Monthly Archives: April 2010

Paul Taylor

The evolution of digital photo frames has followed a familiar pattern in the consumer technology industry.

First generation devices had a fixed amount of internal memory and had to be updated by plugging them into a PC, second generation devices supported expandable memory and were updated using plug-in flash memory cards and the latest generation can be updated wirelessly – using Bluetooth, WiFi or a cellular connection. Read more

Maija Palmer

Opera logoAcquisitions are not generally Opera’s style. The Norwegian browser company has done only around five  in its 15 years of existence. However, two of those were this year, first the $23m acquisition of AdMarvel, the mobile advertising company, in January and on Friday the purchase of FastMail, the Australian web-based email company for an undisclosed sum.

The modest spending spree represents an attempt by Opera to secure its position at an important technology transistion moment. It has always been a stalwart runner up in terms of desktop browsers, well-liked by a tech-savvy elite, but far behind the likes of Internet Explorer and Firefox in terms of user volumes. However, there is a chance for it to secure leadership in mobile browsing. Read more

Paul Taylor

In this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section, we look at the options for staying online on the road:

“There are three basic ways to get online using a laptop and a mobile phone network: using a laptop with an integrated cellular modem; hooking up or “tethering” a laptop to a smartphone; and using an external cellular modem or personal mobile hotspot device such as Novatel’s MiFi.” Read more

Steve Jobs has been in the news lately, partly involuntarily due to the mislaying of his next generation iPhone, and partly of his own volition.

His latest piece of communication came this morning with his long post explaining his opposition to Flash, the Adobe video product that he has banned from iPads.

The intriguing aspect of his missive is his insistence that Apple is more open than Adobe in its approach to mobile web standards. This is ironic, since Apple has faced criticism that it operates a closed platform with the iPhone, iPad and iTunes. Read more

David Gelles

It was only in March that LivingSocial, the number two group buying site, took $25m in Series B funding. That, apparently, only tided the fast-growing company over for six weeks. Today the company is back with another $14m in funding, largely from the same investors.

That may seem like a lot of cash to take on in a few short months, and it is. But it pales in comparison to the $135m that Groupon, the leader of the pack, took from Digital Sky Technologies and friends a few weeks ago. Read more

The FT’s Lex column writes that while Hewlett Packard’s acquisition of Palm may make a degree of financial sense for both companies, the challenge will be to meaningfully integrate Palm without alienating existing partners.

HP is a long-term partner of Microsoft, and is soon to release the first real competitor to the iPad: a touchscreen slate running Windows 7. In promoting Palm, the two companies will have conflicting priorities for the development and marketing of some new products, while playing nice on the full scale PC side. Read more

Over the last few months, AU Optronics, the world’s third-biggest flat-panel maker, had the dubious honour of being the last major independent flat-panel maker in the world. The Taiwanese company Thursday, however, made it clear that it agrees with its rivals: vertical integration is the way to go.

Unlike its rivals who are each allied to just one brand, however, AUO is casting its net wide by partnering with a number of Chinese TV brands. On Thursday AUO said it would add two more of its clients to this list by establishing TV assembly joint ventures in China with both Haier and TCL Multimedia.

 Read more

Richard Waters

A year ago, Silicon Valley investor Roger McNamee was talking up the potential for Palm’s latest gadgets to put the iPhone in the shade – and getting into hot water with the SEC in the process (which led to this self-parodying video).

So Wednesday’s hurried sale of Palm to HP marks an ignominious retreat – even if Elevation Partners, McNamee’s buy-out firm, at least managed to protect its downside.

All-in, Elevation put $460m into Palm between 2007 and 2009 in what amounted to a big bet that it could corner a piece of the new smartphone market before slow-moving giants like Microsoft and Nokia (not to mention HP) finally got their act together. Read more

David Gelles

Never mind that his campaign website is a virtual knock-off of Facebook.com.

Chris Kelly, Facebook’s former chief privacy officer who is now running for California Attorney General, is not taking it easy on his former employer.

Candidate Kelly today used strong language to distance himself from Facebook’s recent changes and said that if elected he would hold the company accountable if it violated state laws.

“Facebook’s recent changes to its privacy policy and practices with regard to data sharing occurred after I left the company,” Mr Kelly said in a statement. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

You couldn’t quite call Carol Bartz’s first European press conference a charm offensive.

