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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Peter Thiel: Twitter will outlast the New York Times

Category : Stocks

Tech visionaries Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen disagree on the promise of Twitter but both see a relatively long lifespan for the social media firm. At least in Internet years.

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Check Point Software Technologies Reports 2013 First Quarter Financial Results

Category : World News

SAN CARLOS, CA–(Marketwired – Apr 22, 2013) – Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), the worldwide leader in securing the Internet, today announced its financial results for the first quarter ending March 31, 2013.

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VIDEO: Meet the ebook evangelists

Category : World News

BBC News catches up with some of the people exhibiting in the digital zone of the London Book Fair, to hear their views on the state of internet publishing.

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Cash is on the line when Facebook comes calling…

Category : Business

Facebook has more than a billion users, and is bidding to reach more by a smartphone takeover – with a twist

Infectious diseases, says the World Health Organisation, “are caused by pathogenic microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi; the diseases can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another.” Quite so. Just like Facebook addiction, which also spreads from person to person and has now reached pandemic proportions, with more than a billion sufferers worldwide.

The Facebook pathogen doesn’t kill people, of course, for the good reason that dead people don’t buy stuff. But it does seem to affect victims’ brains. For example, it reduces normally articulate and sophisticated people to gibbering in the online equivalent of grunts. Likewise, it obliges them to coalesce all the varieties of human relationships into a simply binary pair: “friends” v everyone else. I have some real friends – as opposed to “friends” – on Facebook and every so often one of them posts a comment on something I’ve written. I’ve just looked at one such observation. It’s thoughtful, subtle and nicely written. But beneath it is a button simply labelled “Like”. If I click on it, my friend will doubtless receive a message from Facebook telling him that I “like” his comment. Big deal.

What’s interesting about this is the way a software system has been designed to strip all of the nuances and complexities that characterise human interaction and compress them into a channel with the bandwidth of Morse code. Actually, the bandwidth is even more attenuated than that. At least with Morse, something can be either a dot or a dash, but Facebook lacks even that binary sophistication. It only has a “Like” button, possibly because a “Dislike” one might facilitate a higher level of discourse than that deemed desirable by the system’s architect.

Cultural critic Neil Postman once observed that you can’t use smoke signals for philosophical discussions: the communication channel simply doesn’t have the necessary bandwidth. One wonders what he would have made of Facebook, or of the fact that a sixth of the world’s population is apparently satisfied by such a primitive medium of communication.

Meanwhile, the efforts of Facebook’s owners to “monetise” these poor saps continue unabated. The basic idea is to use their personal data to refine the targeting of ads at them, which means that, as time goes on, the system becomes more and more tiresome to use. This raises the spectre that, one day, the worms might turn and depart.

But – hey! – Facebook management has a plan for that too. It’s revealed in a fascinating patent application just published. Like all patent applications, it consists of three coats of prime technical verbiage, and the devil is in the detail, but the essence of it is that in exchange for a monthly payment Facebook users will be able to get rid of ads and specify exactly what should replace them on their personal profiles. This is subtly different from what other “freemium” services like Spotify currently offer.

You have to admire the chutzpah implicit in this. First, you bombard your hapless users with ads. Then you offer them relief in return for payment. There’s a word for this in English, but m’learned friends don’t approve of it, so I will avoid it. I’ll be surprised if the patent is approved, but the US Patent and Trademark Office has a track record in granting daft patents, as, for example, US Patent 5,443,036 for a method of exercising a cat by getting it to follow a spot generated by a laser pointer, so I might be unduly optimistic.

For fiendish ingenuity, however, Facebook’s latest move into the mobile phone business takes the biscuit. Neatly avoiding the trap of getting into the handset-manufacturing game, the company has instead developed an Android app that really ought to be codenamed Cuckoo because it effectively takes over any handset on which it is installed. It can be downloaded for a subset of recent Android handsets and last week HTC unveiled the first phone that comes with Facebook Home pre-installed. The app conceals the array of apps that normally dominate Android home screens and instead puts Facebook activity squarely in the centre of the phone’s screen. It splashes status updates across the phone’s lock and home screens and makes Facebook’s messenger application ubiquitous with little “Chat Heads” that follow you from app to app, thereby making it easy to keep up with what pass for “conversations” on Facebook.

What Facebook Home means, of course, is that Facebook will be the first – and perhaps the only – thing that new users of smartphones, especially in emerging markets (ie poor countries), see when they fire up their phones. And when they want to search for something, why, they will use Facebook’s search engine rather than that of Google, the company that created the operating system on which Facebook’s app runs. Howzat!

Actress claim against IMDb rejected

Category : Business

An actress who sued after her age was posted on its Internet Movie Database has her claim rejected by a federal jury in Seattle.

