On Friday we reported that the European parliament is threatening to break up Google. More precisely, it is likely to approve a draft motion calling for the European Commission to consider the “unbundling” of search engines from other commercial services as one possible solution to Google’s dominance.
But would this even work in practice? The short answer is, it’s not clear.
The German MEP Andreas Schwab, a long-time Google critic who is sponsoring the draft motion, told the FT that the practicalities had still to be looked at. Read more
Is it too early to make forecasts for 2015? Not for CCS Insight, a UK-based technology research firm, which is already confidently predicting that a major internet player will buy Netflix, and Vodafone will buy Sky, by the end of next year.
“All Web players are looking for a stronger presence in paid-for video, something Netflix has achieved with remarkable success… Yahoo, Alibaba and Google are potential suitors,” CCS says in an upcoming report. If Google does not buy Netflix, it will launch its own video streaming service in 2015, it predicts.
Further bold/foolhardy predictions below. Read more
Google has mocked News Corp for this anti-EU headline in the Sun
Google has responded to criticism from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp that it is dominant, anti-competitive and bad for media companies. So where are the key battle lines, and how convincing are Google’s arguments?
Point 1: How dominant is Google?
News Corp said: “[Google’s] power increases with each passing day”. Read more
Which is better value: Netflix or the BBC?
Some TV viewers – especially younger ones – seem to think the answer is Netflix. It has cool new shows, including House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. And a subscription costs UK viewers roughly half as much as the BBC – £6.99 a month, compared to the BBC’s licence fee, which works out at £12 a month.
But the BBC wants to knock down the Netflix-mania, at least when it comes to drama. Read more
For the past year, new internet subscribers in the UK have had to make an “unavoidable choice”.
No, it’s not whether to pay for speeds of 152Mb per second, or whether to subscribe to Premiership football. It’s whether to turn on a “family-friendly network filter”, affectionately known as porn blockers.
And what did Brits decide? Read more
The BBC thinks its iPlayer service is “the best online television service in the world” – a platform so good that it’s the envy of Silicon Valley. So will Apple and Google be impressed by the platform’s latest redesign, unveiled in London on Tuesday?
This is a crucial time for the iPlayer: it will soon become the only home of BBC Three, the off-beat channel which is being taken off air to save costs. Tony Hall, the BBC’s director-general, wants the platform to be the “front door” to all the broadcaster’s content.
So what’s on offer in the new version? Read more
Almost five years after launching, crowd-funding platform Kickstarter has received pledges worth $1bn. Half of the money has apparently been in the past twelve months (see chart below).
If Kickstarter were a venture fund, it would be a fairly significant player. So how exactly has humanity been enriched, for its money? Read more
Some newspapers hate Google, so trust the Economist to be contrary and hire its executive chairman.
The Economist Group said that Eric Schmidt (pictured) had joined its board for a three-year term.
Schmidt is, of course, only the latest internet evangelist to get his hands grubby with news. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos paid $250m to buy the Washington Post, while eBay’s founder Pierre Omidyar is investing a similar amount in an investigative outlet to be fronted by Glenn Greenwald. Read more
China’s biggest ecommerce company, Alibaba, has joined the growing enthusiasm for cloud storage applications, buying Kanbox for an undisclosed amount.
Kanbox offers free storage for documents, photos and other files, bringing Alibaba into competition with other Chinese heavyweights Tencent and Baidu, which offer similar services. The company raised $20m in Series B funding two years ago, so the acquisition value is likely to have been several hundred million dollars. Read more
If you’re wondering why Jack Dorsey’s payments company Square hasn’t launched in Europe, here’s one possible answer. The market is just too competitive.
Already several European companies do what Square does – allowing small businesses to process card payments without a monthly contract. They are now engaging in a price war, ripping up the 2.75 per cent transaction fee that Square made standard. Read more
Ever since Apple launched the iPhone 5S with a fingerprint scanner, hackers have been trying to embarrass the company by circumventing it. Now a German group says it has succeeded – by making a copy of person’s fingerprint and using it to unlock the handset.
This trick is less ludicrous than the idea that thieves might chop off people’s fingers to unlock their iPhones (a new definition of computer hacking). But is it a serious blow to Apple’s foray into biometrics?
The Chaos Computer Club posted a video in which a person’s fingerprint on a glass surface is photographed, then printed out onto a thin film used to make a fake finger, which can unlock the phone. Read more
So sales of tablets will soon overtake those of PCs, according to the new figures from IDC. But one mobile device that isn’t surging is the ereader.
Sales of ereaders, such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, seemed to have peaked – with sales currently declining faster than even those of PCs. Only 16m ereaders will be sold this year, Gartner estimates, down from 24m in 2011 and 18m in 2012. Gartner cut its forecasts for future shipments by nearly half earlier this year.
Ereaders face two big problems. Read more
Elop (l) and Ballmer in 2011
Why now? The key seems to be Microsoft’s ambition.
Since it joined forces with Nokia in mobiles in 2011, neither company has prospered. Microsoft remains a distant third to Google and Apple in terms of operating systems, while Nokia’s share of the smartphone market has collapsed from 17 per cent in 2011 to 3 per cent in the first half of this year, according to Gartner.
“We know we are number three in the market, we’re not number two or one and we need to accelerate,” Steve Ballmer, chief executive, told the FT’s Richard Milne. Read more
According to media reports this week, HTC is developing an operating system for Chinese mobile phone users. The company has now issued a statement – but it makes for a pretty unconvincing denial.
HTC says it is in conversations with the Chinese government and telephone operators. But the troubled Taiwanese company did so, i) without denying the OS exists, and ii) in a way that suggests it isn’t in charge of its own destiny. Read more
From the makers of Candy Crush Saga and Farm Heroes Saga… Court Room Saga!
King, one of the UK’s hottest start-ups, is suing rival 6Waves for allegedly copying two of its games, and has provided screenshots (below) to back up the claim.
6Waves denies the allegations and said it did not copy King’s games.
King’s app offering is highly dependent on a few successful hits and, as the company prepares an IPO in New York, it needs to show potential investors that it is prepared to defend its brands. Read more
Facebook has agreed to pay $20m to settle a class action lawsuit, after it included users’ names and photos in paid advertisements.
Some 614,000 users who appeared in a Sponsored Story on the site without giving their consent will now receive $15 each. That’s slightly more than anticipated under an earlier proposal, partly because lawyers and activists will receive less.
For Facebook, whose market cap has just surpassed $100bn, this is hardly an Erin Brockovich moment. But it’s another reminder that there’s a fine line between social advertising – which uses your friends’ buying habits to influence your own – and anti-social advertising, which just annoys everyone. Read more
After thirteen years in the role, the ever-quotable Steve Ballmer will step down as Microsoft chief executive within twelve months. Here are some of his most memorable soundbites:
On the iPhone: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item.” (April 2007)
On Apple: “In every category Apple competes, it’s the low-volume player, except in tablets.” (October 2012) Read more
Some things are worth waiting for. Is a new Yahoo Logo one of them?
Marissa Mayer’s team announced on Wednesday that Yahoo will change its logo permanently in a month. To build up excitement until then, it will also showcase a new temporary logo every day in the meantime.
A constantly-changing logo is an interesting idea… that Google has been practising for over a decade. And the problem for Yahoo is that its temporary logos are unlikely to be as interesting as one of Google’s Doodles. Read more