Weekend news roundup

7 Jun 2011

A trawl through the weekend’s newspaper coverage of tech stories, including how Nintendo has become the latest victim in a wave of cyber attacks, previews of this week’s E3 and how a New York congressman had to admit he wasn’t hacked on Twitter.

Nintendo next in line for cyber attack

The Guardian reported how Nintendo became the latest victim in a global wave of cyber attacks.

A hacker group called LulzSec published a “server configuration file” purportedly from a Nintendo secure server on the internet.

The firm said its United States unit’s website had been hacked but that no company or customer information had been compromised. The news comes after a huge security breach at its rival Sony compromised personal details of tens of millions of its gaming customers’ accounts, including credit-card numbers.

Via Twitter, LulzSec said it was not targeting Nintendo. “We sincerely hope Nintendo plugs the gap,” it said. LulzSec later said the security hole had been plugged. “Re: Nintendo, we just got a config file and made it clear that we didn’t mean any harm. Nintendo had already fixed it anyway,” the group wrote.

Nintendo to be a show stopper at E3?

The Telegraph, in a preview of this week’s E3, surmised that the Electronic Entertainment Expo’s focus will be largely on Nintendo and what’s on the horizon for its Wii console. This year, all eyes will be on Nintendo. The Japanese behemoth has already announced it will be unveiling the successor to its hugely popular Wii console at its press conference on Tuesday.

The new console, currently nicknamed Project Cafe, comes at a good time for Nintendo. After the explosive success of the Wii when it first launched in 2005, the console has plateaued. Most troubling for the Wii is its rather barren-looking software lineup. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword aside, there is little on the horizon for Wii fans to get excited about. The console has a reputation for its poor attach rate and mediocre performance of third-party software.

With Project Cafe, Nintendo will undoubtedly want to address these issues that have prevented Wii from sustaining that early momentum. But that initial buzz is just as crucial, as the first console to introduce motion control as standard, Wii was the spearhead for a revolution in interface, with both Sony and Microsoft introducing their own motion-control devices in order to combat Wii’s extraordinary impact.

US congressman lied about being hacked

The Financial Times, in a roundup of the latest spree of cyber attacks, told the interesting tale of how a US congressman sent a lewd photo to a young woman and claimed his Twitter account had been hacked. On Monday, New York Congressman Anthony Weiner held a press conference at which he admitted he sent a lewd photograph on Twitter and had lied about being hacked.

Before his subsequent admission, the web was filled with speculation about the potential vulnerability of Twitter – including this piece from The Huffington Post. Robert Graham, the CEO of the cyber security firm Errata Security, listed multiple ways users could lose control of their Twitter accounts. He told The Huffington Post that Twitter is “pretty vulnerable.”

Is the smartphone killing the PC?

The Guardian had an interesting story on how the smartphone is killing the PC. The smartphones in our pockets are far more powerful than the desktop computers we dreamed of in the 1980s. This year, they are outselling PCs – and soon they could replace our wallets, as well.

PCs had always sold far more than smartphones (which only date back to 2003 or so). In the first three months of 2010, 85m PCs were sold worldwide, compared with 55m smartphones. Optimistic analysts forecast that the crossover might happen in 2012. Instead, by the last three months of 2010, 94m PCs were sold – and 100m smartphones. Analysts believe this trend will never reverse. (It continued in the first quarter of this year: 82m PCs, 100m smartphones.)

“Smartphones will keep growing in sales approaching the billion-plus levels of total handset sales before this decade is done,” says Tomi Ahonen, a former Nokia executive who now has his own mobile industry consultancy. “The trend of PC sales is stagnant, or at best modest growth, selling around 300m per year.”

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