MediaFile

Tech wrap: Twitter sings about new site

Twitter revamped its website to make the microblogging service easier to use and to help companies better showcase their brands. The new version of Twitter features a redesigned look that the company hopes will make it easier to find interesting content on the service, as well as technological improvements that it said will speed up the service. It also features a revamped profile page, in which a company can highlight specific feature, such as videos or photos. Previously, the profile pages displayed a chronological list of the company’s most recent Tweets.

Apple’s next iPad will be available in February, Business Insider’s Jay Yarrow writes, citing Citi analyst Richard Gardner. The new iPad will feature a screen with twice the resolution of the current model, Yarrow adds.

Verizon Wireless blamed technical problems for an outage on its recently launched high-speed, 4G network, which prevented some U.S. customers from accessing the Internet for about 24 hours. It is at least the second outage since Verizon launched its 4G data service. Trade publication FierceWireless said the company had a major service disruption in April.

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said the social networking games company can double the number of its paying players, but he and other executives sidestepped questions about player retention and churn rates at an IPO roadshow luncheon in Boston. At the end of September, Zynga, known for popular games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, had about 6.7 million unique players. Paying players account for less than 3 percent of Zynga’s total number of players.

Google does not work with nor does it support Carrier IQ, the software maker which has been accused of violating millions of mobile phone users’ privacy rights, according to Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. “Android is an open platform, so it’s possible for people to build software that’s actually not very good for you, and this appears to be one,” Schmidt said.

Great artists steal, tablet edition

By Aaron Presssman
The opinions expressed are his own.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso via 1994 Steve Jobs

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet seems like the anti-iPad to many. With its chunky design, smaller low resolution screen and occasionally stuttering software interface, the Fire has been blasted by some of the iPad’s biggest fans. And they’ve predicted it too will end up on the growing trash heap of previous iPad competitors that arrived with high expectations only to be found selling on Woot for 75 percent off six months later.

But a lot of people seem to have missed that while this latest creation from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos does not copy the iPad, it flat out steals more than a few of Steve Jobs best ideas. And those pilfered ideas will — pardon the pun — ignite sales of the Fire well past the ranks of the earlier crash and burn crowd and their slavish copies of the iPad’s look and feel.

WebOS: Are we there yet?

It looks like the 600 employees in Hewlett-Packard’s WebOS division will only have to wait a bit longer to know their fate.

New Chief Executive Meg Whitman told French newspaper Le Figaro that she plans to announce her decision on the operating system in the next two weeks.

“This is not an easy decision, because we have a team of 600 people which is in limbo,” she was quoted as saying in French, as per the translation by Google Translate.

Tech wrap: “DingleBerry” rings RIM’s security bell

Three hackers said they had exploited a vulnerability in Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet to gain root access to the device, a claim that could damage the BlackBerry maker’s hard-won reputation for security. The hackers plan to release their data within a week as a tool called DingleBerry. In a response to queries, RIM said it is investigating the claim, and if a jailbreak is confirmed will release a patch to plug the hole. The PlayBook runs on a different operating system than RIM’s current BlackBerry smartphones. However, the QNX system will be incorporated into its smartphones starting next year. The PlayBook in July became the first tablet device to win a security certification approving it for U.S. government use.

Samsung is set to resume selling its Galaxy tablet computer in Australia as early as Friday, after it won a rare legal victory in a long-running global patent war with Apple. An Australian federal court unanimously decided to lift a preliminary injunction, imposed by a lower court, on sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 — but granted Apple a stay on lifting the sales ban until Friday afternoon.

Groupon’s shares rose after CEO Andrew Mason emerged from the company’s post-IPO quiet period to share holiday sales numbers. Groupon sold more than 650,000 holiday deals between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an increase of 500 percent compared with last year, Mason said in a blog post. Groupon closed the trading day up 9.3 percent $17.50.

Tech wrap: Microsoft allowed looks at Yahoo’s books

Microsoft has signed a confidentiality agreement with Yahoo, allowing the software giant to take a closer look at Yahoo’s business, according to a source familiar with the matter. Microsoft joins several private equity firms that are also poring over Yahoo’s books and operations, as they explore various options for striking a deal with the struggling Internet company. Microsoft’s signing of a nondisclosure agreement with Yahoo occurred “recently,” according to the source.

Shares of Groupon fell for a third day , sinking below the company’s initial public offering price of $20 less than three weeks after the daily deal company went public. Groupon raised more than $700 million in an IPO in early November, making it the biggest IPO by a U.S. Internet company since Google raised $1.7 billion in 2004. Analysts have cited concerns about increased competition, a greater availability of the company’s stock for short-selling, and a sharp reversal of market sentiment that is taking down more speculative companies. Groupon shares ended the day down 15.5 percent at $16.96.

Big-Box retailer Best Buy has no regrets about stocking Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet, despite the product’s poor reception and subsequent sharp discounting. RIM says it has shipped 700,000 PlayBooks since its launch, a figure dwarfed by the millions of iPads Apple sells each quarter. “When a product is less successful, you do what you need to do, and you move to the next thing,” Best Buy’s president for the Americas, Mike Vitelli, told Reuters. “That kind of quick reaction by the suppliers, whether it is BlackBerry or HP with their product, I actually think that is good for consumers too,” Vitelli said.

Tech wrap: Sony suffers as TV picture dims

Sony warned of a fourth straight year of losses, with its television unit alone set to lose $2.2 billion on tumbling demand and a surging yen, sinking its U.S. shares and raising concerns about the viability of its high-profile TV business. Investors had expected Sony to reduce its profit forecast, but not flag a swing to massive losses.

The maker of Bravia TVs, Vaio computers and PlayStation game consoles cut its sales forecast for TVs, cameras and DVD players and said it may report a 90 billion yen ($1.1 billion) net loss for the current financial year, scrapping its earlier net profit estimate of 60 billion yen.Sony’s U.S. listed shares closed down nearly 6 percent.

A small Spanish tablet maker won a patent infringement battle with Apple in a rare victory against the tech giant in its global defense of markets for its iPads, a court document showed. Spain’s Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala (NT-K) successfully appealed a 2010 injunction from a local court to ban the import of its tablet computer — manufactured in China — to Spain. NT-K, from the Valencia region of Spain, is demanding compensation from Apple for losses during the ban of its product and is suing the U.S. giant for alleged anticompetitive behavior.

Apple iPhone 4S: Believe the hype?

As Apple reports quarterly earnings based largely on the number of iPhones it sold, the honeymoon continues for the lucky millions able to get their hands on the newest 4S model, which was initially criticized for not being new enough. Apple went on to sell 4 million of them in 3 days.

So, after the initial sales storm, is Apple’s iPhone 4S living up to the hype?

First, here’s a graphic on how the baby compares to its older sibling:

Corrected: The graphic, above falsely stated that the iPhone 4S had 1GB of memory. As Ben Pingel pointed out, it actually has 512MB.

Tech wrap: Lineups long as ever for Apple’s iPhone 4S

Apple looked to ring in record first day sales as long lines made up of eager wannabe iPhone 4S owners formed at its stores around the world. In New York, the line outside Apple’s flagship Manhattan store no longer extended around the block after a half-hour of sales, but more people joined it as the morning progressed. Queues in Paris were smaller than those normally seen for a brand-new iPhone, with some fans there wondering if the somewhat underwhelming introduction had put people off, but in London and elsewhere the lines were as long as ever. Apple took more than 1 million online orders in the first 24 hours after its release, exceeding the 600,000 for the iPhone 4, which was sold in fewer countries initially.

Despite the enthusiasm at Apple stores, the launch was marred somewhat by widespread complaints this week online about problems downloading iOS 5, the latest version of Apple’s mobile software. There were also problems with iCloud, Apple’s online communications, media storage and backup service formally launched on Wednesday, with users reporting glitches such as losing their email access.

A judge in California said that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets infringe Apple’s iPad patents, but added that Apple has a problem establishing the validity of its patents. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh did not rule on Apple’s request to bar some Galaxy products from being sold in the U.S. but said she would do so “fairly promptly”. Apple must show both that Samsung infringed its patents and that its patents are valid under the law. Samsung attorney Kathleen Sullivan argued that in order to defeat an injunction bid, Samsung need only show that it has raised strong enough questions about the validity of Apple’s patents. Apple attorney Harold McElhinny said Apple’s product design is far superior to previous tablets, so Apple’s patents should not be invalidated by designs that came before.

Bye bye BlackBerry?

As Research In Motion deals with the fallout from service disruptions that have affected millions of BlackBerry users around the world this week, a survey by Aite Group shows that out of 402 financial advisers polled, 45 percent say they would choose an Apple iPhone or iPad, while 14 percent would pick a BlackBerry.

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Tech wrap: Apple’s iOS 5 debuts

Apple rolled out its iOS 5 mobile operating system, one week after pancreatic cancer claimed the life of its former CEO and visionary Steve Jobs. The update adds voice recognition software called “Siri”, instant messaging and support for Apple’s iCloud service, although the inclusion of Siri is limited to the iPhone 4S. MacWorld’s Dan Moren says the free update is “ambitious” and that “there’s hardly a part of Apple’s mobile operating system that isn’t altered in some way”. Engadget’s Dante Cesa says that “other than turn-by-turn navigation, more multitasking APIs and some delectable widgets, there isn’t much, headline-wise, left on Apple’s hit list for iOS 6“.

Despite Jobs’s death, investors still like what they see at Apple and want the company to start giving up some cash, according to a Reuters Poll. Apple has a cash hoard of $75 billion and record demand for the iPhone 4S has pushed its stock price near an all-time high. Six of the 11 money managers polled by Reuters called for a dividend payout as a reward for their loyalty.

A three-day disruption of BlackBerry services spread to North America, frustrating millions of users of RIM smartphones and putting more pressure on the company for sweeping changes. RIM advised clients of an outage in the Americas and said it was working to restore services as customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India continued to experience patchy email delivery and no access to browsing and messaging. RIM said the root cause of the failure was the malfunction of a core router switch and the subsequent failure of a back-up system to kick in. It then experienced a severe backlog of unrouted messages that is taking time to deliver.