MediaFile

Tech wrap: Apple beats Google to the music cloud

Storm clouds gather over Hanoi's skyline September 21, 2009. REUTERS/KhamApple has completed work on an online music storage service and is set to launch it ahead of Google, whose own music efforts have stalled, according to several people familiar with both companies’ plans. The sources revealed that Apple’s plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an Internet connection and that Apple has yet to sign any new licenses for the service and major music labels are hoping to secure deals before the service is launched. Amazon.com launched a music locker service earlier in April without new licensing agreements leading to threats of legal action from some music companies.

Verizon gained wireless subscribers with Apple’s iPhone, but the device’s affect on its financials failed to impress investors. Verizon Wireless posted 906,000 net new subscribers, roughly in line with expectations. That was much better than AT&T, which added only 62,000 net subscribers in the quarter as it lost iPhone exclusivity. However, a key sticking point for investors when comparing the two operators was the fact that AT&T won more new iPhone customers in the quarter than Verizon. Verizon announced that it would sell a new version of the iPhone later this year that, unlike its current iPhone, would work globally.

The risky attempt by The New York Times to charge fees to website readers looks to be paying off, although it still faces stiff challenges in turning around a fall-off in print advertising revenue at its core business. The company gained more than 100,000 new subscribers since it introduced its digital subscription service on March 28, representing at least an estimated $26 million in annual revenue and trouncing early expectations for the service.

Disruption to Amazon servers that host Internet services took down a raft of social networking websites including social network foursquare and Q+A aggregator Quora. Amazon’s “Elastic Compute Cloud,” part of the online retail company’s cloud-computing service that hosts websites for startups, experienced latency problems and other errors, according to Amazon’s status page. The latest update on Amazon’s status page said the company was “now seeing significantly reduced failures and latency and … continuing to recover. We have also brought additional capacity online in the affected availability zone.”

Cloud computing solutions have advanced beyond storage to the point where they now provide businesses with ways to improve operations, writes Microsoft’s Cindy Bates. Among her tips for businesses to get more from the cloud: Deploy cloud-based versions communication/productivity tools such e-mail, phone, chat, contacts, calendars, and document creation software to gain access to enterprise-level capabilities; if your business provides Web services to customers, moving applications to the cloud will allow you to scale them up or down depending on your needs and gives your developers more choice in where and how they manage, deploy and store data; and the cloud can give your business the ability to maintain a remote workforce. Workers can access e-mail, documents, calendars and more, as well as collaborate with colleagues through document-sharing programs and video conferencing technology, essentially experiencing “in-office” scenarios wherever they have access to an Internet connection, Bates argues.

Tech wrap: Yahoo’s CEO-in-waiting?

David Kenny, managing partner of VivaKi, poses for photographers during the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival June 24, 2009. REUTERS/Alain Issock New Yahoo board member Akamai President David Kenny is the obvious choice to replace struggling CEO Carol Bartz, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Kara Swisher. Kenny is smooth and well-liked, has deep advertising experience, has a long relationship with Yahoo and its co-founder Jerry Yang and has tech cred as a leader of one of the Internet’s most important infrastructure companies, regularly in contact with media giants, ad networks and video providers that are Akamai’s clients, Swisher argues.

Microsoft explained the delay in updating its new phone software, partly blaming handset manufacturers for the problem. Microsoft’s JoeBelfiore did not name names, but said the company had started the update and ran into problems on some newly manufactured phones that would not function properly afterward. Samsung, HTC and LG Electronics are the main handset makers of Windows phones. A more comprehensive update, code-named Mango, will be available later this year, featuring performance bumps, live updates and applications that can run in the background while users move onto other programs, he said.

Russian hacker attacks on the country’s biggest blog site and a spy agency’s warning to Gmail and Skype have raised fears that authorities are tightening their grip on dissent in a China-like assault on free speech ahead of next year’s election, writes Thomas Grove. “This is a test drive during a very important year to see if it’s possible to close down websites, in particular social networking sites in case of demonstrations,” said Andrei Soldatov, head of the think-tank Agentura.ru.