“Why do you think I’m here?” Yahoo’s chief executive asked, half-joking, when pressed about whether anyone could have done a better job of leading Yahoo in the 16 months since she joined. “I’ve got plenty of money and was very happy. I don’t need everybody to think I’m an asshole. You think it’s so much fun answering your questions? If I didn’t think there was a good bottle of white wine at the end of it, I probably wouldn’t do it.” Read more

The US International Trade Commission on Monday decided to investigate patent infringement claims made by Taiwan’s Elan Microelectronics against Apple.

The ITC “has voted to institute an investigation of certain electronic devices with multi-touch enabled touchpads and touchscreens. The products at issue in this investigation are electronic devices such as mobile telephones and computers that have multi-touch user interfaces,” it said on its websiteRead more

Chris Nuttall

Nokia and Symbian appear to have finally come up with a respectable response to smartphone competition from Apple and Android in the shape of the N8, announced on Tuesday.

The handset is the first to adopt Symbian’s latest ^3 operating system and will be available in the third quarter in “select markets”. Read more

Richard Waters

There’s further evidence today that Google’s Nexus One has so far been a flop.

The phone barely registers in a comparison of the amount of internet traffic generated by the 11 handsets that use Google’s Android operating system:

(Nexus One is the narrow green line barely noticeable at bottom right). Read more

It is not often that a results conference comes complete with a lecture on the future path of semiconductor development should Moore’s Law reach its limits, but then Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is not like many other companies – few other chipmaker produce as many different types of chips for as many different applications.

Among the highlights of the 20-minute talk by Chiang Shang-yi, TSMC vice president of research and development:

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Schoolchildren can safely spill water on the keyboard and even drop a new ruggedised version of Intel’s Classmate PC, but they may be tempted to take more care of it anyway.

The Classmate is no longer cheap in looks or price and has features that would not shame a $600 laptop. In fact, according to an Engadget review , that is precisely the cost of  the version they tested, running Windows 7 Professional. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Spotify is growing up fast. After first pitching itself as the best weapon against piracy, the online music service now has Apple in its sights. Apple’s approval of Spotify’s mobile application into the iPhone’s App Store surprised many last year but with a major upgrade to its main desktop software, Spotify is now challenging iTunes on its home turf.

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s co-founder, has never seemed short of self-belief but putting itself up against iTunes directly is a confident move for a service that has been around just 18 months. Read more

David Gelles

Calls to regulate social networks in the US are growing louder as Sen Charles Schumer (D-NY) has called on the Federal Trade Commission to set guidelines for how companies including Facebook and Twitter handle user data.

In a letter to the FTC, Sen Schumer said he was concerned that users were unwittingly sharing data they assumed was private with the entire internet, and that the sites made it too difficult for users to opt out of new settings that make information public by default. “The opt-out procedure is unclear, confusing, and you might even say hidden,” he said during a press conference. Read more

Over the past few years, putting together desktop and notebook computers has not been enough for the Taiwanese contract manufacturers that actually produce the vast majority of the world’s PCs.

 

Companies like Compal, Wistron and Hon Hai – relatively unknowns names that brands like HP, Dell and Acer rely on to do the actual manufacturing – have all looked towards TV assembly as the next big driver for growth, particularly as Japanese brands like Sony and Toshiba are increasingly finding it too expensive to manage their own manufacturing operations.

 Read more

Paul Taylor

In the Personal Technology section of the paper’s Business Life section this week, we look at the latest laser printer from HP:

“It was a shock recently when I realised a new set of ink cartridges would cost more than half what I had paid for my home office colour laser printer in the first place.” Read more

Joseph Menn

As Silicon Valley executives, developers and analysts absorbed Facebook’s masterstroke this week, propagating a lightweight “like” button across the internet, most were impressed–some so much that they predicted Facebook would one day overtake Google.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg appears to have learned from past mistakes and avoided setting off a massive outcry from privacy advocates. That means adoption probably will be massive.

But that likelihood is stoking a deeper current of nervousness. The thinking goes something like this: Facebook, which keeps making more user information public, is soon going to know and share a lot more about its 400m audience and where else they’ve been on the Web. Read more