Will.i.am, front man for the Black Eyed Peas, is following Dr Dre and Lady Gaga in lending his pop-star credibility to technology companies. It has to be a sound and vision thing. As technology companies try to figure out how best to sell their growing multimedia firepower to consumers, they are turning to creative types like Will.i.am for ideas, insight into the tastes of a younger demographic and looking for their star power to add some sheen to their products.
Ongo, a digital news aggregator launching in the US on Tuesday, starts life with promising credentials. Not only does Alex Kazim, its founder and CEO, come with a revenue-generating background as head of marketing for PayPal and then president of Skype, but its $12m of Series A funding came from the top of the US newspaper pile: the New York Times, the Washington Post and Gannett, owner of USA Today.
Reports that Apple could include near-field communication tags in its next iPhone, allowing people to transfer data – and probably iTunes payments – to and from their phones, have got tech watchers very excited indeed.
The patent wars raging in the smartphone business are not the only example of how IP rights are being brought to bear in the fight for control of an important new consumer technology market. Microsoft has just extended its case against TiVo, asking a US court to block imports of set-top boxes it claims infringe four of its patents.