Weekend news roundup

12 Jul 2010

A quick glance at some of the technology stories breaking in the weekend papers.

Sharing too much

Over-sharing on Facebook or Twitter, for example, is something many of us can be accused of. But with the arrival of geo location in these services could mean we may be sharing too much. The Observer reported at the weekend that more than half of people with geo-location-capable mobile devices worry about “loss of privacy” from using their location-sharing features, a survey has found – even though location-sharing apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla have millions of users checking in every day.

Among UK respondents, 52pc said they were “very or extremely concerned” about loss of privacy from using location-sharing applications – even though the same proportion said they geotag photos, indicating where they were taken, when uploading them to the internet.

The survey, commissioned by security company Webroot, interviewed 1,500 owners of devices with geolocation capabilities, including 624 people in the UK.

Yet other data shows that there are more than 1 million lonely hearts now looking for location-based love via an iPhone application, and touching 2 million users checking in with Foursquare, sharing whereabouts is the social currency du jour.

A smarter approach

In the Sunday Independent, Peter O’Neill of IBM wrote how  a smart approach to technology means a smarter economy. The technology trends that are beginning to make this proposal possible and affordable are not solely in IT or computing. They range from the embedded technology in our cars, household appliances and packaged goods, to our roads and electricity supply. These everyday items are increasingly being “instrumented” with additional sensors such as radio frequency ID tags, “interconnected” over the internet, and made “intelligent” because of advanced software that can analyse vast amounts of real-time data on the fly.

There are also the more apparent needs in our utility services and city infrastructures with, for example, up to 50pc of our water supply lost through leaky pipes, millions of euros a year in squandered working hours and wasted fuel through traffic congestion.

Applying analytics and computing intelligence to help transform these systems and infrastructures will be critical to solving an array of pressing problems to get our cities and our country back on track.

VC returns falling

The Sunday Tribune reported that Enterprise Ireland’s return on its Seed and Venture Capital Fund fell by 65pc year-on-year in 2009, according to figures published in its annual report last week. Receipts on disposals of its venture capital assets dropped to just below €3m from €8.3m in 2008, indicating that exits from its early stage investments were much less lucrative.

Total new investment in companies by the state agency more than doubled last year, though, to just over €90m from nearly €29m in 2008.

The increase was due mainly to a €58m investment in shares through the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund, a support scheme introduced last year to help exporting companies keep afloat during the recession.

Enterprise Ireland said the fund saved more than 7,800 jobs last year. The cost per job was more than €7,400, according to figures in the report.

RIM still king of the hill

USA Today reported BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is king of the smartphone hill, according to data released by researcher comScore.

RIM had a 41.7pc market share among smartphone platforms, topping Apple (iPhone) 24.4pc, Microsoft (Windows) 13.2pc and Google (Android) 13.0pc. Palm, which was recently acquired by HP, lagged with a 4.8 pc share.

The folks at RIM may not want to get overly giddy. The numbers reflect the three-month period ending in May 2010, prior to the iPhone 4’s release and before a slew of new Google Android devices invaded the market, including the HTC Evo 4G from Sprint and Motorola’s Droid X from Verizon.

Most of the momentum indeed points to Android. Google gained four percentage points compared to the previous three-month reporting period of February 2010, the only smartphone rival with a positive point change in market share during that time.

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