Monthly Archives: April 2013

Andreessen Horowitz is helping to put Silicon Prairie on the map of wanna-be tech hubs with its latest investment in the Des Moines, Iowa-based start-up, Dwolla.

The young internet payment network attracted $16.5m in a Series C round, led by Andreessen, with previous investors Village Ventures, Thrive Capital, and Union Square Ventures joining.

While setting up shop in the mid-western United States leaves the company far away from the investors and talent pools on the West and East Coasts, there are benefits to building a business in a less saturated market. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The hearts of two health-tracking leaders are to beat as one, with Jawbone announcing this morning it has acquired BodyMedia, in a deal reportedly worth $110m.

Taking the best elements from both’s products would represent a combination only seen thus far in the sleep-monitored dreams of fitness fanatics. Jawbone’s Up bracelet and its app’s interface are beautifully designed but relatively light on meaningful information, while BodyMedia’s armband is ugly, but packing data-rich sensors. Read more

Shares in Sina Corp, the Nasdaq-listed Chinese online media group, rose nearly 21 per cent during trading on Monday after the company said it had agreed to sell 18 per cent of Weibo, its Twitter-like micro-blogging service, to Alibaba Group for $586m. The two came close to a similar deal five months ago. Now they have tied the knot.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Dysonics, makers of an immersive audio app that puts a virtual room inside your head in which to hear music better, has come up with an attachment for headphones that makes the experience of spacing and placing sounds even more realistic.

Rondo Motion is a thin, square device, about the size of a watch face, that can be easily strapped to the band on a headphone to give it motion-sensing capabilities. This means if you turn your head, the music doesn’t move with you, it stays in the same place in the “room”. Read more

Apple may be souring the market with its unimpressive forecasts, but not all the suppliers who rely on the US tech group for orders are suffering.

Shares in Largan Precision, a Taiwanese lens maker, gained 7 per cent on Friday after it reported stronger than anticipated earnings for the last quarter and, against expectations, forecast more growth ahead. Its secret? Growth of other brands has been strong enough to offset Apple. That’s a change from the days when Apple was component companies’ key driver of growth.

 Read more

More good news for Istanbul’s ambitions to establish itself as a hub: even the internet is hearkening to its call. Fadi Chehade, chief executive of ICANN, the organisation responsible for administrating the domain name and IP address systems, announced on Thursday his group was setting up shop in Istanbul.

To be precise, ICANN is splitting its headquarters into three – the old base in Los Angeles, a new outlet in Singapore, and Istanbul itself, as a step towards a more global, and a more seamless operation.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Leap Motion has announced a two-month delay to shipments of its long-anticipated gesture-based controller as it spends more time working on the software.

The San Francisco-based start-up said shipments for customers who had pre-ordered the device would now begin on July 22, rather than the May 13 date it announced in February. Prior to that, it had spoken of an “early 2013” ship date. Read more

Richard Waters

There was a major disconnect on display at the FT’s Digital Media conference in London on Thursday morning.

Jeff Bewkes of Time Warner and Thomas Rabe of Bertelsmann made it sound as though any-time, any-place access to media was ushering in a golden age comparable to the birth of broadcasting. But Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP had a wake-up call: Big Media is being complacent, and the real impact of companies like Google and Facebook has yet to be felt. Read more

Microsoft has closed a patent licensing deal with ZTE, one of the top five manufacturers of Android smartphones.

The deal is Microsoft’s first with a leading Chinese company, marking an important milestone in the software giant’s multi-year campaign to squeeze licensing revenues out of smartphone vendors and manufacturers.

“Experience has taught us that respect for intellectual property rights is a two-way street,” said Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel for Microsoft, “and we have always been prepared to respect the rights of others just as we seek respect for our rights.” Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Apple has reported second-quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations, but has disappointed Wall Street with its outlook for the June quarter. The maker of the iPhone reported $43.6bn in revenues and earnings of $10.09 per share, compared with analyst expectations of $42.5bn and $10.07 in earnings per share. Its guidance for $33.5bn to $35.5bn in third-quarter sales though is well below the Wall Street consensus of $38.9bn. Apple has also increased its share buyback authorisation from $10bn to $60bn. Below is our blow-by-blow account of the earnings, analyst call and reaction to the news.  

