Business Management

News Roundup: Alphabet, politics and smartwatch raps

A roundup of the week’s tech news including John McAfee’s new start, Clippy’s revenge and struggling sales.


So the big news this week is Google no longer being one of the biggest and most interesting tech companies in the world. “We are creating a new company, called Alphabet. I am really excited to be running Alphabet as CEO with help from my capable partner, Sergey, as President.” Wrote AlphaGoogle CEO Larry Page in a blog post this week. “Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead.”

In short, Google is now just the world’s biggest search engine, mobile OS, and a few other software things with former product chief Sundar Pichai as CEO.  All the cool stuff – the drones, balloons, smartglasses, Nest, Robotics and everything else under the sun all belong to Alphabet.

Obviously the world’s tech press went into overdrive at this surprise move. Created more column inches than Google – the search engine subsidy of Alphabet – could index. Analysts started comparing Alphabet to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, P&G, and any other large conglomerate that came to mind, alphabetised listicles outlining just how big the company actually is spread like clickbait wildfire.

The life and times of new Google CEO Sundar Pichai was examined in great detail. The reasons – and potential consequencesbehind the move were analysed harder than evidence in a Colombo movie, as was the Easter egg in the post. Wired especially went crazy on the news, covering every possible angle in minute detail. Alphabet’s choice of domain – – also raised a few eyebrows. Not only has it caused a surge in other .xyz registrations, it turns out BMW owns and not only won’t sell, but is considering whether Page & Co. have infringed on the German car maker’s own Alphabet subsidiary. Also the guy who owns @Alphabeton Twitter can be expecting an offer or two in the coming weeks.

Whether or not Alphabet will continue Google’s mantra of “Don’t be Evil” is yet to be seen.

Tech & politics

A certain Mr. Trump may be grabbing all the headlines, but many are saying that former HP CEO Carly Fiorina is having a decent run in the gauntlet thus far. However the more she’s in the limelight, the more HP back peddling needs to be done. Or so you’d think. “I was fired in a boardroom brawl,” she told CNN’s State of the Union. And you know why? “Because I challenged the status quo,” she said. “It is the kind of leadership we need now in the Oval Office, because the status quo of Washington, D.C. … isn’t serving this nation anymore.” When asked in another debate this week if Apple and Google should give the FBI unfettered access to their systems, she replied, “I absolutely would call on them to collaborate and cooperate, yes.”

If Firorina doesn’t float your boat but you feel Trump isn’t “tech” enough for you, fear not. Carl Icahn is here to save the day. The billionaire investor has said that he would be willing to take up Trump’s offer of being Treasury Secretary in his administration. So there you go. Vote Trump. Or don’t.

Meanwhile, Hilary Clinton has agreed to hand over the private server she used for both private and work emails while working in Government.


Fresh from his “shootout” in Tennessee, maverick softare guru John McAfee is back making security software. According to Single Angle, McAfee is moving into the SSL Certificate space with Blackcert, offering a service at a lower price point than many of its rivals, but seemingly doing little new.

Diversity & government requests

Intel – a company that has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to increasing diversity within the company and the industry – has divulged its latest diversity figures. Despite meeting its own hiring goals, very little has changed since 2014; a quarter of the workforce are female and 3.5% African American – a 0.1% increase on December’s figures. The company said these figures were “good progress, but not enough.”

Twitter has just released its latest Transparency report, and unsurprisingly, the government still want your data. January to July of this year saw over 4000 requests for data, up nearly 2000 on the previous six months. The US accounted for around half of all requests, the number of UK requests doubled compared to the previous report, while Japan, India and Turkey all saw large numbers of requests. Data was provided in around half of all cases.

Russian reliance

Russia is continuing its efforts to cut itself off from Western technology. As well as banning Reddit – aka “The front page of the internet” – because it promotes marijuana, the head of Rostec, Russia's state corporation has said the government wants to reduce reliance on western technology over the next few years.


The same week it acquired app-subscription service Bemobi, Norwegian web browser Opera software is considering putting itself up for sale. Symantec has sold its recently spun out storage unit Veritas to the Carlyle Group, Infor has acquired supply chain software provider GT Nexus, Qualcomm has bought Ikanos communications, and CSC has made a double swoop for Fruition Partners and Fixnetix. Zirtual, a virtual assistant startup that was teetering on the edge of folding, has been saved and acquired by

Watches struggling?

We’ve heard plenty about the Apple Watch’s rumoured underperforming sales, but it looks like there’s still been a knock-on effect on the traditional market. According the NDP Group, retailers saw demand for traditional watches tumble 11% between June 2014 and 2015. That’s the biggest year on year decline since 2008. IDG Connect’s Watch report found traditional makers weren’t worried about the impact of smartwatches on their industry, perhaps they’re starting to change their minds?


“Don’t blame us!” cries BlackBerry. The ailing Canadian company has denied that its in-car QNX software was to blame for the recent remote Jeep hack. “The vulnerability came about through certain architecture and software components that are unrelated to the QNX Neutrino OS,” the company said in a blog post. Either way, it’s bad publicity – and not in an “all publicity is good publicity” kind of way – that John Chen & Co. could do without.

Ever wondered what the voices of Siri look like? Well now you can! The Guardian has interviewed the people who originally lent their larynxes to the voice assistant. Aside from looking like normally everyday people, it turns out that they didn’t actually know they would be the sound of Apple’s little helper until the phone was released the public and worked it out. Charming.

Clippy’s revenge

What if Microsoft’s 90s desktop assistant came back to reap revenge on Siri and take over the world? It’s an out there concept, but one that’s been made into a music video by UK electronic duo Delta Heavy for their song Ghost. Check it out below before Microsoft call the lawyers.

Smartwatch raps

Rappers used to spit lyrics about getting verified on Twitter, but that’s so 2013. Today it’s all about wearable tech. “I just got an iPhone 6 and an iPhone Watch/But there's no point in using it,” raps UK grime artist Bugzy Malone on his new track, Watch Your Mouth. “Because I get notifications non-stop/And I get an inbox every two minutes.” He’s probably worried all those notifications will drain the Watch’s notoriously short battery life.


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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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