Monthly Archives: October 2010

Richard Waters

As a company that makes a lot of acquisitions, it’s only natural that Google loses some talent now and then – like Chad Hurley of YouTube and Omar Hamoui of AdMob, both of who have just said they’re leaving.

But rock-star developers are another matter – particularly when they quit to join arch-rival Facebook. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Getting to know Google TV involves familiarisation with 80 buttons on Sony’s remote control, compared to just three on the recently launched Apple TV.

The extra 77 buttons, plus function-key combinations, sum up how, in trying to combine a full web experience with regular television, Google and its partners have added a complexity that may intimidate many consumers.

I reviewed Sony and Logitech’s Google TV units in the Personal Technology column in Friday’s FT Business Life section and compared them with rival systems. An extended breakdown of how Google TV shapes up against the competition is after the jump. Read more

Robin Kwong

What Acer’s does is, unfortunately for their marketing people, not easy to explain clearly. We took a shot at doing so when Acer first announced it in May, and on Friday it was JT Wang, Acer chairman’s turn at the world’s number two PC maker’s third quarter results conference., which automatically sets up a local area network between Acer devices, is intended to make it easy for users to access their photos and videos across different Acer products. It is such a big part of Acer’s new push to add software and services to their core hardware offerings that it will be installed on every single device Acer ships starting next year. Read more

David Gelles

Results from Facebook pages will soon begin appearing in Yandex, the leading search engine in Russia. will also get a Facebook widget on its homepage.

It’s another example of search engines gaining access to the growing trove of information on Facebook’s social graph, and making search a bit more social. Just two weeks ago, Facebook deepened its ties with Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.

But the partnership also puts a wrinkle in Facebook’s relationship with investor (formerly known as Digital Sky Technologies). and Yandex are rivals, competing aggressively for eyeballs in Russia’s booming internet market. Read more

Joseph Menn

A computer virus has infected more than 10,000 machines and directed them to connect with and attempt to overwhelm online forums critical of the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party, security researchers said on Thursday.

The resulting denial-of-service attacks on a handful of sites show how such programs are increasingly being used to target opposition voices.

Similar attacks have been waged on anti-Russian sites operated from conflict zones in the Caucuses and on some more mainstream sites run by politicians at odds with the Kremlin.

Researchers at SecureWorks, who dubbed the new virus Vecebot, said they couldn’t prove that it was unleashed by the government or someone working for it. Such software is rarely traced to an author.

But they noted a piece of interesting timing. On Oct. 19, a Vietnamese blogger using the name Dieu Cay was to be released after serving a 30-month sentence. Read more

Richard Waters

With less than a week to go until a court showdown between Oracle and SAP in Oakland, California, Larry Ellison has turned up the rhetorical heat.

As we said a couple of days ago, it will be hard to stop the Oracle CEO having his say, whatever efforts SAP makes to prevent this case turning into a media circus.

Even by Mr Ellison’s standards, though, the statement from  Oracle late on Tuesday carried a particularly venomous sting. Aimed at Leo Apotheker – the former SAP executive now at the helm of Hewlett-Packard – the message was blunt: turn up and appear as a witness at the trial, or risk being painted as a coward. Read more

Joseph Menn

For more than a year, Yahoo has been talking about two things that will help it stop losing users’ time to rivals including Google and Microsoft: making Yahoo core services work better and partnering with clear winners in adjacent web offerings such as Facebook and Twitter.

The biggest overhaul of Yahoo Mail in five years does both of those things. Out tonight in a beta version that will only be seen by users who request it, the new Yahoo mail is, as previously reported, twice as fast as the old one and integrates with social networking, photos and videos in an intuitive and unobtrusive way. Read more

Robin Kwong

Six phone models and 20 months after they joined forces, the smartphone alliance between Asus, the Taiwanese computer maker, and Garmin, the US global positioning device company, is over – at least in its original form.

The two companies on Tuesday announced a new mode of cooperation. Instead of jointly developing Garmin Asus branded phones, Garmin will now only provide its navigation software to Asus, on an exclusive basis for the Android platform. Phones from the Taiwanese company, the world’s fifth-biggest PC maker, will from now on be Asus-branded in front, with a “Garmin Navigation” logo on the back. Read more

Richard Waters

Ray Ozzie has never hidden his view that Microsoft’s army of developers and product managers have clung to a PC-centric view of the world for far too long.

Now, on the verge of leaving the company, he has penned a memo confronting a subject that is still taboo at the world’s biggest software company: that we have entered the Post-PC era.