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: 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.

Tech wrap: AT&T/T-Mobile a done deal?

Reflections are seen in the window of an AT&T store in New York March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidAT&T’s planned buy of T-Mobile USA is ultimately expected to get regulatory approval, combining the second and fourth largest wireless operators to create a new leader that will control around 43 percent of the U.S. wireless market. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson suggested he had little choice but to do it as AT&T is in dire need of more wireless airwaves to increase network capacity for mobile Web services.

Google announced that it’s partnering with Sprint to integrate the free calling and texting service Google Voice with the carrier’s feature phones and smartphones. Sprint customers will be able to use their existing Sprint mobile number as their Google Voice number.

Nokia’s strategy for entering the tablet computer market may not include Microsoft, its recently announced partner for smartphones, according to a person with knowledge of the company’s thinking.

Tech wrap: Nokia starts work on Windows phone

A girl tests out the new Nokia N8 mobile phone at the Nokia Flagship store in Helsinki September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Markku Ulander/LehtikuvaWork has begun on the first Nokia smartphones based on Microsoft software following the partnership announced by the companies last month, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told Reuters.

RIM is battling wireless carriers over control of where key data related to mobile payments will reside in upcoming BlackBerry devices equipped with near field communication (NFC) technology, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Phred Dvorak and Stuart Weinberg.

A letter that had prompted Mark Hurd’s abrupt exit as chief of Hewlett-Packard Co was ordered unsealed by a Delaware judge, potentially revealing more details of his dramatic exit last year.

Tech wrap: RIM’s PlayBook for fighting Apple, Google

Mike Lazaridis, president and co-chief executive officer of Research in Motion, holds the new Blackberry PlayBook with a screen projection of the device as he speaks at the RIM Blackberry developers conference in San Francisco, California September 27, 2010. REUTERS/Robert GalbraithResearch in Motion is a front runner in the race to convert billions of feature phone users into data-wielding smartphone customers but is seen possessing only a small window of opportunity to reinvigorate itself and match the momentum of rival mobile monarchs Apple and Google in a life-or-death battle for relevance, writes Alastair Sharp.

Prices for key technology components such as computer memory and LCD panels rose, as damage at Japanese plants and infrastructure caused by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami threatened to disrupt the global manufacturing chain longer than expected.

Microsoft introduced its newest browser, Internet Explorer 9, including a do-not-track tool that helps you keep your online habits from being monitored, and is worth checking out, writes Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff.

Penny Arcade Expo East: Nothing small here

256256696Believe it or not, there were crowds gathered on Friday doing something else besides waiting for an iPad 2.  About 60,000 people swarmed Boston for Penny Arcade East, a major  convention for video game fans on the East Coast.

PAX doesn’t garner as much media attention as industry shows like E3 in Los Angeles each summer, where major games companies announce new products. While there aren’t as many reporters or  or executives in attendance, PAX EAST is still a big event for gamers- the hoards of people who help make the $60.4 million video game industry bigger than Hollywood.

It’s for people like Andrew Hydrusko, a 23-year-old student who drove from Delaware with four friends so he could dress as his favorite Mega Man character, Protoman, at the show. He donned a poncho, bullets and a painted motorcycle helmet reminiscent of a power ranger,  as he waited to play Guild Wars 2, an upcoming MMO game from NCsoft.

Google sprinkles search results with social networking, but leaves out Facebook

GOOGSocSearch1Google is turning up the volume on social networking content within its Internet search results.

The company unveiled some changes to its search engine on Thursday that will infuse search results with more social elements, such as links and information shared by your friends on services like Twitter, Quora and Flickr.

It’s easy to see how this improves search: If you’re looking for an accountant for instance, instead of simply getting a list of accountants’ Web sites, Google might include a snippet showing that your friend has posted a Twitter message lauding a particular accountant, and rank that accountant near the top of your search results.