MediaFile

Tech wrap: A page from Larry’s book

Google co-founder Larry Page is seen at the Sun Valley Inn in Sun Valley, Idaho in this July 8, 2010 file photograph. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni/FilesGoogle’s Larry Page took the reins after a decade of “adult supervision” for Google under Eric Schmidt, as the outgoing CEO called it. The switch comes as mobile gadgets are redefining the way people use the Internet and Google’s main ad business is under threat from fast-growing upstarts such as Facebook and Groupon. Page has yet to make his battle plan public, but industry insiders and analysts expect he will try to shore up Google’s strength in search and mobile while breaking into a red-hot social networking market that has eluded his company.

Google bid $900 million in a “stalking horse” auction for the acquisition of bankrupt Nortel Network’s patent portfolio, in an effort to fight a growing wireless patent war against well-armed mobile superpowers. The company has pushed its Android mobile phone software to the top of the wireless heap, attracting litigation in the process.

Hackers fully cracked Apple’s latest iPhone OS update, according to Redmond Pie. The iOS 4.3.1 jailbreak supports all iOS devices except the iPad 2. Jailbreaking allows users to run apps unsanctioned by Apple and tweak their iPhones, but voids the devices’ warranty.

Online radio service Pandora said it had been subpoenaed by a Federal grand jury investigating the use of customer data by certain popular applications that run on mobile platforms of Apple and Google.

With about 19 months to go until the 2012 presidential election, President Obama launched his reelection campaign with a YouTube video, an email blast and targeted texts, writes Mashable’s Todd Wasserman.

Tech wrap: Print publisher bets the ranch on apps

Nicholas Callaway, (R) founder of Callaway Digital Arts poses with members of his staff as they hold Apple Ipads displaying Ipad apps that they helped created and publish at the company's headquarters in lower Manhattan during an interview with Reuters in New York, in this picture taken March 7, 2011.Successful childrens’ books publisher Nicholas Callaway believes paper is dead and that digital has come of age, writes Mark Egan. But Callaway isn’t worried that big publishing houses will eat his lunch. “They don’t understand the new medium, they don’t have the rights, they don’t know how to create the product and they don’t know how to get it out to the world,” Callaway told Egan. January e-book sales more than doubled from the same month a year earlier, rising 116 percent to $69.9 million, according to the Association of American Publishers. That topped sales of hardcover books, which fell 11 percent from January 2010 to $49.1 million.

Google will probably have to make some changes to how it does business as a result of antitrust scrutiny, in return for the ability to protect what it regards as its necessary freedom to innovate, writes Steve Lohr of The New York Times.

With all of the buzz around Google and privacy, is it any surprise that the company’s efforts to develop a mobile app that will identify people’s faces in order to access their personal information have stalled?  Experts say the novelty of a face recognition app may help attract early adopters. But policies would need to be uncomplicated and straightforward to keep users from abandoning it over privacy concerns, writes CNN’s Mark Milian.

Tech wrap: Microsoft cries foul

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer addresses a news conference in the northern German town of Hanover March 3, 2008. REUTERS/Christian CharisiusThe hunted became the hunter when Microsoft filed its first-ever complaint to antitrust regulators, claiming that Google thwarts Internet search competition. Thomas Vinje, who led a coalition that won EU fines against Microsoft said the software maker “has learned from its own unpleasant experiences how to cause maximum disruption for its competitors via competition law”. Google controls over 90 percent of the Internet search advertising market in Europe, well ahead of Microsoft’s Bing. And browsers such as Firefox and Google’s Chrome have eaten away at the market lead by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Google is tightening control over its “open” Android operating system to reduce fragmentation and restrict additional partnerships that it doesn’t understand, Bloomberg’s Ashlee Vance and Peter Burrows writes. Google says its procedures are about quality control, early bug fixes, and building toward a “common denominator” experience, Vance and Burows add.

