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The TechDay Weekender - May 5th 2012

05 May 12

If it’s attention they wanted, BlackBerry makers Research In Motion have got it.

The company had technology journalists around the world scratching their heads at the beginning of this week trying to work out who was behind a bizarre stunt outside a Sydney Apple store.

The stunt took place back on April 22, when a black bus with the words ‘wake up’ emblazoned on the side pulled up outside the store. A group of people dressed in black proceeded to exit the bus, waving identical ‘wake up’ signs and chanting, of course, ‘wake up’.

A blogger posted footage of the incident, claiming he’d been outside the store playing with a new purchase – despite the fact it was raining – and further searches turned up a website with the same slogan and a countdown clock.

The finger of blame initially swung to Samsung on account of their ads poking fun at Apple, and because they had a new Galaxy device due out in the next few days (more on that later).

Samsung denied it, though, and shortly afterwards analysis of code on the website yielded a link to Research In Motion, and they finally put their hands up.

The company has promised a reveal on May 7 that will ‘aim to provoke conversation on what ‘being in business’ means in Australia’ – but with reaction to the stunt lukewarm at best, it had better be pretty darn provocative.

Speaking of hype, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S III smartphone this week at an unpacking event in London. Local journalists were offered breakfast in bed as an incentive to get up and watch the event – at 6am our time – and from the moment the London Metropolitan Orchestra appeared on screen it was clear Samsung weren’t mucking about.

The presenters swept across the grand stage like they were giving out Oscars, but thankfully kept their speeches (relatively) short and to the point. The device has its own voice control feature, similar to Siri in the iPhone 4S, but also has a facial recognition feature that keeps the screen on as long as the user is looking at it, as well as a motion detection feature, which recognises when the device is being picked up or held to the user’s ear.

We can’t say how well it stacks up against the competition just yet, but the good news is we don’t have to wait too long, with the Galaxy S III due out here by the end of this month.

On Monday we saw the selection of the team to represent New Zealand at the Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals, being held in Sydney in July.

Having participated as a preliminary judge on Sunday I was pleased to see Team Mobile Eye get through, as their system seemed to offer the best combination of innovation and practicality.

Having said that, some of the other teams had outstanding ideas, including an online system for ‘rounding up’ online purchases and donating the change to charity, and a platform for apps using thought pattern sensors to help developers build tools for people with physical disabilities. The passion of the students was great to experience and I couldn’t help but get excited about what the future holds for the New Zealand tech industry.

Over in Australia, the government has made a move on the issue of technology price gouging, launching an inquiry with Apple and Microsoft (among others) into the reason consumers and businesses seem to pay more for content and software downloads than users in the US and other countries. Although the same trend has been noted here, our ICT Minister Amy Adams has indicated she’s unlikely to match the move.

And finally, the mobile payment space is heating up, with Telecom announcing an Auckland trial only to be trumped by 2degrees actually rolling out a service in Wellington. We can’t wait to see this technology catch on as it’s infuriating to have to fumble through change or whip out the EFTPOS card just to pay $2.99 for a drink at the dairy.

Have a great weekend everyone! We’ll be back Monday.

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