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Why Google had to have Motorola Mobility

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Taken from The Guardian.

For several years now, Google has been following a vow made by former CEO Eric Schmidt: mobile first. New CEO Larry Page is taking that dictum to a new level by announcing a deal to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5bn.

The implications of this deal depend entirely on how Google plans to use Motorola. If, as some claim, the deal is more about obtaining Motorola’s mobile patent portfolio than anything else, we can expect escalating patent warfare between technology giants and limited innovation beyond that. If, however, Google intends to operate the business it is acquiring, we may see some broad and sweeping changes in the technology industry.

If the deal is chiefly about obtaining Motorola’s mobile patent portfolio, then Google would likely spin off the hardware end of the company and keep the software and patents. The patents would be vital weapons in its competition with Apple and Microsoft, as the two companies are using patent claims to try to slow the remarkable growth of Google’s Android operating system, which has become the most widely used smartphone platform.

But assuming Google intends to operate the business it is purchasing – and also assuming, as seems probable, regulatory approval of the deal – the landscape for Google, and the technology industry more broadly, will change. Some of the implications are clear already.

Perhaps Google wants to be more like Apple, owning an entire ecosystem around Android. For all its success, Android has suffered from “feature balkanisation”, as phone manufacturers and carriers have turned the open source system to their own aims.

Motorola knows how to make good hardware (though it’s been outdone in that regard by Samsung and HTC in the Android market), and one can imagine some excellent devices – once Google controls the outcome, as it did with its initial Nexus One phone (made by HTC) and Nexus S (Samsung).

Read the whole story at: Why Google had to have Motorola Mobility | Dan Gillmor | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

Written by Kees Winkel

August 17, 2011 at 10:33

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London riots: how BlackBerry Messenger played a key role

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Taken from The Guardian.

Police looking on Facebook and Twitter for signs of unrest spreading will have missed out – they should have watched BBM

By guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 August 2011 12.24 BST

London riots: a looted O2 mobile phone store in Tottenham Hale retail park

London riots: a looted O2 mobile phone store in Tottenham Hale retail park. Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features

In October 1985, on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham where the death of Cynthia Jarrett sparked riots that culminated in the brutal murder of PC Keith Blakelock, a community leader stood on his chair at a packed open-air meeting.

The man bellowed into a megaphone to the 150 residents in front of him: “You tell them that it’s a life for a life from now on. This is war.”

Over whoops and cheers from the residents, he turned to a huddle of police officers standing 50 yards away and warned: “I hope you’re listening. There is no way I am going to condemn the actions of the youth on Sunday night.”

Twenty six years later, police officers are still listening – but the megaphones and open-air meetings have been largely replaced. This weekend’s north London riots, the Daily Mail announced on Monday, were “fuelled by social media“.

But is this necessarily the case?

Certainly, the first online gathering of people mourning – and soon vowing to avenge – the death of Tottenham resident Mark Duggan took place on Facebook. Some of those behind the page, which now boasts more than 7,500 fans, launched into action shortly before 10.30pm on Saturday evening – more than five hours after the first public show of protest, outside the police station on Tottenham High Road.

At 10.45pm, when rioters set a double decker bus alight, the pageposted: “Please upload any pictures or video’s you may have from tonight in Tottenham. Share it with people to send the message out as to why this has blown into a riot.”

However, otherwise, if there was any sign that a peaceful protest would escalate, it wasn’t to be found on Facebook. Twitter was slightly more indicative: tweets about an attempt to target Sunday’s Hackney Carnival were spotted by police and the event was abruptly cancelled.

Scotland Yard warned on Monday afternoon that those “inciting violence” on the 140-character social network would not go unpunished. Deputy assistant commissioner Stephen Kavanagh confirmed that officers were looking at the website as part of investigations into widespread looting and rioting.

However, the most powerful and up-to-the-minute rallying appears to have taken place on a more covert social network: BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

Using BlackBerry handsets – the smartphone of choice for the majority (37%) of British teens, according to last week’s Ofcom study – BBM allows users to send one-to-many messages to their network of contacts, who are connected by “BBM PINs”. For many teens armed with a BlackBerry, BBM has replaced text messaging because it is free, instant and more part of a much larger community than regular SMS.

And unlike Twitter or Facebook, many BBM messages are untraceable by the authorities (which is why, in large part, BBM is so favoured by Emirati teens to spread illicit gossip about officialdom).

One BBM broadcast sent on Sunday, which has been shown to the Guardian by multiple sources, calls on “everyone from all sides of London” to vandalise shops on Oxford street.

It said: “Everyone from all sides of London meet up at the heart of London (central) OXFORD CIRCUS!!, Bare SHOPS are gonna get smashed up so come get some (free stuff!!!) fuck the feds we will send them back with OUR riot! >:O Dead the ends and colour war for now so if you see a brother… SALUT! if you see a fed… SHOOT!”

Another sent shortly before the outbreak of violence in Enfield on Sunday afternoon reads: “Everyone in edmonton enfield wood green everywhere in north link up at enfield town station at 4 o clock sharp!”.

Jenny Jones, the former deputy mayor of London, blamed an under-resourced force for missing the tweets and the status updates. “It’s quite possible if they had more resources they could have picked up on this,” she said.

But maybe they were looking in the wrong place. Just as Tottenham residents in 1985 lambasted the media for scaremongering about protesters – the Daily Express suggested some had been trained in Russia – today’s rioters might be surprised to read about “Twitter-organised chaos”.

