Monthly Archives: January 2013

Berlin has scored a victory over London in the battle to be the main hub for Europe’s start-up companies after Seedcamp split its flagship event of Europe’s largest support programme for fledgling tech businesses between the two cities.

The incubator programme, which began life with a week-long event at London’s Imperial College in September 2007, will now hold four such gatherings in the UK and German capitals. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Evernote, the service that maintains memos of your daily life, is closing on a new milestone of 50m users, but is still some way from an IPO, according to Phil Libin, chief executive.

That may have to wait until at least 2015, he told me this week, as the Silicon Valley company focuses on further growth in users and services such as Evernote Hello and Penultimate, both apps being the subject of upgrades launched today. Read more

Turns out people’s obsession with photographing their food is worth millions of dollars.

Foodspotting, a three-year old mobile app that allows people to post photos and reviews of dishes, has been acquired by OpenTable, the online reservation system, for $10m in cash.

Foodspotting’s catalogue of 3m photos is small compared to the number of food images on Instagram, the Facebook-owned mobile photo-sharing site with more than 100m users. Instagram could prove a formidable force for the new partnership to battle if Facebook ever decides to build an advertising tool linking food photos with restaurants. Read more

BlackBerry 10Research In Motion unveils the BlackBerry 10 today amid the greatest degree of anticipation and scrutiny in the company’s history. At events in New York, Toronto and London, the Canadian manufacturer is launching a new operating system and two smartphones.

The company and CEO Thorsten Heins are betting it will secure RIM’s future – and even its survival – in a tough marketplace where it has lost share to Apple’s iPhone and Android-based devices. Read more

Wall Street is predicting a good showing from Facebook on Wednesday when it reports financial results for the fourth quarter of 2012, and the full year.

Investor sentiment towards Facebook appears to have shifted towards a cautious optimism in the last quarter, with the company’s stock price rising back above $30 for the first time since its initial public offering in May, when shares were priced at $38, then quickly fell below $20.

Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group predicts the stock will pop after the next couple of earnings reports, then “come back to earth” as the market better understands the company.

This quarter, Facebook’s revenues will reflect advertising purchases related to the November presidential election and the holiday shopping season. Analysts are expecting the social network to report earnings per share of 15 cents on $1.53bn of revenue. For the full year, estimates average at 52 cents earnings per share on $5.03bn in revenue. Read more

It is ironic that both Dell and Apple shared big news last week.

Back in 1998 Michael Dell, then the crown prince of the personal computer industry, recommended that Steve Jobs shut down Apple, which was in dire shape, and distribute the proceeds to shareholders. By contrast, reflecting the turmoil now afflicting all PC makers, Mr Dell is negotiating to borrow money to make his company disappear from public view. Apple, meanwhile, announced that its shareholders would receive a Valentine’s day dividend of $2.5bn – a tiny portion of its $137bn cash pile.

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Amazon chief executive Jeff BezosMicrosoft recently opened a store near my home in the San Francisco Bay Area, marking the occasion with a concert in the car park by Kelly Clarkson, the first American Idol talent show winner, and an appearance by a famous American football player – Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers. I had not seen such a local commotion since another famous football player, George Best, opened a fish-and-chip shop in my home town near Manchester around 1970. All this fuss, just for piles of boxed copies of Windows, I thought.

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Apple lost its crown as the world’s most valuable company this week after its quarterly profits disappointed Wall Street. However, worries of slow growth didn’t discourage some tech observers from rooting for Silicon Valley’s star tech power to bounce back.

Farhad Manjoo at Slate called suggestions that Apple was somehow losing its allure with consumers “totally bogus”. The only thing that held it back, he added, was an inability to keep up with customer demand: “Limited supply, unlike limited demand, is something Apple can fix. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not such a terrible problem.” Read more

Tim Bradshaw

It’s been a torrid 12 months on the public markets for consumer internet stocks, with Facebook, Groupon and Zynga all seeing their valuations collapse after going public.

