MediaFile

Nvidia to Apple: thanks for the backhanded compliment

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Nvidia got some free publicity from Apple today. Well, sort of.

On Wednesday, its crosstown peer flashed a slide at the new iPad’s unveiling, briefly claiming that Apple’s A5X processor packed four times the graphics punch of Nvidia’s own next-generation Tegra 3. Nvidia product spokesman Ken Brown’s phone has been ringing off the hook since.

“People noticed. When Apple calls out your processor as the one to beat, it gets attention. We’ve gotten some questions about it,” he said.

“It almost looks like it’s a two-horse race between Apple and Tegra,” he added, deftly framing things in the best possible light for Nvidia.

The A5X chip boasts quad-core graphics and is twice as fast as the IPad 2, Apple claims.

For a company whose core business is not chips, Apple’s processors so far have more than held their own against processors used in other tablets. But precisely how it matches up against Nvidia or othe competing silicon has yet to be empirically and independently tested.

Boohoo for Yahoo

Yahoo is taking on Facebook — but it’s not vying for the hearts and minds of the Internet cool kids. It’s for licensing fees over some patents. This is not how it was supposed to be.

No, I’m not naive. But I am a bit of a romantic. Thing is, I remember when Yahoo was an upstart with two crazy awkward college kids who came up with something that the search giants of the time — Lycos and Alta Vista — could not withstand. Yahoo’s scrappiness was part of a long tradition of Silicon Valley startups that came before (and would come after). Like Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the elder statesmen of Silicon Valley who began their iconic company in a now iconic garage, Jerry Yang and David Filo started with nothing but an idea in a dorm room and changed everything. Yahoo’s blazing success in search and (the now-quaint notion of) cataloging the Web begs comparison to two other crazy awkward college kids who started a search engine. That search engine, of course, killed Yahoo. It had an equally kooky name — Google.

Now Yahoo, as part of its effort remake itself after a decade of decline, is said to be wielding a new weapon: a patent trove. The stellar DealBook blog of the New York Times, which first reported this story, couldn’t get anyone to disclose the particulars, but it quotes “people briefed on the matter” as saying Yahoo is threatening lawsuits and is in the midst of negotiations with a pretty big fish. “Yahoo is seeking to force Facebook into licensing 10 to 20 patents over technologies that include advertising, the personalization of Web sites, social networking and messaging,” DealBook reports.

Sony’s case of iPad 3 launch envy

Sony, in a bout of bad timing, is hosting an event on March 7 in San Francisco for tech reporters at the same time as Apple’s reported iPad 3 unveiling and the Japanese conglomerate wants to make sure it won’t get ditched.

Sony, which some people consider to be the “Apple of the ’80s”, sent out a helpful e-mail on Tuesday informing invited members of the press of the scheduling conflict without mentioning the world’s most valuable tech company. 

The email said:

Another press event invitation went out today which conflicts with the Sony roundtable on March 7.
Please confirm if you are still available to join the Sony event.    

Google’s unhealthy cookie habit

Google got its hand caught in the cookie jar last week — and this time it really does have some explaining to do.

The search giant, which derives some 97 percent of its revenues from advertising, thought it would be all right to circumvent some protections incorporated into Apple’s Safari browser so that it could better target its ads. By intentionally bypassing the default privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser — and, as Microsoft has now asserted, Internet Explorer — Google has decided for all of us that our Web activity will be more closely tracked. They opted us in, without asking. And without a way for us to opt out. (We didn’t even know about it until the Wall Street Journal blew the lid off this last Thursday.)

On the merits, this is a pretty big deal. A class action has already been filed, and an FTC probe is almost certain. That the no-tracking settings were circumvented (and secretly) makes it easier to infer that even Google worried it might be touching a third rail. It says it wasn’t, that its intent was only to discern whether Google users were logged into Google services and that the enabling of advertising cookies was inadvertent.

Tech wrap: Google bypassed Safari privacy settings

Google landed in hot water over revelations that the search giant and ad companies had bypassed the privacy settings of millions of people using Apple’s Safari Web browser, using special computer code that tracked their movements online. Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer discovered the code. Subsequently, a technical adviser to the Wall Street Journal found that ads on 22 of the top 100 websites installed the Google tracking code on a test computer, and ads on 23 sites installed it on an iPhone browser. Google disabled the code after being contacted by the Journal, the newspaper said, and Google issued a statement, saying: “The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”

Apple’s share of China’s booming smartphone market slipped for a second straight quarter in October-December, as it lost ground to cheaper local brands and as some shoppers held off until after the iPhone 4S launch last month. While Apple regained its top spot as the world’s largest smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter and for last year as a whole, it slipped to 5th place in China. In the last quarter, Samsung knocked Nokia off the top slot, taking 24.3 percent of the market, more than three times Apple’s share, data from research firm Gartner showed.

