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  • Google Music: What it is and what it means

    The internet and music industry waited with baited breath for the highly anticipated Google Music to finally make its first appearance. With the massive amount of clout that Google has online, people have wondered how Google Music might change the digital landscape and perhaps offer some sort of competition to Apple’s dominion over online music. After much talk and speculation, Google finally launched Google Music beta by exclusive invite to certain users in the US. So what exactly is Google music? In short Google Music is a cloud based music streaming service. It allows users to upload up to 20 000...

  • BlackBerry PlayBooks recalled over ‘integral issue’

    After a long wait, and less than a month into it being available to the public, Research In Motion’s (RIM) much awaited, slated but also debated PlayBook tablet — the answer to the iPad from BlackBerry’s parent company — is already facing what some are describing as its first major problem. Though RIM tried to keep the news quiet, the news of a batch of 16GB Playbooks being recalled was leaked over the weekend with a list of corresponding serial numbers. Though it was clear that this was an official recall, the actual problem with the Playbooks had not been...

  • Insights into what really happens at Googleplex

    Douwe Osinga, a software engineer, recently left Google after seven years. He’s written a series of blog posts explaining why he left and also describing what it was like working there, and he dispels some of the many myths about Google. For example: The 20% time myth. The myth might have been that you basically get a day off a week to do whatever. It is still work. And you’re still held responsible for what you do. So yeah, you can do whatever you want to, but you have to actually want it and it is still for Google… Also, it isn’t...

  • Sony battles to regain trust after data breach

    Japanese entertainment and technology giant Sony faces a battle to regain the trust of millions of consumers after online networks integral to its strategy were hacked, say analysts. One of the biggest data breaches since the advent of the internet could cost it around US$1 billion, but deeper damage to Sony’s brand image could undermine efforts to link its gadgets to an online network of games, movies and music. “It is difficult to make profits on such devices without networking functions”, said Mizuho Investors Securities analyst Nobuo Kurahashi. “What is necessary is for Sony to restore consumer confidence.” The cyber attacks on...

  • Obama proposes new cyber-security law

    With “hacktivism” on the rise — practiced by organisations and groups such as Anonymous — and in face of the Sony saga to name just two examples, the White House proposed draft legislation on Thursday aimed at toughening the defenses of government and private industry against the growing danger from cyber-attack. The White House said in a statement, “Our nation is at risk… Cyber-security vulnerabilities in our government and critical infrastructure are a risk to national security, public safety, and economic prosperity.” The statement continued, “It has become clear that our nation cannot fully defend against these threats unless...

  • Facebook vs Google: The dirty tricks campaign

    Journalists and bloggers around the world last week woke up to an email screaming in all caps: “Google quietly launches sweeping violation of user privacy!” Rightly so, this claim brought a lot of anger to those who ran the story. However, for some, there was something suspicious afoot… The email, originating from American public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, claimed that a little known Gmail feature, Social Circle, tramples privacy of millions of Americans and is in violation of American fair trade rules. However, as US newspaper, USAToday wrote, “Google said that Social Circle in fact allows Gmail users to make social...

  • InMobi launches global mobile payment solution, ad network combo

    InMobi, a large, global independent mobile ad network, has announced the launch of a performance-based global mobile payments solution it is calling SmartPay. The company says this offering is “a first” because it combines InMobi’s large global ad network of nearly 32-billion ads monthly in 200 countries with a mobile payments solution. The company says that tracking from ad to conversion is a “major leap forward” for developers and digital goods providers globally. The payment solution will enable app developers, game companies, and content providers in the $200bn mobile content and virtual goods space to expand their business and monetise their...

  • Ubuntu raises the client OS bar

    On the 28 April 2011 Canonical officially released Ubuntu 11.04 codenamed Natty Narwhal. The controversial Unity Desktop became the standard interface, merging the desktop and netbook versions, creating a scalable client operating system which can be run on desktops, nettops, notebooks, netbooks and tablet devices. Large screen smart phones, in-vehicle infotainment systems and possibly even home appliances such as high-end refrigerators could potentially also run Ubuntu. Aside from the interface overhaul Canonical was determined to push a number of major updates through in this version. I was initially doubtful about their ability to achieve these ambitious goals within their six month...

