Weekend news roundup: party invite goes viral; Murdoch and Zuckerberg in talks?

9 Jul 2012

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Some of the weekend newspapers’ tech coverage reveals the annual Sun Valley summer camp for media moguls will see interesting opportunities arise for existing and new moguls, including Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg, respectively. In other news, a Facebook party invite gone viral nearly saw 1,000 people turn up to trash a Cavan teenager’s home.

Apps really are child’s play

The New York Times had an interesting report about digital technologies like the iPad and apps becoming big business for toy manufacturers like Fisher Price, which has developed an iPad case that doubles as a teething toy.

The paper’s Nicole LaPorte reported: “It’s well known that children are quick to learn new technology. But six-month-olds? How did the idea arise for a toy that allows its user to gnaw on its brightly coloured handles and drool on its protective screen, while also manipulating apps for counting and singing?

At Fisher-Price, such products result from a process known as spelunking, which in its literal sense means to explore caves. But in the realm of toy making, it refers to the simple act of watching children play.

A similar process is alive and well at other companies, like LeapFrog, maker of the LeapPad, a touchscreen tablet for children as young as 3; and at Hasbro and Crayola, which have partnered with digital media companies to create apps for very young children.

Summer camp for media moguls

Traditional media mogul Rupert Murdoch and social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook are understood to be planning some kind of an alliance.

The Guardian reported that Murdoch and Zuckerberg along with Google’s Sergey Brin are expected to attend the prestigious Sun Valley media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, this week.

The event is understood to have been framed by a shifting landscape of opportunities for snatching up assets as media companies navigate new entertainment platforms.

Citing Reuters, the paper reported: “The 30-year-old conference, hosted by boutique investment firm Allen & Co, has consistently attracted heavy hitters and spawned blockbuster deals including Disney’s $19bn (£12bn) acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC in 1995. However, with the exception of Comcast’s 2009 purchase of NBC Universal, few major tie-ups have come out of Sun Valley in recent years.

“That may change at this year’s event, which runs from 10 July to 14 July at the Sun Valley Resort. Developments in the past few weeks have industry commentators predicting media companies will shed more assets while they jockey to grab consumers’ attention,” The Guardian reported.

Party out of bounds? Thanks Facebook

A hapless teenager who inadvertently invited thousands to a party via Facebook narrowly avoided his parents’ house being trashed by thousands of revellers, according to The Irish Examiner.

The teenager wanted to host a birthday party while his folks were away but unfortunately the invitation went viral with more than 1,000 people saying they planned to show up to the party in Cavan.

Despite the teen’s efforts to cancel the invitations, news of the party also went onto Twitter and the tone of the respondents turned malevolent with threats to completely destroy the house.

The teen’s parents cancelled their weekend away, Gardaí got involved, and no revellers showed up.

Hanging on the telephone

Did you ever have a technical problem that you want to raise with Facebook or Google and all you are given is an email address when a human voice that simply explains an issue is what you really crave? Well, according to The New York Times, that’s just the way it’s gonna be because internet giants don’t want to talk to you – they simply don’t have the time.

The paper’s Amy O’Leary wrote: “Voice calls have been falling out of fashion with teenagers and people in their 20s for some time (text only, please). But what is a matter of preference for the young is becoming a matter of policy for technology companies; phones cost money, phones do not scale. Besides, why call when you can use Google, or send a Twitter message?

“On the other end of the line, however, some people may not know how to Google, or do not want to use Twitter. These users may be older, or less technically adept, and they are finding the method of communication they have relied on for a lifetime shifting under their feet. It does not make sense, they say, that a company with products used by millions every day cannot pick up the phone.

“The companies argue that with millions of users every day, they cannot possibly pick up a phone.”

Samsung won’t give up the tablets

Tech giant Samsung’s success in the smartphone business with devices like the Galaxy S III is being offset by a lacklustre performance with tablet computers, exacerbated by the recent ban by a court judge on sales of Galaxy Tab 10.1-inch devices in the US as part of a patent infringement case brought by Apple.

The South Korean manufacturer isn’t giving up and according to the LA Times it is returning to the tablet market with a range of Windows RT devices, part of the Windows 8 line-up of products.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com