Monthly Archives: March 2010

Chris Nuttall

Themobile wallet  is one of those mythical beasts of the cell phone world that elusively stays away from mass-market implementation.

However, an Oregon-based company called Tyfone has at least come up with a simple way to add the technology to millions of handsets. Read more

Chris Nuttall

A year after launching its “awesomely spectacular” four-core Xeon 5500 server processor, Intel is coming out with its six-core successor, the 5600.

Its debut today represents the beginning of a new battle with Advanced Micro Devices over “volume servers” – a key market segment where the bulk of server chips are sold for systems that run applications and processes in data centres and company IT departments. Read more

David Gelles

Twitter may already seem hard to escape on the Web, but it is now trying to become truly ubiquitous.

Its new @anywhere platform, announced at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, will allow other sites to integrate Twitter deeply into their own content pages. A dozen sites, including The New York Times, Amazon.com, msnbc.com and The Huffington Post are participating in the launch.

Sites that implement @anywhere will be able to add Twitter-rich hyperlinks; when a user rolls over a link to, say, the name of a person, a bubble will appear with that person’s Twitter handle, last Tweet and other information. The new platform will also allow users to perform some actions — such as following and retweeting — without leaving the partner site.

“The big thing that @everywhere does is reduce friction,” said Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, announcing the platform during a conversation with Umair Haque. “It gives [sites] a connection back to the users that [they] didn’t have before.” Read more

Paul Taylor

The latest Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section looks at making files accessible through storage devices on your home network:

“Some personal technology dev­ices are deceptively simple and yet solve real issues facing ordinary consumers quickly and easily. Iomega’s iConnect Wireless Data Station is just such a gadget. It provides a simple way to make anything stored on USB storage devices – such as hard disk drives or flash memory sticks – available on a home network, allowing users to share content and access their files anywhere, even over the internet.” Read more

David Gelles

A welcome cautionary note opened SXSWi today as Danah Boyd, a leading social media researcher, warned technologists not to disregard the users’ privacy as they build services that share ever more personal information with the public.

“No matter how many times a privileged straight white male tech executive tells you privacy is dead, don’t believe it,” she told upwards of 1,000 attendees during the opening address. “It’s not true.”

Ms Boyd focused on the recent rows around the launch of Google Buzz and Facebook’s resetting of its privacy features, citing the furore that surrounded each episode as evidence that web users are still very concerned about how much information they share with the public. Read more

David Gelles

South by Southwest Interactive gets underway today in Austin, Texas, and a broad swath of the technology community will be headed there to check out the bands, barbecue, and, oh yeah, the startups.

Ever since Twitter had its breakout moment at the 2007 festival, SXSW has been considered a king-maker of sorts. Yet no startup has yet been able to replicate Twitter’s success.

This year the major theme is set to be location based services, and the battle between Foursquare and Gowalla in particular. The two similar services let users “check-in” to different locations and earn virtual badges and points, and tech enthusiasts believe that with the proliferation of smartphones, both companies could become hugely successful. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Judging bytrending topics  on Twitter, I was not alone in reserving an iPad today as pre-orders began for the April 3 launch.

The experience was un-Apple-like in the bugs I encountered. Ordering did not work at all on the Apple site in Google’s Chrome browser, but was possible with the odd error page in Internet Explorer. Read more

Richard Waters

As the FTC lays the groundwork for a possible challenge to Google’s purchase of AdMob, it is instructive to look at something else Google has already done to gain a strong foothold in the mobile ad business.

Any advertiser that bids through the AdWords system gives Google complete authority over which devices its messages are seen on – that is, unless the advertiser makes a specific election not to appear on mobile handsets. The ads might run alongside search results on a PC or a laptop, or they might appear on a smartphone like the iPhone.

Most users normally accept the default settings on systems like AdWords and never make changes. So it’s a fair bet that this policy has given Google a massive inventory of ads to push onto mobiles. That sounds great for Google, but whether it is always in the best interests of the advertisers is a different question. Read more

David Gelles

In another validation of the suddenly hot collective buying trend, LivingSocial has landed $25m in Series B funding from a group of investors including US Venture Partners and Steve Case’s Revolution, LLC. But even with new money backing several similar companies, it is still unclear if the latest thing in e-commerce will last for long.

LivingSocial got started as developer of Facebook applications and launched the hugely successful Pick 5 app. But the company seems to have developed a real business with it’s LivingSocial Deals, which offers a deep discount at one restaurant or local business each day to users in a dozen cities. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony has every right to feel sore that Nintendo and Microsoft have stolen the limelight from it in adding motion-sensing to games.

