FutureFive NZ - The TechDay Weekender - Mar 17th 2012

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The TechDay Weekender - Mar 17th 2012

Struggling former powerhouse Yahoo surprised many in the industry this week by launching a lawsuit against Facebook over patents relating to website layout and social integration.

In its initial filing, Yahoo claims to have thought of social integration back when Facebook was just a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye, developing technology ‘that allows customers to customise information about themselves, join groups of others with the same interests as themselves, and share interesting information’.

"For much of the technology upon which Facebook is based, Yahoo! got there first,” the filing says.

For its part, Facebook responded like a parent whose child has just announced they are leaving home to go to drama school: "We’re disappointed that Yahoo, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefitted from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation.”

It’s certainly a risky move for a company that seems like it needs all the friends it can get. No-one likes a patent troll – although, as Apple and Samsung have shown, ferocious legal battles don’t necessarily preclude collaboration in other areas.

The idea may be that the cash injection which would result from a settlement by Facebook – the company is set to go public later this year and can do without the spectre of ongoing legal action hanging over it – will be used to fund whatever grand plans new Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson has to re-invigorate the company. Alternatively, it may just be a hail-mary from a company that’s out of other ideas. It’s certainly one we’ll be keeping an eye on.

In local news, high-end ISP Maxnet told TechDay they have had an ‘overwhelming’ response to an offer of unlimited broadband access for $99.95 per month, even though users have to cool their heels on a wait list before being connected.

It’s all part of the company’s strategy for introducing unlimited broadband while making sure there’s no compromise to user experience. New users tend to blast the unlimited connection for all it’s worth for the first few days, then slow down dramatically when their hard drive fills up, so Maxnet is adding a limited number of users per week, monitoring the performance of its network and adding more capacity as it comes close to filling up.

Our readers were quick to point out that Slingshot also offers unlimited broadband, although with all the anger about data caps going around there’s surely room for two in the all-you-can-eat space.

In other local news, Dell launched its XPS 13 ‘ultrabook’ in New Zealand this week, and judging by the specs the device could provide some stiff competition for the 13-inch MacBook Air. $1699 is pretty cheap for a 13-inch screen, 128GB solid state drive, 4GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5 processor, although whether it’s cheap enough to combat the Apple Effect remains to be seen.

Speaking of Dell, the PC maker purchased security solution vendor SonicWall for between US$1 billion and US$1.5 billion this week in a further sign of the company’s diversification away from its traditional PC manufacturing business. We think it’s a good move for Dell, although the real winners seem to be former SonicWall owners Thoma Bravo LLC, who bought the company for US$717 million less than two years ago.

Finally, driver training website eDrive added a special module this week to help kiwis experience the new Give Way rules before they come into effect on March 25. This could really cause some chaos so we’re encouraging everyone to spread the word.

Have a great weekend, we’ll see you Monday.

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