Richard Waters

There was plenty of self-congratulation going on between Twitter and its advisers on Thursday. They had just avoided a repeat of the messy Facebook IPO: Twitter is officially the new darling of Wall Street.

But did they err in the other direction instead and massively under-price the offering? Read more

Richard Waters

Helpouts is just the kind of big, ambitious project Google should be working on. A marketplace for people to sell – or just donate – their knowledge and expertise through live video sessions, it’s an all-embracing platform covering everything from the simplest how-to advice to full, personalised masterclasses.

So why does it feel like a re-run of Knol, the crowd-sourced Google knowledge base that was closed in 2012 after a four-year run? Read more

Richard Waters

Google is constantly on the receiving end of patent lawsuits: its last annual report listed challenges to 13 of its services, including Android, YouTube and Chrome.

But when a claim comes along that’s aimed squarely at AdWords, the money-minting machine on which its entire fortune rests, it has a way of grabbing the attention – particularly when the case is launched by a consortium of tech companies that include Microsoft and Apple. Read more

The three-year Brussels probe into Google’s search business seems to be meandering towards a thundering anticlimax. With every legal twist, revised settlement offer and procedural shuffle, the case is losing the zip that made it a cause célèbre in the antitrust world. The opposing camps, meanwhile, appear ever more entrenched and polarised. Nobody is satisfied.

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Richard Waters

How much is Google prepared to spend as it searches for a breakthrough in the mobile handset business?

That question is prompted by the latest wacky-sounding ideas to come out of its Motorola division. Building-block smartphones? A vanity animation project to invent a whole new entertainment form for mobile? Read more

Richard Waters

Apple may have beaten Wall Street’s revenue and profit expectations with its latest quarterly earnings on Monday, but the market’s skittishness about the durability of its profit margins was much in evidence. Earnings guidance, on the face of it, seemed to point to steady margin erosion in the coming months. But Apple was able to silence the doubters – for this quarter, at least.

Read on for details of the earnings and our coverage of the earnings call as it happened.

 

Richard Waters

Step into the San Francisco offices of Climate Corporation, and the first thing you see is a giant suspended globe. It is a dramatic representation of the power of big data: cloud formations move across it in real time, attesting to the level of detail with which the company captures and models weather information.

Now, with Climate Corp’s sale to Monsanto for an up-front payment of $930m (with more cash set aside for staff retention), the big data business has its first significant acquisition, and an important vindication for those who argue that data analytics is becoming a competitive differentiator. Read more

Richard Waters

First, for Google’s opponents, let’s look on the bright side.

The company’s tentative deal with European regulators in April to head off a formal anti-trust complaint was, according to critics, worse than useless. In the words of Silicon Valley lawyer Gary Reback: “They were Nowheresville”.

Tuesday’s revised deal at least fixes the most glaring flaws. Whether it will do anything meaningful to change the competitive situation is another matter. Read more

Richard Waters

Wednesday will be a big day in the life of Lawrence J Ellison, co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle, multi-billionaire, defending champion of the America’s Cup and head of Oracle Team USA.

It will also present an interesting test of where his true allegiances lie. As the boat he bankrolled with tens of millions of dollars faces defeat, will he choose to front Oracle’s quarterly earnings call or be out on San Francisco bay? Read more

Richard Waters

CEO Tim Cook sought to dispel Wall Street’s worries about falling profit margins, as Apple reported a jump in sales of older iPhone models to the emerging world. He also tried to shrug off a surprise 43 per cent sequential drop in revenues from China as a one-quarter blip that would have no bearing on huge growth still to come there.

Our live blog of Apple’s third fiscal quarter earnings call as it unfolded is after the jump.

 

Richard Waters

You’re wearing Google Glass. A stranger walks past in a T-shirt emblazoned with a QR code. Suddenly, your world changes: images you didn’t expect start appearing on the tiny Glass screen above your eye. It quickly becomes clear that someone has taken complete control of your eyewear. Read more

Richard Waters

Daphne Koller, one the founders of Coursera, makes no bones about the global ambition of her online higher education start-up. Thanks to huge interest in moocs (masssive open online courses) in countries like the US and UK, she says, there’s “an incredible opportunity opening up for us” to get big fast.

So why wait years to go global when investors are queuing up to push the money into your hands right now? 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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Richard Waters

A redesigned iOS was the centrepiece of Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco on Monday, as CEO Tim Cook and other company executives sought to hit back at Google’s Android and prove that Apple has not lost its innovative edge.

Designer-in-chief Sir Jonathan Ive appeared only by video to talk about the new flatter, sleeker look that Apple called the most important redesign since the birth of the iPhone. Also as expected: new Macbook Airs and an iRadio music streaming service.

See below for our liveblog of the event as it unfolded.

 

Richard Waters

Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook took the hot seat on Tuesday morning in Washington to answer questions about a tax planning strategy that has enabled it to avoid billions of dollars of taxes.

Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate investigations committee, set the tone with his opening remarks, noting that just in 2012, Apple had exploited tax loopholes allowing it to avoid $9bn in US taxes. Such practices, he said, did “real harm” to the US economy, disadvantaging domestic companies that don’t make use of “tax gimmicks”.

You can watch the hearing here, read Mr Cook’s written testimony here and read the Senate committee’s report on Apple’s tax structure here.

 

Richard Waters

The US may be moving only slowly towards opening up its airspace to commercial drones, but a market for unmanned aerial vehicles is already emerging rapidly elsewhere. Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures are the latest to jump in, with a $10.7m investment in drone technology company Airware. Read more

How profoundly will the new computing platform loosely known as “the cloud” disrupt the business software empires of companies like SAP and Oracle?

SAP went on the offensive this week, with the news that it would start running software for its customers in its own data centres. Hasso Plattner, SAP’s chairman and the man with the best claim to the title of Europe’s software visionary, called it the biggest thing from the German company since its flagship business applications software put it on the map 20 years ago.

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Richard Waters

Why you would click a button labelled “start” to turn something off has never been entirely clear.

But for hundreds of millions of PC users, the start button in the bottom left corner of the Windows screen has been an invaluable navigation tool – which is why Microsoft looks to be on the verge of reversing course over Windows 8 and bringing it back. 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

Richard Waters

A new technology platform needs new apps. And new apps need funding.

So it is that two of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture capital firms – Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz – have got together with Google Ventures to offer money to developers working on ideas for Google Glass. According to Kleiner partner John Doerr, this “goes well beyond the the world of websites, documents and mobile apps”. Read more