Monthly Archives: June 2010

Richard Waters

Would you have wanted to be the manager whose job it was to persuade Steve Ballmer to keep investing in Kin?

Thought not. The writing has been on the wall for this smart-ish phone for some time. The Microsoft CEO – who took direct personal responsibility for the company’s mobile business six weeks ago, on the early “retirement” of consumer products chief Robbie Bach – has now delivered the coup de grace (the story was broken today by Ina Fried at Cnet, and Microsoft confirmed to us that there will be no future versions of the device).

One message from this: Microsoft’s period of experimentation in consumer gadgets is coming to an end. Mr Ballmer is doubling down instead on the main battle ahead as he looks to buttress the Windows platform against Apple and Google. Read more

David Gelles

Bebo founder Michael Birch thinks that becoming a multimillionaire nearly killed him. Shortly after selling his social networking site to AOL for $850m in 2008, a long-term benign defect became dangerous

But just weeks after AOL unloaded the social networking site for pittance, Mr Birch is feeling rejuvenated. In a profile in Wednesday’s FT, technology correspondent Maija Palmer talks with Mr Birch about his health, his investments in new tech companies, and his new company incubator in San Francisco. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Printing and mobility generally go together like England and success in World Cups, but some results are being achieved through old-fashioned email.

I was impressed that the Los Angeles hotel I stayed at this month would automatically print anything I emailed it from my laptop. Now, Pogoplug owners will have a similar solution if they own HP or Epson printers. Read more

David Gelles

Foursquare, the social networking company that lets users “check in” to locations using mobile phones, has taken its first significant round of funding after acquisition talks sputtered.

The $20m series B investment was led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm founded by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. Other investors include Union Square Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. The deal values Foursquare at $95m. Read more

If you were investing in an initial public offering, would you not want the company’s chairman, chief executive and “product architect” – the most important individual to the enterprise – at least to work full-time?

I ask this because Elon Musk, the chairman and chief executive of Tesla Motors, the electric car maker that held its Nasdaq IPO successfully on Tuesday, does not.

Mr Musk is already a controversial figure, having admitted just before the IPO that he had run out of cash as a result of investing $74m of his money into Tesla, and being in the middle of a messy divorce. His wife Justine Musk has been adding her own thoughts about Tesla on her blogRead more

Chris Nuttall

External hard drives have traditionally trailed internals ones in their capacities, but Seagate has well and truly flipped that notion by announcing the world’s first 3-terabyte external desktop drive.

Drives have reached such unimagined capacities that it now makes sense to put a tera-drive outside a computer rather than inside, due to PC software being unable to recognise the extra space available. Read more

David Gelles

Ever since Facebook first rolled out its own virtual currency, developers have wondered if, when, and how the company would start encouraging the use of Credits across its enormous platform.

The answer is becoming clear, and the time is now. Facebook wants developers to start using Credits in a big way as it works to build a system similar to Apple’s iTunes, where users make lots of small purchases with a credit card kept on file.

Developers are taking the cue. CrowdStar, one of the most successful social gaming companies, just announced it will use Credits as its exclusive in-game currency for at least the next five years. Read more

The way is finally clear for the first formal tie-up between a Taiwanese and a Chinese chipmaker. Taiwan’s government on Monday gave approval for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, to take a 7.4 per cent stake in China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International, China’s biggest chipmaker by capacity.

The story of how SMIC was founded a decade ago by Richard Chang, a former senior TSMC executive, and how the two companies later became embroiled in a long-running trade secrets battle, is an interesting and revealing tale about China’s (largely failed) efforts to create a domestic chipmaking industry.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Perhaps the most fun to be had playing a video game at the E3 trade show last week was sitting in a motor racing cockpit with 3D glasses and trying the new Gran Turismo  for PlayStation 3.

The photorealism and visual and force-feedback effects were astonishing. And yet my favourite racing game currently – in a crowded field – remains another Sony game -ModNation Racers.  Read more

Chris Nuttall

This week saw the release of new operating systems by Apple and Google – iOS4 and Android 2.2 – and the launch of two new phones – iPhone 4 and the second-generation Droid X.

