Telecoms

Tech news from around the web:

Airbnb, the online service that helps homeowners rent out their houses to holidaymakers, is to strengthen its safety and security guidelines after a customer’s house was vandalised and ransacked by a renter, Techcrunch reports. A statement from chief executive Brian Chesky says the company, which hit a billion-dollar valuation in a recent fundraising, will now beef up its customer support, client education and safety functions. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, believes that a third of check-out terminals in retail stores and restaurants will be upgraded to allow wireless “tap and pay” from mobile phones within the next year.

Such a development will prepare the ground for what he believes will be a “trillion dollar” industry of mobile advertising and payments. Read more

Maija Palmer

mobile walletNow there is another mobile wallet to add to consumer confusion. The UK’s three largest mobile operators, Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere, on Thursday said they had teamed up to create a single platform for making payments by mobile phone. Read more

Maija Palmer

Visa logoThe headlong rush into mobile banking continued on Thursday with Visa announcing two deals in this area. The payments company has bought Fundamo, a South African mobile software company for $110m. It has also signed a 5-year deal with Monitise, a UK company that helps verify mobile banking transactions.

The deals come after last month Google, Mastercard and Citigroup announced plans to launch a “mobile wallet” that could be used at a number of stores in the US. Read more

Maija Palmer

Microsoft phoneMicrosoft’s sneak preview of its latest Windows mobile phone operating system on Tuesday has left the critics bemused. The new software is the first glimpse of what Nokia/Microsoft smartphones might look like when they are launched at the end of this year. It is the first chance to judge whether Microsoft – which has just 3.6 per cent of the market for smartphone operating systems – might be able to challenge Android and Apple. The answer is still a “maybe”. Read more

Maija Palmer

Nokia logoYet another instalment of the story of Nokia’s long slow decline came on Thursday with the new global mobile phone handset figures. Nokia is still the world’s leading handset maker but its market share is now down to 25 per cent, a level last seen in 1997. Read more

Richard Waters

Does it matter that investors in the public markets are missing out on the big early gains in internet stocks? Niklas Zennstrom (of Skype fame) has done his own calculations and tells us that the majority of large-cap, high-growth names in the world today are not traded on any stock market. Read more

pinn

Steve Ballmer became chief executive of Microsoft in January 2000, a few months before a federal judge ordered the company to be broken up on antitrust grounds, because it was too powerful and was extending its grip too widely. This ruling was later reversed and, 11 years later Microsoft remains in one piece, and its size and scope has turned into its weakness.

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Online communications networks have always held a strong business allure. Long before Microsoft alighted on the idea of buying Skype, they were seen as useful tools for supporting and entrenching other businesses.

It may sound almost laughable now, but at the time of AOL’s acquisition of Time Warner, the AOL instant messaging system was talked of as a powerful distribution system for Time Warner’s media properties, and a big reason for the deal.

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Microsoft was in advanced discussions on Monday night about purchasing Skype, the internet telephone company, in what would be one of the US software company’s largest deals so far as it seeks to boost its online operations. Read more

Instant messaging applications for mobile devices, such as BlackBerry Messenger, are becoming so popular that use of text messages by 15-24 year olds will fall by a fifth in many large markets including the UK, analysts predict.

Mobile Youth, a consultancy, forecasts that text, or SMS, volumes will drop by 20 per cent in the next two years in regions including the UK, Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil, where BBM is particularly popular among teenagers and students.

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Joseph Menn

Multiple members of the US Congress fired off letters to Apple this week about reports that iPhones not only store data about their owners whereabouts but leave unencrypted copies of the information on users’ main computers. Read more

Nokia said it had signed a final agreement to team up with Microsoft in the smartphone market as the troubled Finnish handset maker announced a smaller-than-expected drop in first-quarter profits. Read more

Research in Motion’s first BlackBerry tablet is the puzzling PlayBook – a device with great potential but missing many key features when it launches on Tuesday.

It has an appealing design, great screen, powerful processor and easy-to-grasp interface, but, unless you have an accompanying BlackBerry smartphone, there is no access to the familiar corporate email, calendar, contacts and messaging services yet. Much more is missing too, as we found out in  a review (and video first-look) for the Personal Technology column in Friday’s Business Life section of the FT. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

  • Google is working on an overhaul of YouTube to take advantage of the WebTV explosion, the Wall Street Journal reports.  The online company is also planning to spend as much as $100m to commission low-cost content designed exclusively for the web.  Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter says that Google is planning to open an office in Beverly Hills.

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Tech news from around the web:

  • Microsoft is not planning to release any more of its Zune devices, Mashable reports.  The music and media player was launched in November 2006 to take on Apple’s iPod, however sales never came close to beating its rival device. Microsoft now plans to focus on Zune software for smartphones.

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Tech news from around the web:

  • Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, has hinted strongly that there could be cheaper iPhone, according to Business Insider. Speaking to Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, Mr Cook said Apple was doing ‘clever things’ to attack the prepaid market, because he wanted Apple to be ‘for everyone’ not ‘just for the rich’.

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Tech news from around the web:

  • Groupon, owner of the biggest coupon website, has said it has started an online group-buying service in China, Bloomberg reports. The new Gaopeng.com site will initially cover Beijing and Shanghai before expanding to other major Chinese cities.

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Tech news from around the web:

  • Google has announced a new extension to its Chrome web browser that will allow users to block ‘content farms’ – sites with little or low-quality content – from their web searches.  The extension also sends information on the blocked site back to Google, which will then use the feedback in its search rankings.

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Tim Bradshaw

Tonight at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Sony Ericsson has finally unveiled the Xperia Play – colloquially known as the ‘PlayStation phone’ after months of leaks and rumours online. Read more