MediaFile

Tech wrap: Wozniak open to active role at Apple

Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple Inc., pauses before answering a question from the floor after speaking on ''Innovation and Creativity in the 21st Century'' at a seminar in Singapore March 8, 2011. Reuters/Tim ChongApple co-founder Steve Wozniak told Reuters he would consider returning to take an active role at the consumer electronics giant. Wozniak, a lifelong hands-on engineer, said he liked technology to be relatively open so that he could add his own touches. “My thinking is that Apple could be more open and not lose sales,” said Wozniak, but added: “I’m sure they’re making the right decisions for the right reasons for Apple.”

The Justice Department approved Google’s purchase of ticketing software company ITA Software as long as Google licensed the software to rivals, continued to upgrade it and created firewalls to hide ITA clients’ proprietary information. Google said it would soon bring out a new travel search tool.

Google CEO Larry Page moved to streamline decision-making at the company’s key social network, mobile, Internet software and YouTube product groups. Social networking chief Vic Gundotra, Android head Andy Rubin, Chrome senior vice president Sundar Pichai and YouTube head honcho Salar Kamangar were given a direct reporting line to Page and greater autonomy, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The Federal Security Service, Russia’s domestic spy agency, called for access to encrypted communication providers like Gmail, Hotmail and Skype, saying the uncontrolled use of such services could threaten national security. The proposal provoked a wave of negative comments in the Russian language online, with many saying the country could follow China’s attempts to limit the Internet.

Startup Fusion-io, backed by Steve Wozniak and Michael Dell, said it can outwit computer-storage incumbents like EMC by putting a solid-state flash memory drive directly into the computer server rather than in the traditional storage area, which is further away and takes longer to reach, effectively speeding up data processing by a factor of 10.

Tech wrap: Android takes over

A T-Mobile G1 Google phone running Android is shown photographed in Encinitas, California January 20, 2010. REUTERS/Mike BlakeGrowing demand for phones running on Google’s Android platform will help the smartphone market grow in 2011, boosting companies like HTC and Samsung who are betting on the platform, analysts said.

The smartphone market will grow 58 percent this year and 35 percent the next, research firm Gartner said. Android, a distant No. 2 to Nokia’s Symbian platform just last year, will increase its market share to 39 percent in 2011, while Symbian’s share will roughly halve to 19 percent following Nokia’s decision to dump the platform. Apple’s iPhone platform will be slightly bigger than Symbian this year, while Research In Motion will control 13 percent of the market and Microsoft Windows Phone 6 percent.

Sales of cameraphones will grow to more than 1 billion handsets this year, helped by fast growth at the high end of the market, Strategy Analytics said.

Tencent, De Wolfe among interested buyers for Myspace

De Wolfe and Murdoch in happier times (Photo: Reuters)

De Wolfe and Murdoch in happier times (Photo: Reuters)

Chinese Internet holding company Tencent, Myspace founder Chris De Wolfe and Myspace’s current management team are among the 20 odd names kicking the tires at the once might social network to see whether it’s worth buying outright or partnering in some sort of spin-out with current owner News Corp.

Tencent has previously said it is interested in possible US acquisitions.

The names come up in Reuters’ Special Report on ‘How News Corp got lost in Myspace‘,  a behind the scenes tale on how the focused Facebook beat the partying Myspace. (We have the story in a handy PDF format here)

In the story, we highlight some of the key problems Myspace faced,  some well-known and some not often mentioned:

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.

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.

The Catch-22 of Google Books

booksIt’s almost a Zen Koan: How many books does a library make?

For Google the answer is: “All of them.”

As of last August that particular number was about 129 million, and since then probably tens of thousands have been added to the world’s shelves, even if you exclude Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s A Shore Thing.

Some tiny fraction of that immense number is good enough for nearly every library in the world, be it the Library of Congress, the world’s largest, or modest locations which are no less devoted to the preservation and dispensation of the world’s collected knowledge.

For Google, though, it’s all or nothing: The Google Books Project — “one company’s audacious attempt to create the largest and most comprehensive library in the history of the world” as wired.com correspondent Ryan Singel put it — began nearly a decade ago.

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.