Monthly Archives: March 2013

Chris Nuttall

Michael Dell is ready to tear up the PC model on which he built his business in order to claw back market share lost to Asian rivals such as Lenovo and Asus.

The new high-stakes strategy is revealed in Dell’s 274-page proxy filing released on Friday and is likely to shake up competition in the ailing PC industry. Dell would switch from the build-to-order bespoke PCs that made its name to the “build-to-stock” model of more generic PCs made by its rivals that anticipate demand and are built before a purchaser has been identified.

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Chris Nuttall

John Riccitiello made a final public appearance as chief executive of Electronic Arts at the unveiling of Battlefield 4 at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week.

He steps down on Saturday, resigning, according to the official account, over the company missing its numbers for the current fiscal year ending March 31.

The poor performance of another first-person shooter, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, last autumn contributed to this, but Mr Riccitiello’s green-lighting of Battlefield 4 could give his successor an easier ride this coming year. Read more

Chris Nuttall

King.com’s rebranding of itself this week as just King is hardly innovative, but it does sum up the publisher’s current position in casual games.

Its Candy Crush Saga is the most popular game on Facebook by daily active users – with 14m players, according to Appdata – while also being the top-grossing app on iTunes and the top free app on Google Play. Read more

HTC, the Taiwanese smartphone maker, has been fighting to turn around its plunging sales by learning a lesson or two from Apple. First: spend on branding, which Apple does well and HTC does not. Second: don’t ship scratched phones, which Apple did when it first launched the iPhone 5.

To the dismay of investors and consumers, the launch of HTC’s newest smartphone has been delayed. The reason has been the difficulty producing the phone’s camera and metal back — compounded, says its marketing chief, by a desire to avoid Apple’s error and waste his newly-enlarged ad budget by annoying buyers with scuffed gadgets.

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Already the third-largest online user base in the world, India has the potential to double its economic contribution from the internet in the next three years.

India could see a surge in the internet’s role in the economy from 1.6 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2011, to up to 3.3 per cent in 2015, putting it near developed countries on this measure, according to a McKinsey report.

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Robert Cookson

Ford and WPP have apologised for tasteless ads showing scantily-clad women bound and gagged in the back of a car.

While the images were never published as part of an official campaign, someone at JWT India, Ford’s agency in the country, uploaded them to the sharing site Ads of the World. Read more

Apple has bought WifiSlam, an indoor mobile location service, as the Silicon Valley giant continues to compete with Google in mapping capabilities.

The deal closed recently for $20m, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed source.

WifiSlam’s technology uses ambient wireless signals that are already present in buildings to pinpoint the location of smartphones, as opposed to the space-based satellite signals relied upon for larger-scale GPS mapping and navigation systems. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

At the South by Southwest Interactive festival, the annual geek gathering in Austin, Texas, a new Google gadget was the talk of the town – literally. Google’s “talking shoes” crammed a tiny computer, sensors, speakers and a Bluetooth wireless controller into a pair of Adidas that shout at their wearer when they aren’t moving around enough.

Google’s latest venture into wearable technology was more an attention-seeking gimmick than a serious new venture. But with the search giant ploughing significant resources into Google Glass, it’s another indication that Google is serious about moving from the digital to the physical – plans that seem to include a smart watch, too. Read more

It is 600 miles from Olathe, Kansas, to Englewood, Colorado, and both towns can seem a million miles from the media hubs of New York and Hollywood. Yet two announcements from the US heartland this week provide important pointers to the future of the cable industry and the content companies that depend on it.

In Olathe, Google unveiled plans to roll out the fibre optic network it is testing in nearby Kansas City, offering broadband speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. That is roughly 100 times faster than the country’s typical download rate, for $70 a month or $120 with a video service.

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Publishers may take a cue from the software industry as they regroup from a decisive loss in the US Supreme Court over copyright rules.

After failing to persuade the justices to protect their foreign-made titles from resale in the US in the Kirtsaeng v Wiley case, publishers must instead rethink their international business practices.

