Quietly brilliant. The pithy two-word slogan of Taiwan’s HTC could readily sum up the company’s recent performance.  Read more

Tech news from around the web:

  • Warner Brothers is claiming to be the first film studio to offer movies for rent via Facebook, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Friends of Christopher Nolan’s Batman film Dark Knight can rent the film by going to the film’s Facebook page and clicking a “rent” icon. The cost per rental is 30 Facebook Credits, or $3, and viewers will have 48 hours from the purchase to watch the film.

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So Stephen Elop has taken the plunge. The chief executive of Nokia has just announced a “broad strategic” tie-up with Microsoft on phones and said it would make Windows its main smartphone operating system.

It’s a bold move for the Canadian and investors haven’t greeted the news that well. Shares were down as much 12 per cent in early morning trade. Read more

A leaked memo supposedly written by Nokia’s chief executive has delivered a blunt assessment of the company’s predicament, likening it to a man standing on a “burning platform”, torn between burning alive and drowning in icy waters, and saying the mobile phone maker must embrace a “radical change in behaviour” if it is to survive. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

  • Microsoft says it is still considering whether to offer Office on Apple’s App store for its Mac computers, says AllThingsDigital.
  • Mashable reports that the Motion Picture Association of America, working with Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, has cracked down on the file-sharing of pirated films and TV programmes by shutting down 12 “torrent” websites in the US and at least 39 sites abroad by filing copyright violation complaints with the sites’ hosting providers. 

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Tech news from around the web:

  • Facebook has booked $1.86bn in worldwide advertising revenue for 2010 – an 86 per cent  increase over the estimated 2009 advertising revenue of $740m, according to Advertising Age. The majority of these bookings come from outside the US and from small and medium-sized companies.
  • Gizmodo claims it has a basic sketch of the next-generation iPad. New features include cameras on the front and back of the tablet, which points to a FaceTime facility; a high-resolution Retina display; and a slot for SD memory cards.

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Nokia’s N8 smartphone takes gorgeous panoramic pictures, but its Symbian ^3 interface is cramped, cluttered and hard to navigate.

In this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section, I reviewed the flagship smartphone and assessed how it might fare against the latest Android and Windows Phone 7 rivalsRead more

First impressions of Nokia’s new N8 handset are impressive build quality, best camera I’ve experienced on a smartphone and a big improvement in the operating system with the introduction of Symbian ^3.

I plan a full review in the Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section shortly, but, in the meantime, more on the N8 in an interview after the jump with Tero Ojanperä, head of Nokia’s mobile services, who handed me an N8 review unit on its first day of shipping on Thursday. Read more

Intel and Nokia have announced the University of Oulu in Finland, which has expertise in 3D interfaces, will be the home of their first joint research lab.

The news is an indication of progress on software in the partnership announced in June last year between the biggest chipmaker and handset maker, but there remains no evidence yet of the exciting new hardware that was promised. Read more

Nokia has been showing off its latest response to the iPhone, the N8, in London today.

It’s the first device running the new Symbian ^3 operating system, and although it isn’t out until the third quarter of this year, Nokia is clearly hoping that a preview of a few prototypes will make people think twice before locking themselves into a two-year contract with the iPhone 4.

On first impressions, the N8 is a sturdier competitor than its predecessor, the N97Read more

Yahoo chief executive Carol Bartz will announce a partnership Monday with Nokia that will put Yahoo search, email and other functions in the hands of at least some customers of the world’s biggest–for now–smartphone maker.

That was the bare-bones report filed today by All Things Digital, and FT colleague Andrew Ward and I have confirmed it, without getting much more in the way of details. Read more

Nokia‘s latest restructuring, announced yesterday, is just one aspect of its many-fronted smartphone war.

As Nokia’s senior vice president of design and user experience, Marko Ahtisaari is the man charged with leading the software and hardware designers who must craft the challenger to the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices that the Finns have so far lacked. Read more

Nokia and Symbian appear to have finally come up with a respectable response to smartphone competition from Apple and Android in the shape of the N8, announced on Tuesday.

The handset is the first to adopt Symbian’s latest ^3 operating system and will be available in the third quarter in “select markets”. Read more

With talk swirling that floundering handset maker Palm is looking for a buyer, the FT’s Lex column assesses the likelihood of a deal:

As for the price-tag, Palm’s enterprise value is about $950m but if Palm’s biggest investor Elevation insists on breaking even, Barclays Capital reckons a bidder would have to offer between $1.2bn and $1.5bn. That is in reach of Chinese computer-maker Lenovo, one of the rumoured interested parties. For Nokia, also an oft-mooted acquirer, it would represent about a quarter of its annual spending on research and development.

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Ray Davies was not talking about personal technology when he sang: “It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world,” in the Kinks hit. But he might as well have been

Dell is going into smartphones, Google is getting into operating systems and Nokia, the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer, has launched a classy netbook, the Booklet 3G. This is, in fact, a re-entry into the PC market for Nokia. In the 1980s the Finnish company produced a range of desktops called MikroMikko, but left the PC market when it sold the Nokia Data business to Britain’s ICL in 1991. Read more

Nokia has acquired Dopplr, an online community of frequent travellers, giving an early payday for the site’s large group of high-profile backers.

The acquisition is part of Nokia’s plan to create a comprehensive set of services for its mobile devices, including maps, music and gaming.

Dopplr – whose tagline is “where next?” – allows its members to indicate to chosen contacts where they are travelling to. Read more

Starbucks unveiled a first-of-its-kind app today that lets users pay for in-store purchases using their iPhone, a move that could pave the way for a new generation of e-commerce applications on Apple’s popular phone.

With the Starbucks Card Mobile App, users can sync their prepaid Starbucks Card with the app, check their balance and refill it using a credit card. At some stores, they can also use the app to pay for Venti coffees and Frappuccinos.

When users select the “payment trial” function on the app, a QR code appears on the iPhone screen. A barista then scans the iPhone, deducting the cost from the Starbucks Card balance, and completing the purchase.

The trial is being rolled out at 16 locations in Seattle and Silicon Valley, where there is high usage of both iPhones and Starbucks Cards. But expect the programme to go nationwide soon, and for other retailers to follow. Read more, the  service we highlighted as competing to be your cell phone’s “social address book”, has also launched a Web “TV” version today. lets users record four-second video status updates and these are now being streamed in channel-like themes, several of them started by Justin Timberlake, its pop-star lead investor. Read more

Yesterday Microsoft and Nokia announced an alliance meant to challenge Research in Motion’s lead in the corporate mobile phone market. The FT’s Lex column writes that “the battle is hotting up because this year the smartphone market is the only game in town.”

Shipments of phones that allow web surfing, e-mail and run other popular software applications rose 27 per cent in the second quarter – while overall handset sales remain on track for their first full-year decline. Even during the recession, consumers are abandoning dumb phones when, for just a little more money, they can get a pocket-sized computer instead.

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Augmented reality is a many-rendered thing, a buzz phrase augmented itself by an expanding definition. Some technology applications don’t really seem to fit the description as they jump on the bandwagon.

Take Mattel’s announcement of “augmented-reality technology” being included in its toys at this week’s Comic-Con show in San DiegoRead more