Monthly Archives: November 2010

With any Virgin launch, it is worth looking for the substance behind the hype guaranteed by Sir Richard Branson’s involvement. Tuesday’s unveiling of Project, billed as the first truly interactive magazine for the iPad age, was no exception.

Joined by Holly, his 29-year-old daughter who is leading the Project, er, project, the bearded balloonist happily played into the hands of reporters who have billed his pitch for Apple’s tablet as a battle of the billionaires with Rupert Murdoch, whose $30m iPad “newspaper”, The Daily, is expected early next year.

“This is not a battle. This is not a war. It’s about the future of publishing,” he said, before adding the jibe that 30 years of reading Mr Murdoch’s papers convinced him that his title would win “the battle of quality”. Read more

Peter Beinart’s take on the latest wikileaks stash seems about right to me: no significant surprises, no great scandals (apart from the fact that the leak was not prevented in the first place), all very interesting in a voyeuristic sort of way–but how, he asks, are diplomats supposed to do their job if they are denied confidential communication with HQ? As Timothy Garton Ash says:

There is a public interest in understanding how the world works and what is done in our name. There is a public interest in the confidential conduct of foreign policy. The two public interests conflict.

 Read more

Microsoft appears to be on track to fulfil its prediction of 5m Kinect sales by the end of the year, with its latest update revealing more than 2.5m motion controllers have been sold since its launch 25 days ago.

UPDATE: Sony has followed up with a report of “incredible demand” and sales of 4.1m units of its Move motion  controller since launch in mid-September. Read more

Tablets, led by the iPad, will cut increasingly into PC sales from this year onwards, according to the latest forecasts from the Gartner research firm.

While the chipmaker Intel has predicted tablets will expand the PC market, Gartner suggests Apple and Android tablets will displace around 10 per cent of other PC sales by 2014. Read more

Mary Meeker, the “queen of the web” and the best-known investment bank analyst in the technology and media world, has picked an interesting moment to become a venture capitalist.

Ms Meeker, who survived the bursting of the 1990s dotcom bubble without getting caught up in the research scandal of the time, has become a venerable figure in the tech world. She is capitalising on that by leaving Morgan Stanley to join Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a partner.

Chris Dixon, an angel investor, tweeted in response that “Wall Street sell-side research is dead”, and it never regained its influence after the dotcom meltdown. A few analysts have made their name since – in particular Meredith Whitney – but most of the action has been on the buy-side. Read more

The acid test for gadget success comes not from reviewers, but from shoppers in stores and during this busiest time of the year in the West.

This week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section has some gadget gift-buying suggestions, with the online version after the jump linking to previous reviews of products. For convenience, a list here too of products reviewed in detail: Read more

The new frontier of social gaming has seemed like the Wild West at times, with developers playing fast and loose in imitating each other’s successful concepts, from FarmTown to Farmville and Mafia Wars to Mobsters.

But there are signs the industry is maturing as bigger players move in, with Disney reaching a settlement with Zynga on Tuesday over its legal dispute with Playdom. Read more

With European competition officials close to a decision on whether to open a full investigation into Google, the opposition forces (with Microsoft clearly in the background) have been ramping up the attack.

This week comes the launch of website, where people who feel they have suffered unfairly at the hands of Google’s ranking algorithms can have their say.

When I spoke to Marc Pinter-Krainer, co-founder of online news aggregator One News Page and instigator of the site, he said the initiative had been his company’s idea. But he did add that the Microsoft-backed group ICOMP had played a part – providing financial support and introducing him to British MPs to make his case. Read more

Qype is nothing if not a survivor. Since its founding in Germany in 2005 as a local reviews site, it’s managed to fend off intense competition in the UK (including the arrival of American pioneer Yelp), the rise of mobile-location services such as Foursquare and the stomping success of GroupOn, the local deals service.

