TSR on tech: your weekly news summary
|February 5, 2012||Posted by Elliot Davies under TSR on tech|
Welcome to a slightly smaller than usual edition of your weekly tech news summary. Don’t worry, we’ve still got all the week’s top stories: just how rich Apple really is, Amazon’s disappointing earnings, the latest (encouraging) news on ACTA, and much more besides. But we’ve decided to spin off the week’s most important news story, Facebook’s IPO, into its own special report. For everything else, read on!
The biggest story this week was of course Facebook’s $5bn IPO filing, one of the largest ever, which could value the relatively young social networking company at up to $100bn. The Student Review has a separate special report on Facebook, including explanations of what an IPO is and why Facebook has launched one now, and analysis of the impact the filing will have on the company.
Apple, which last week again became the most valuable company in the world after a ridiculously successful quarter, has managed to not only maintain its lead over Exxon Mobil but actually increase it. On Tuesday, shares in Apple finished at a high of $456.48, giving the company a market cap of $425.6bn. Exxon, by comparison, ended the same day with a cap of $401.4bn. On a similarly inconsequential but interesting talking point, Apple now has enough money to buy an iPad for every single person in Canada and Greece. Apple announced this week that it would be hiring John Browett, formerly CEO of Dixons and Tesco, to replace Ron Johnson as head of the company’s retail division.
Despite an influx of business from the holiday season, Amazon had a relatively disappointing fourth quarter. The company brought in earnings of just $177mn – 38 cents a share – on revenue of $17.43bn, a decline in net income of 58% year-on-year. Analysts had been looking for sales closer to $18.3bn. As a result of the news, Amazon’s stock fell almost 10% in after-hours trading, later recovering slightly to a decline of 8.8%.
Andreessen Horowitz has announced a huge $1.5bn venture fund for Silicon Valley businesses. This is the firm’s third round of funding, having previously invested in such successful companies as Facebook, Zynga, Airbnb and Foursquare.
ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement we reported on last week, has faced setbacks in Europe. Although around 30 countries have now signed the agreement, in most cases it still has to be ratified in each country’s legislature, as well as in the European Parliament. Following widespread protests in Poland that even saw the country’s politicians donning Guy Fawkes masks in parliament, Polish prime minister Donald Tusk has suspended the ratification process. This is excellent news: since ACTA would affect criminal law, if just a single EU country fails to ratify the agreement then it will not come into effect anywhere in the EU. At the same time the Slovenian ambassador to Japan, who signed the treaty on behalf of Slovenia, issued a public apology for her role and called for protests against ratification. Several countries including Poland and Greece have suffered attacks on government websites by Anonymous-affiliated hackers over ACTA.
Anyone with files stored on Megaupload may have as little as two weeks to retrieve them before the company’s servers are wiped permanently. The hosting companies have announced they will hold onto the data for at least another fortnight, but with Megaupload’s finances frozen it has been unable to pay its hosting fees and the servers cannot be run for free indefinitely. The EFF has announced that it is willing to sue if innocent customers are unable to get their data back.
Hacking & Security
Anonymous has apparently turned the tables on the FBI and performed some wire-tapping of its own. The hacker collective this week released a recording of a conference call between the FBI and British police, which the FBI has since confirmed is real. The call involves the police discussing the arrests of various hackers and getting confused about what Steam is, among other things. Other than bleeping out the real names of some of its members Anonymous has left the recording unedited, but nobody is quite sure how the group managed to record or obtain it.
The effort we reported on two weeks ago to break the world record for the most gamers participating in an FPS game at once succeeded. Swedish outfit MuchDifferent narrowly missed its target of 1,000 gamers, only reaching 999, but it still set the record.
Skyrim‘s 1.4 update is now available for PC gamers. The patch fixes bugs and quests, and also includes support for the upcoming mod kit.
Star Wars: The Old Republic generated 1.7 million subscribers in EA’s third quarter and sold more than two million units in just over a month. EA is hoping these figures will be enough to prevent some of the criticisms the game’s multi-million dollar creation cost has attracted.
20 months after its Xbox release, Alan Wake is finally coming to PC.
Researchers have come up with earbuds that automatically detect which ear they’ve been inserted into and adjust their sound signal appropriately. That means the one you put into your left ear will always carry the left channel’s audio, and the same for the right. If you take one bud out, the sound to the remaining bud will automatically switch to a mono signal. Pretty smart stuff.
A bamboo smartphone designed by a student at Middlesex University is due to enter production after financial backers liked the look of it. The eco-friendly AdZero is sculpted from a single piece of bamboo, weights about half as much as an iPhone, and runs Android. It also looks gorgeous.
The NHS has come up with an iPhone app to help young people in Kent find “Condom Access Points” using Google Maps.
The CEO of Micron Tech has died in a plane accident in Idaho. Steven Appleton, 51, was chairman and chief executive of the chip-making company, which released this statement: “Steve’s passion and energy left an indelible mark on Micron, the Idaho community and the technology industry at large.” The accident is believed to have occurred as a result of a fault in the experimental plane being flown.
The Cabinet Office ‘s replacement for the Directgov site, named GOV.UK, has moved into its beta build. So long as it makes applying for Student Finance less arduous…
T-Mobile has reintroduced some unlimited data packages for UK customers.
Even graffiti artists are attacking Google’s new privacy policies now: