Monthly Archives: December 2010

Tim Bradshaw

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth this week about some dismal iPad magazine app sales figures from the US Audit Bureau of Circulation.

Apple’s wonder-tablet was a contributing factor in the FT’s awarding Steve Jobs its person of the year and has been a huge success. But that success doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on traditional media companies just yet. Read more

Richard Waters

One hazard of new mass-market consumer technologies is that they make geeks of us all. So it is with Skype, which has just come up with an exhaustive account of its spectacular pre-Christmas crash. But the implications go much further than the technical. With an IPO on the cards, this has not come at a good time. Read more

I have been trying to pin down what makes me uneasy about Groupon, the online coupon business that has just been valued at $6.4bn in its latest round of funding, which involves raising $950m in cash.

Actually, I think the reason is right there – that Groupon has been carelessly described as a social media business like Facebook and Twitter but at its heart, it is a sales-intensive local advertising operation that is costly to build. Read more

In 1467, Peter Schöffer and Johann Fust published a translation of St Augustine’s The Art Of Preaching. They were old colleagues of Johannes Gutenberg, the pioneer of modern printing. But their true claim to fame is that they were the first commercially successful printers, and this success stemmed in part from their relentless innovation with the world’s newest communications technology: the book.  Read more

Chris Nuttall

Like Santa, I’ve been making a list, and checking it twice, of gadgets of the year, both naughty and nice. My hot and not lists for 2010 were the subject of this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section. Links to previous fuller reviews are in this online version. Read more

When Steve Jobs walked on to the stage at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center in January, it capped the most remarkable comeback in modern business history. Read more

Chris Nuttall

With big companies like Google and Walmart wanting to provide the TV interface of the future, it makes sense for the smaller players in the living room to pool their resources. Hence, Rovi’s announcement that it will acquire Sonic Solutions for $720m, after Sonic itself acquired DivX in June. Read more

Robin Kwong

Every time a new category of mobile device emerges, network operators have sought to grab a bigger slice of the pie by cutting out branded manufacturers and selling their own-branded gadgets. The first Android-based smartphone, for example, was manufactured by Taiwan’s HTC but was better known as the T-Mobile G1.

It was therefore only a matter of time before this dynamic was extended to tablets. Taiwan’s Vibo Telecom, a 3G operator with 1.8 million subscribers, was among the first to take that step when it launched its 7-inch, Android-based Vibo Vpad this month. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

“Mark Zuckerberg” and “vacation” aren’t phrases that most people would normally associate.

The Facebook founder is known for working long hours; a two-month “lockdown” over the summer kept developers in the office for extended periods while new products – such as Mail – were created.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that when Mr Zuckerberg takes holiday to China, it isn’t all temple visits and cocktailsRead more

Joseph Menn

After giving millions of users a good 24 hours to express their anger and frustration at wide reports of a plan to kill off web bookmarking service Delicious, Yahoo got around to explaining that there was no need to panic.

A leaked internal presentation had showed on Thursday that Yahoo was planning to “sunset” some services, including Delicious, and Yahoo statements to the press that it was “cutting our investment in underperforming or off-strategy products” encouraged the idea that this meant Delicious was doomed. Read more

Big Bazaar, one of India’s largest hypermarket chains, is known for a two things: huge crowds of family shoppers and great discounts. Soon it will also be known for websites crowded with discounts on its wares – groceries, cosmetics, apparels, home ware products and small electricals. The group is among the first retailers to go online as the company launches a large-scale push for digital commerce.

Anshuman Singh, the CEO of Future Group’s logistics arm told beyondbrics that it is currently focusing on streamlining its digital commerce supply chains, a move that is designed to tap a larger portion of India’s growing consumer market. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Google is giving us a glimpse of the future with its Nexus S phone, the first to run Android version 2.3, and its CR-48 notebook, a prototype for its Chrome computing system.

Tim Bradshaw and Richard Waters wrote early reviews of the products before I had an opportunity to play with them for this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section. For me, the CR-48 represented the biggest change in my computing habits since I moved from the keyboard commands of MS-DOS to the Windows operating system nearly 20 years ago. Read more

Joseph Menn

Yahoo is planning to kill off a handful of enduring and quirky services, including the pioneering bookmarking service Delicious, as it continues to streamline operations.

Shortly after the company confirmed that it would be firing more than 500 staffers, mainly in its products group, a disgruntled employee leaked a slide from a meeting this week that listed Delicious and story-spotting function Buzz as among the offerings facing “sunset”. Read more

It has been around for fewer years than you can count on the fingers of one hand but the open wireless internet already feels like a birthright. For anyone with a touchscreen smartphone, it’s outlandish to think you couldn’t download any app – or tap into any internet service – you wanted.

The era of Wap and walled gardens, however, with all its limitations and frustrations, is not that far in the past. And the US, where the iPhone and its kind have made their biggest inroads, is about to put the new-found freedoms to their first serious test. Read more

The Twitter fund-raising led by John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers which values Twitter at $3.7bn is interesting in several  ways. One of them is what it says about the emerging rivalry between venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and those in New York.

Mr Doerr was known for Kleiner Perkins’ green energy investments, but the venerable venture capital outfit has recently been eager to get into the social media boom. It even conceded a valuation of Twitter high enough to beat out Yuri Milner of Digital Sky Technologies. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Google is investing in a start-up that hopes to shake up the vehicle rental industry and change the way people view their cars., which launches in San Francisco on Tuesday after a successful pilot programme in Boston, says it is the world’s first operational peer-to-peer car-sharing service. Read more

Joseph Menn

Normally in the business of making others embarrassed, Nick Denton’s Gawker Media empire had some awkward explaining to do itself on Monday after hackers breached the database containing hundreds of thousands of usernames and passwords that people used to comment on the sites in the network.

Gawker executives, who had initially denied the breach, were forced to reverse course and apologise after the hackers posted a large batch of the passwords online. The intruders also took Gawker’s own source code and perused internal chats and employee e-mails, which in turn provided log-in credentials for Google Apps, taking a similar trajectory to the 2009 electronic break-in at Twitter that unearthed sensitive financial information. Read more

The more I read about the way that Google is giving prominence to its own information and shopping results in search queries, the more I think the European Union is correct to investigate.

Several of Google’s rivals in travel, shopping and health information, have been complaining to regulators that the world’s biggest search engine directs users to its own services rather than theirs. Read more

Richard Waters

With the iPad, Apple proved that less really can be more. Despite lacking some basic things, like a built-in keyboard and support for Flash, the iPad has risen above its own limitations.

The challenge for Google’s new Chrome operating system is to prove that it, too, can power a new category of device, one that justifies being judged on its own terms, not compared constantly to the traditional personal computing experience. The first machine to carry Chrome, the Cr-48, certainly goes a long way towards fulfilling Google’s vision of an internet-centric notebook – but this is no iPad. Read more

Richard Waters

Representatives of a large part of the US media industry – with Microsoft also along for the ride – have lined up to back Viacom’s continuing legal battle with YouTube.

It is a timely reminder of how far Google still has to go to win friends in the media world. The transgressions of which Viacom complained now lie more than two years in the past, and a Federal court has already found in YouTube’s favour: but there is still deep concern over what some claim was the video site’s willful blindness to piracy in its early days. Read more