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

Written by Kees Winkel

August 10, 2011 at 10:03

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Water Water Everywhere – consumer app of the week | Money | guardian.co.uk

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The Guardian’s Water Water Everywhere – consumer app of the week

Saving the environment and saving you money – this app, which aims to wean you off bottled water, has its sights set high

By Mark King

guardian.co.uk, Friday 17 June 2011 07.30 BST

Article history

Water Water Everywhere … but where to find it? Your prayers have been answered

App: Water Water Everywhere

By: Caffeine Concepts

Price: Free

Available on: iPhone

What is it?

An app showing locations across the UK where users can ask for free tap water, designed to encourage people to move away from bottled H20. The app has an unintended money-saving angle, with users able to locate drinking fountains and outlets where they can drink water for free instead of paying 50p-plus a bottle.

What is it?

An app showing locations across the UK where users can ask for free tap water, designed to encourage people to move away from bottled H20. The app has an unintended money-saving angle, with users able to locate drinking fountains and outlets where they can drink water for free instead of paying 50p-plus a bottle.

Who is it by?

The app is the brainchild of Ben Kay, an author and blogger. Kay blogged asking for help to create an app to make tap water freely available to as many people as possible. Caffeine Concepts answered the call and created the app, with some design help from Crystal Lee.

What does it promise?

Users can find cafes and fast food outlets near them (or anywhere on a Googlemap) where they can ask staff to fill their bottle with water. The app is also calling for users to populate the map with the locations of free drinking fountains.

How does it work?

Launch the app and let it pinpoint your location and look for outlets or fountains near you where you can fill up.

Is it easy to use?

As simple as drinking water from a tap.

Is it fun?

It certainly offers a challenge – the app has only just launched so there are few drinking fountains listed, meaning the majority of outlets listed are the likes of Eat and Burger King where you will have to ask staff to fill your bottle.

Is it pretty?

The logo features words created from taps and water droplets that, as a whole, form a nifty blue glass – quality.

Should you download it?

As the app has only just launched users will have to be confident enough to ask for a refill from staff at a McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC, Pret A Manger or Costa Coffee (among others) if there is no drinking fountain nearby.

On his blog, Kay said he successfully got a refill at every big brand outlet he tried, but it might not work for everyone, and one of Kay’s blog readers has questioned whether staff would stray into legal or health and safety issues by refilling bottles.

But the more popular the app becomes the greater number of drinking fountains will appear on the map, and it is an undeniably good idea, executed well. Water Water Everywhere offers users a unique opportunity to crowdsource something of real value – helping to stop damage to the environment caused by the manufacture of bottled water, while at the same time saving users money by helping them to fill reusable bottles with free tap water.

via Water Water Everywhere – consumer app of the week | Money | guardian.co.uk.

Written by Kees Winkel

June 18, 2011 at 11:45

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Nato Uses Twitter To Help Gather Air Strike Targets In Libya – PSFK

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This article titled “Libya air strikes: Nato uses Twitter to help gather targets” was written by Richard Norton-Taylor and Nick Hopkins, for The Guardian on Wednesday 15th June 2011 14.52 UTC

Nato is using information gleaned from Twitter to help analysts judge which sites could be targeted by commanders for bombing and missile strikes in Libya.

Potentially relevant tweets are fed into an intelligence pool then filtered for relevance and authenticity, and are never passed on without proper corroboration. However, without “boots on the ground” to guide commanders, officials admit that Twitter is now part of the overall “intelligence picture”.

They said Nato scooped up all the open source information it could to help understand Gaddafi, who is constantly changing his tactics and concealing himself – and his forces – in places such as schools and libraries.

“We take all sorts of information, but we can’t act on a single source,” said a Nato official. “It helps draw our attention to certain areas of the country where we see Gaddafi forces.[That] allows us to take action.”

The official suggested the sheer size of Libya made it difficult to get a full picture of what was happening across the country.

He said the organisation monitors Twitter feeds from Tripoli and other places for “snippets of information”. These could then be tested, corroborated or not, by Nato’s own sources, including direct lines of communication with the rebels, and imagery and eavesdropping from Nimrod spy planes. Nato is also aware that Gaddafi might be using Twitter to feed false information. “We have to be careful it is not used for propaganda [by Gaddafi’s forces],” the Nato official said.

via Nato Uses Twitter To Help Gather Air Strike Targets In Libya – PSFK.

Written by Kees Winkel

June 16, 2011 at 21:10

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Outlet Aims To Provide ‘Street Level News’ – PSFK

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This article titled “Outlet aims to provide ‘street level news’” was written by Roy Greenslade, for guardian.co.uk on Tuesday 14th June 2011 08.13 UTC

An ambitious bid to provide “street level news” via mobile phones has been launched. The Postcode Gazette is hoping to recruit thousands of local publishers to deliver “hyperlocal news on a national scale.”

Although it has a (beta) web presence, it views smartphones as the principal platform for its news, events, offers and advertising services.

A pilot project has gone live in Sheffield (with promotions spotted by several people in the city) as a precursor to a national rollout.

Initial tests of several Sheffield postcodes from the beginning of the year led to the posting of 450 items during January, 1,000 for February and more than 1,600 in March.

Postcode Gazette’s managing director Chris McCormack said: “Where other hyperlocal efforts focus on getting one reporter for a town, ours is much more ambitious.” He added: Continue via Outlet Aims To Provide ‘Street Level News’ – PSFK.

Written by Kees Winkel

June 14, 2011 at 21:09

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