Small-budget film producers have nearly perfected a slick, courtroom-based business strategy that’s targeted suspected movie downloaders, writes Wired’s David Kravets. One lawsuit alleged 5,865 illegal downloads of the film Nude Nuns With Big Guns, asking a federal judge to order ISPs to dig into customers’ records for names. It was the first step in a process that could lead to each defendant receiving a letter suggesting they settle the case, lest they wind up named in a public lawsuit having downloaded Nude Nuns With Big Guns, Kravets adds. 

Tech wrap: Google +1 = happier advertisers

An image detailing Google's new "+1" feature as screen grabbed from www.google.com/experimental.  REUTERS/Google/HandoutGoogle launched “+1″, its version of Facebook’s “like” button, enabling you to publicly share search results that you fancy with friends, the Web and advertisers. Google found that including +1 recommendations on ads boosted the rates at which people click on them. Eventually, Google plans to let third-party websites feature +1 buttons directly on their own pages, the company said. The ability to +1 ads and for that endorsment to appear on ads on websites other than Google’s is key, writes TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, and another volley fired in the war between Google and Facebook.

Google agreed to have independent privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years as part of a settlement with FTC officials investigating privacy problems that cropped up in its botched roll-out of social network Buzz. Buzz initially used its Gmail customers’ email contact lists to create social networks of Buzz contacts that the rest of the world could see, which led to an uproar.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson disputed the commonly held belief that consumer bills would rise if there were fewer competitors in the U.S. wireless market, referring to a government report that showed prices on average fell 50 percent over the last decade despite five wireless mergers over the period.

Tech wrap: Amazon’s storm cloud

People sit in Washington Square Park at New York University in New York, October 21, 2009.Amazon.com faced a backlash from the music industry after it introduced Cloud Drive, an online “music locker” that lets customers store music files on the company’s Web servers instead of their own hard drives and play them over an Internet connection directly from browsers and on phones running Google’s Android OS. Sony Music was upset by Amazon’s decision to launch the service without new licenses for music streaming.

Amazon’s Cloud Drive “is an amazing value and pretty easy to use”, but won’t kill rival Dropbox just yet, Business Insider’s Steve Kooch wrote. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Kafka thinks Amazon’s cloud move isn’t earth shattering and “if you’re a music lover looking for a paradigm shift in the way you consume tunes, this won’t be it”.

Mozilla released its Firefox 4 Internet browser for Android phones, which allows desktop users to synchronize their history, bookmarks, tabs and passwords, according to Mozilla.

Tech wrap: Amazon vs eBay…fight!

A photograph of a computer screen showing the website eBay is shown in Encinitas, California April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mike BlakeEBay said it will buy e-commerce service provider GSI Commerce for $1.96 billion in cash to build up its online marketplaces, as it ramps up its battle with Amazon.com. GSI is attractive to eBay because of its expertise in taking customer orders, managing them and filling them, which also happens to be an area of strength for Amazon. GSI, which owns Web businesses such as Rue La La and ShopRunner, also provides retailers such as Aeropostale and TJX’s Marshalls chains with technology, payment processing and customer care services for their e-commerce sites.

There will be no iPhone 5 announcement at Apple’s 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference in June, according to The Wall Street Journal’s John Paczkowski. Instead, we should expect a software event, Paczkowski writes, quoting an Apple’s WWDC press release: “If you are an iOS or Mac OS X software developer, this is the event that you do not want to miss.” He goes on to speculate that the delay may be due to Apple timing the release of  a 4G LTE-compatible iPhone 5 with AT&T’s expected roll-out of its 4G LTE networks mid year.

Apple “piled another brick onto the ramparts of its walled garden,” only considering apps that are sold through the Mac App Store for this year’s Apple Design Awards, The Register’s Rik Myslewski writes. “This move makes it clear that Apple is enforcing a two-tiered status for Mac OS X apps: those it allows into the store, and those that remain outside it,” Myslewski adds.

