Weekend news roundup


1 Aug 2011

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A roundup of technology news in some of the weekend newspapers, including Apple having more money than the US government and Google acquiring more than 1,000 patents from IBM.

Apple holds more cash than the US government

The San Jose Mercury News reported how one company has more cash than the world’s largest economy.

The United States has an operating cash balance of US$73.7bn, according the latest figures from the Treasury Department. Electronics giant Apple has US$76.4bn of cash on hand, according to its latest financial results.

If Washington fails to extend the nation’s debt limit of $14.3 trillion dollars by 2 August, the US government might be unable to write cheques to pay its obligations while also putting at risk its AAA credit rating.

Apple, on the other hand, recently reported that revenue for its just-ended quarter rose 82pc and profits increased 125pc.

Google buys more than 1,000 patents from IBM

Google Inc. has purchased more than 1,000 patents from IBM to defend itself from an onslaught of patent litigation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Internet search giant’s weak intellectual property portfolio has made it vulnerable to legal assault, said technology patent valuation specialist Alexander Poltorak, chief executive of General Patent Corp.

Google has more than 700 patents, mostly for search engine technology. Most of its competitors, particularly in the mobile industry, lay claim to thousands.

"Patents are instruments of war. Companies are acquiring patents to both defend their market share and to countersue competitors," Poltorak said.

Google Chrome becomes UK’s second most popular web browser

Google’s Chrome is Britain’s second most popular browser, the Guardian reported.

Three years after launch, Chrome last month captured 22pc of UK users and marginally overtook Mozilla’s Firefox browser, according to the web metrics firm Statcounter.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is losing market share to Chrome but remains the most popular browser for UK users with 45pc – although it has a head start by being pre-installed on almost all computers sold in Britain. Apple’s Safari is No 4 in the UK, with a 9pc share.

Google’s rise in the browser market is in part down to advertising across the UK – Chrome is the first Google product advertised on British TV – but is largely attributed to its speed.

Millions of motorists admit to ‘sat nav racing’ game

The Telegraph carried a piece about how sat-nav users are undertaking a dangerous challenge as they try to beat the estimated times the devices display with every route, a survey has found.

Millions of motorists are apparently racing against their sat navs and many are taking risks, such as overtaking on blind bends, tailgating, flashing their lights or gesticulating at other drivers to do so.

The devices give a minimum time to reach a given destination, assuming the motorist travels at the maximum permitted speed along the suggested route. Beating the time, therefore, invariably means breaking the law.

Yet 7.2m of Britain’s 37m drivers engage in the practice, the survey by Sainsbury’s car insurance suggests, although only half would admit to breaking the speed limit.

The results suggest nearly 150,000 drivers have been involved in a collision while "GPS racing" in the last year.

Internet Explorer users may have lower IQs

The Independent revealed results of a study that suggests users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) may have lower IQs than those who use Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera.

Online psychometric testing company AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Co. published results of a study that found a user’s choice of web browser is related to their cognitive ability.

"There was a clear indication … that the subjects using any version of Internet Explorer ranked significantly lower on an average than others," said AptiQuant. Out of all the IE versions, "subjects using IE 8 (fared) a little better."

People using Opera, Camino and IE with Chrome Frame scored slightly higher than their not-so-bright Internet Explorer-using friends, suggesting that people with a lower IQ "tend to resist a change/upgrade of their browsers.

"There was no significant difference in the IQ scores between individuals using Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s Safari; however, it was on an average higher than IE users," said AptiQuant.

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