Monthly Archives: June 2013

India has overtaken Japan to become the world’s third largest market for smartphones, joining China and the US on the podium.

In some ways, it’s unsurprising. With a population of over a billion people India is bound eventually to be among the largest markets for pretty much anything. What is interesting is how Indians are using their phones – and the local handset makers that are seeing lightning fast growth.

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Who’s buying?

PC companies just can’t get a break.

Shipments from the Taiwanese manufactures that make most of the world’s desktop and laptop computers hit a three-year low last quarter as consumers waited for fixes to Windows and decided to buy tablets and smartphones in the meantime. For those Taiwanese companies, those disappointing stats are one more reminder of the need to diversify away from their core PC business.

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How will they pay for souvenirs?

Imagine the faces of PayPal’s executive team when their boss asked for ideas on how to make payments in space.

Let’s just hope no one laughed, because David Marcus, PayPal’s president, wasn’t joking.

As if international expansion wasn’t hard enough, he has now launched PayPal Galactic – a partnership with the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute – to find ways of taking payments into outer orbit. Read more

http://www.jamesmartin.com/

One of the world’s greatest computer scientists and prolific authors, Dr James Martin, has died. His body was found in waters off Bermuda on Monday, although the news did not immediately become public. Police say there were no suspicious circumstances.

As well as writing 104 textbooks, Dr Martin stood out for his gifts totaling $150m to the University of Oxford for the study of future challenges. That highlighted his belief that people could anticipate the effect of technology if they put their minds to it in the right way. Read more

Intel sees something wrong with the way Americans consume and pay for television. So this week it confirmed that this year it would roll out a live television service delivered over the internet, without a subscription from established video distributors such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable.

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Robert Cookson

As apps go, Ant Smasher sounds simple enough. The free game, which has been downloaded more than 50m times from the Google Play app store, allows mobile phone users to entertain themselves by squishing digital ants as they scurry down the screen. Splat, splat, splat.

But Ant Smasher has a dark side. It is one of a growing wave of apps that contains “adware” – aggressive advertising technology that displays ads in a phone’s notification bar and other places outside of the app itself, without consent. Read more

Will some online users pay to preserve a free service for all? Wikipedia’s fundraising efforts seem to show that they will – but only if it is not founder Jimmy Wales personally asking for the money, writes Andy Bounds

As regular as Christmas, Mr Wales has fronted an end-of-year fundraiser for the past decade that features his personal appeal to keep the site running without resorting to advertising. Read more

… erm, sort of.

The PC-maker is selling Autonomy’s stake in video advertising engine Blinkx, which is traded on London’s AIM market.

And since that stake is worth around 40 per cent more than when the acquisition for Autonomy was agreed in August 2011, HP’s accountants can book a handy profit of around £16m (depending when the actual sale occurs). So no hard feeling about that $8.8bn write-down then, Ms Whitman?

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By Dan Thomas, telecoms correspondent

Sony will bolster its mobile range with a large screen “phablet” phone that is sized neatly between the high end smartphone and tablet launched last year to revive the Japanese group’s ailing devices business.

At 6.4 inches, Xperia Z Ultra acts perfectly as a small video screen, with a remarkably clear luminous display that carries HD videos with great clarity using Sony Bravia TV technology. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

For such a simple little app, Snapchat provokes some strong opinions.

Much of the reaction to its fundraising, announced on Monday, was one of amazement that the two-year-old ephemeral messaging app could be worth $800m. After all, that’s more than Facebook paid for Instagram last year ($715m after Facebook’s stock slumped from the time of its initial $1bn offer). Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The Federal Trade Commission is probing Google’s $1bn acquisition of Waze, the social navigation app.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company had been contacted by the FTC about the mapping deal but did not comment on the nature of its investigation. Read more

An illustration by Toby Leigh depicting online communication©Toby Leigh

The little black book has had its share of technological transformations: from Outlook or Gmail organising our contacts to Facebook and LinkedIn, our personal networks have been digitised many times over. Yet the importance of meeting someone in person and striking up a rapport is unchanged. Dating services aside, few online social networks have succeeded in brokering new face-to-face connections offline.

That’s starting to change.

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Tim Bradshaw

Leap Motion, a radical new device for controlling computers using hand movement, isn’t even on sale to the general public yet. But Highland Capital Partners, already an investor in the San Francisco startup, is putting another $25m behind a new fund for companies looking to build on the Leap platform. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s founder, didn’t mention Vine at all when he unveiled his photo-sharing app’s new video function. But he wasn’t exactly subtle about pointing out the places where Instagram differs from Twitter’s 6-second video app. Here’s a quick rundown and some first impressions of how the two apps stack up: Read more

Fifty years ago, after dabbling in computing at the birth of the mainframe industry, General Electric missed the chance to add leadership in information technology to its industrial heritage.

But with the shift towards cloud computing that is now taking place, it might just get another chance – although, this time around, it sees itself more as an industrial version of Facebook than the next IBM.

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By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, FT media editor

Most marketers see the “second screen” (the smartphone or tablet catching your eye as you watch television) as a valuable second opportunity for engaging viewers, rather than a distraction from their expensively-crafted messages on the first screen. But in spite of this, some experimentation in how to make this extra channel pay its way is starting to take place. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

No wonder Tim Cook has escalated Apple’s position on the television market from “hobby” to “area of intense interest” in recent months. New figures from Apple suggest that it’s making at least $3m a day from TV and movie downloads. Read more

(and only one is, can we play with it?)

In a letter to Google chief executive Larry Page, the officials – from the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Israel, Switzerland and three Canadian provinces – have formally raised their concerns about Glass.

Here are their questions and our brief commentary: Read more

It may seem hard to understand how one could go bankrupt selling iPads and MacBooks in one of Europe’s richest countries, but that is what happened Tuesday to iCentre, the largest Apple reseller in the Netherlands, writes Matt Steinglass in Amsterdam.

A judge in the Dutch town of Haarlem proclaimed the 34-store chain bankrupt on Tuesday, after a week of negotiations between the company, its creditors and potential buyers failed to produce a rescue plan. And on closer inspection, iCentre’s fate is not so hard to explain. Like other Apple resellers, iCentre was coping with a long-term shift from notebook and desktop computer sales towards smartphones and tablets, which have lower profit margins. Read more

It’s not just Apple that can generate sales buzz in China for new devices. A couple of weeks on from Amazon’s Kindle launch in China, and the new e-reading devices are becoming hot properties.

The company told beyondbrics in an email that the two Kindle tablets were sold out “almost immediately” and customers are leaving their contact information for the waiting list to be next in line for new stocks.

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