Taxi and ride-sharing apps such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are gearing up for one of the busiest nights of the year on Monday, hoping to raise prices, boost drivers’ income – and head off criticism from passengers and lawmakers for doing so.
Uber was given a rough ride by some customers after last New Year’s Eve, when they awoke not only with sore heads but lighter (digital) wallets due to the limo- and taxi-hire service’s “surge pricing”.
At times of peak demand, Uber pushes through price rises of up to four times as much as its regular fares, which are automatically charged to a credit card at the end of the journey.
Although it flagged the increases last year, some passengers – perhaps after a few drinks – failed to notice the warnings and ended up paying over $100 for short rides. Read more
Comparing Apple’s new iMac, reviewed in this week’s Personal Technology column, with HP’s Spectre One all-in-one, there are some striking similarities in the design decisions taken.
Sony’s Vaio Tap 20 and Lenovo’s A720, also reviewed recently take different approaches to the category, one adding a touchscreen and portability with its built-in battery, the other’s mechanism allowing it to lay flat if necessary. But the iMac and Spectre One are like Mac and PC equivalents. Read more
The so-called PayPal mafia is a force to be reckoned with in Silicon Valley: Max Levchin joining the Yahoo board is just the latest example of a network that spans Facebook, YouTube, Yammer, LinkedIn, Square and – with Elon Musk’s SpaceX – the edge of the earth’s atmosphere.
In the British start-up world, the closest analogy is Lovefilm. The DVDs-by-post turned video-on-demand service was acquired by Amazon in January 2011, but even before that, had started the careers of many London tech-scene notables.
Now, Adam Valkin – a co-founder and sometime chief executive of Lovefilm, who went on to join TV producer Endemol and, three years ago, Accel Partners’ London office – is helping to take the Lovefilm mafia abroad. Read more
When Google launched its AdSense network to push advertising to third-party websites, it already had a massively successful advertising business on Google.com.
Facebook hasn’t reached that point yet – so it makes sense that it has pulled back from testing third-party advertising to get the basic product right first. Read more
The internet consumer loans company Lending Club has certainly attracted some big names to its board: former Morgan Stanley boss John Mack, internet analyst-turned venture capitalist Mary Meeker – and now Larry Summers, a former US Treasury secretary.
It’s all a sign that the barriers to consumer finance are crumbling for a new wave of start-ups, Mr Summers tells us. Read more
Crowdfunding is by now a well established route for startups to raise the capital they need to develop, manufacture and market a new product.
But Olive Media, a seven-year-old San Francisco-based company whose high performance audio servers are a favourite among audiophiles, has adopted the crowdfunding model to launch the Olive ONE, which it claims is the first all-in-one high definition (HD) music player. Read more
Intel has launched its first Atom processor for data centres, defending its high-margin server business from oncoming attacks by cheaper, low-powered chips based on designs of the UK’s Arm.
The Atom S1200 (pictured) product family, formerly codenamed Centerton, consumes just 6 watts of power, compared to the 45 watts drawn by Intel’s high-performance Xeon processors that are traditionally used in data centres. Read more
Kaleidescape, whose dvd-ripping system for the rich has embroiled it in eight years of legal battles with Hollywood, has come up with a new offering the studios seem to like.
The Kaleidescape Store, opening today with more than 3,000 digital movies and 8,000 TV shows from Warner Bros, offers a solution to a thus far intractable problem for the majors – how to persuade consumers to buy rather than rent their digital entertainment. Read more
As the developer of Tweetie, Loren Brichter created one of the first Twitter apps for the iPhone – and in the process, established new standards in designing for the small screen. He spoke to the FT about his design philosophy for the FT Weekend magazine’s monthly “Meet the Innovators” slot. Read more
How-to videos, cute toddler antics, music and people making “hilarious” gaffes when speaking foreign languages. Iran’s attempt to ape YouTube, Mehr.ir launched this weekend, with many of the features that made its predecessor so popular.
Of course, Mehr – which means “affection” in Farsi – isn’t competing with YouTube: it’s replacing it. According to newswire reports and Iranian state TV, the government-endorsed Mehr is designed to promote Iranian and Islamic culture. Read more
Even another record-breaking Call of Duty could not rescue the US video game industry from a twelfth consecutive month of declining software sales in November, according to the latest official figures from the NPD research firm.
But the “packaged goods” disc sales are only a part of the picture, now that we have digital and social and mobile games to take into account. Judging by announcements from Facebook and DeNA this week, hard-core gamers seem just as likely nowadays to be competing in these new gaming territories. Read more