Weekend news round-up: Google accelerates patents, the era of rock and roll CEOs begins

2 Dec 2013

In our round-up of the weekend’s tech news, Google has accelerated its discovery of original patents, telecoms CEOs are about to disrupt the buttoned-down executive look, one era of crazy games consoles ends but let’s hail the beginning of another.

How many patents does Google have?

MIT Technology Review has asked the golden question about Google and its approach to patent creation and revealed the company is now winning up to 10 new original patents a day, up from four a day back in 2003.

“The recent deluge of patent documents offers fascinating insights into Google’s latest ideas. It also demonstrates that Google is committed to having one of the world’s largest patent portfolios. The company is on pace to be awarded around 1,800 patents this year. That could be enough to vault Google, for the first time, onto the year’s list of top 10 patent recipients, ahead of industrial giants like General Electric and Intel.

“Google urgently needs more patents to defend Android, its free operating system for mobile phones. Android is the most popular smartphone software; about 1.5m Android phones are activated each day. But Google and handset makers like Samsung face increasing legal challenges. Just last month, they were sued in Texas for patent infringement by a company that represents Apple, Microsoft, and BlackBerry. One of the patents covered in the lawsuit was filed even before the search company was founded.”

A brave new look for telecoms CEOs

The tech world offers up many fashion statements. The current look de jour is well-moneyed hipster but who could forget the march-in-step blue suits of IBM or the khakis and polo shirt look espoused by Microsoft during its prime.

Telecoms execs have never been one to put their heads above the fashion parapet but it looks like T-Mobile’s recently appointed CEO John J Legere might be just about to break the mould, according to The New York Times.

“He dumped suits and ties in favour of hot pink T-shirts emblazoned with the T-Mobile logo, which he often wore under a black leather motorcycle jacket with jeans and sneakers. Gone was the corporate slicked-back hair: His modishly long hair now grazed his collar.

“Mr Legere not only looked but also acted the part of the ‘disruptive’ competitor beloved by antitrust regulators but all too rare in most concentrated industries (there are just four major cellular carriers). He branded T-Mobile the ‘Un-carrier’ and took square aim at the staid giants of the industry.”

New worm targets the internet of things

Ars Technica has reported that researchers have discovered a Linux worm capable of infecting a wide range of home routers, set-top boxes, security cameras, and other consumer devices that are increasingly equipped with an internet connection.

“Linux.Darlloz, as the worm has been dubbed, is now classified as a low-level threat, partly because its current version targets only devices that run on CPUs made by Intel,” Symantec researcher Kaoru Hayashi wrote in a blog post published Wednesday. “But with a minor modification, the malware could begin using variants that incorporate already available executable and linkable format (ELF) files that infect a much wider range of ‘internet-of-things’ devices, including those that run chips made by ARM and those that use the PPC, MIPS, and MIPSEL architectures.”

Thanksgiving, no Turkey for eBay or PayPal

The Next Web reported that PayPal saw a 114pc increase in third-party verifications during the heady Black Friday post-US Thanksgiving online sales.

“PayPal also revealed consumers in the US mainly took to their mobile devices to shop throughout the day. That being said, the busiest time was between 7pm and 8pm PST (10pm EST and 11pm EST), presumably after dinner was well settled in consumers’ stomachs.

“eBay Enterprise meanwhile revealed free shipping appeared to be the promotion of choice for consumers shopping at eBay Enterprise retailers on Thanksgiving Day 2013. Seventy-two per cent of orders included free shipping, an increase of 48pc compared to Thanksgiving Day 2012.

“For those who don’t know, eBay Enterprise manages e-commerce for leading retailers and brands, including Toys R Us, Levi’s, Sports Authority, Polo Ralph Lauren, and GNC. It was previously called GSI Commerce, but eBay rebranded it two years after the acquisition.”

End of one console generation, the beginning of another

As lucky consumers get to grips with the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, Wired wrote a fond farewell to what it described as the craziest, longest, most eventful console generation ever.

“No other console generation had been like this. You went to the store, bought your machine, went home and that was it. It worked, the games worked, everything just worked. The HD Era was all about growing pains. Maybe Microsoft and Sony pushed too hard, too fast, to take gaming kicking and screaming into high definition. They ended up with expensive boxes and hardware failure for their troubles, and a resurgent Nintendo that outsold both of them combined month on month with the standard-definition Wii.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years