Coming from the inside, this is as direct a warning as you could expect to hear about the threats that are now looming for Microsoft’s Windows and Office cash cows. Read more

Richard Waters

Enterprise software analyst Josh Greenbaum has a colourful way to describe Infor, the biggest application software company you’ve probably never heard of: “They are the Frankenstein’s laboratory for literally hundreds of products.”

More than 70 acquisitions have turned Infor into the world’s third biggest applications company – and left it with the mother of all integration challenges. Now, in Charles Phillips, former co-president of Oracle, it has secured the services of a CEO with big-time experience in handling this kind of situation. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Consumers will soon be spoilt for – and confused by – choice in the number of ways they can move video wirelessly from one device to another.

Apple, Google, Intel and a host of lesser known companies are pushing their own technologies for this, which is why the first products signalling a unified approach, announced today by the Wi-Fi Alliance with its Wi-Fi Direct, are welcome. Read more

From the FT’s beyondbrics blog
South Korea’s leading mobile operator, SK Telecom, has long deemed that domestic dominance is insufficient. It has desperately sought to expand abroad – only to see recent ventures in China and the US end ingloriously.

Now the company has a new, even loftier ambition: to develop software for mobile phones, thereby competing with Apple, Google and others. Not surprisingly, the proposal has raised doubts. Read more

Richard Waters

Is SAP about to take the same sort of battering in the press from Oracle that has made HP’s board quail recently? Not if it can help it.

Late on Friday, SAP asked a Californian court to put a gag order on Oracle’s legal counsel ahead of the scheduled November 1 start of the trial to decide damages in the TomorrowNow case. But even if it can silence Oracle’s lawyers, SAP probably has a bigger problem on its hands: Larry Ellison, who shows no inclination to hold back in public. Read more

Chris Nuttall

For a company rebooting its mobile phone strategy, the simple building-blocks look of the home screen on Windows Phone 7 is an apt visual metaphor for the extensive reconstruction work under way to rebuild Microsoft’s smartphone reputation.

In this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section, I reviewed one of the nine launch phones sporting this refreshing new interface – the Samsung Focus. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Steve Jobs says netbooks are just slow, cheap laptops with low-quality displays and are no good for anything.

He dissed them as such during the unveiling of the iPad and, judging by falling sales since then, he may have a case. Except that the new MacBook Air, launched on Wednesday, has just become my new favourite netbook. Read more

Paul Taylor

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer was in fine (fighting) form on stage at the annual Gartner Symposium in Orlando today, punching his hands for emphasis and positively bristling at the suggestion that Microsoft should split its consumer and corporate businesses.

He described a recent Goldman Sachs idea to spin-out the consumer unit as “nutty” and  “the second most crazy idea I have ever heard.” Unfortunately he did not tell his audience of about 5,000 senior IT executive what was the craziest. Read more

Richard Waters

Facebook’s latest privacy gaffe – allowing its users’ IDs to slip out to advertisers via third party apps – is not as unusual as you might think.

A year ago, researchers found that 11 of 12 social networks allowed user IDs to leak (only Google’s Orkut passed the test.) Linked with the behavioural information that third party ad servers collect, these IDs can become a “magic key” to unlock a user’s real identity, says Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Apple has unveiled a new version of its MacBook Air notebook and a “younger brother”,  costing under $1,000, with a smaller 11.6-inch screen.

A new version of its Mac operating system, codenamed Lion, was also shown along with an updated version of its iLife software suite in a media event at Apple’s  Silicon Valley headquarters.

Steve Jobs, Apple chief executive, who lead the presentations, said the Air was “the future of notebooks”. Read more

Richard Waters

I confess to being a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to investing in the stock market. As a committed adherent of the efficient markets hypothesis (I know, I know, they haven’ t always looked that efficient recently) you can count me among those who find it hard to believe that any money manager can consistently beat the indices.

Add in the the high fees and lack of transparency that come with active managers, and it doesn’t seem that customers are well-served by this particular part of the financial services industry.

That’s what makes a site like Wealthfront interesting. If the web is the perfect medium for raising transparency and reducing distribution costs (and fees), then this is a good demonstration of how to go about it. Read more

David Gelles

Square, the much-hyped mobile credit card processing system created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has a big problem: it doesn’t work with the iPhone4.

In a blog post buried deep in the support section of Square’s website, the company acknowledges that the Square card reader interferes with the already problematic iPhone4 antenna.

“This renders our card readers inactive for your iPhone4,” the company wrote on October 9. “We are working on redesigning our card readers and will be contacting our iPhone4 users as soon as they are ready for shipment.”

Update: Square has clearly been scrambling for a fix for awhile now. The day after this post was published,  they emailed to say that, “As of today, we have shipped new card readers to to active users who are accessing Square via an iPhone 4.” Read more