overtaking Google among US internet users last week, the FT’s editorial page reflects on “the rapid growth of a site whose 400m-plus users outnumber the population of any single country except India and China.”

The high-growth phase means that Facebook can take its time developing ways to increase revenues. The key must be to find ways that bring practical benefits to those who visit the site. There is an intrinsic stickiness about a site where users have assembled their own material, but if people stop updating their pages and social networking takes a new form, then winning users back is a hard task. Read more

David Gelles

The US Department of Defense has backed off its tough stance on social networking.

Last year the Marine Corps banned employees and service members from accessing sites such as Facebook and Twitter from Department computers, citing concerns that lax protection on social networks might allow malicious code to infiltrate government computers. The move was part of a broad reassessment of how the Pentagon and troops were engaging with an increasingly open web.

Now the Department has released a new policy that allows service members to access social media sites “from nonclassified government computers, as long as it doesn’t compromise operational security or involved prohibited actives or Web sites.” Read more

Maija Palmer

EU flagFrankly, I am becoming less convinced that Europe is capable of winning the war against cyber-attacks. Ever since a series of online attacks paralysed Estonia in 2007, protection against internet crime and terrorism has moved up the agenda for the European Commission, NATO and individual European countries. But it is unclear whether any real progress has been made in the last three years.  

The UK’s House of Lords will on Thursday publish its study into how well Europe protects itself online. The conclusion is that there are serious concerns about co-ordination between different member states and a real risk that less well prepared countries could compromise those, like the UK, which are relatively advanced in their cyber protection measures. Not very surprising conclusions perhaps.

But the detail of the report highlights some farcical aspects. Read more

Paul Taylor

I had fun at Mobile World Congress last month demonstrating a new go-anywhere ruggedised phone from Sonim that can withstand being rolled over by a rubbish truck or used as a hammer to knock a nail into wood.

Now AT&T, the second largest US mobile network operator, has launched its first ‘intrinsically safe’ rugged device – the A25is smartphone by Aero WirelessRead more

Paul Taylor

One of the likely reasons that initial sales of Google’s critically acclaimed Nexus One smartphone have been disappointing is that Google chose to sell the device directly to consumers and tied its 3G performance to T-Mobile USA, the fourth largest US wireless network operator.

(As we reported, Google and HTC which manufactures the Nexus One, sold just 135,000 units in the first 64 days according to Flurry, the web analytics firm.) Read more

How quickly the cycle turns. Barely a year ago D-Ram chipmakers couldn’t move fast enough to cut capacity as they struggled with oversupply during the industry’s most severe downturn. On Wednesday, the head of investor relations at Micron, the US memory chip company, confirmed what many analysts had been predicting: There is a shortage of Nand flash memory and D-Ram in the market.

This good news is tempered by the consideration that, over the history of the D-Ram industry’s existence, any shareholder gains made during the upturn have inevitably been destroyed in the next downturn. Many D-Ram makers, when presented with that fact, had last year vowed to be more disciplined should they make it out of the downturn, but can the tiger really change its stripes? Read more

Maija Palmer

Nexus OneNaming mobile devices is a tricky business, it seems. The US patent office has rejected Google’s trademark application for the Nexus One mobile phone, on the grounds that Integra Telecom already holds a trademark for “Nexus”, covering telecoms services.

The name dispute adds to Google’s woes on a day that figures from Flurry, the internet analytsics company, suggest the Nexus One has been something of a flop in its first 70 days on sale, notching up only 135,000 units, compared to 1m iPhones sold by Apple in its  first 74 days, and more than 1m for Motorola’s Droid in a similar period. Read more