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Mobile advertising triples to record levels

Category : Business

UK mobile advertising grew 148% year-on-year in 2012 to £526m, up from £203m in 2011, as total digital ad spend hit £5bn

The growing popularity of smartphones and tablets and a huge rise in the use of apps caused mobile advertising in 2012 to almost triple to over £500m, as total UK digital ad spend hit £5bn for the first time.

UK mobile advertising grew a staggering 148% year-on-year in 2012 to £526m, up from £203m in 2011, with growth continuing to accelerate in the second half of last year.

The revolution in handheld devices – almost two-thirds of the UK population owns a smartphone – has had a massive effect on the ad market.

In 2008, when Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s app store, an event which would accelerate the smartphone market and irrevocably change how people use phones, mobile advertising in the UK was a paltry £25m.

Mobile display and video advertising grew 121% to £150m in 2012, with mobile search soaring by 164% to £365m. Mobile search accounts for 69% of total mobile ad spend.

“There is simply so much buzz around mobile,” said Tim Elkington, director of research and strategy at the Internet Advertising Bureau. “Marketers are becoming more attune to the ‘always on’ nature of consumers who expect to engage with content wherever they are.”

In 2009 mobile accounted for just 1% of the total UK digital advertising market. Just three years later the 2012 figures show that it accounts for 10%.

With the rapid rollout of 4G services, mobile operator EE has pledged to increase its network speed to a likely top rate of 80Mbps in 10 cities from this summer. This suggest mobile advertising may record another bumper year in 2013.

Social media advertising has also developed into a strong advertising medium, with spend up 24% to £328m, a fourfold increase in just three years.

Total UK internet advertising spend rose by 12.5% in 2012 to hit £5.42bn, a £607m increase over the total amount spent in 2011. The increase in the amount spent on mobile advertising last year accounted for 53% of the total £607m boost.

The total digital display advertising market, including mobile, rose 12.4% to £1.3bn. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the rise of the display ad market, albeit not on mobile yet, is Facebook.

The Google-dominated paid-for search market rose 14.5% to £3.17bn.

The rise of mobile ad spend in the UK

2008: Mobile ad spend £25m (total UK internet spend: £3.3bn)

2009: £37.6m (£3.5bn)

2010: £83m (£4.1bn)

2011: £203m (£4.8bn)

2012: £526m (£5.4bn)

Google ‘sells back Frommer’s guides’

Category : Business, World News

The founder of travel guidebook company Frommer’s tells a news agency that he has reacquired the rights to the business from internet giant Google.

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Mobile phone’s 40th anniversary: from ‘bricks’ to clicks

Category : Business

Experts hail rapid development of handsets, particularly in internet access – and say there is a lot more innovation to come

Mobile phone technology has come a long way since the first mobile phone call was made 40 years ago – but there is a lot more innovation ahead, according to one expert.

It was on 3 April 1973 that Motorola employee Martin Cooper made a call in New York on a Motorola DynaTAC – dubbed a “brick” due to its size and weight – which was widely regarded globally as the first public mobile phone call.

The device was 9 inches tall, comprised 30 circuit boards, had a talk-time of 35 minutes, and took 10 hours to recharge.

Four decades on, a worldwide telecoms industry with annual revenues of £800bn has grown rapidly based on wide choice, falling prices and an array of technologies, resulting in the average mobile being used to take photos, play music and games, send emails, download maps, watch video clips, all as well as talking and texting.

Mike Short, an expert from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said Cooper’s phone call is the first public call people recognise as being a cellular mobile call.

He said the 10 years following that first call were “very much developmental”, with research being carried out in laboratories before services were launched in 1981 in the US.

“Since its first use 40 years ago, the mobile phone has completely changed our lives. The first decade was a research or a ‘demonstrator’ phase, rapidly followed by analogue networks deployed over 10 years from the early 1980s largely based on carphones and used in business in the developed world.

“This soon led to the digital decade mainly between 1993 and 2003 when consumerisation and globalisation of mobile really took off.

“This led to a further data adoption phase with the arrival of 3G and during 2003 to 2013 access to the internet and the wider use of smartphones became a reality,” he said.

The two most significant developments in mobile phone technology have been the widespread availability of devices and their ability to access the internet, Short said.

“In the early days of mobile, consumerisation was not considered. It was made for men in suits in business, whereas consumerisation followed much later.

“And then access to the internet followed much later again. The first smartphones weren’t until about five years ago. So the pace of change has actually sped up over the 40 years, particularly in the past 15 to 18 years,” he said.

Short expects mobile technology to continue to evolve and said people can expect even more developments in future.

