Monthly Archives: June 2012

Wii U

Faced with growing competition from smartphones, smart TVs and tablets, console makers at the annual E3 video game show this week demonstrated they were upping the ante in the form of second-screen accompaniments to their devices. Sony also announced a spellbinding innovation in console-linked eBooks.

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While the giant screens showing forthcoming blockbusters from video game publishers and console makers still dominated this week’s E3 trade show, it was their response to the challenge from much smaller screens that was more striking.

Consumers are increasingly seduced by the experiences that growing social, mobile and cloud gaming companies – camped out on the show floor’s periphery – offer to users on smartphones, tablets and smart TVs.

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How could Apple hope to disrupt the global TV business when there’s almost no scope for changing the two things that most define the experience of watching TV – the screens themselves and the shows that most people want to watch on them?

That is the conundrum the company has been grappling with as it tries to turn Apple TV – a product Steve Jobs once described as a hobby – into the fourth pillar of its business. Next week brings its annual developer conference, the biggest event in its calendar since Mr Jobs died last October. Since this is a software event and the answer to disrupting TV lies in software, it might just be the moment for Apple to make its next hotly anticipated move into the living room.

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At a cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv yesterday, the Russian antivirus expert who discovered the Flame computer virus, a type of malicious software, appealed to the US and Israel to cease deploying cyberweapons. They “are a very bad idea”, he said. “My message is: stop doing this before it’s too late.” How right Eugen Kaspersky was.

Until now, cyberwarfare has been largely confined to Hollywood or to the prophecies of a few Cassandras warning darkly of a “digital Pearl Harbor” or “Cybergeddon”. But two closely linked events last week should give everyone cause for concern. An arms race in cyberspace is a distinct reality.

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LinkedIn acknowledged a security breach of its password databases after Russian hackers claimed to have obtained almost 6.5m user passwords.

The professional social networking site confirmed in a blog post on Wednesday that “some of the passwords that were compromised correspond to LinkedIn accounts.” Read more

Chris Nuttall

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s chief executive, did not make his usual appearance at his company’s E3 press conference on Tuesday, preferring instead to tweet backstage about the announcements as he explores social media ahead of the launch of Nintendo’s Miiverse social service for its gamers.

But in an FT interview shortly afterwards, he talked in person about his hopes for the Wii U, the new console launching this holiday season, the concept of asymmetrical gaming it introduces and the early attempts by rivals to match its features. Highlights after the jump: Read more

The dismal performance of Facebook’s initial public offering, after several years in which it was expected to crown the emergence on public markets of social networks, is bound to dampen the mood in Silicon Valley.

Paul Graham, who runs Y Combinator, a start-up incubator, says the effect will be what you might expect – early-stage valuations will suffer. His email to portfolio companies, obtained by Business Insider, contains this warning:

“If you haven’t raised money yet, lower your expectations for fundraising. How much should you lower them? We don’t know yet how hard it will be to raise money or what will happen to valuations for those who do. Which means it’s more important than ever to be flexible about the valuation you expect and the amount you want to raise (which, odd as it may seem, are connected). First talk to investors about whether they want to invest at all, then negotiate price.”

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Chris Nuttall

Toshiba has come up with perhaps the most striking Ultrabook to date with the elongated Satellite U845W announced today – that W stands for very Wide, while its depth is unusually narrow.

The picture (left) doesn’t do justice to the laptop (nor does the name, U must stand for unsexy nomenclature). This is the first Ultrabook to feature a 21:9 cinematic aspect ratio, made possible by its 14.4in ultrawide-HD display. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Microsoft has announced Xbox SmartGlass, a new way of transferring content from smartphones and tablets to a TV, using its home console.

When movies and other media are moved to the TV, the phone or tablet becomes a second screen on the couch, offering more information on what is being shown. Microsoft also announced the long-awaited introduction of its Internet Explorer browser to Xbox, tight integration with devices running the new Windows 8 operating system and a revamped music service. Details from its press conference on the eve of the E3 video game convention in Los Angeles are after the jump. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony’s Vaio PC brand is 15 years old and its new line announced today features an anniversary edition of its Z series premium laptop.

The company is unveiling an alphabet soup of new laptops in the E, T, S and Z series as well as L all-in-one PCs. Apart from the Z special, the most distinguishing features are its first US Ultrabook (pictured above) and a lineup that offers premium features across price ranges. Read more