Monthly Archives: December 2012

Tim Bradshaw

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

Yota smartphone | Source: VedomostiCalling someone two-faced isn’t exactly flattering – but for a new Russian smartphone, it’s the key feature.

Yota, the company mostly known for offering mobile broadband services in places like Russia and Nicaragua, has come up with a very innovative concept for its first own mobile phone handset.

The phone will have a dual screen – a typical LCD on one side and an e-paper display on the other side for prolonged reading without draining the battery.

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Chris Nuttall

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

Tim Bradshaw

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


There are three classics on offer for the holidays this week as Apple presents an improved version of its all-in-one PC style leader, the iMac, and Hewlett-Packard introduces an all-in-one printer that matches Apple’s products for cool design. And for classical music lovers with iPads, The Orchestra app makes an excellent gift.

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Richard Waters

When Google launched its AdSense network to push advertising to third-party websites, it already had a massively successful advertising business on

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

Research in Motion is set to unveil another disappointing set of quarterly results on Thursday. There’s the bad news. Anything happier to report?

Well, there’s the launch of a new BlackBerry 10 smartphone coming soon, which the company hopes will stem its falling market share in the US and UK. But the Canadian group is also looking to exploit other regions with strong growth prospects – particularly in Africa.

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Tim Bradshaw

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla have made their biggest charitable donation yet, giving Facebook stock worth $500m to a Silicon Valley foundation. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Twitter has topped 200m active users, more than doubling its audience since September last year.

While 2011 saw Twitter come to the fore in political events such as the Arab Spring protests and the UK scandal over superinjunctions, 2012 has seen it gain more mainstream attention through international events like the US presidential elections and the London Olympic games, as well as on-screen promotions of tweets and hashtags on TV news and talk shows, where its live, up-to-the-minute updates can really shine. Read more

Richard Waters

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

Paul Taylor

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


Parents spend about $100 downloading an average of 27.2 apps for their children each year. Many would prefer these to be educational, with good privacy policies and no advertising. New apps from Nosy Crow, Oxford University Press and Jajdo offer some safe options for small tablet users.

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What do a spat over the taxes that Google and Amazon pay in the UK and a multinational conference on the internet taking place in Dubai have in common?

On the face of it, not very much. But they are united by at least one thing: a growing awareness of the immense power – and profits – of some of the richest US technology companies. As many countries struggle with their own dire fiscal positions, this conspicuous success has become hard to ignore. Less friendly tax regimes and encroaching regulation are becoming a very real threat.

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Chris Nuttall

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

Chris Nuttall

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

Tim Bradshaw

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

Tim Bradshaw

How-to videos, cute toddler antics, music and people making “hilarious” gaffes when speaking foreign languages. Iran’s attempt to ape YouTube, 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


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

Users of Instagram and Twitter were caught in the middle of a photo turf war this week. Instagram’s announcement that it would no longer allow its photos to appear in Twitter feeds raised concerns over whether web companies are holding user content hostage as they try to monetise their platforms. Read more

Chris Nuttall

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

Is the US system for financing technology innovation broken?

It’s certainly damaged, according to one of the most successful US tech investors of recent years. If he’s right, both entrepreneurs and investors could be living with outsized expectations that were set in a different era and have little bearing on what is to come.

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