Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tim Bradshaw

Spotify’s international expansion after launching in the US last year is reflected in big leaps in both revenues and losses for 2011. The digital music service’s annual report, recently filed in Luxembourg, showed its revenues more than doubled from €73.9m in 2010 to €187.8m. But at the same time, losses grew by 59 per cent to €45.4m last year. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Apple fan can sleep a bit easier while they’re waiting on line this autumn to upgrade to the iPhone5.

The independent auditor of  Foxconn, the Apple supplier, says that the Chinese group that made headlines with a slew of worker suicides has cleaned up its act substantially, at least in some of its factories.

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Is Silicon Valley drying up? David O Sacks, founder and CEO of enterprise social network service Yammer, certainly seems to think so. Others, like Marc Andreessen, disagree. That makes for a lively debate, and it is taking place on perhaps the most apt forum of all – Facebook, writes Vinjeru Mkandawire and Robin Kwong.

“I think Silicon Valley as we know it may be coming to an end,” wrote Sacks on his Facebook page over the weekend, just before the social networking site’s shares sank to half its initial offering price. Read more

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

As Facebook’s lock-up period expired this week, its stock price tumbled, fueling concerns that the social networking site may crack under further pressure from investors to expand its revenue streams. Read more

After the success of last year’s wireless Play:3 speaker system , Sonos has brought out an addition to its music-player family: the Sub (pictured left, in black), writes Jeremy White.

Those familiar with Sonos will probably agree that its Play:3 speakers push out serious room-filling sounds and link with other units in range to offer up a home hi-fi network that’s refreshingly easy to set up. Read more

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet went on sale on Thursday, with an emphasis on challenging the iPad by focusing on creative possibilities that are enhanced by its pen. Sony’s updated Reader, also just launched, has the simpler aim of immersing you in a digital book and it feels lighter than most paperbacks.

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It is the moment in the summer holidays children dread: when the “Back to School” banners go up in local stores and parents start to tick off the list of classroom supplies for the new term. This year, Walmart, the US retailer, is trying to ease the pain with a dose of innovation. Its online Classrooms by Walmart site goes beyond a generic list of products all children need, and allows teachers to upload tailored requirements for individual classes. Some 60,000 supply lists are already online.

Continue reading: A foothold in Silicon Valley

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is a legend in the world of software, but the latest project of his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation deals with a very physical, real world problem, writes Vinjeru Mkandawire.

The “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” encourages the use of technology in a very different way from writing code for computer operating systems – Universities are asked to build toilets that operate without running water, electricity or a sewage system. Read more

Maija Palmer

The love affair with the mobile phone appears to have faltered a little, with worldwide mobile phone sales down for the second quarter in a row, according to new figures from Gartner. But is this just a small hiatus as consumers wait for the next round of handsets from Apple and Samsung to hit the shelves later this year, or a sign of something deeper?

Gartner is clearly a little worried, as it is paring back its earlier estimates for 2012 handset sales by between 25m and 40m units. Its not a huge drop, only about 2 per cent of the estimated 1.9bn unit sales this year, but Anshul Gupta, analyst at Gartner says he has been a little surprised by the fall.  Read more

Some good news for Acer — the PC-maker narrowly edged out Lenovo and HP as the largest notebook PC seller globally last quarter, writes Sarah Mishkin in Taipei.

Narrow here means narrow. Acer now has 15.4 per cent of the market. Tied for second place are Lenovo and HP, which each have 15.3 per cent, according to new research from Gartner.  Read more

In the second week of Apple v Samsung at a court in San Jose, their patent dispute took a more serious turn, after the titillating revelations of the first week included Apple designs for a 7in iPad, one with a kickstand and Samsung considering a Retina display-like tablet, writes Constance Nuttall.

Testimony from expert witnesses this week shifted the focus towards the patented materials. Those called by Apple claiming that aspects of certain Samsung smartphones and tablets were easily confused with Apple products, namely the iPhone and iPad. Read more

The Federal Trade Commission finalised its settlement agreement with Facebook over charges that the social network deceived consumers by repeatedly making public information users believed would be kept private.

The settlement was first reached last November, and requires Facebook to take several steps to ensure it “lives up to its promises” on privacy, including: obtaining express permission from users before sharing information beyond their privacy settings; maintaining a comprehensive privacy programme; and undergoing independent privacy audits once every two years. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Google has agreed to pay a $22.5m fine to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived users about tracking “cookies”, which it used to serve them targetted ads in the Safari browser.

The penalty, the same as expected when we reported its likelihood a month ago, represents a record sum for the FTC but a piddling amount for the search giant. Read more

Paul Taylor

It’s not all bad news for Research in Motion, the struggling Canadian maker of the BlackBerry family of smartphones and Playbook tablet.

A US district court judge struck down a $147.5m jury award against RIM,  ruling that the BlackBerry maker did not infringe patents owned by Mformation Technologies. Read more

Reading this on the move? If so, the chances are you are using an Apple or a Samsung Electronics device. By the time you have finished (we give you 10 minutes), the two companies will have sold almost 5,000 smartphones. Everyone knows about Apple. The iPhone has been flying off the shelves since 2007. But it is currently being outsold by Samsung. Of every five smartphones sold by the two companies, three will be a Samsung. Most impressively, South Korea’s largest company only began to gain traction in this market in 2010.

Continue Reading: Lex in depth: Samsung

Chris Nuttall

Zynga has announced the resignation of John Schappert, its Chief Operating Officer (pictured left as his Zynga character), in a sign that the social gaming company is wrestling to recover from its poor financial performance.

Mr Schappert quit on Wednesday, with the company stating in an SEC filing that his resignation was not because of any disagreement over Zynga’s operations, policies or practices. Read more

Maija Palmer

Coffee and techies go together like donuts and policemen, one the voracious consumer of the other. They have named programming languages after the stuff.  And so the alliance between Starbucks and Jack Dorsey’s Square mobile payments start-up seems quite natural.

Starbucks has never been shy of experimenting with technology, having been one of the first US coffee shop chains to offer customers free wi-fi access. Starbucks also has its  own mobile app, which allows customers to pay for their coffees using a phone. Although these mobile payments are still just a tiny fraction of overall revenues, it is considered one of the most successful mobile payments systems in use so far.  Read more

Facebook launched a new mobile advertising product for app developers that pushes more marketing content into users’ home pages amid investor pressure on the company to expand revenue channels.

The new ads will appear in people’s mobile newsfeeds, and, if clicked, will direct users to the Apple or Google Play app store to download the promoted mobile app. Facebook gets paid every time a user clicks on an ad. Read more

Amazon’s launch of a textbook rental service on Tuesday reads as major competition for the likes of Chegg and Kno, both known for their pure-play focus on providing digital and, in Chegg’s case, physical textbooks for college students, writes Constance Nuttall.

But the two are expanding their playbooks to deal with increased competition – Kno announced a pre-college service on Tuesday, while Dan Rosensweig,  Chegg chief executive, spoke to us about its service becoming much more than renting textbooks. Read more

Care.com, the website for finding nannies, pet sitters, and caretakers for the elderly, has raised $50m in late-stage venture capital funding, bringing the five-year old company’s total financing to $111m.

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and chief executive, said she would use the money to support the Massachusetts-based company’s international expansion efforts. Read more