Monthly Archives: November 2010

Chris Nuttall

Google and Facebook have ceased to innovate, according to venture capitalist Fred Wilson, an allegation that John Doerr, a rival VC and Google board member, found hard to refute at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

Mr Wilson (pictured right, photo courtesy of Web 2.0 Summit), author of the popular A VC blog and a managing partner at Union Square Ventures, said Google had not come up with anything truly transformative that was a home-grown product since Gmail, introduced in 2004. It had relied on acquisitions instead to develop new services. Read more

Green energy is often seen as the next gold mine for US innovation and entrepreneurship – following Silicon Valley’s successes in software and the internet – but it is a costly and complex business.

At a General Electric event in New York this morning, I was struck by a figure quoted by Jeff Immelt, GE’s chief executive – that a single solar panel plant costs as much to build as the entire venture capital investment in Google. Read more

Joseph Menn

After more than a year of arguing and pressure from regulators, Apple has finally blessed Google’s official Google Voice application for the iPhone.

Google announced the approval on its blog on Tuesday, touting features including low-cost international calls and free transcription of voicemail messages. Read more

Joseph Menn

Baidu chief executive Robin Li said he is planning to expand into new countries and offer more languages to users beyond the dominant Chinese search engine’s two-year-old foray in Japan.

Speaking for the first time at a US technology industry conference, Mr Li said Baidu also has dramatic room to grow in the company’s home country, which has one-third internet penetration.

He said that only 150m of China’s 800m mobile phones have internet access, and that eventually all will. Read more

Chris Nuttall

More than a third of a billion people are active users of Facebook Messages, which made major strides to becoming a fully fledged email service on Monday.

I am among the first batch of users to get an @facebook.com address in a rollout expected to take many months. First impressions on the new features after the jump: Read more

Joseph Menn

The version of Google’s Android operating system for smartphones due out in a few weeks can be used with specialised chips to authenticate the precise location of the mobile devices, paving the way for secure payments at physical stores, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said Monday.

Because the Near-Field Communication chips can store and exchange precise data about the phones, well beyond ordinary GPS, their adoption will allow phone owners to tap their gadgets against a physical surface to confirm their presence and identity, Mr Schmidt said. Read more

The bitter dispute between Google and China rumbles on. In the latest episode, the company has released a white paper urging the international community to fight internet restrictions, which it calls the “trade barriers of the 21st century”.

Naturally, Google officials denied that the report was targeted at a specific country. Bob Boorstin, Google’s director of public policy, told the FTRead more

Chris Nuttall

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the future of messaging was online conversations not email, as he unveiled an upgraded browser-based email and messaging service at a news conference in San Francisco on Monday.

With more than half a billion members, such a service could turn Facebook into a serious webmail challenger to Microsoft, Yahoo and Google overnight.

Our live coverage from the news conference is after the jump: Read more

Richard Waters

Google has never been shy about the fact that it automatically puts results from some of its own services at the top of search results pages if these help answer a users’ query faster. If you type in an address, a map from Google Maps might give you the instant answer you need.

But how often does Google do this, does it always result in superior results, and what effect does it have on companies that offer rival services? Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, has tested what he calls “hard-coding” by the search engine – that is, where it overrides the normal algorithmic results to put a Google answer first – and concludes the practice is now common. Read more

Chris Nuttall

It took a while for tablet rivals to emerge to Apple’s iPad, but Lenovo has wasted no time in coming out with a laptop competitor to the new MacBook Air.

The IdeaPad U260 will go on sale on Monday on Lenovo’s website starting at $899 as “the world’s first 12.5-inch ultra-portable consumer laptop, giving users a 16:9 widescreen dimension in a 12-inch form factor for the first time.” Read more

Joseph Menn

One of the best-known networks of compromised personal computers, assembled largely through deceptive web links sent from Facebook accounts, earns its proprietors about $2m a year.

That’s one of the conclusions in a study released Friday by Information Warfare Monitor researcher Nart Villeneuve, who won access to archives of the software that the Russian criminals used to control the program known as Koobface, which is an anagram of Facebook. Read more

Chris Nuttall

One of the things noted in my review last week of the Samsung Galaxy Tab was the inferior screen compared to the iPad and Samsung’s own Super Amoled Galaxy smartphones.

Well, it looks like Samsung already has plans to fix that with the unveiling of a second-generation Tab with Amoled screen in Japan this week, although it’s unlikely to appear before the second half of next year. Read more

No one can deny that India is going through a digital revolution. The country has seen a boom in mobile telephone usage, with subscriptions doubling from 300m to 600m in just two years, and its software services industry is thriving.

But in a country where some 42 per cent of its population still live below the extreme poverty line of $1.25 a day, the government has strides to make in bridging the digital divide, a new report released by the World Economic Forum says, especially if it wants to leverage information and communication technologies (ICT) to increase growth and development.
Continue reading “Digital India: less talk more action”

Chris Nuttall

Waving at our televisions is replacing button pushing with the new motion controllers for games consoles from Microsoft and Sony.

The Kinect, launched in Europe this week, and Sony’s Move are inspired by the Wii, but what do they offer that’s better or different from Nintendo’s big success? – a question I sought to answer in the Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section this week. Read more

In today’s FT Comment, John Gapper gives his opinion on Larry Ellison’s recent “policing” of Silicon Valley.

Gapper writes: Read more

Chris Nuttall

Firefox may have disqualified itself from the iPhone, but expect the browser to appear in its Firefox for Mobile version in the Android Market in the near future.

It’s not finished yet, but there are so many bogus versions of Firefox appearing in the Market that its creator Mozilla is considering pushing out the beta version, already available on its website. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Three years on from its private beta launch, on-demand TV streaming service Hulu.com is expected to earn more than $240m this year.

Jason Kilar, chief executive, revealed the figure at the NewTeeVee Live conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, but refused to comment about reports that the US service was heading for an IPO. Read more

Richard Waters

One of the inflated myths about Silicon Valley is that the place runs on the currency of stock options.

In big tech companies, cash plays a much more important part in staff retention – as Google has known for some years. So the across-the-board pay rise it has just come up with for all 23,331 Googlers is confirmation that while options are alluring in early-stage start-ups, most employees prefer cold, hard cash.

This may sound like the opposite of the risk culture that the Valley is meant to celebrate. But in the midst of a ferocious war for talent, Google has taken the temperature among employees and struck a different note in how it sets incentives. Read more

It’s probably too good an opportunity to miss. Tencent, the company which holds 80 per cent of China’s instant messaging market with its QQ tool, has gotten itself into a real PR mess with its fierce fight with Qihoo 360, a rival antivirus software maker.

Now there is talk in the industry that MSN is teaming up with Sina, China’s largest online news portal and platform for China’s largest microblogging site, in instant messaging. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Plastic Logic, best known for its pricey, delayed and now abandoned Que eReader, has received a significant investment from a Russian state-owned nanotechnology corporation.

As we predicted when reporting talks in August, Plastic Logic is to open a factory in Russia to make its next-generation plastic electronics displays as part of the deal with the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.

Rusnano is putting more than $100m into the company for a “hefty” minority stake, according to a source close to the deal. Read more