Henry Mance

Henry Mance is a companies reporter, covering UK technology.

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. 

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

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. 

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. 

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. 

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) 

It takes some nerve to sell a company for $850m and then describe it as “the biggest repository of online cock and balls ever recorded”.

Step forward Michael Birch, founder of social network Bebo, who, after repurchasing the site for $1m in July, has now launched a spoof video to promote its impending relaunch. 

Sales of PCs in western Europe fell by nearly 20 per cent year-on-year in the three months to June, according to research organisation Gartner.

To put that decline in context, in 2009, during the financial crisis, the worst quarterly performance was a 5 per cent fall. 

A South Korean website has unearthed trademark and patent filings by Samsung regarding a possible smartwatch. That’s a reminder that – while Samsung and Apple squabble over old intellectual property – they will soon have a whole new set of designs to fight over.

In the drawings, Samsung’s device looks like a smartphone bent round a wrist. Unlike similar products from Sony, LG and Pebble, it has a flexible screen rather than the familiar usual strap.