Chris Nuttall

The Nest thermostat, designed by iPod creator Tony Fadell, is a fun way to turn your air conditioning system on and off, but it could soon be saving users serious money with its latest deals.

The Silicon Valley company says it is now working with leading US energy providers to reduce energy usage and consumers’ bills through its auto-adjustment of their home’s heating and cooling needs. Read more

Indian makers of tablet computers are elbowing their way into the domestic market, which is expected to expand rapidly in the next few years, writes Avantika Chilkoti

Although Samsung and Apple feature strongly in the Indian tablet market, figures from the International Data Corporation, an information technology research company, show India’s two leading domestic manufacturers have grabbed a market share of more than 20 per cent.

 Read more

The dramatic manhunt for suspects in the Boston marathon bombings that took place in the evening and early morning hours of April 18 and 19 was covered extremely well by a group of non-journalist online civilians . . . until it fell apart under its own weight.

It began with a tweet at roughly 11 pm, saying that shots had been fired on the MIT campus. As an editor on the FT’s newsdesk in New York, I alerted our reporter on the ground in Boston and began to hunt online for more information. Read more

Earlier on Friday, Wired reported that Apple’s voice app Siri, which is perhaps most famous for its comical misinterpretations, keeps users’ data for up to two years.

Now Google has told the FT that it stores queries to its voice search service for the same period. The difference is that Google stores the actual audio samples for up to two years, unlike Siri which deletes the audio after six months and then just retains the queries. So, is two years too long? Read more

Images and video poured out of Boston on Monday as runners and spectators of the city’s historic marathon posted their media across the internet after two bombs exploded near the race’s finish line.

As the content hit the internet, individuals online started to piece things together. Certain people were seen carrying black backpacks. Some of these people appeared later without the backpacks. A black backpack found at the scene was believed to hold one of the bombs.

This is the world of internet sleuthing, and depending on who you ask, it’s becoming either a shining example of crowdsourcing or a dangerous vigilante trend. Read more

Chris Nuttall

At a time when laptop makers are looking for ways to cut the price of ultrabooks to appeal to mass-market consumers, Toshiba has announced a new luxury line where no expense is being spared.

The Japanese company’s Kira brand makes its debut with the 13.3-in KIRAbook, available next month in versions costing from $1,600 to $2,000 in the US. Read more

Some people avoid buying clothes online because they don’t know the right size; others do buy online but end up returning ill-fitting products.

Now one of the companies aiming to address this problem – Fits.me – has raised a further £5m in venture capital funding. That follows the news earlier this year that some big names – including Adidas and Hugo Boss – have signed up to its technology. Read more

Nevermind superfast broadband – the British government is lining up “superfast patents”. Inventors could be awarded a patent in just ninety days, under a government consultation published on Tuesday. That’s a fraction of the usual two to five years, and only a little longer than the ticketing process for the 2012 London Olympics.

Observers may see anything that makes patents easier as a bad idea, given the smartphone wars. Hence the UK is proposing an extra fee of £3,500-£4,000 for the fast-track service. The hope is that will strip out less credible claims, while allowing serious investors to get their patent – and then some venture capital. Read more

If you predicted the bubble and bust in the Bitcoin market would kill off the nascent virtual currency, well, the very best you could say is that you’re early, writes Stephen Foley.

In fact, dating site OkCupid is going to start accepting payment in Bitcoin from tomorrow, the biggest brand name so far to join the Bitcoin economy. Since the site is part of Barry Diller’s IAC media empire, this gives the currency a toehold in a major corporation. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Logitech announced plans in January to sell its Harmony universal remote-control products division, as part of a strategic review that will see it focus more on PC, tablet and smartphone-related products.

But the Swiss company, which reported a disappointing $180m loss in its last quarter as PC-related sales slumped, is still coming out with new products, with two Harmony universal remotes announced today for the US and Europe. Read more