Social media darling Facebook this week had an eye on the future as it announced the acquisition of virtual reality technology provider Oculus for a hefty $2bn. CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that the decision to acquire Oculus was made to place the firm in a commanding position for the future, as it expects immersive virtual [...]
The Informer has often thought that it would be fun to work in France. He is full of admiration for the two-hour lunch; the 35 hour working week and the Gallic shrug. Well the country has gone one better this week, bringing in rules to protect employees from being disturbed by work email when outside of office hours.
It’s a funny old world, isn’t it. One minute you’re riding high as the Best Network in the UK and the next you’re sending sheepish text messages to your customers, apologising for a 13-hour service outage. That’s been the story this week for UK operator EE, whose network fell over on Wednesday evening, less than a week after it issued a press release proclaiming its status as the number one mobile network in the market.
Of the three mobile operators that had been operational in Uzbekistan over the past few years, one has now had its spectrum licence revoked and the other two are facing criminal investigations. On Wednesday, European operator group VimpelCom announced that it had received a letter from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) informing the operator that is conducting an investigation into the NASDAQ-listed group. Its headquarters in Amsterdam were also visited by Dutch authorities, including the Dutch public prosecutor office, who told VimpelCom it is the subject of a criminal investigation. The operator said that the investigations appear to be focused on its business in Uzbekistan.
A reclusive, 64 year old Japanese man was chased from his California home this week by rabid reporters, after a Newsweek article outed him as the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of the Bitcoin protocol. The chase ended at a nearby sushi restaurant, where Nakamoto denied having anything to do with Bitcoin and just “wanted his free lunch”.
For all the industry’s current focus on virtualization there are some things, it would seem, that you still have to do in the realms of the physical world. One of these, according to more than 85,000 industry folk, at least, is Mobile World Congress. This was the attendance figure published by GSMA at the end of the show and it’s an awful lot of bodies.
On Monday, Mark Zuckerberg will stand in front of the operator community that has fought to stem the negative impact of OTT messaging services on their revenue. And he will deliver a keynote just hours after whacking a staggering $16bn (rising to $19bn) on the table for one of the world’s most popular OTT messaging services, WhatsApp. The Informer would not be surprised if his keynote was a simple: “Take that, suckers.”
That’s what John Lennon said, at least. The Informer’s not sure Lennon is an entirely reliable source, however. After all, this was a millionaire who entreated us all to imagine no possessions. And let’s not forget that he also claimed on at least one occasion to be a walrus. The Informer thought of Lennon when he saw the news that Vodafone was attempting, in this most romantic of weeks, to woo Ono; the Spanish cable and TV provider.
Facebook turned ten in early February and, like all ten year olds, it is prone to over sharing. The Informer has long lurked on Facebook, a silent voyeur struck by an often morbid curiosity to click on the banal and fatuous items in his newsfeed. And if your newsfeed looked anything like the Informer’s in early February, it was chock full of people sharing their ‘life story’—Facebook’s gift to the world after a ten-year social bender.
Germany’s opposition to security agency eavesdropping was in the news again this week, with Deutsche Telekom outlining the opportunity to liberate citizens being monitored by national spy agencies and encouraging European operators to focus on providing data security and data privacy.
Google Glass has been in the news this week. A cinema goer in the US was dragged out of a screening of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (which sounds like a blessed relief to the Informer) after theatre managers called the five-O in fear that he was using his Google Glass to record the film. It became clear, after the police had been through the contents of his glasses, that he wasn’t recording it and, in an amusing twist, he was given some cinema vouchers by way of apology.
The big news this week came Tuesday and Wednesday, with the mass hysteria that followed the decision by the US Court of Appeals to “kill off net neutrality”.
All eyes were on the US of A this week as 2014 began in earnest with annual gadget fest CES. The consumer show is famed for transforming Las Vegas into a futuristic wonderland, but this year wasn’t just about robot butlers and TV screens that are larger than your living room; the nation’s operators also used the show as a platform to announce new initiatives, stirring controversy in the process.
Just after last week’s edition of AWIW went to press it emerged that the mystery winner of the recent Norwegian spectrum auction was in fact the company behind the market’s specialist operator Ice.net, Access Industries. Ice.net has thus far focused on M2M as well as fixed wireless data solutions in the rural areas of Norway, preferring to leave the traditional operators to fight for the right to party in the towns and cities.
Brazilian operators are missing out on revenues totalling R$40bn because they are not satisfying the coverage requirements of customers. And it is claimed that the prime reason they are not satisfying those coverage requirements is because the government is making it prohibitively difficult for them to do so. Yet the regulator has warned operators that if they do not begin satisfying customers, it will fine them and take their spectrum licences away. That must feel like a right kick in the Brazil nuts.
The Informer was in Tokyo recently. While there he paid a visit to Sony HQ in the hope that he might get a glimpse of the future in some of the tech on display. Regrettably he didn’t see anything that wasn’t already public domain – not even the PS4. At least, not that he was aware of. This week the Informer realised that the very latest in wearable tech might have been hidden in plain sight the whole time, because Sony has applied for a patent related to a Smart Wig.
The end of the year is fast approaching and the world is full of people who have just about had enough. Some are choosing to make their own exit, looking for greener pastures in the New Year, while others are having the door help open for them by judgmental colleagues, investors or even the government.
On Wednesday this week Nokia announced with pride that it had amassed one million Twitter followers. This, according to Twitter Counter, makes it the 1,373rd most popular account on Twitter. Is it a good thing to have lots of followers on Twitter? Is this something that Nokia should be celebrating? One interpreration of the news is that there are a lot of people out there indulging in post-purchase rationalisation, joining the tribe in a bid to convince themselves of the merit of a decision they’ve already made. This theory might be supported by the fact that Blackberry has 3.6 million Twitter followers.
There’s plenty of stuff in this world the Informer doesn’t understand and how companies that make no money can rake it in from a stock market floatation is one of them. The Twitter founders buzzed the bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday and released 70 million shares to the frenzied masses. Despite opening at $26, the market closed at almost $45, with the company reflecting a market value of more than $31bn. The company’s valuation ahead of the IPO was closer to $17bn.