Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pinterest, the fast-growing online scrapbooking site, has raised $200m, valuing the three year-old company at $2.5bn.

The San Francisco-based company is adding to its unconventional list of investors with this financing round, rather than turning to the Silicon Valley venture capital firms that typically lead investments for a company at this stage of growth.

The latest round was led by Valiant Capital Management, a hedge fund in San Francisco founded by Christopher Hansen, who is better known for his attempts to bring an NBA basketball team back to Seattle than his technology bets. Read more

Paul Taylor

The speculation will soon be over. After months of waiting, Sony is set to announce details of its next generation PlayStation 4 at an event in New York on Wednesday evening, setting the stage for the next round of the console wars.

The company is likely to emphasise the wrap-around software and overall “consumer experience”, rather than the “speeds and feeds” of the hardware itself – though these will no doubt be impressive. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Smartphone-maker HTC spent relatively little time at its launch event today bragging about the technical specs of its new flagship phone, the HTC One.

Instead, the Taiwanese company focused in on the phone’s redesigned user interface and new offerings — including a homescreen with live
content feeds, a camera app that automatically creates montages of a user’s pictures and video clips, and stereo speakers sounding halfway decent — that company designers say reflect how they see people using their phones to consume, create and share increasing quantities of content. Read more

A public spat flared up this week between Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk and the New York Times reporter John Broder over a test drive of the new Tesla Model S. The review, which Musk called “fake” on Twitter, triggered a war of both words and data, with Musk releasing Broder’s driving logs. Though Broder countered with a detailed follow up, the drama was an object lesson in how the dynamics of disputes like this have been transformed by big data. Read more

Chris Nuttall

First impressions of HP’s Envy x2 when the company showed it to the media last year were that this appeared to be the best of the first wave of Windows 8 laptop/tablet convertibles.

But spending some time with this hybrid device since it was launched last month, I find the x2 highlights how convertibles do not necessarily offer the best of both worlds, but can often represent unsatisfying compromises. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer said that she wanted to do more with less on mobile apps and that she wanted to expand the web portal’s presence abroad, in her first appearance at an investor event since becoming chief executive. Read more

Richard Waters

The Apple CEO has had no shortage of advice from Wall Street lately on what to do with his company’s $137bn cash mountain. Hedge fund manager David Einhorn thinks he should issue a new class of preferred stock that would appeal to investors looking for yield. A combination of a higher dividend and stock buybacks that raised Apple’s three-year payout plans from $45bn to $60bn might be less radical but could be effective, according to Brian Marshall of ISI.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs technology and internet conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, he talked about his views on big acquisitions (he’s considered them seriously), the legal battle with Einhorn (“a silly sideshow”) and whether Apple needs bigger or cheaper iPhones to expand its market. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Small, square, sub-$100 black boxes dominate streaming internet-television devices in the US, in the shape of Apple TV and Roku’s LT, XS, XD and HD boxes.

There’s no shame then in Western Digital imitating this successful formula in launching today the WD TV Play - the latest variation of its WD TV lineup of content-streaming set-top boxes. Read more

Richard Waters

Forget all the dire warnings about the disruptive effects of mobile: for Google at least, tablets are on some measures starting to look like a better business than PCs, even if smartphones still lag.

That’s according to digital marketing company Marin Software, which has just published the results of its latest survey of global search trends. The amount of money spent on search advertising on tablets has already eclipsed smartphones – and with advertisers getting more bang for their buck on tablets than on PCs, the redirection of ad dollars looks set to continue. Read more

Sailthru, a start up that is trying to make “smart data” out of “big data,” has raised $19m in a Series B investment round led by Benchmark Capital.

This is the second investment to close in as many days for Benchmark, which led a $13.5m Series A fundraising round for Snapchat, the ephemeral social networking service that lets people post photos or messages that self-delete after 10 seconds or less. That company is valued between $60m and $70m. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Two reports on Sunday lent credence to the idea that Apple’s next big innovation might be a smart watch.

The idea isn’t new, but the rumour mill is gaining momentum, at a time when some Apple investors are becoming impatient for its next blockbuster product. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Video chat is becoming more sophisticated and social, with developers working out how better to combine media streams and groups of friends in online conversation.

Rabbit, which launches in beta today on Macs, was designed by game developers and introduces more visually appealing video chatrooms and easier ways to connect with friends. Glide, which debuted at Macworld last week, offers a video group walkie-talkie service on the iPhone. Both are free to download and use. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Microsoft’s Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet is on sale from Saturday, costing 50 per cent more than its equivalent Windows RT forerunner – from $900 rather than $600 in the US for the 64Gb versions.

At first glance, the two look identical in their size and dark titanium design, but Microsoft is providing quite a few more features for the money. Whether they are enough to justify this price for a tablet is debatable. A review after the jump. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Twitter has made one of its largest acquisitions to date with Bluefin Labs, to help its advertisers better understand the link between traditional and social media. Read more

More New Year’s resolutions for 2013 and sacrifices for Lent involve cutting down on Facebook.

More than a quarter of US Facebook users said they planned to spend less time on the social network in the coming year, according to new survey results released Tuesday. And almost two-thirds said they have taken a “Facebook Vacation” in the past, logging off the social network for several weeks at a time to get a break from their friends’ gossip and dinner reports.

Being “too busy” was the number one reason for taking the hiatus, while concerns about privacy and advertising ranked low in the explanations offered to surveyors from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Read more

US privacy advocates are urging US government officials not to “stand in the way” of European efforts to strengthen privacy laws in Europe.

On Monday, 18 American consumer and privacy NGOs sent a letter addressed to the US attorney general, secretary of state, and other top Obama administration officials, asking them to pull back on an intense lobbying campaign led by the US technology industry, and instead collaborate on the development of privacy laws in Europe and the US that give consumers more control over the collection and use of personal data over the internet. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The Super Bowl’s power outage was embarrassing for the NFL and CBS – but golden for Twitter.

When the lights went out in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the Super Bowl broadcast didn’t show any extra ads. But the TV audience wasn’t watching the big screen anyway. If my Super Bowl viewing party in San Francisco is anything to go by (and, for once, fewer than half of the people here in attendance work in tech), a lot of people were looking at their smartphones, checking Twitter.

And amid the usual (t)witticisms you would expect in this sort of situation, many brands were quick to take advantage. If nothing else, it shows that not all of adland’s creativity goes into TV ads these days. Read more

BlackBerry stepped up its smartphone game this week with the unveiling of two new devices, the Z10 and the Q10, and its latest operating system, BlackBerry 10. While BlackBerry hopes the reinvented devices and a rebranded name will mark a turning point as it seeks to increase sales, many reviewers suggested that the company could be near the end of the line. Read more

As you pass the shop window, a beautiful coat catches your eye. You stop, gaze at it a while, spot the price and, regretfully, move on.

Little do you know that WiFi sensors in the window have used your smartphone to detect your presence outside the shop. Not only that, but they have clocked how many people as well as you have looked at the display, how many have then entered the store, and how long they stayed there. They may even be prompting store managers to lower the price. Read more

Sony, you big tease. Taking a leaf from Apple’s playbook, the Japanese electronics group has posted a page on its website suggesting that a new Playstation games console is in the offing for 2013.

Sony Computer Entertainment put a page on its website titled Playstation 2013 with a video trailing a mysterious event on February 20 in New York. The page invites users to register for updates and ‘be the first to know’. Read more