FutureFive NZ - The Techday Weekender - Sep 24th 2011

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The Techday Weekender - Sep 24th 2011

History dictated it had to happen sooner or later.

Like Microsoft in the 90s, Google has become so dominant it has attracted the attention of US anti-trust authorities. Executive chairman Eric Schmidt this week spoke before a Senate antitrust panel, defending Google against claims by rivals that the company uses its dominance in the search space to unfairly advantage its other online offerings.

Thanks to Google’s formidable lobbying team, Schmidt did not have to speak while flanked by competitors as Microsoft boss Bill Gates did in 1998. However, Schmidt still had to endure some rigorous questioning, such as from Republican Senator Mike Lee, who alleged that Google ‘cooked’ its search results. Schmidt replied testily, ‘Senator, may I simply say that I can assure you we’ve not cooked anything’.

The company’s argument is that, unlike Microsoft in its heyday, Google operates in an online world, with consumers free to use rivals’ search services if they find Google’s to be unsatisfactory. Given that the company’s very name is synonymous with search, though, it seems unlikely this will wash for long, and we at Techday suspect this won’t be the last we hear on the subject.

Speaking of Google, the company this week charged ahead with its social network offering, Google+, removing the invitation-only sign-up restriction and saying the network was moving from ‘field trial’ to ‘beta’. Google+ has been well received since its launch three months ago, and despite a few issues with its naming policy, the main detraction is simply that everyone isn’t on it as they are on Facebook.

Google is obviously in for the long haul, though, and it looks like Facebook could be just a little scared. Despite a seemingly indomitable incumbency, Facebook is in a predicament: change too much and it will alienate its users, but don’t change enough it the site will quickly look stale next to its rival. Founder Mark Zuckerberg is at least determined to die with his boots on, announcing some big updates at the f8 developer conference this week.

Staying overseas, HP named its new CEO on Thursday, appointing eBay mastermind Meg Whitman to the role. The company’s statement was ambiguous about whether outgoing boss, Leo Apotheker, resigned or was pushed, but Whitman has wasted no time establishing herself in the role, sending an email to employees reassuring them about the direction of the company.

Back home, Telecom was this week forced to sweeten its offer to a group of stockholders who will vote on its demerger from network arm Chorus at the end of the month. The company had offered a one-off 0.25% payment for approval of the demerger, but was forced to double this to 0.5%, as well as make promises about additional compensation should the company’s new configuration fall foul of credit agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

Finally, it seems the date is drawing closer for the release of the highly anticipated iPhone 5, with one technology website reporting a rumour of an Apple media event scheduled for early October. Although speculation continues to run rampant about the device – or devices, if Apple board member and former presidential candidate Al Gore’s slip is to be believed – the real intrigue is whether new CEO Tim Cook can live up to the reverential hype predecessor Steve Jobs elicited in his launches.

Exciting times! We’ll see you Monday.

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