“More changes are expected. The early days of mobile were all about voice, whereas today it’s much more about data.

“And the point about data is that we can carry voice calls over the data channel, but in future we’ll move towards fuller data services such as video – much more video to video calling, much more screens on the wall in your home, maybe more video television downloaded, catchup TV, that sort of thing.

“So there’s a lot more innovation to come, particularly in the data and video worlds,” he said.

Mobile phone users will have noticed these changes in the last few years, as phones have become more affordable and sit lightly in the palm of their hand – but innovators are working to enhance these aspects of modern devices further.

Short said: “The cost has already fallen a long way. What tends to happen is you get more functionality per pound spent.

“That would include more memory, that would include more features, that would include more capability to access the internet at higher speeds.

“The weight has dropped dramatically already, but we’re seeing, probably this year, the first watch-based phones.”

With improvements and changes implemented so frequently, Dr Short said it is hard to know what exactly to expect in the next 40 years, but it is safe to assume millions more people in the world will have access to mobile phones.

“It’s very difficult to predict 40 years’ time because the pace of innovation is speeding up. I would say that we’ll all be mobile, globally, everyone will be mobile.

“I’d also say that we’ll be connecting many more machines via wireless mobile technology as well.

“The world of around 7bn devices connected today should be in excess of 70bn connected devices in 40 years’ time,” he said.

George Osborne limbers up for a tax crackdown

Category : Business

The chancellor faces a stern test in the Commons; Greggs is urged to cut down its ambitions; retailers look to the internet

As you may have read elsewhere, George Osborne has a big week coming up. On Wednesday he will deliver what must be the most eagerly unanticipated budget in decades – not least, presumably, by the chancellor himself, who after last year’s debacle, will attempt to redefine the term tax relief by escaping from the chamber with his red box intact.

Those who claim to know about these things are expecting a dull speech as, firstly, Osborne cannot really risk another downgrade to his political credit rating; and secondly, the country’s finances are still in such a pickle that he possesses few real options.

Still, the standard tactic in such situations is to launch an attack on tax avoidance – as Osborne did last year. Then he railed against dodgers holding expensive properties within “corporate envelopes” warning: “I will not hesitate to move swiftly, without notice and retrospectively if inappropriate ways around the new rules are found.”

Let’s hope he’s limbered up. Tax advisers have been peppering wealthy clients with notes suggesting clever ways of restructuring their property portfolios, while, as one expert puts it: “I don’t use the word lightly, but this whole [clampdown] is pretty much a farce and will have cost a fortune to set up and operate”.

City wants Greggs to start slicing back stores

Of all the measures George Osborne has been tempted to introduce this week, sticking VAT on freshly baked goods probably never attracted him.

You’ll recall he tried that last year with a move dubbed the “pasty tax”, leaving the bakery chain Greggs (among others) to claim that the move could have a “material impact” on its profits and force it to close some stores.

Osborne doesn’t talk much about that aborted effort these days, but the issue of Greggs and the odd store closure does recur – as we will likely hear this week when Roger Whiteside, the chief executive who is just a month into the job, has his first stab at a major results statement.

He needs to come up with something approaching a strategy to make Greggs look more appetising to parts of the City. Top of the menu, according to analysts at Liberum, will be greater investment in the shops, cutting the rollout of new stores, and being more aggressive on closing underperforming outlets. Still, the early signs of Whiteside’s ability to slash are not encouraging. The company’s corporate website features a video of his predecessor, Ken McMeikan, gushing about ancient plans to add 600 new stores.

Retailers hope for net gains

Not long ago, retailers were preoccupied by acquiring more and more stores. It used to cause a right old stink (particularly with the supermarkets), but now that a glorified version of mail order is back in vogue this dash for more shops seems oddly quaint.

Tesco is so worried that internet shopping will make its vast warehouses even more unattractive places to shop that it spent £50m last week in the hope that the prospect of a Giraffe burger (it’s the brand, not a food scandal) will make a trip to the supermarket a family day out. If that shows how desperate things have become, we will get another reminder about the growing influence of internet retailing this week with two key clothing companies updating the City.

The biggest of these will be Next – which you may have noticed still possesses the odd store. That’s fine, but the City is more interested in the website, a business perfected years ago with Next Directory and which prompted a Panmure Gordon upgrade last week.

Then comes pure internet retailer Asos, which is expected to continue impressing, as well as unveiling a US warehouse plus updates on new websites in Russia and China. It’s a sign of how fashionable Asos has become that these projects are viewed as exciting. For other sectors, they’d be risky.

Google pays executives $15m bonuses

Category : World News

Internet search giant Google is paying nearly $15m (£10.1m) in bonuses to four of its top executives for their performances last year.

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