TSR on tech: your weekly news summary
|October 16, 2011||Posted by Elliot Davies under TSR on tech|
A slower week for technology this week, not to say that there aren’t some interesting stories – the business news this week was largely characterised by the BlackBerry service outage, and Apple has released some important security updates which are worth looking at. Additionally, the iPhone 4S went on sale, iOS 5 and iCloud became available, HTC announced a phone which is practically a tablet, and Google is finally canning Buzz. Read on for all this and more.
Microsoft has closed its $8.5bn deal to purchase Skype. The deal was announced earlier this year in May, and will see Skype become an entirely new division of Microsoft under current Skype CEO Tony Bates. Skype had previously been purchased by eBay in 2005 for $2.6bn but was sold off at a loss to private owners in 2009.
Google announced steady growth in its Q3 earnings call on Thursday as its share price rose almost 5% in response to the news. Highlights from the call, all regarding Q3 of 2011, include: Google-owned sites such as Google+ and YouTube generated 69% of total revenues, amounting to $6.74bn; via AdSense, Google’s partner sites generated revenues of $2.60bn, or 27% of the total; and revenues from outside the USA totalled $5.3bn or 55% of total revenues, up from 54% in Q2.
Research In Motion (RIM), the makers of the BlackBerry mobile phones, announced on Thursday that its services are up and running again following an outage which lasted the better part of a week and prompted widespread outrage when customers were suddenly unable to receive messages or emails. The company attributed the problems, the largest in their history, to an initial ‘switch failure’ in their data centre in Slough on Monday morning. Following the failure, a back-up system failed to work correctly and the problem spread to Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, India, Africa and finally North America. Several large companies have expressed concerns that this could happen so easily and announced that they will be reconsidering their handset of choice for their employees. RIM has not yet said whether it will compensate its customers.
Apple and Samsung continue to duke it out in the war over patents, and Apple scored another hit this week when an Australian Federal Court issued an injunction to temporarily ban Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the country. Justice Annabelle Bennett, presiding over the case, ruled that the Tab can’t be sold until the patent dispute is resolved – this is bad news for Samsung, who will probably now miss the holiday season sales.
Hacking & Security
Sony has reported an attack against its PlayStation Network and Sony Online services this week. Unlike the run of attacks against the company earlier this year however, this one did not involve Sony’s servers being hacked into; rather, the intruders simply attempted to log in using a large number of usernames and passwords which appeared to have been stolen from elsewhere. Around 93,000 accounts were accessed and, although financial information was put at risk, Sony will be emailing people whose accounts were affected and asking them to reset their passwords.
Apple has released an updated version of OS X Lion, 10.7.2, to accompany the launch of iOS 5 and iCloud. This update fixes 75 vulnerabilities and should be downloaded immediately by anyone running Lion. Users should also download updates for Safari 5.1.1 (fixing 43 vulnerabilities), Numbers for iOS (2 vulnerabilities), Pages for iOS (1 vulnerability) and AppleTV (8 vulnerabilities) where applicable.
The much-anticipated iPhone 4S went on sale from Friday this week, ten days after it was announced. The 4S topped one million pre-orders within 24 hours, beating the 600,000 record set by the iPhone 4, and it is not yet known how many handsets sold after the phone’s launch. iOS 5 and iCloud were also made available to download and use this week and, despite initial server problems as everyone attempted to download the software at once, Apple reports that everything is now running smoothly. Users wishing to use iOS 5 or iCloud will have to download the newly updated iTunes 10.5, available for free from Apple.
HTC has announced its latest smartphone, the Sensation XL, which if nothing else is most definitely large – a 4.7-inch display makes it more like a small tablet than a large phone, although it’s worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy Note will be even larger at 5.3 inches. The XL is HTC’s first phone to utilise the ‘Beats algorithm’ software pioneered by Beats by Dre, an audio company HTC recently gave $300m to, and this should combine with the included URBuds headphones to give listeners a good sound quality boost. The XL also includes an 8MP camera and a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon single-core processor.
Facebook for iPad was finally made available this week, although expectant users will be disappointed to discover that it looks almost identical to the newly updated Facebook app for iPhone, albeit larger. The iPad version does include full-screen games however, as well as HD video with support for Apple’s AirPlay technology.
Google announced this week that it will finally shut down Google Buzz, its failed attempt at social networking which preceded Google+. The service will become unavailable “in a few weeks” and is one of several products being discontinued under new CEO Larry Page.
An invitation-only memorial service is to be held at Stanford University’s campus this evening for Steve Jobs, who passed away on October 5th. Apple also plans to host an employee-only event to celebrate Jobs’ life at its Cupertino campus on October 19th.
Dennis Ritchie, creator of the ubiquitous C programming language and co-developer of the equally important Unix operating system, died on October 8th at the age of 70. The Washington Post has a good obituary.
If you use iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you’re eligible for 50GB of free storage from Box.net. The offer is available until December 2nd.