A British student, who hacked into Facebook’s internal network risking “disastrous” consequences for the website, was jailed for eight months in what prosecutors described as the most serious case of its kind they had seen. Glenn Mangham, 26, a software development student, admitted infiltrating Facebook from his bedroom at his parents’ house in York in northern England last year, sparking fears at the company that it was dealing with major industrial espionage.

Tech wrap: Apple teases “Mountain Lion”

Apple released details on the successor to its “Lion” operating system for Mac computers, due out late this summer. OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” will inherit features already running on iPhones and iPads such as iMessage, Notification Center and AirPlay mirroring, according to an Apple press release. Game Center will give Mac users the opportunity to square off against gamers on iOS devices as well as other Mac users. A new feature called “Gatekeeper” is meant to give OS X users more control over what apps can be downloaded onto their Macs, further distinguishing Apple-approved apps from third-party ones. The plan to introduce more iOS functions to Apple’s desktop and laptop OS comes as Microsoft prepares to make its desktop applications more mobile with a rumored fall release of Windows 8.

Four months after one of Japan’s biggest corporate scandals, police and prosecutors arrested seven men, including the former president of Olympus and ex-bankers, over their role in a $1.7 billion accounting fraud at the medical equipment and camera maker. Three former executives arrested, ex-President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former Executive Vice President Hisashi Mori and former auditor Hideo Yamada, had been identified by an investigative panel, commissioned by Olympus, as the main culprits in the fraud, seeking to delay the reckoning from risky investments made in the late-1980′s bubble economy.

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason said that the company’s location-based service Groupon NOW will likely not be a material contributor to results in the next one or two quarters. Mason said customers of the company’s daily deals are using Groupon NOW too. However, he stressed that the new service will likely take time to grow. Groupon NOW is a relatively new service that differs from Groupon’s main daily deal business. Groupon subscribers can check on nearby deals that are happening in the next one or two hours, based on their location.

Tech wrap: Apple iOS apps to require “explicit” OK to share your contacts

Apple tweaked its policy on permission iOS apps need to access the contact information of users after legislators sought more information from the company regarding its privacy policies.

“Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines,” an Apple spokesman told Reuters. “We’re working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”

The announcement came after Path, a San Francisco startup, attracted widespread criticism last week after a Singaporean developer discovered that Path’s iPhone app had been quietly uploading his contacts’ names and phone numbers onto Path’s servers. In the following days, other tech bloggers discovered that iPhone apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare similarly uploads user data – without permission, in some cases. Later, blogger Dustin Curtis, wrote in a widely distributed post that “there’s a quiet understanding among many iOS app developers that it is acceptable to send a user’s entire address book, without their permission to remote servers and then store it for future reference.”

Zynga’s Pincus fights back against copycat accusations

Mark Pincus, the CEO of Zynga, isn’t pleased with reports that Zynga is ripping off games from small developers so he is doing something about it–wielding his pen to write passionate manifestos to employees invoking Silicon Valley greats like Apple.

After a game developer accused Zynga of copying a game called “Tiny Tower”,  Pincus sent a 60-line memo to employees to make sure his flock knows Zynga has done nothing wrong, (the memo was leaked to the blog VentureBeat and later obtained by Reuters).

“Google didn’t create the first search engine. Apple didn’t create the first mp3 player or tablet. And, Facebook didn’t create the first social network. But these companies have evolved products and categories in revolutionary ways.”

Neil Young: iPod inventor Jobs preferred vinyl

Neil Young wants a convenient digital device to play music — like an iPod — but with higher-quality sound than consumers hear now with digitally compressed files.

The rock legend — whose ‘Heart of Gold’,  ‘Old Man’ and many others are still top-sellers on iTunes — said he had discussed the idea with late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and that he and Jobs were working on the issue before he died.

Although Jobs was “a pioneer in digital music and his legacy is tremendous, when he went home he listened to vinyl,” Young said on Tuesday at a conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital blog. “You’ve got to believe if he lived, he would have done what I’m trying to do,” Young added.

Legendary Cosmo editor gives $30 million to Columbia, Stanford

Helen Gurley Brown, the 89-year-old former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and author of “Sex and the Single Girl” is donating $30 million to Columbia University and Stanford to fund a media and technology institute.

Columbia will pocket $18 million while Stanford’s Engineering School will net $12 million. Columbia will use $6 million to build a “highly visible signature space” at the journalism school’s building in New York. This marks a record donation for the journalism school.  

Apple board-member Bill Campbell will advise the new center along with Hearst Corp CEO Frank A. Bennack, Jr. The donation is in honor of Gurley Brown’s late husband David, the famous producer of classic movies such as ”Jaws” and attended both schools. Gurley Brown, who was dubbed “the original Carrie Bradshaw” by the New York Times. edited Cosmo for more than three decades.