Monthly Archives: December 2011

Tim Bradshaw

Apple’s top designer, Jonathan Ive, has been knighted in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list for raising the standards of industrial design and championing British talent abroad.

Raised in north-east London, Mr Ive – known as Jony – has been the design mastermind behind Apple hardware ranging from the iPod, iPhone and iPad to its iMac and Macbook computers. 

Richard Waters

Eighteen months after landing like a bombshell on the desk of HP’s then-CEO, the letter alleging sexual harassment against Mark Hurd has finally seen the light of day. But, for HP’s long-suffering shareholders, this will do little to answer what remains the most important question: Was the company’s board right to force out its highly-regarded CEO? 

Apple iPad and iPhone 

 

If 2010 was Apple’s year in personal technology, with the launch of the iPad and major redesigns for the iPhone, MacBook Air and Apple TV, it is harder to call the winners of 2011, with Apple happy with incremental updates and the competition still striving to catch up.

 

Left to its own devices, Apple might never have come up with the iPod. The now-ubiquitous music player was the brainchild of one Tony Fadell, a former employee of Philips, whose concept failed to raise sufficient funding, prompting him to hawk it around established corporates.

Less game-changing innovations also owe their existence to outsiders. The military came up trumps when a microwave manufacturer wanted to develop methods of heating more evenly – the soldiers’ system had been tried and tested with blood plasma on the battlefields.

 

Maija Palmer

Chaos Computer ClubKarsten Nohl, the celebrity mobile cryptography expert, has been at it again. Two years ago he caused a stir by showing that the secret code that protects GSM mobile handsets was easy to crack, leaving phone calls open to interception by third parties.

This year, he is due to show that handsets can also be hijacked to make unauthorised calls and send text messages, running up huge bills without their owners’ knowledge. GSM networks, which are vulnerable to this flaw, are used by around 80 per cent of the world’s mobile users. 

facebook generic

Even as US Christmas shoppers have spent record sums online this year, one of the biggest disappointments for some internet entrepreneurs has been a company that is otherwise hot property: Facebook.

Retail executives and consultants say Facebook has yet to take off as a retail platform, defying excited predictions that “social commerce” – jargon for shopping via social media sites – would be the next big thing.

 

Chris Nuttall

Samsung’s scatter-gun approach to screen sizes for its smartphones and tablets, with versions ranging from 3in to 10in, suggests a company looking for the right formula as much as one sympathetic to consumers’ varying needs.

With the 5.3in screen of the Galaxy Note, Samsung thinks it has finally found the middle ground; a happy medium for consumers who want to carry just one device, rather than both a smartphone and a tablet and whatever other portable gadget they pick up on their way out. It costs £500 in the UK; a US launch has yet to be announced. 

This is the last technology news round-up for 2011. We’ll return in the new year. So, until then, here’s the latest tech news from around the web:

Israelis are the world’s biggest users of social networks, TNW reports. According to a survey by Comscore, Israelis spent, on average, 11.1 hours on social networks during October 2011 – more than double the global average of 5.7 hours and ahead of markets like the UK (seven hours) and US (6.9 hours). Slightly behind Israel comes Argentina (10.7 hours), Russia (10.4 hours) and Turkey (10.2 hours). 

Tech news from around the web:

Microsoft, a 20-year stalwart of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, has decided to pull out of the event after the 2012 show in January, the Los Angeles Times reports. The company, whose keynote address has been one of the main highlights of the show, said it felt that it would be better to make announcements on its own time. 

Ten years ago, a typical 17-year old girl in Scott Thompson’s neighbourhood south of San Francisco would have spent Saturdays hanging out at the shopping mall with friends, says the 54-year old father of three. Today, his own daughter of that age “never, ever, ever” sets foot there of her own accord.

“My wife in fact has to drag her to get her to go to the mall this time of year to help her buy stuff for friends and relatives. She just doesn’t want to do it,” Mr Thompson says.