Monthly Archives: October 2012

Richard Waters

There has been no shortage of calls recently for European regulators to drag Google’s controversial new data privacy policies into their anti-trust investigation of the company. But with settlement talks at an advanced stage, we hear this one isn’t going anywhere – at least, not in this round of Google v the EU. Read more

Flooding in New York

A monumental presidential election in 2008, social revolutions in the Middle East last year, and now Hurricane Sandy.

Photos of water lapping at the base of the Brooklyn carousel and spindly trees crashed upon car roofs have, er, flooded social media channels.

Just as Facebook burst into the mainstream during Barack Obama’s first presidential election campaign, today Instagram, the photo-sharing app now owned by Facebook, is finding widespread use as the preferred storytelling medium of the biggest storm in decades to hit the east coast. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Asus sales rise to $3.8bn

Asustek’s latest results confirm that the Taiwan-based company has some reason to feel as optimistic as it does. Its tablet sales, both of the Nexus 7 and its other convertible tabs, are already doing well, and, looking forward, reviewers and analysts have been relative positive on the new Windows 8 devices it launched this week.

A few weeks ago, its competitor Acer reported an 11 per cent fall in revenue, and global PC shipments are down more than 8 per cent this quarter. For the third-quarter, however, Taiwan-based Asus said its sales were up 9.2 per cent year-on-year to NT$111bn ($3.8bn), slightly more than analysts had been expecting. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The Slingbox 500 costs $300

When Dish Network bought Sling Media five years ago, I feared the worst for Slingbox, a remote TV viewing device on which I had come to depend.

I saw the technology being incorporated into the satellite TV service’s DVRs, which has happened to some extent, while the standalone boxes would slowly be allowed to fade away.

The signs have not been good in recent years, with no new consumer hardware since the Pro HD in 2008 and I’ve found little improvement in the video streaming software, with services such as HBOGo, WatchESPN and the BBC iPlayer offering me better quality video of late than my Slingbox’s relaying of my TV source at home. Read more

Richard Waters

If it’s Monday, it must be Windows Phone 8. Not to mention Google’s Nexus range. Would you prefer that in four, seven or ten inches?

At this time of year, the flow of new smartphones, tablets and things that defy categorisation becomes a flood. But the message left by the latest deluge of hardware (which includes a new iPad mini last week) is a somewhat paradoxical one: with the number and type of screens proliferating, the real key now lies in integration between machines, not in the devices themselves. Read more

Chris Nuttall

New smartpen connects to a wireless network

Livescribe’s digital pen has finally been set free from the need to tether it to a computer to synchronise its text and audio capture, with the release of a Wi-Fi model that saves documents in the cloud.

Its Sky Wi-Fi smartpen, launched on Monday, connects to a wireless network and automatically uploads the pen’s sessions to the Evernote note-capturing service. Read more

Apple’s final launch event of the year was jam packed with updates to the Macbook, Mac Mini and iMac line of computers. But above all, the unveiling of the iPad Mini and the new generation iPad created much of the commotion this week.

The introduction of a smaller version of the iPad didn’t go over so well with many tech commentators. At 7.9 inches, they thought the $329 price would push shoppers toward cheaper alternatives, such as Amazon’s $159 Kindle Fire and Google’s $199 Nexus 7. Read more

Apple has grudgingly complied with a UK court’s request to publicise the fact that it lost a case against Samsung. But rather than show any contrition, the US tech group took the opportunity to take a dig at its South Korean rival, writes Robert CooksonRead more

Tech has had a rough week, between the worries surfacing about Microsoft’s Windows 8 and doubts about Apple’s newly unveiled iPad mini and disappointing second quarter results.

Those worries have taken their toll on supply chain companies and computer makers in Taiwan, for whom the fourth quarter is not shaping up to be the holiday-led recovery many hoped for.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

While Google has managed to resolve a lot of the bugs and frustrations of its Chromebook, the main issue of having to pay a relatively high price for a fairly limited laptop has remained.

Until now. The launch this week of a $249 (£229) Chromebook makes Google’s vision of computing in the cloud affordable and appealing, with a thin and light machine from Samsung that is $200 cheaper than its previous model released in May. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The big headline from Apple’s latest results was its low earnings forecast for the months leading up to the holidays. Tim Cook warned that earnings per share would fall, year over year, to $11.75 – well below Wall Street consensus of $15.41.

The explanation is plausible: the costs of ramping up manufacturing of a suite of new iPhones, iPads, iPods and Macs all at the same time will hit margins.

