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

Chris Nuttall

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

Chris Nuttall

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

Chris Nuttall

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

Chris Nuttall

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

Richard Waters

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 Haveibeenpenalized.com, 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

Tim Bradshaw

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