Now it’s raising €6.5m – including €3.5m from Vodafone, with the remainder from existing investors Advent Venture Partners, Partech International and Wellington Partners – to redouble its efforts on mobile. Read more

In the Arab Gulf, it’s not just harassed businessmen who depend on BlackBerrys. Young people see the smartphones, and their social networking potential, as a way round conservative strictures. And the phone revolution doesn’t stop there: between 2007 and 2009, telecoms usage grew more in the Middle East (31.8-per-cent growth) than it did in Asia Pacific (23.6 per cent), according to independent research for the Middle East’s largest handset distributor, Axiom Telecom.

Axiom is hoping that all this can power its own initial public offering next month – the first new listing in the United Arab Emirates for two years. The company can point to a lucrative deal with BlackBerry-maker RIM. But even in the BlackBerry-loving Gulf, the margins are very tight. Read more

You can play Scrabble on Amazon’s Kindle now, but the double-word squares are still a shade of grey rather than pink.

Colour is coming next year to E Ink devices, but you can enjoy it now with the NookColor, the new LCD-based eReader from Barnes & Noble,  reviewed in this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section. Read more

Betfair, the UK-based online betting exchange that went public last month and reached a valuation of more than $2bn, is looking to the US and California in particular for future growth.

David Yu, chief executive, who grew up in the Bay Area, returned to San Francisco this week for the Web 2.0 Summit, where I spoke to him on the sidelines about Betfair‘s US plans. Edited highlights after the jump: Read more

Near Field Communication, approved as a standard seven years ago, has gone viral just this past week.

Google’s CEO led off his interview at the Web 2.0 Summit with a demonstration, Research in Motion said BlackBerrys would have it and AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon announced the ISIS joint venture to develop a national NFC network in the US.

But what is it and why the sudden attention? Read more

Gamers worldwide spent $650m on Call of Duty:Black Ops in its first five days on sale last week, according to the latest figures from its publisher Activision Blizzard.

The new record – $100m more for an entertainment launch than its predecessor Modern Warfare 2 a year ago – was the second bit of good news this week for video game publishers. Read more

When Taiwan relaxed restrictions on its technology companies investing in mainland China, it was an explicit attempt to help the island’s two biggest chipmakers – TSMC and UMC.

But the government seems not to have informed regulators from the Financial Supervisory Commission or the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Nine months after the liberalising measure was passed, UMC’s plan to become the first Taiwanese chipmaker to buy a Chinese counterpart has hit regulatory blocks in Taipei. Read more

Yuri Milner is very popular among internet entrepreneurs. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, encourages him to drop by and Mark Pincus, chief executive of Zynga, an online games company, regards him as a trusted adviser. Among Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists, feelings are decidedly cooler.

Continue reading “From Russia with love and money”

OnLive, the ground-breaking cloud gaming service, has landed in the living room with the release of its first hardware.

A “MicroConsole” set-top box with a wireless game controller is available for pre-order in the US immediately, with delivery from December 2, in a $99 package that includes any OnLive online game. Read more

Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski said on Wednesday that a controversial agreement on net neutrality principles between Google and Verizon this August hurt his efforts to forge a broader consensus.

“I would have preferred if they hadn’t done exactly what they did when they did,” Mr Genachowski said, adding that it “slowed down” his attempt to get web companies and carriers to agree to a policy outline that presumably would have given stronger protection to internet traffic.

The FCC chief’s remarks came during an onstage interview at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Read more

The spirit of Project Alesia, News Corp’s iPad news aggregator, is alive and well, according to James Murdoch.

The London-based venture was reportedly put “on hold” last month, after it failed to attract other newspapers to the platform, who were not falling over themselves to be aggregated by News Corp.

But speaking at the Morgan Stanley TMT conference in Barcelona on Wednesday, Mr Murdoch – chief executive of News Corp Europe and Asia – said that bundles were still very much part of his digital vision, on the iPad and beyondRead more

In one of his most accomplished and assured public interviews, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, predicted a social revolution over the next five years.

“Almost every major product vertical’s going to get rethought to be social. Get on the bus!” he told the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Read more