Tech wrap: Retailers’ wake-up call

Shoppers pay for merchandise at the Macy's department store in New York October 8, 2009. REUTERS/Mike SegarRetailers risk losing the majority of mobile device users unless they make mobile shopping easier and more engaging, writes Jessica Woh. While 89.7 percent of Americans aged 18 to 64 have mobile phones, only 49.1 percent use their phones to shop, according to marketing service Arc Worldwide. Consumers who use mobile phones to shop are able to compare prices on the go and are seen as less likely to make impulse buy, Woh adds.

Apple’s iPad 2 went on sale in 25 countries outside of the United States. But if you’re traveling abroad and price is your main consideration, you’ll want to wait until you get home to buy one. In the U.S., you’ll pay $499 for the base model– with 16 gigabytes of storage and Wi-Fi only connectivity — while the same model in Denmark will set you back the equivalent of $702.

What the RIM PlayBook’s ability to run Android apps really means is akin to a Mac running Windows via a virtual machine, writes Business Insider’s Dan Frommer. The upcoming PlayBook tablet will only support apps for the Android 2.3 operating system and not 3.0, which was designed for tablets. RIM made the announcement so “it will able to say that the PlayBook can technically support tens of thousands of Android apps”, Frommer added.

Tech wrap: Ripe BlackBerry not sweet enough

A man looks at a BlackBerry product display in a shop at a mobile and computer shopping complex in northern Tehran January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi Research In Motion’s quarterly net profit jumped 32 percent, boosted by strong global BlackBerry smartphone sales. But a weaker-than-expected outlook as it spent heavily on the launch of its PlayBook tablet next month, sent RIM’s shares tumbling after the bell.

Facebook is testing a real-time ad targeting system that relates your user profile to words that you form as you type them, according to AdAge’s Irina Slutsky. For example, “users who update their status with ‘Mmm, I could go for some pizza tonight’, could get an ad or a coupon from Domino’s, Papa John’s or Pizza Hut”, she writes.

The hungry masses are gobbling up Apple’s iPads mainly because of the approachable touchscreen interface, writes Wired’s Brian X. Chen. Web browsing topped the responses to a casual poll by Wired asking “What do you do with your iPad?”, matching the result of a study by NPD Group last year, Chen adds. Reading and social networking followed browsing in the Wired poll. A minority used the iPad for special purposes such as recording music, writing poetry and teaching in class from book notes.

Tech wrap: OS X daddy waves goodbye

A combination of file photos shows Bertrand Serlet, senior vice president of OSX software at Apple Inc, (L) and Craig Federighi, vice president of Mac OS at Apple Inc (R) speaking at the Apple Inc's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 8, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/FilesApple said top software engineer Bertrand Serlet will leave the Mac computer maker after more than a decade spent developing its signature operating system, Mac OS X. Craig Federighi, currently the vice president of Mac Software Engineering, will take over from Serlet and report to CEO Steve Jobs, Apple said in a statement.

Yahoo refreshed its Internet search service, showcasing information from movie listings to weather forecasts as queries are entered. The Internet portal said that its Search Direct service will be available in the U.S. today on its main search Web page, and will gradually expand to the other parts of Yahoo, including the home page.

Nokia said it won’t begin talks on deep job cuts until the end of April. Analysts said the relatively long gap before talks kick-off could be because the final deal with Microsoft is yet to be signed, while Nokia might also want to delay any announcement on cuts until after Finland’s general elections on April 17.

Tech wrap: Amazon offers Android apps, gets sued by Apple

A demonstrator plays a racing game on an Android-based Motorola Atrix smartphone during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 6, 2011. REUTERS/Steve MarcusAmazon.com opened its store for Google Android smartphone applications, ratcheting up its fight with Apple after the iPhone maker sued Amazon in a bid to stop the online retailer from improperly using its App Store trademark.

A New York court rejected a class action settlement hammered out between Google and publishers that would allow the Web search leader to scan millions of books and sell them online.

U.S. wireless operators will have to pay higher subsidies for cellphones as they come with more features, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse said during a chief executive panel at the annual CTIA wireless industry conference.