Business Management

News Roundup: Angry Blackberry, Ousting Bill Gates and Pants Down Shutdown

Twitter’s IPO

More details about Twitter’s planned IPO have been revealed. The company hopes to raise an impressive $1 billion dollars, despite losing $69.3 million so far this year (mostly down to acquisitions).The social network has over 200 million users, and Evan Williams will be a rich man when it happens. Can it avoid the same problems that blighted Facebook’s IPO though?

Shutdown, pants down

Inexplicably, the US Government shut down this week. The ObamaCare site, which is the cause of so much bother, has been crashing all over the place trying to keep up with demand. Websites are being neglected, and it’s illegal for government workers to check their work email.  So how does the internet react? By getting naked. The hashtag  #NoBudgetNoPants began trending, with people going bottomless in protest. Makes about as much sense as US politics right now I guess.

A recent poll showed how divided US politics is. After a Republican spokesman suggested President Barack Obama got more than the allotted number of characters in his tweets, the Public Policy Polling asked likely Republican primary voters if they thought this was true. Surpassingly 13% said yes, while a further 52% were unsure. Ari Fleischer redacted his statement, but didn’t stop him getting stick about it.

Blackberry pissed

Poor Blackberry. It just doesn’t get better. Gartner this week recommended that Blackberry clients “take no more than six months to consider and implement alternatives to BlackBerry.” Blackberry responded as bitterly as an official statement could; “"We recognise and respect external parties' opinions on Blackberry's recent news… However, many of the conclusions by Gartner about the potential impact of a sale or other strategic alternatives, are purely speculative."

Impressively however, someone else has been convinced to try and part with money and buy the company as a whole. Despite predictions of more losses, Cerberus Capital Management is interested.

Mo’ NSA, McAfee problems

Another week – another load of NSA headlines….

-   The NSA experimented with Phone Location Tracking

-   The NSA stores its metadata for up to a year, regardless of its interest in you

-   The NSA has been tracking your social connections, NSA chief denies this

-   The FBI wanted Lavabit’s encryption keys, so he gave it to them on paper, in size 4 font. And is raising money to fight in court

As promised last week, John McAfee has returned to the tech world, and for $100 he’ll make you NSA-proof. He revealed plans for the new device, D-Central, while talking at the C2SV conference in San Jose. “The NSA won't get into it,” McAfee said. “The encryption that we have developed is unique, and neither the NSA nor any other governmental agency has been involved.”

Silk Road looks a bit rocky

The authorities are getting deeper into the Deepnet. This week Silk Road, the notorious drug dealing site, was taken down and its owner arrested. But the man known as Dread Pirate Roberts wasn’t taken down by a series of human errors that let the authorities identity and trace him. It also doesn’t help he was caught in a trap after trying to get two different people killed.  

An unexpected consequence of the bust was a massive Bitcoin crash. The cryptocurrency lost around 20% of its value, or around $500 million, in a day, before rallying. In real terms, the value went from $125 to $90, and then back to around $120 again. Roberts himself had a stash of 26,000 Bitcoins in his virtual wallet worth more than $3.6 million, and has seen more than 9 million BTC transactions since 2011.

Women: The tech equivalent of Malta, and then some

That there aren’t enough women in tech is well established. That it’s losing the EU money, not so much. A new study from the European Commission calculates: “if women who have studied ICT-related fields and who are currently not working were to work in the ICT sector in the same proportion as men…  the gain for the European GDP  each year would be around 9 bln Euro (1.3 times Malta's GDP).” Roll up techy ladies, the EU needs you.

Hardware News

Mobile hardware is getting very sophisticated these days. Amazon is developing a beastly eye-tracking 3D, 5MP camera phone currently codenamed ‘Project Smith’ that includes image recognition software which would match it to an Amazon product for purchase.

Meanwhile the wearable tech race continues. Another Google Glass rival has appeared, this time in Japan. Mobile operator Docomo showed off the Intelligent Glass (yet another case of excellent naming…) along with a smart ring that turns flat surfaces into a virtual tablet. Cool, no? Intel are getting in on the action as well, and are reported to have made a "significant investment" in Recon Instruments, makers of yet another brand of smart glasses. However the spoilsports won’t reveal how much they coughed up.

Microsoft: Bill Gates out?

Only six months until the end of Windows XP. Time to panic? Maybe not here at IDG Connect, but for 1/3 of the world’s billion+ PCs, maybe a little bit. The Reg has done some research and ‘at least 10 major 5000+ UK and US organisations’ are going to miss the deadline, while 85,000 computers at HMRC and 85% of the NHS runs on XP. Hopefully migration won’t lead to another ‘biggest IT failure ever seen’. Fingers crossed eh?

There is some good news for once relating to the Window’s Phone – people are actually buying it! In Europe, the phone’s share of the market is averaging 10% in the big EU countries. Another bad sign for Blackberry? Probably.

It also seems not everyone is keen on the idea of a certain Mister Gates retaking the reigns as CEO. According to Business Insider, three of Microsoft’s major investors have been lobbying for Bill to step down as chairman, so returning as CEO looks less than likely now.

And finally, in an odd turn up, Ford’s Alan Mulally could be in line to take the helm at Microsoft. AllThingsD reported that “sources close to the situation” claim he’s now at the forefront of candidates. The internet exploded with stories saying why he’d be good or bad for the role, but the man himself has denied he’s leaving the car company anytime soon. Paddy Power currently has Mulally on 3/1 to take over, second to Nokia’s Stephen Elop.

Beware Legacies and Marketing Gimmicks

I wandered into a couple of Apple stores this week to try and get my iPod fixed without an appointment. Needless to say I failed. I did, however, notice lots of signs saying the iPhone 5S had sold out, so I guess it’s selling well. But to some that doesn’t mean squat. According to one Qualcomm executive, the new 64-bit A7 processor Apple are stuffing into their phones are nothing but a ‘marketing gimmick’. “There's zero benefit a consumer gets from that," said Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm.

Meanwhile in the Cloud wars, HP has taken a shot at Amazon, saying it’s basically too old. Saar Gillai, SVP of converged Cloud at the 74-year-old HP, was basically bigging up the company’s new HP Cloud sandbox and saying “there are certain players in this market for 8 or 9 years with legacy stuff that’s not that new.” Not that scathing I’ll admit, but with IBM getting catty over the CIA Cloud contract, seems everyone is rounding on the big boy of Cloud services.

Another bad startup name

When it comes to names, Startups don’t always try very hard. It’s rare not to find one that doesn’t end in some variant of ‘ly’, ‘ify’, ‘box’ or ‘square’. I finally come across one, and what’s it called? “Fashism”. Its users? “Fashists”. I know Fashion types aren’t always the brightest bulbs in the ‘box’, but there are just some words it’s not cool to try and appropriate. Can’t say I’m shedding a tear it’s closing down. I’m not that sort of fascist.


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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