Tech news from around the web:

China has overtaken the US as the world’s biggest smartphone market by volume in the third quarter, Reuters reports. According to research company Strategy Analytics, smartphone shipments grew 58% to reach 23.9m units in China during the quarter, while US shipments fell 7% from the second quarter to reach 23.3m devices. Read more

Could it finally be time to wave goodbye to passive TV advertising?

A year ago at the Cannes Lions advertising festival, Microsoft demonstrated the first in-game ads to use Kinect, its motion-sensing Xbox 360 controller. It was rudimentary but there was clearly huge potential for advertisers in having a camera, microphone and internet connection plugged into the TV.

This week, back in Cannes, Microsoft took a big step forward to unlocking that potential with “NUads”. Read more

Nintendo Wii U

Touch and gesture have al­ready made gaming more instinctive and now we are about to have gaming from all angles. I have been seeing video games from literally every point of view at the annual E3 trade show ex­travaganza in Los Angeles this week.

There was the depth of 3D as water rushed towards me when a ship’s hold was flooded in Sony’s Uncharted 3. Finger-painting in mid-air in front of the Kinect’s motion-sensing camera produced a hologram-like image on­screen that could be viewed in the round simply by shifting the player’s body position.

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Microsoft kicked off this week’s E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles with its usual eve-of-show press conference, where the emphasis seemed to be on consolidating its place in the living room rather than making any ground-breaking announcements. While Sony is expected to reveal more details on its next-generation portable device coming later this year at the show and Nintendo is due to unveil its successor to the Wii, Microsoft confined itself to touting the success of its Kinect motion controller and revealing new features and games that would take advantage of it. Read more

The relationship between video game developers and their marketing departments is usually akin to a bulletstorm between two warring sides in one of their shoot-em-up titles. Or so Kudo Tsunoda, creative director for Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller, and Danny Bilson, THQ’s head of core games, implied in speeches at the MI6 video game marketing conference on Thursday – while pointing out that the respective successes of Kinect and THQ’s Homefront game have been forged by exceptions to that rule. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

  • Yahoo is looking to allow users to create new accounts using their Google and Facebook identities, reports TechCrunch. This follows a successful trial on Flickr last year, where after Google credentials were allowed to be used, the site saw a 20 per cent increase in sign-ups.
  • The Seattle Times says that Starbucks is to expand its “pay-by-phone” program to 6,800 of its US stores, plus more than 1,000 outlets inside Target outlets, following a trial in Seattle. The coffee company’s cardholders load an application onto their iPhone or BlackBerry smartphones which then displays a barcode that’s scanned at the register to pay for drinks.

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Microsoft appears to be on track to fulfil its prediction of 5m Kinect sales by the end of the year, with its latest update revealing more than 2.5m motion controllers have been sold since its launch 25 days ago.

UPDATE: Sony has followed up with a report of “incredible demand” and sales of 4.1m units of its Move motion  controller since launch in mid-September. Read more

Waving at our televisions is replacing button pushing with the new motion controllers for games consoles from Microsoft and Sony.

The Kinect, launched in Europe this week, and Sony’s Move are inspired by the Wii, but what do they offer that’s better or different from Nintendo’s big success? – a question I sought to answer in the Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section this week. Read more

Microsoft has announced a mixed bag of pricing for its Kinect motion controller and a new version of its Xbox 360.

The low $200 price for a 4-gigabyte version of the Xbox 360 S coming in August may give Microsoft an advantage over Sony and Nintendo in new console sales, but existing Xbox owners may baulk at paying an extra $150 for a Kinect sensor, available from November 4. Read more

The Cannes Lions International Advertising festival is upon us. Once again, agencies, advertisers and tech companies are vying to out-geek each other, to prove they’re on top of the latest digital trends.

Delegates are welcomed to the Palais des Festivals by a giant “touchwall” – a 12-foot by five-foot screen by WPP unit Schematic, showing seminars, 3D maps and other interactive goodies.

SapientNitro – the digital agency which caused a stir last year by buying a traditional agency and scooping several awards for its “best job in the world” campaign for Tourism Queensland – has unveiled what it claims (and who could say otherwise) is the world’s first smile-activated ice-cream van. The van dishes out Unilever treats from Ben & Jerry’s and Wall’s to passers-by in return for a photo of a big grin, which is (inevitably) uploaded to Facebook.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is crowing about its first advertiser to use Kinect, the motion-sensing camera for Xbox 360 that was unveiled at E3 last weekRead more

Microsoft and Sony made major claims for their Kinect and Move motion controllers at the E3 video game trade show this week, but can either hope to emulate the success of Nintendo’s Wii?

This week’s Personal Technology column in the Business Life section of the FT looks at the capabilities of the new entrants. Read more