Nokia has much resting on the launch of its first Windows smartphone, the Lumia 800, the first off the production line since its exclusive partnership was agreed with Microsoft in February. The phone is key for Nokia to claw back a position in high-end phones having been marginalised by Apple and Google’s Android in recent years, writes Daniel Thomas,  FT telecoms correspondentRead more

How much do company chief executives need to know about IT? Traditionally, many business leaders outside the technology sector have had only a limited understanding, preferring to rely on their IT departments and chief information officer (CIO).

According to a recent report by Booz & Co, the consultancy, the average age of chief executives is now about 51. That means that many grew up in the PC era and have witnessed the impact of technology on almost every part of business. Read more

Steve Jobs

Image by Getty.

I am a member of a cult. That cult is Apple. Its prophet was Steve Jobs. I am not a shareholder of the company. But I am – and have been for 31 years – a devotee of its products.

This started in 1980, with purchase of the Apple II for a World Bank research project I had promoted. I did not myself use the machine. But I could see the immense advantages of having such a computer for our own use rather than relying on remote access to a mainframe computer under someone else’s control.

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It is a chastened Reed Hastings who has just decided to ditch his disastrous plan to split Netflix into two businesses – Netflix and “Qwikster” – and stick with what his customers liked in the first place.

Mr Hastings is right to back down – if nothing else, his bold experiment with “disruptive innovation” has mainly disrupted his own company. Its shares have not recovered since he raised prices and announced his plan to turn his DVD rental business into Qwikster while keeping the Netflix name for video streaming.

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One of the strangest research trips I ever went on was to the Kannon Do Zen Center in Mountain View, California. It came at the end of a long day at Apple trying to understand what made the company tick. My office at the time was a stationery closet on the fourth floor of One Infinite Loop, Apple’s corporate headquarters, a makeshift space an iPhone’s throw from the senior executives including Steve Jobs.

It was late 2009 and I had been hired for a few months to do some writing for the then nascent Apple University, an internal programme intended to help rising executives within the company learn the business of Apple. But first I had to try to learn it myself, to find something to grip in a company that to the outside world seems as smooth as the glass facades of its shops.

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The creators of Napster, the free song-sharing service that amassed tens of millions of users and seriously challenged record labels, have reunited after a decade apart with a secretive video start-up.

Sean Parker, best known more recently as the billionaire founding president of Facebook, told the Financial Times he had reduced his duties at Founders Fund, the venture capital group, to be executive chairman of start-up Airtime. Shawn Fanning, who wrote the software behind the music site that took his own nickname, will be chief executive.

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Steve Jobs was a hero for many around the world, but in China, his status was almost mystical. Like his life, his death has captivated millions of Chinese Apple fans, and prompted some wistful questioning over whether China could ever have its own technology magician.

Already in Beijing, white flowers have appeared on the steps of the Apple store, while its iconic Apple logo will remain unlit until 10am on Friday.

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Among the eulogies to Steve Jobs’ undoubted genius was a back-handed compliment from the markets on Thursday morning: smartphone manufacturers’ shares rose in Asia, apparently on doubts about whether the US company would be able to repeat its innovative success without its founder.

Jobs left his chief executive role in August, but his premature death puts the task of dispelling those doubts firmly in the hands of his successors. It could be a mistake to assume that, because they lack Jobs’ charisma, they won’t be capable of carrying forward his legacy.

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Steve Jobs of Apple

Steve Jobs stamped his mark on the first 35 years of personal computing history, from the rudimentary but ground-breaking Apple II to the sleek touch-screen iPad. In the process, he helped instil new digital tastes in a generation, while touching off a wave of disruption that has reshaped the consumer electronics, mobile communications and media and entertainment industries.

An unlikely business leader, with an early leaning towards the counter-culture that stayed with him throughout his life, he carved out one of the most remarkable careers of his age, including a corporate comeback that is unrivalled in modern business history. Apple, the company he co-founded – widely thought to be heading for bankruptcy when he returned after a decade’s absence in 1996 – this year briefly overtook ExxonMobil to become the world’s most valuable company.

