Greenpeace upgrades Apple on ‘coal-free’ promise

Greenpeace International revisited their rankings of industry leaders in cloud computing to adjust Apple’s score, due in part to Apple’s promise to make its data centers “coal-free” by 2013 and its increasing ambition to power its growing iCloud through 100 percent renewable energy.

In a report released Thursday, the environmental organization upgraded Apple in three of four categories reflecting the company’s commitment to clean energy in its cloud computing facilities. Even with its upgrades, Apple remains near the bottom of the pack, which includes Microsoft, Google, Facebook, IBM, Oracle and others.

In May, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer announced plans for implementing renewable energy at the company’s three current data centers by 2013, and Apple’s new data center in Reno, Nevada, will have access to many renewable energy options, according to the Greenpeace report.

However, the Cupertino-based maker of the iPhone and iPad has not instituted an infrastructure siting policy, like that of Facebook, that would express a commitment to building data centers in areas with an established clean energy grid, said David Pomerantz, a spokesman for Greenpeace International.

Pomerantz also said Apple struggles in the category of transparency because it is “famously tight-lipped” about information about its practices. Beyond the company’s goals, Apple releases little detail on the specifics of its renewable energy practices, he said.

Fortune 500 executives behind on social networking

With more than half of the U.S. public on Facebook and more than 200 million tweets sent each day (about 30 percent from the U.S.), American life is continuing to enmesh itself with social networks. But for the CEOs of the top 500 U.S. companies, social networking is a small — if existent — piece of successful living.

In a report released Thursday by Domo and, the online presence of Fortune 500 companies’ top executives was compared to that of the general public, revealing that less than 30 percent have at least one profile on social networks. The vast majority have none.

Some of these accounts sit inactive — five of the 19 CEOs on Twitter have never tweeted — while others seem underutilized — 25 of the 38 CEOs on Facebook have less than 100 friends. The only social network that these executives outdo the U.S. public on is LinkedIn, the “world’s largest professional network.”

Viacom drags online video into DirecTV dispute

Stephen Colbert looks nonplussed. (Photo: Reuters)

Just as we were getting prepared for the latest round in the increasingly vicious battles between programmers and TV distributors, the Viacom fight with DirecTV took a new twist.

For the first time we can recall, the fight was extended to Viacom’s freely available shows online. The owner of MTV, Comedy Central, BET and many more decided that in order to properly enforce its blackout of TV shows from DirecTV it would “slim down” its Web offerings by blocking the latest episodes of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” These shows are usually available for free soon after airing on TV.

One issue might be that, to date, Viacom shows are ‘free’ in the true sense in that they do not require the online viewer to have a cable or satellite subscription — something that News Corp’s Fox has done. The idea is that you can watch these shows at no extra charge if you can “authenticate” yourself as a paying cable subscriber.

Rovio set to launch its next mobile game “Amazing Alex”

There won’t be birds, eggs and green pigs but Rovio is all set to release its next new franchise after a hugely successful run with “Angry Birds.” “Amazing Alex,” a physics-themed puzzle game, is coming to iOS and Android devices July 12.

The trailer released by Rovio shows a little blonde boy experimenting with a Rube Goldberg-like machine. The game will have 100 levels and players can build their own.

The Finnish mobile game maker’s new game is a revamped version of “Casey’s Contraptions,” an IP it acquired in May from developers Mystery Coconut and Snappy Touch. The original “Casey’s Contraptions” game was available on the App store.

Sun Valley Day 2: Moguls in the wild

The business elite who make the annual pilgrimage to Allen & Co’s media and tech conference in Idaho every summer make time for leisurely pursuits between meetings. On Wednesday, we spotted Xerox CEO Ursula Burns returning from a tennis match carrying a racket , while Zynga’s CEO Mark Pincus was headed for a bike ride with venture capitalist Bing Gordon and Scripps Networks’ CEO Ken Lowe was on his way to play golf.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, sported a backpack, which made him look like he was going day hiking, but really, he was just going for a coffee with Netscape founder-turned-VC Marc Andreessen and his wife, Laura, pictured here.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, wasn’t seen doing any activities on Wednesday but after meeting Akamai CEO Paul Sagan, he did take a brisk walk alone from Sun Valley’s coffee shop to the main lodge, carrying an iPad.