But investors don’t seem to buy it. Apple’s stock, initially down when results first landed, is unchanged in the after-market. Read more

There wasn’t much in Apple’s Q4 results about China. But what few snippets there were to be found were revealing.

In an earnings season that has already seen a number US companies, including Dow Chemical, DuPont, 3M, FedEx, Caterpillar and Alcoa, blame faltering demand in China for their weak earnings, Apple has managed to buck the trend.

 Read more

Windows 8Does Microsoft risk confusing consumers with an operating system that tries to serve every kind of computing device and may end up satisfying no one? With its dual-interface, dual-purpose, dual-processor, mixed-up thinking, Windows 8 is a pushmi-pull­yu, half-man, half-biscuit, weird and occasionally wonderful creation that is guaranteed to bewilder – at least initially.

And that’s just the Microsoft end of the operation. The hardware makers have responded with their own Whirligig 8 – sorry, Windows 8 – of swivelling, swinging, sliding and snapping hybrid devices that veer from tablets to notebooks. Everyone is trying to cover everything while they wait to see what we consumers will go for.

 Read more

Richard Waters

After two quarters of declines, iPhone sales ticked up again in the latest period, to nearly 27m. Meanwhile, iPad sales dropped to 14m as rumours of a new iPad mini spread like wildfire. But for Wall Street, this was just the appetiser: the real banquet will be Apple’s current quarter, when iPhone sales are projected to jump to 50m and iPads to 22m. Speaking on the earnings call, Apple executives sounded optimistic about their ability to ship the new products in high volumes – though they warned that profit margins would suffer a temporary dent.

See below for our blow-by-blow take on the company’s latest earnings call. Read more

Will Windows 8 turn out to be Microsoft’s “New Coke”?

Messing around with one of the world’s most familiar everyday products is hardly something to be undertaken lightly – and with the new version of Windows, which goes on sale on Friday, there has been a lot of messing around. That almost guarantees some degree of user backlash. But it would be wrong to judge the outcome of what amounts to a bet-the-farm gamble by Microsoft on its initial reception.

 Read more

Richard Waters

If you’re one of those people who has been dying to use Excel or Word on a touch-optimised tablet, your wait is over. But that may not be enough to justify paying a premium for a device that is both Microsoft’s first foray into personal computing hardware as well as the flagship for the new Windows 8.

Try, for a moment, to put comparisons with the iPad out of your mind (admittedly not so easy on the day that Apple has just shown off the new iPad mini and a souped-up 10in version). The Surface, which goes on sale on Friday, deserves to be judged on its own terms: as a tablet that is designed to function equally well as a notebook PC. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Apple's iPad mini

Apple’s introduction of an iPad mini and the second update this year of the original iPad positions it perfectly to take on all-comers in the tablet wars for this holiday season.

Having handled the new mini at Apple’s launch event on Tuesday, I think it could be onto another winner, the only doubts being over whether consumers will think it too expensive for a 7in-category tablet or so cheap and adequate enough that they need not buy the pricier 9.7in iPad.

Apple must feel it has dealt with the cannibalisation issue by introducing a new version of the “new iPad” it unveiled in March, so that the larger model feels fresh and still appealing to consumers.

Improvements include an even faster chip – the A6X – said to deliver twice the performance of its predecessor, an improved FaceTime HD camera, the new Lightning connector, dual-band Wi-Fi and support for additional LTE carriers worldwide. Read more

Stellar revenues and the continuing prospect of double-digit growth make British chip designer Arm Holdings a solid but very expensive buy for investors. Lex’s Stuart Kirk and Nikki Tait assess the challenges ahead including fierce competition, and a fast-moving and unpredictable technological landscape.

Chris Nuttall

Apple has unveiled a smaller version of the iPadthe iPad mini – and an updated version of the original iPad at an event in San Jose, California.

The Silicon Valley company also revealed new versions in its MacBook, Mac mini and iMac line of computers. The updates come three days before the launch of new PCs featuring Windows 8.

You can follow how the announcements were made in our live blog from the event at the California Theatre, after the jump. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Behind every daredevil stunt or eye-popping event of late, a pint-sized point-of-view camera costing a few hundred dollars has been there to capture the moment through the eyes of the performer.

And, until a new thrust by Sony into a booming category, behind every “action cam” there has been a maverick entrepreneur pursuing a dream, which in the case of GoPro could lead to a $500m reported IPO next year. Read more