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Flowers in memory of Apple co-founder Jobs

Tributes to the late Steve Jobs have poured in from around the globe from political leaders, business chiefs and the millions of consumer fans of Apple, the company he built into the world’s second biggest by market capitalisation.

Investors reacted calmly to the news of Jobs’ death at 56 on Wednesday, with Apple shares slipping only slightly on Thursday in New York, giving the company a market value of $350bn.

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The death of Steve Jobs, announced tonight by Apple, was expected but still comes as a shock. There are very few business people who are truly irreplaceable but Mr Jobs was undoubtedly so.

Like many other people, I heard the news via his products – in my case through Twitter on an iPod Touch — and am writing this on a MacBook Air. Mr Jobs’ original vision of a world of personal computers came truer than even he imagined.

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Spotify has been forced to introduce new privacy features to its music streaming software after complaints by users about its Facebook integration.

It’s the first climbdown by an app maker after last week’s f8 introduced “frictionless sharing”, whereby every song listened to is shared on Facebook by default. Read more

At first glance, the apology by Reed Hastings, chief executive of the US video service Netflix, for raising the base price of his video service by 60 per cent looks sincere and heartfelt – the kind of plain-speaking that is too rare in chief executives.

“I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation.”

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Last week saw the biggest venture-capital fundraising yet in Russia’s fast-growing e-commerce market.

But even with $100m in its coffers, how long can – the “ of Russia” – fend off Amazon itself? Russian idiosyncrasies in payments, deliveries and culture suggest that domestic online retailers such as KupiVIP, Molotok and Avito may be able to repel the foreign invaders looking to capture a share of what will soon become Europe’s largest internet market. Read more

The sacking of Carol Bartz last week made theatre of the most superior kind. Watching the former chief executive of Yahoo go down spitting obscenities was exhilarating in an immediate sort of way, but it also confirmed at least four of my most deeply held prejudices about life, work and language.

Continue reading: “Bartz flubs her lines as she leaves the Yahoo stage”

The head of a leading sportswear company once told me a contractor had introduced pregnancy testing at its factories.

That sounded good, I said – manufacturers taking care of their female employees. He gave me a pitying look. The factory had introduced the tests so it could fire pregnant workers before they could claim maternity leave. He had asked them to stop.

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Almost a third of UK companies are blocking their employees from using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter amid growing fears about internet security, according to a study.

Highly publicised hacking incidents, such as the attack on Sony earlier this year, are causing a “knee-jerk” reaction among companies to clamp down on employees’ internet use, said Andrew Wyatt, chief operating officer of Clearswift, the internet security company that published the research on Tuesday.

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Digital photography has slashed the cost per image for amateurs like the Taylor family. Not only can we afford to take more pictures, but we can weed out the duds and be far more selective in deciding which images to share online or print out.

But there is one tricky bit – getting the images off the camera’s digital memory card is not always easy, as my wife discovered last week after our youngest daughter’s wedding. Most digital cameras come with a USB or cable so users can download images to a PC. But the Taylor family is surely not alone in never being able to lay our hands on the right cable when we need it. Apparently, it is my fault for having too much technology at home.

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Samsung has introduced a new tablet, a new smartphone and a combination of the two – the Galaxy Note – at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

Samsung said the Note represented a new category with its 5.3in HD Super Amoled display, ignoring the fact that Dell has been unsuccessful with a 5in Android device – discontinuing the Dell Streak last month.

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Sony gave us the hard facts on the launch of its first tablets at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin on Wednesday, naming the two models and giving details of pricing and availability.

Sir Howard Stringer, Sony chief executive, said the products – arriving far later than any of its rivals – would take the tablet world to a new level and, in a jibe at the iPad, “prove that it’s not who makes it first that counts, but who makes it better”.

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