While traditional publishers of books, music, and film have generally viewed the computer industry as a foe in various policy battles, it could find a saviour in borrowing its concept of software licensing agreements and applying them to physical goods. Read more

Chris Nuttall

T430s, T431s – the notch up in model numbers between Lenovo’s last-generation T-series ThinkPad and the new one launched today is minimal, but the design decisions are dramatically different.

The T431s is the product of nine months of testing in nine countries with 900 users and the “clean sheet” design principles that have emerged will influence many more of Lenovo’s notebooks down the road. Read more

Big data is subject to much hype. The ability to manipulate vast swaths of information at warp speed is transforming businesses across the world. But as with all technologies there are risks. All users of technology should take note: with big data comes big responsibility.

A recent study I jointly led concludes it is possible to create instantaneous and surprisingly detailed psycho-demographic user profiles – containing statistically valid information about an individual’s race, personality and IQ scores, happiness, substance use, sexuality, political views and religious beliefs – using only publicly available Facebook Likes.

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The hashtag has already found its way into real-life conversations. Similar to airquotes, some people – mostly young – form the square number symbol (#) popularised on Twitter with their index and middle fingers as they talk, to make a humorous or sarcastic point, or reference a cultural meme.

Now Facebook may want to claim the hashtag for itself. Read more

As New York braces itself for Samsung’s heavily hyped launch of its latest Galaxy smartphone, complete with coverage on giant screens in Times Square, the choice of venue reflects the company’s conviction that it has gained the upper hand in its battle with Apple, writes Simon Mundy.

In 2010, with Apple still dominant in the smartphone market, the first Galaxy handset was launched at a modest event in Singapore. A year later, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Samsung unveiled the second in the series; by May 2012, it was confident enough to launch the Galaxy SIII at a high-profile standalone event in London. Now, as Thursday’s New York launch demonstrates, Samsung is going all out to attack Apple’s grip on its home US market. Read more

It sounded like hubris last week when Nick Hayek, chief executive of Swatch, dismissed out of hand the threat from a potential Apple “smartwatch”. Hadn’t he heard what happens to companies involved in areas of personal technology that come under attack from the creative geniuses of Cupertino, California?

Summoning up images of unwieldy internet watches dating back to Microsoft’s Spot watch of nearly a decade ago, Mr Hayek questioned whether “an interactive terminal on your wrist” would ever catch on. “Personally, I don’t believe this is the next revolution,” he was quoted as saying.

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Chris Nuttall

Dell has entered the portable All-in-One category with the XPS 18, featuring an 18.4in Full HD screen and up to five hours of battery life.

The XPS 18 is smaller and much lighter with longer battery life than Sony’s 12lb Vaio Tap 20 - the first machine in this new category – and Lenovo’s 27in IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC, which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics show in January. Read more

Nobody, it seems, wants to miss out on the African growth story (as many telecoms did in the 1990s). Another rallying cry was issued on Tuesday by ICANN – the body that regulates the naming system for websites – calling for a rapid expansion of domain registrars, and pushing ahead with six new offices on the continent.

“We’re coming to you” – that was the message of ICANN president Fadi Chehadé. And Africa might ask: “What took you so long?”

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Chris Nuttall

Vimeo, which has established itself as a niche video platform player next to YouTube, is launching an on-demand service where content owners will keep 90 per cent of their sales.

The 10:90 revenue split is exceedingly generous by existing industry standards – Google is reported to be considering taking 45 per cent of subscription revenues for its planned video channels on YouTube. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Angry Birds developer Rovio has already become the first app maker to successfully transfer its brand from digital to physical, with all sorts of merchandising and toys.

Now the Finnish company is making its most ambitious play yet to become – in its words – a “fully fledged entertainment powerhouse” with the launch of a weekly cartoon series this weekend. Read more

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

A more visually engaging newsfeed with additional streams was the focus of Facebook’s redesign this week. Bigger photos, however, didn’t bode well for a few tech observers who argued that the facelift won’t make up for deeper problems with the social networking site’s algorithm. Read more