Sun Valley Day 1: As moguls roll in, let the shmooze-fest begin


Disney CEO Bob Iger arriving at Allen & Co conference, Sun Valley, Idaho

On the first day of the mogul fest, the parade of arrivals on the steps of the Sun Valley lodge did not disappoint. Disney CEO Bob Iger smiled for the cameras while later, Warren Buffett stayed in his car while someone checked in for him.

Some of the braver execs who approached the media were Discovery CEO David Zaslav who, for the second year in a row  talked up Oprah Winfrey’s struggling OWN network and said Oprah herself would be landing in Idaho soon to attend the event organized by investment bank Allen &  Co.

“OWN”s looking great really showing a lot of growth, growth in day time, growth in prime time. Oprah is coming. She’s going to be here,” said Zaslav to the journalist scrum. “The network is making a ton of progress.”

The whole world is going to play together: Zynga founder

“Do you want to play Atari?”

Mark Pincus is sharing an inscription from his high school yearbook with a roomful of journalists at his company Zynga’s San Francisco headquarters.

The purpose of this event, called Zynga Unleashed, is to reveal the roadmap of one of Silicon Valley’s fastest growing companies – but right now Pincus is looking back.

“I spent my youth trying to get everyone around me to play games,” he continues. “But somewhere between high school in my first job, games stopped happening. I think that video games were too complicated for the people around me and I couldn’t rationalize sitting and playing alone.”

Ouya: A hackable, $99 gaming console is in the works

Innovative games on mobiles and tablets are the rage these days as console makers and traditional video game publishers scramble to keep gamers hooked. But a new startup is embracing the openness of mobile and Internet platforms and developing Ouya, a $99 gaming console for the television with software and hardware that is designed to be hacked.

The Android-based console is being built by a project founded by Julie Uhrman, a former executive at video game website IGN. Microsoft Xbox veteran Ed Fries is an advisor and Yves Behar of design firm Fuseproject will design the console. The device will include a controller with a touch pad and a free software development kit.

“The current console market is closed, it’s expensive to develop and it’s expensive to buy games. And we really wanted to turn that idea on its head by creating an open game console where it was inexpensive and affordable for gamers both on console side and game side.” Uhrman said.

Adele close to the unheard of: 10 million albums sold

Adele and all those Grammys (Photo: Reuters)

Adele, the soulful British songstress, has broken all kinds of records with her hugely successful sophomore album ’21′ since it was released in the US in Feb 2011. The album, which picked up 6 Grammys this year,  was by far and away the biggest selling album of last year with 5.8 million copies sold. And in 2012, at the halfway mark, despite endless plays in supermarkets, gyms and your dentist’s waiting room, it’s still burning up cash registers, moving another 3.7 million units through the end of June, or more than four times the next best-selling album (Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee in case you wondered).

Combined, “21” has sold 9.5 million copies in 15 months, putting it just 500,000 copies shy of the magical 10 million-mark. That’s unheard of in today’s music business. To put that figure in perspective, consider that the most recent album to cross the 10 million sales threshold was Usher’s “Confession,” which only broke that barrier this year. “Confessions” was released eight years ago, in 2004!

In fact, overall album sales for the first half of 2012 were down 3.2 percent, according to Nielsen Soundscan, as fans buy fewer and fewer albums — probably in favor of streaming and other forms of entertainment away from music.

Protecting Twitter from its own hubris

Twitter created a bit of a stir late last week by cutting off LinkedIn. Ostensibly this was to project a consistent look and feel for tweets as the company adds features like threaded conversations, which LinkedIn didn’t convey. People who have accounts on both services will no longer have their tweets appear on their LinkedIn profile pages. It’s hard to know how much these updates will be missed on the business-minded network, which distinguishes itself by hosting a more focused conversation than “anything goes” Twitter. But the practical effect is that if you want to be heard in both places you’ll have to repeat yourself, unless you choose to do all your updates from LinkedIn, which still feeds one way to Twitter. More likely, you won’t because it’s too much of a bother.

Bad for LinkedIn. Much worse for Twitter.

Twitter’s ability to pipe in to other networks is a big reason for its popularity, and in doing so it has aggrandized other networks. All this has been, to the outside observer, symbiotic: People like to share their tweets everywhere they hang out; networks benefit from all that chatter and Twitter gets its hooks into everything.

In cutting off LinkedIn, Twitter doesn’t seem to be adopting the “first taste is free” business model it has previously practiced. That’s what creates addicts who can then be charged through the nose. Now Twitter seems to be calculating that isolationism is a shrewd business strategy, that it has less to lose by pulling back on sharing agreements than the networks it drops.