Yet during that period, privately held Twitter has managed to increase its valuation: a tender offer to employees by a BlackRock fund prices the social media site at more than $9bn, sources familiar with the situation told the FT. Read more

Astell & KernWhile the iPod and iTunes dominate portable players, some users consider the music’s sound quality to be less than stellar. This has opened up a niche for rivals to offer higher-fidelity recordings on higher-end devices. This week, a look at one such player, also a PC appendage and an app audio upgrade.

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Richard Waters

Why is it that text-to-speech services so often come with that cool-yet-sexy synthesised female voice straight out of a male fantasy?

Ivona, a Polish company, is no exception, judging by this avatar from the company’s website. She is likely to be coming to more Kindle devices soon, following Amazon’s acquisition of the company on Thursday. The most tantalysing question, though: Is Ivona also Amazon’s answer to Siri and a sign that it will soon be in the smartphone business? Read more

Skimming down the ski slopes of Davos this year, wearing the latest gadgets from this month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, digerati will be able to register their speed, altitude, position, distance, temperature, heart rate and even brain activity at any given second.

With point-of-view action cams attached to ski poles and helmets, the whole experience could be captured in wide-angle UltraHD quality and streamed to a smartphone screen or out to watching friends on Facebook. Read more

If Microsoft isn’t prepared to take a bet on the PC, then who is?

This explains why the world’s biggest software company is now considering dipping into its $67bn of cash reserves to back a buyout of Dell, a casualty of the fierce wars raging in the hardware industry.

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Chris Nuttall

Apple’s shares fell more than 10 per cent in extended trading in New York after the Silicon Valley company reported first-quarter revenues and iPhone sales below Wall Street expectations.

Apple reported $54.5bn in sales compared to an analyst consensus of $54.7bn. along with iPhone sales of 47.8m units, below expectations of around 50m.

Our live blog of the earnings announcement and subsequent conference call is after the jump. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Some analysts are calling Apple’s first-quarter results, coming after the market closes on Wednesday, the iPhone maker’s most important in years.

The company’s stock price has tumbled by a quarter since September’s peak and October’s warning that profit margins would come under pressure from the near-simultaneous launch of the iPhone 5, iPad mini and other upgrades last autumn. Read more

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

This week Mark Zuckerberg took the wraps off Graph Search, Facebook’s revamped search engine that allows users to search through their social connections. The unveiling of the feature triggered a wave of discussion from tech commentators over whether the social network can add a new revenue stream by going after Google’s large slice of the search cake. Read more

It’s not what you get out of it that matters, it’s what you put in.

That is the real significance of Facebook’s inelegantly named Graph Search, the new “social” search engine it unveiled this week. The company that probably already knows more about you than any other single business would now like you to divulge one other, extremely valuable thing: what you want.

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Ingram Pinn illustration

The death of the internet activist Aaron Swartz at the age of 26 has rightly evoked tributes to his creativity and selflessness. Swartz, who faced jail for illegally downloading millions of academic papers from an electronic library, committed suicide last week.

Five years ago, Swartz signed a “guerrilla open access manifesto” in which he complained of “the world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage” being “digitised and locked up by a handful of private corporations” such as Reed Elsevier. He advised computer hackers to “take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world”.

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Richard Waters

Facebook has announced a new social search service at an event at its HQ in California today.

Mark Zuckerberg has gone out of his way to stress that “graph search” is not intended to be a Google-killer. But for advertisers, this could be a significant moment. With a trillion social connections, Facebook believes that searching the social graph will yield something more revealing than trawling links on the Web.

Read our blow-by-blow analysis live from the event as the news unfolded.

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Richard Waters

Getty Images

Could a Dell no longer weighed down by the anchor of its original PC business carve out a new future of growth as an enterprise technology company?

That is the only conceivable rationale for a potential buy-out that has once again become a hot topic of conversation on Wall Street. But it will take a strong nerve to call the bottom at a time when Dell’s PC business looks to be in free-fall. Read more