Sony had the EyeToy  camera for sensing motion and putting players inside games on the PlayStation 2, long before Microsoft’s forthcoming Project Natal . Its six-axis controller has always had more motion capabilities than the three-axis Wii Remote.

But Sony has failed to market its motion technology to maximum effect and its launch of its Move motion controller for the PlayStation 3 on Wednesday represents it arriving late to the current-generation game and with little new to offer. Read more

Chris Nuttall

We now have a date – June 17 – for the launch of OnLive, but uncertainties about the pricing and availability of the revolutionary cloud gaming service remain.

Steve Perlman did tell us the service would cost $14.95 a month and would be available in the 48 contiguous US states in his presentation today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.  But, in a conversation afterwards with the OnLive founder and Mike McGarvey, chief operating officer, the pricing seemed variable and availability looks like being initially limited in terms of actual numbers. Read more

Richard Waters

Silicon Valley’s best-known CEO blogger now wants to become its best-known ex-CEO blogger (and yes, there may be a book in the works as well).

Jonathan Schwartz, formerly of Sun Microsystems, has used his new pulpit to poke a stick at Steve Jobs. The Apple boss tried to bully Sun into submission back in 2003 by threatening to sue it for trampling on Apple’s intellectual property rights, he claims. He also relates a revealing meeting where Bill Gates turned up the heat with a legal threat.

Schwartz’s bigger point: bullying doesn’t work in tech. Wouldn’t it be nice to believe him? Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sales figures for music games have hit more than a few bum notes lately, but there may be life in the Guitar Hero/Rock Band genre yet.

MTV Games announced on Tuesday there would be a Rock Band 3 later this year, implying a new distribution deal had been struck with Electronic Arts. Meanwhile, over at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, a new competitor emerged touting a video game with real instruments. Read more

Joseph Menn

The US Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday that heavily promoted identity theft prevention company LifeLock agreed to pay it and 35 states $12m to settle their accusations that it deceived consumers with a bogus $1m “guarantee” that it would stop fraud in their names.

The FTC’s legal complaint is the latest in a series of embarrassments for the Arizona company, which charges $10 a month and seared itself into the public’s mind with ads featuring the likes of former Sen. Fred Thompson, Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony is expected to demonstrate its new motion controller for the PlayStation 3 at the 2010 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, which opened today.

However, STMicroelectronics, the chipmaker whose accelerometers were behind Nintendo’s Wii remote, is poised to take controllers to the next level with as many as 11 measures of sensitivity. Read more

Joseph Menn

If your iPhone is still sluggish a few years from now, don’t blame Cisco Systems.

The top networking equipment maker on Tuesday announced a new high-end router for telecom companies that it said could handle three times the internet traffic of its current model at the same $90,000 base price.

Put a few of them together–ok, 72–and you could handle a video call from every man, woman and child in China. Read more

Paul Taylor

The Friday Personal Tech column in the FT’s Business Life section this week looks at portable scanners:

“Anyone in need of a digital version of paper documents knows how useful a scanner can be – but few people would ever describe one as cute or sexy. Until now, perhaps. Read more

James Crabtree writes in the Comment section of Friday’s Financial Times that the forthcoming UK election will be influenced more by old-style databases and email lists than new social media tools such as Twitter:

“On Monday, the BBC’s Richard Bacon invited a group of experts to talk about technology and British politics. The question he posed was simple: “Will this be the Twitter election?” Radio 5 Live’s bemused guests, including Iain Dale, the top Conservative blogger, grappled with the seemingly ridiculous notion that, come polling day, over-caffeinated Twitter enthusiasts could tip the balance between prime minister Gordon Brown and his Tory challenger David Cameron.” Read more

Chris Nuttall

Open warfare has broken out between Activision Blizzard and the two studio heads it fired this week  responsible for its biggest hit -Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 .

Activision responded on Thursday to a lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles court by lawyers representing Jason West and Vince Zampella, president and chief executive respectively of the Infinity Ward studio, over their dismissal. Read more

Paul Taylor

Panasonic's C1 convertible tablet

Despite the best efforts of Microsoft and its hardware partners over the past decade, pen-operated tablet PCs – particularly slate-style devices – never really took off outside niche verticals like health and insurance.

Even convertible tablets – laptops with touch screens that fold down on top of the keyboard to turn the devices into a slate-style PCs – never really made much headway though I personally used a convertible X- Series ThinkPad for several years. Read more