Weekend news roundup: Apple software glitches, Simon Cowell and Will.i.am seek start-ups with the X Factor

1 Oct 2012

Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas

In our trawl through what’s rocked the tech world over the weekend, it has emerged that Simon Cowell and Will.i.am are launching a new tech-focused TV show in the UK seeking hot new start-ups; software glitches have been found in Apple’s iCloud and iTunes services; and Nokia has teamed up with Oracle to launch new mapping services.

Finding start-ups with the X Factor

It seems start-up founders, like pop stars, have to have the X Factor. I prefer hard workers myself but it seems music mogul Simon Cowell and hip-hop artist Will.i.am are on the hunt for start-up founders who have X Factor qualities to be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

According to TechCrunch, a new tech-focused TV show is to debut in the UK focused on would-be entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to an all-star cast.

“Singing and performance create a couple of jobs. But this will create lots … It’s about getting in touch with youth and giving them a platform to express themselves, whether that’s in science or mathematics,” said Will.i.am.

Are Japan’s tech firms in freefall?

While Apple and Samsung slug it out over patents, The Washington Post reported that Japanese tech giants like Sony, Sharp and Panasonic are in a fight for relevance and survival.

“While the Japanese economy staggers, the consumer electronics companies are in an accelerated free fall, unable to catch on in the digital world of tablets and smartphones,” the Post reported.

“They’re cycling through executives, watching their stock prices dip toward 10-year lows and laying off employees; Sharp recently reported plans to slash nearly one-fifth of its workforce. The companies – bleeding money on their once-profitable televisions – have also set off on a non-traditional hunt for profits, developing everything from solar panels to medical devices.

“The companies still have famous brand names, and tech analysts say they still produce some of the world’s highest-quality hardware devices. But they face a fundamental problem: It’s been years since they’ve turned out products that people feel they need to have.”

Nokia inks mapping deal with Oracle

Nokia has signed a major deal that will open up its maps and location services to business software giant Oracle, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In a major development to be announced at the annual OracleWorld conference in San Francisco, California, the deal is seen by Nokia as a way to compete head-to-head with Google’s Maps technology.

“Nokia has looked to significantly ramp up its location and commerce business following the US$8.1bn acquisition of Navteq in 2007. Starting with a dominant position in the automobile-navigation industry, Nokia has migrated its mapping capabilities into mobile phones and other applications, including a range of Microsoft products,” the Journal reported.

Oops, Apple’s iCloud pushes users’ renewal dates 38 years into the future

As if the shaky launch of its own Maps software which resulted in an apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook weren’t enough, CNET reported an apparent glitch in the iCloud account system has resulted in some accounts showing extended storage space with renewal dates 38 years into the future.

“iCloud’s use of online storage as a syncing medium lowers the overall requirement for online storage, so Apple has reduced the base level to 5GB.

“However, Apple offered existing MobileMe customers a temporary extra 20GB of storage to accommodate user data during the transition to the new service. Apple originally offered this extra storage for a month, but increased this time frame to September 30 and has been notifying users of this upcoming change.”

Bugs found in iTunes Ts & Cs, too

Adding to the drama, MacRumors also reported that users are reporting a widespread issue with Apple’s App Store that is preventing new purchases from being made.

“When users attempt to make a purchase or redownload a previous purchase, they are asked to agree to updated Terms & Conditions.

“When they accept, they are then asked to agree to them again and again. As a result, new purchases and downloads from iTunes in the cloud cannot be made. The issue appears to be affecting all purchases from the App Store and iTunes store on both iOS and the Mac, as well as the Mac App Store and iTunes Match. It’s also affecting the viewing of purchased items on the Apple TV.”

Ah, well Apple, at least you have robust sales figures from the new iPhone 5 to look forward to.

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