Monthly Archives: February 2012

The main tech session of the 2012 TED conference is The Lab, about the “amazingness of invention”. None of your “secret keepers” and “beatboxers” here  – they’re later in the day.

Instead, we have  a roboticist, a materials engineer, a technologist, a techno-illusionist, the director of DARPA…and a muppet. A live blog from the event in Long Beach is after the jump. Read more

Whatever the state of consumer confidence in Europe, venture capital investors are betting the people will keep shopping, with three e-commerce start-ups receiving new funding in February. The investment thesis appears to be that you can never have too many shoes, baby items or eco-friendly hammocks.

 Read more

It’s time for another TED here in Long Beach, California – the big-ideas conference, where people you’ve never ever heard of before give wonderful talks about things you neither knew nor thought possible, in front of an audience of incredibly famous people that you’re forbidden to name.

It’s the antithesis of the Oscars held a few miles away at the weekend, with both having a theatreful of big names, but deep thinking and world-changing ideas being honoured onstage here rather than the celebrities off-stage getting all the awards. Read more

Thanks to a hint about Apple’s TV plans that Steve Jobs dropped to biographer Walter Isaacson, all eyes have been fixed on the revolution that may soon come to the dominant living room screen.

But a flurry of activity is already bringing big changes to the TV experience through “second screens” – and the $20m that has now been raised by Scott McNealy’s start-up WayIn is evidence that investors are paying attention.  Read more

As he celebrated Sony’s sweep of Grammy awards at a star-draped after-party in West Hollywood on February 12, Sir Howard Stringer looked like a man relieved.

Adele, the Sony-signed British singer, had won six trophies, capping a year of music successes for the Japanese group and its Welsh-American chief executive, who had lured industry veteran Doug Morris to run his record labels, and pulled off a bid for EMI Music Publishing without committing much capital. Read more

Sean Maloney asks the question that is on my mind before I get to ask it. “Do you think I’m better or that I’m not better?” he inquires, barely 15 minutes into our conversation.

In his case, it is not such an odd question. Two years ago, he did not even know if he would talk again after suffering a stroke. He had been running with his 20-year-old son, then sat on the bed in his San Francisco home and everything went blank. “When I woke up there was nothing. It was terrible, waking up like that and asking what was I doing with my life,” he recalls.

By then, the London-born Mr Maloney was widely seen as the heir apparent to Paul Otellini, Intel’s chief executive, who is due to step down in 2015. Mr Maloney had risen rapidly through the ranks at the company since joining in 1982 – but the stroke called his inexorable ascent into question. “It almost killed me,” he says. Read more

If you think the 5.3in-screen Samsung Galaxy Note is a little too large to fit in a pocket, then you will have a real problem with the 10.1in version just unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Samsung has yet to make an official announcement about the phone, but a gargantuan poster to match the giant-sized device has appeared, and at this size, there seems no argument about whether it is a smartphone or a tablet this time. Read more

Getty images

Gadget lovers may soon be adding glasses to their growing list of tech toys. This week, reports that Google will release “heads-up display glasses” by the end of the year spread quickly in the tech sphere.

Though Google did not confirm if it was working on glasses that will  “be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time”, as the New York Times and 9 to 5 Google reported, many speculated that such a product could be the start of “wearable computing”. Read more

contour camera

As smartphones offer ‘good enough’ cameras for many people, makers of dedicated stills and video cameras are offering more features and appealing to niche audiences. This week we look at the equipment for those wanting to make films as they fall out of aeroplanes or shred the ski slopes.

Contour+ 3/5

I fear for my friend who uses the Color app on his iPhone to beam me live video as he follows and films his kids on the ski slopes in the equivalent of texting while driving.

 Read more

ResearchGate, a social network for scientists and academic researchers, has received a second round of venture funding from Founders Fund, adding to the growing cadre of health and science related social start-ups attracting the attention of Silicon Valley investors.

The Series B round builds on the company’s earlier financing from social networking VC gurus Benchmark and Accel in 2010. The company did not disclose the funding amounts for either round. Read more

It has taken Research in Motion 10 months to update the software running its PlayBook tablet and deliver features like native email that should have been there to start with.

Aside from email, RIM’s PlayBook 2.0 software, released as a free upgrade for users today, adds features including support for Android apps in a belated effort to address weaknesses that have attracted widespread criticism and rendered the PlayBook an afterthought in the fast growing PC tablet market. Read more

From the FT’s Business blog:

Fujitsu’s plan to enter the European smartphone and tablet market has a 1980s ring to it. By the early part of that decade, Japanese companies had already grabbed large shares of the markets for televisions, hi-fi, calculators, electronic toys, and digital watches. These days, Europeans are more used to hearing about new Chinese, Taiwanese and South Korean entrants.

 Read more

Google’s latest privacy breach? Late in the week, a researcher at Stanford University discovered that Google and several other advertising companies were bypassing privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser.

Although Google admitted it “now started removing these advertising cookies,” the news brought a fresh example of the risks of online browsing to Internet privacy. Read more

There are two ways to interpret the news that Eric Schmidt is going to sell $1.45bn worth of Google shares this year – his biggest annual disposal yet and first big sale in four years. Either he thinks the stock is looking pricey again or he is cutting some of his ties with the company. Read more


The Nintendo 3DS put 3D gaming in consumers’ hands last year without the need for special glasses. Now Sony is launching its own take on next-generation portable gaming in the form of the PlayStation Vita, with its superior motion and touch controls, social networking features and cameras.

The notion of a dedicated handheld games console seems almost quaint in the age of the iPad and smartphone gaming. An extra nail in the coffin of such devices appeared to be hammered in a year ago, when Sony unveiled the Xperia Play, an Android phone with slide-out controllers that are very similar to those on a PlayStation 3 or PSP (PlayStation Portable).

 Read more

Apple has extended to software its policy of only allowing a chosen few reviewers to see and try out new products ahead of release, with reviews of Mountain Lion, a new update to the Mac operating system, appearing in the US media on Thursday.

It’s a clever move by the company – journalists tend to go big on stories where they have some exclusivity and Apple can be guaranteed that the blogosphere will amplify whatever’s reported. We were not among the anointed ones, but, sour grapes aside, this does seem a fairly predictable and incremental update of OS X, if nicely timed for when Windows 8 should be appearing. The essentials you need to know are after the jump. Read more

Companies are not exactly beating down Icann’s door to get their hands on a new .anything domain name, it seems.

One month into the application process, just 100 companies have so far registered to apply for  a new top level domain name such as .coke or .london.  It is the first indication of what the uptake will be like of the controversial expansion of internet names by Icann.   Read more

Last month the European Commission proposed adding a new “right to be forgotten” to privacy law. This deceptively simple idea is a ticking time-bomb in the booming internet economy. It is also essential – both for Europeans and Americans – to protect personal privacy in the age of pervasive social media and cloud computing, writes Richard Falkenrath, cybersecurity adviser and adjunct senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations.

 Read more

Apple appears to have acknowledged it needs to tighten up enforcement of its app guidelines following Path’s much-criticised uploading of users’ contacts to its servers without their knowledge.

“Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines,” an Apple spokesman told the FT. Read more

Venture capitalists have long been touting Russia as the undiscovered market for e-commerce. While the postal system is notoriously bad and Russians have been reluctant to embrace online payments, investors argue that the market simply needs to be consolidated for homegrown versions of to enjoy the success of their western counterparts.

The leader of this consolidation appears to be – the online book, music and vido seller – which on Wednesday announced it would be acquiring, a dot-com shoe retailer.

 Read more