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Tech News Roundup - 23.06.14

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by Startacus Admin

Want to catch up on the latest in technology news? We’ve done all the hard reading so you don’t have to. The Startacus Tech News Update delivers all tech news ukthe big technology stories for UK businesses in handy bite-sized chunks. 

Digital Hasn’t Killed Print Advertising . . . Yet.

Printed flyers and adverts are still a key stimulus in driving customers to a website according to a new survey. The study of 1000 UK consumers found that 5% ‘always’ visited a social media page, downloaded an app or registered for emails in response to a printed advert they found interesting. Despite the growth in mobile browsing, 75% of those driven online by a printed advert chose to use a desktop or laptop - blaming poor mobile websites and patchy reception for not using a smartphone.

Although print advertising still has a place in the market, a forecast from WPP predicts that UK national newspaper advert revenue will drop below £1bn this year for the first time; even though overall advertising spend across all mediums will rise 5.4%. Digital advertising is predicted to increase by 12.8% and account for nearly £1 in every £2 spent by advertisers.

Beware Of Cheap Hardware

Businesses may be aware of viruses and malware from online, but what about from inside a phone or tablet itself? In the effort to save a few pounds on equipment, business owners may be putting themselves and employees at risk. A cheap ‘Samsung’ style smartphone on sale for £120 on Amazon and Ebay was recently discovered to have malware built in. Without the users knowledge, criminals could track the phone’s location, record calls, make purchases and send premium texts. They could even break into online banking and other secure apps downloaded to the phone. Even after weeks of use, some users remained oblivious to the dangers; rating the phone five stars on Amazon and praising it as a great alternative to big brand competitors. 

Smartphones are not the only hardware open to hackers. Security experts recently discovered a security flaw in a Synology storage drive was allowing one hacker to commandeer computers and  ‘mine’ the virtual currency called DogeCoin. The only clue as to the secret work being done was how slow users found the PCs to use. Synology and other manufacturers recommend installing all recommended updates as soon as they become available to protect against such vulnerabilities. 

KISS Ideas Still Sell

In today’s high tech world you might think that there are no easy ideas left. But evidence suggests that keeping it simple can still make you a fortune. tech news update

Uber, the taxi-style app which connects people needing a lift with nearby drivers, has just been valued at $17billion with new investors putting in $713million dollars of funding.

Simpler still, an app called ‘Yo’ makes Twitter’s 140 characters look shakespearean. Yo lets you send the two-letter message ‘Yo’ to your friends, and lets them send a ‘Yo’ back to you. Businesses can also ‘Yo’ customers. Despite being able to do nothing but send the word ‘Yo’ backwards and forwards, Yo has been downloaded over 160,000 times and raised £620k in VC funding.  

Finally, Starbucks have just announced a simple idea to encourage customers in for coffee. Wireless charging mats will be added to tables so customers can charge smartphones and other devices while sipping their latte.

Amazon Gets All Fired Up

Amazon have finally unveiled their first own-brand smartphone - The Amazon Fire. As you might expect from Amazon, alongside all the usual features to compete with Apple and Samsung, the Fire is a smartphone made for shopping.

Many see the phone’s Firefly function as central to Amazon plans to control shopping on mobile. Firefly lets you take a photo of an object, and then see its listing on Amazon. It can also ‘listen’ to a song on the radio and let you purchase it. As Firefly becomes more developed and is integrated with more apps, Amazon could lead a trend towards ultra low cost smartphones and tablets funded by shopping income and advertising revenue.

The Secrets Of Social Media Data 

According to a high ranking British security official, social media communications can be collected en-masse by security services without a warrant or individual justification. Regardless of privacy settings, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ posts are considered ‘external communications’ and can be monitored indiscriminately. 

But it’s not only the government which finds our social media data insightful. Many organisations are using posted data to study and analyse social media users. For a year, a computer program called HateBot has been finding and logging ‘Hate speech’ on Twitter to help NGOs understand growing areas of conflict between groups. A slightly lighter use of data is a new Facebook plug-in from Five Labs which studies your posted updates to determine your personality type - information which might be very useful to advertisers should Facebook one day make it available. 

A Test Of Patents

In the exciting world of Tech Patenting law a recent US Supreme Court ruling has made life harder for so-called ‘Patent Trolls’. The ruling stated that a patent which takes an existing concept and simply adds the idea of doing it on a computer is not sufficient to be upheld. 

The ruling is considered a crackdown on specialist companies (often referred to as ‘trolls’) who register generic technology patents with the primary aim of taking payments from companies who infringe them. Google and Facebook have welcomed a crackdown as they claim patent disputes put the brakes on innovation. IBM, however, argue that it could stop some companies from defending their existing patents and discourage research investment.

A more innovative approach to the patent problem has been taken by electric car manufacturer Tesla. Last week Tesla announced they are freely sharing their patent portfolio with other innovators ‘in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology’. The aim is to push forward electric car development to the advantage of all, including Tesla themselves.  

Startacus’ Technology News Round Up is authored by Justin Firth - Marketing and Technology blogger and enthusiast. Read more from Justin at or follow @marketingnextuk  on Twitter.

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Published on: 23rd June 2014

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