Monthly Archives: September 2011

One of my colleagues must have the IQ of Einstein if the saying about cluttered desks being a sign of genius is true. Great mounds of paper have risen up on either side of his computer screen and, as well as obscuring him from view, they are now tottering to the extent that I fear an instant and inescapable avalanche should the long-expected serious earthquake shake us here in San Francisco

The piles of paper continue on desktops behind him, and manila folders stuffed with notes and book chapters have begun to spread over the carpet in a pincer movement, threatening to cut him off from the rest of the office.

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Tech news from around the web:

Chrome, Google’s web browser, is on the brink of replacing Firefox as the second-most-popular browser after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, ComputerWorld reports. Chrome’s global average user share for September was 23.6%, while Firefox’s stood at 26.8%. IE, meanwhile, was at 41.7%, according to data from StatCounter, which predicts that Chrome will overtake Firefox by December. Read more

Hewlett-Packard is getting more stingy with its CEO pay and benefits, according to a regulatory filing made late on Thursday. Given what it has just cost the company for 11 months’ service from Léo Apotheker  – up to $33m, by our calculations – this should come as some relief for its long-suffering shareholders. Read more

An iPad app that can do away with all your living-room remotes and replace the on-screen TV grid with a more colourful programme guide sounds the perfect solution for uncluttering the viewing experience. Logitech’s Harmony Link, which went on sale in the US on Thursday, sets out to do that, but I found the app and its associated hardware fell frustratingly short of this aim. Read more

Spotify has been forced to introduce new privacy features to its music streaming software after complaints by users about its Facebook integration.

It’s the first climbdown by an app maker after last week’s f8 introduced “frictionless sharing”, whereby every song listened to is shared on Facebook by default. Read more

After the spectacular leadership bust-up at Yahoo, co-founder Jerry Yang and Carol Bartz, the just-dumped chief executive, probably don’t make for the closest of boardroom allies. Ms Bartz, you will recall, denounced her former colleagues on the Yahoo board as “doofuses” and attacked chairman Roy Bostock for a lack of class in firing her over the phone.

Five miles east of Yahoo’s Silicon Valley HQ, though, Ms Bartz and Mr Yang still have to make nice. That’s the home base of another troubled tech titan, Cisco Systems, where both are on the board.

Tech news from around the web:

News Corp’s  iPad-only publication, the Daily, is averaging about 120,000 readers a week - less than a quarter than the 500,000 users the company said it needed to make money – Bloomberg reports. After the free trial, subscribers pay 99 cents per week or $39.99 a year to read the publication. Read more

You have to hand it to Oracle, it never misses a chance to humiliate its rivals in public.

On Wednesday it was the turn of Mike Lynch, the founder of Autonomy. His provocation? To have publicly denied that he tried to “shop” his company to Oracle before eventually selling to Hewlett-Packard. (This has now turned into a “he said, she said” – see updates, below) Read more

No great surprise here: Google’s proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility is  going to get a longer look from anti-trust regulators. But it does mean that the chance of the deal closing as quickly as Google originally predicted – perhaps even by the end of this year – now looks extremely slim. Read more

Could there be a lawsuit over the Fire in Amazon’s future?

This was what Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, had to say when I caught up with him shortly after the launch of the device on Wednesday: “We have yet to see an Android device in the market that does not infringe on our patents.” Read more

The Kindle Fire looks to have the price, services and marketing muscle to take significant share of a US tablet market thus far dominated by the iPad.

Amazon, with its music, video and eBook services in the US can capitalise on the key usage of tablets as consumption devices, although its weaker offerings abroad would be one reason the Fire will have no international launch this year. Read more

Amazon CEO Bezos holds up the new Kindle Touch at news conference in New York

Amazon has launched a head-on challenge to the dominance of Apple’s iPad by unveiling a low-price tablet computer, in a move set to intensify competition over the way consumers enjoy books, music and video.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, launched a new series of Kindle products in New York on Wednesday, at a media gathering. He began his presentation with the launch of a new eReader -  the black-and-white Kindle Touch priced at $99, as well as a Kindle without a touch interface priced at $79. But the much-awaited direct competitor to the iPad was the $199 Kindle Fire.

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Tech news from around the web:

Social shopping group Groupon is poised to roll out a new product called Groupon Rewards that aims to give participating retailers a way to increase customer loyalty, according to TechCrunch. Under the scheme, a business offering a regular Groupon deal will be able to follow up with another reward that gets unlocked after the customer spends a certain amount of money. The scheme will be open to retailers this week with consumers starting to see the rewards in October.

With speculation mounting over the imminent launch of the iPhone5 on October 4, TUAW looks at the fate of two of Apple’s older products, the iPod Classic and Shuffle, warning that the models face the axe later on this year. Read more

Google announced on Wednesday that it is spending more than $200m to build its first proprietary data centres in Asia, a move that reflects the growth in demand for internet and cloud-based services in the region.

These are not, of course, Google’s first servers in Asia, though they are the first in the region where Google is publicly disclosing their locations. They will also be the first that Google will build from the ground up, from acquiring the land to designing the customised servers. Read more

Toshiba has announced its first 7in tablet – an Android device that may give Samsung’s Galaxy Tab of that screen size a run for its money.

At a demonstration in San Francisco, I was impressed with the high-resolution screen, the rubberised grip and the lightness of the 7in Thrive, compared to the bulkier 10.1in version already available. Read more

Stewart Butterfield’s move – from co-founder of photo-hosting site Flickr to co-creator of a new game called Glitch – suddenly makes sense when he reveals Flickr itself, in its earliest incarnation, was made up of spare parts from an abandoned game.

Glitch, which launched officially on Tuesday, is the kind of creation the entrepreneur could only dream of making back in 2002, when his Vancouver-based startup Ludicorp was formed to develop an online game. Read more

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, announced on Tuesday $4.4bn of investments involving chipmakers that would make his state “the epicentre for the next generation of computer chip technology”. Silicon Valley may be surprised to hear it has been dethroned and, cutting through the political point-scoring, the real significance here for semiconductors seems to be a readiness of the main players to cooperate on moving to the next-generation of silicon wafers. Read more

After dedicating the last couple years to building a secondary market system where employees at private companies like Facebook and Twitter can sell shares, New York-based SecondMarket put itself up for trade on its own exchange. Read more

As Robert Cookson and I reported today, Anonymous – the hacktivist group – has made a surprising change in tactics with the launch of Anonymous Analytics, a financial research group. Read more

How important has Steve Jobs’ famous reality distortion field been to Apple’s ability to shape perceptions of its new products – and persuade avid buyers to line up round the block to get their hands on them?

With next week’s unveiling of the iPhone 5, which has just been confirmed, we will get the first chance to see what a big Apple product launch feels like without the company’s guiding spirit. Read more