  • Online sales accelerate in South Africa

    In news certain to buoy South African online retailers, a new research report released this week by independent technology research and strategy organisation, World Wide Worx has found that retail in South Africa has entered a phase of sustained acceleration. ‘The Online Retail in SA 2011′ study shows that the total spent on online retail goods in South Africa passed the R2 billion mark in 2010 for the first time. It reached R2,028 billion, a growth of over 30% with regard to the previous year. With the industry consensus pointing to 40% growth this year, online retailers are even more bullish...

  • Seoul’s ‘World IT show’ all about 3D and robots

    The “World IT Show” is running in Seoul, South Korea this week. The show is an exhibit of the latest innovation in technology from around Asia and the world, and this year’s show was no exception, showcasing 1313 booths with 440 exhibitors including Samsung, LG Electronics and Qualcomm. The aim of the show is to alert the global stage to South Korea’s contribution to the world of technology. Big names, such as Samsung and LG, dominating a sizeable amount of the exhibition stage did not deter the hundreds of other companies present. Most of the companies exhibiting products were...

  • Why it’s a good time to be developing mobile apps in Africa

    The African mobile developer community should be smiling right now, what with being ideally placed to take advantage of a number of factors that currently make the region one of the most exciting digital spaces on the planet. Mobile is massive Mobile take-up across Africa took a lot of people by surprise; in hindsight it was obvious. Infrastructure-lag left a gaping chasm of consumer demand wide enough for mobile technology to swoop in and satisfy the need for telecommunications. South Africa now has more active SIMs than it has people. Across the region communication, banking, healthcare, education and many more...

  • China’s web spin doctors spread subversive propaganda

    China employs an army of censors to police the Internet, much to the chagrin of the US, and is strengthening their onslaught by deploying legions of “web commentators” to get the government’s message out — in a crafty but effective way. With nearly half a billion people surfing the net in China, more than half of them using microblogs, the internet has quickly become a vital forum for debate in the world’s most populous country — and a major sounding board. This fact has obviously registered with the country’s Communist leaders, who pay careful attention to the conversations that unfold online...

  • An international perspective on SA startups [NetProphet]

    Angel investing came accidentally to UK-based Permjot Valia. As the sales and marketing director of Ernst & Young, he became involved in their entrepreneur programme, which in turn led to his new career of investing in startups. By his own admission, Valia’s success rate is a statistical anomaly: while an average of only 3% of investors successfully exit a startup via an IPO, the first company he invested in went public within just seven months. Visiting Cape Town this week to work with local entrepreneurs, Valia shared his experiences, garnered over the course of his 25 or so investments,...

  • 38 emerging South African tech entrepreneurs to watch [Part I]

    The technology space is particularly notable for the amount of entrepreneurial activity it attracts. The word “startup” has become almost synonymous with the tech and online space and there are thousands of entrepreneurs that run small and large companies that are carving out niches for themselves. The high amount of entrepreneurial activity in the tech sector may be explained by the fact that the costs of starting an online business are low. You don’t need a factory or heavy-lifting equipment to start an online business, and the people found in the sector are highly skilled. Also, we all know about the...

  • Monetising crowdsourcing platforms through collaboration [NetProphet]

    Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and platforms like Ushahidi, highlight the rise of the civic economy – one in which value is placed more on relationships between stakeholders using that platform rather than on the value of the actual commodity being exchanged. Speaking at the NetProphet conference in Cape Town, SwiftRiver’s Director of Products Jon Gosier compares this new value-based economy to bartering marketplaces in India or Africa. The relationships between the barterers in these places determine whether they’ll interact and do business with each other to create the market in the first place. Analysing this economy and its associated...