In Friday’s Personal Technology column in the FT, we look at the astonishing growth of the smartphone category and the capabilities of its latest entrants. Read more

Joseph Menn

Late Thursday, Apple responded to widespread complaints about bad reception on the just-released iPhone 4 with responses to me and others in the media. The bottom line: there’s a problem with the line on the bottom.

Numerous buyers said that when they held the phone in their hand naturally, the 3G cell signal faded or vanished entirely. They posted videos to the Web proving it, though others had no such issues. Read more

If you were lucky enough to get past the technical glitches on the first day of pre-order sales, then you are most likely a proud owner of an iPhone 4, which was shipped to the comfort of your home on today’s launch.

For those of you who chose in-store pick up, we wish you good luck.

 Read more

David Gelles

Facebook is tangling with regulators around the world these days, and the company’s porous privacy settings have not escaped the ire of officials in Washington, DC.

So in an effort to cope with what is sure to be more international scrutiny, Facebook has hired a White House official to work with its policy team inside the Beltway.

Marne Levine, currently chief of staff at the White House National Economic Council, will join the world’s largest social network as vice president of global public policy. In her new role, she will help build and manage policy teams in Asia, the Americas and Europe. Read more

Another day, another raft of new patent infringement lawsuits. Thursday saw Apple file new claims against Taiwan’s HTC, this time alleging that the smartphone maker infringed patents including the technology for the “slide to unlock” start screen. Read more

How much capacity does Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company need?  The world’s biggest contract chipmaker is, after all, already planning to spend $4.8bn this year alone on capacity expansion. 

The answer, according to Morris Chang, chairman and chief executive, is a lot more still.  Addressing an audience of TSMC clients yesterday, Mr Chang laid out for the first time his approach towards capacity-building.  The chip making industry, he said, often oscillates between two states of imbalance – either demand outstrips supply, or vice versa.  Read more

Maija Palmer

Episerver logo   Little by little, European technology companies are trickling back onto the market. The latest planned addition is EPiserver, a Swedish company that makes software that helps companies build and run websites.

The company is planning a listing on the Stockholm stock exchange on June 30th, worth up to £28.8m ($43.2m) if all the shares are taken up. It could value the company at up to £62.9m. Not, then, exactly a technology titan. However, the listing is encouraging for several reasons. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Well, no, probably not. He’s just an American ad agency guy who is in Cannes filming himself doing anything – anything – the internet tells him to, with all the results pumped out live online.

The FT first encountered David Perez – or David On Demand as he has become this week – on the Croisette on Tuesday evening, as the gentlefolk of Cannes headed to the opening-night party, having his hair shaved. “The internet has been really mean to me today,” he wailed. The Leo Burnett planner from Chicago has also had the Twitter fail whale tattooed onto his arm.

David is a walking definition of “earned media” – the phrase agencies use to describe social-network chatter, as opposed to bought media (advertising) or owned media (companies’ own websites). And online at least, he is the talk of CannesRead more

Richard Waters

The judge who today threw out Viacom’s $1bn copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube may just have given the video site the final lift it needs to reach profitability.

That is the less-noted result of  judge Louis Stanton’s decision to grant a motion for summary judgment in the  case. The reason: he has given YouTube an emphatic green light to start placing adverts against a much wider range of videos on its site. Read more

David Gelles

EBay just bought the hottest e-commerce app in the App Store.

RedLaser, which lets users scan product barcodes with their iPhone camera and then compare prices online, has been downloaded more than 2m times.

With eBay’s acquisition for an undisclosed price, it will be folded into eBay’s robust mobile portfolio and become free (it was $1.99). RedLaser technology will be incorporated into eBay’s existing shopping apps, and eBay listings will show up in RedLaser results. Read more

Chris Nuttall

As lines began to form for the iPhone 4 outside Apple stores on Wednesday, Motorola and Verizon Wireless tried to steal a little of the limelight with their unveiling of the next-generation Droid X.

However, the new smartphone seems more of a competitor to another Android phone – the HTC Evo, sold by Sprint. Read more