Weekend news round-up: Larry Page’s redemption, the rise and fall of Nokia

28 Apr 2014

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Google CEO Larry Page

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In our round-up of the weekend’s tech news, services such as Airbnb and Lyft are getting people to trust each other again, Larry Page is the Steve Jobs of Google, a new online black market emerges, and Nokia’s rise and fall is analysed.

The trusting economy

Wired had an interesting theory that centred on how services like Airbnb and Lyft finally got Americans to start trusting each other again.

“In about 40 minutes, Cindy Manit will let a complete stranger into her car. An app on her windshield-mounted iPhone will summon her to a corner in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, where a russet-haired woman in an orange raincoat and coffee-colored boots will slip into the front seat of her immaculate 2006 Mazda3 hatchback and ask for a ride to the airport. Manit has picked up hundreds of random people like this. Once she took a fare all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Another time she drove a clown to a Cirque du Soleil after-party.”

Welcome to the trusting economy.

Larry Page is the Steve Jobs of Google

Business Insider tackled a profile of Google CEO Larry Page, charting the awkward early years of Google and drawing a parallel between Page having to hire a senior CEO to run the company and Apple’s ouster of Steve Jobs, who returned years later to save the company.

“Like Jobs, Page has a co-founder, Sergey Brin, but Page has always been his company’s true visionary and driving force. And just as Apple’s investors threw Jobs out of his company, Google’s investors ignored Page’s wishes and forced him to hire a CEO to be adult supervision.

“Both then underwent a long period in the wilderness. Steve Jobs’ banishment was more severe, but Page also spent years at a remove from the day-to-day world of Google. As with Jobs, it was only through this long exile that Page was able to mature into a self-awareness of his strengths and weaknesses.

“Then, like Jobs, Page came back with wild ambitions and a new resolve.”

Understanding net neutrality

The Atlantic provided a very concise and useful guide to understanding the net neutrality debate that is raging in the US and will eventually make its way to Europe and beyond by linking to some of the best coverage on the issue in the past week.

“But this debate isn’t just about the specific wording of the possible FCC rules (though those are important). People have been talking about the principle of net neutrality, in one way or another, for more than 15 years, since Monica Lewinsky dominated the headlines.

“This idea of net neutrality—this cherished idea, even, among Internet entrepreneurs and activists—has a long history, roughly as long as the commercial world wide web. It is, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig has argued, what makes the Internet special.”

The rise and fall of Nokia

Once Nokia was the dominant force in the mobile world, now it has just been bought by Microsoft. CNET analysed the rise and fall of Nokia and what we could learn from it.

“Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition is a sobering reminder that even the strongest companies can fall.

“Next to Motorola, which invented the mobile handset, there was no bigger name in the business than Nokia. The company has been on such a steady downward slide over the past six years that it’s easy to forget how dominant and long-lasting its reign was over the cellphone business. Samsung Electronics is heralded as a titan with just over a quarter of the global handset market today; Nokia at its peak in 2007 controlled 41 percent of the market.”

Radio Free Everywhere

The New York Times reported that US intelligence agencies built Twitter-like services in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Cuba aimed at promoting open poltical discussion.

“But like the program in Cuba, which was widely ridiculed when it became public this month, the services in Pakistan and Afghanistan shut down after they ran out of money because the administration could not make them self-sustaining.

“In all three cases, American officials appeared to lack a long-term strategy for the programs beyond providing money to start them.”

The internet’s new black market

Wired cast its eye on a new black market economy emerging online that could be even more elusive than entities like Tor or bitcoin.

“At a Toronto Bitcoin hackathon earlier this month, the group took home the $20,000 first prize with a proof-of-concept for a new online marketplace known as DarkMarket, a fully peer-to-peer system with no central authority for the feds to attack. If DarkMarket’s distributed architecture works, law enforcement would be forced to go after every contraband buyer and seller one by one, a notion that could signal a new round in the cat-and-mouse game of illicit online sales.”

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com