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Google apologizes for slow service


Following the reports of slowed and even interrupted service, which Google deemed a “traffic jam”, the company has now apologized for its slow service on the main page, the news site, and Gmail.

"An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our traffic through Asia," said Urs Hoelzle, a spokesman for the company and Google’s senior vice president of operations. "As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions," he said. "We've been working hard to make our services ultrafast and 'always on', so it's especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. Hoelzle continued, "We're very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we'll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won't happen again.”

The outage of the Google services has caused many to question the reliability, as this isn’t the first time a situation such as this has arisen. In January 2009 the company had serious technical issues resulting in an inability to return search results to users. In February 2009, the Gmail service experienced an outage that left millions across the globe with zero access to their web based email for a few hours.

Major outages such as this undermine Google’s attempts to deliver a “cloud computing” service which can be used rather than locally installed applications.

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8:52 PM

BlackBerry Curve outsells Apple's iPhone


RIM's BlackBerry Curve has managed to position itself as the best-selling smartphone in the US by capturing nearly 50 percent of the consumer market in Q1 2009.

The NPD Group attributed Curve's success to Verizon's "buy-one-get-one" aggressive promotional campaign.

"Verizon Wireless's aggressive marketing of the BlackBerry Storm and its buy-one-get-one BlackBerry promotion to its large customer base contributed to RIM capturing three of the top five positions," explained Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at The NPD Group. "The more familiar, and less expensive, Curve benefited from these giveaways and was able to leapfrog the iPhone, due to its broader availability on the four major US national carriers."

Smartphones, which represented just 17 percent of handset sales volume in Q1 2008, currently account for 23 percent of sales.

"Even in this challenging economy, consumers are migrating toward Web-capable handsets and their supporting data plans to access more information and entertainment on the go," said Rubin.

The first-quarter 2009 ranking of the top-five best-selling smartphones is as follows:

* RIM BlackBerry Curve (all 83XX models)
* Apple iPhone 3G (all models)
* RIM BlackBerry Storm
* RIM BlackBerry Pearl (all models, except flip)
* T-Mobile G1


Rubin told that carriers have "tremendous" leverage in determining smartphone success in the US market.

"Three of the top five handsets have been heavily promoted as exclusive hero handsets by carriers while the leading BlackBerry Curve enjoys distribution on all major carriers," added Rubin.

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7:10 PM

4G Sprint trial to continue


A move by Sprint to strike out claims against IPCS in a court case was dismissed by a Cook County, Illinois circuit court.

Sprint wanted the court to dismiss claims in an amended complaint over Sprint's Wi-Max venture with Clearwire.

The case, filed earlier this year, alleged that Sprint improperly withheld 4G technology after the Clearwire transaction.

The ICPS subsidiaries can go ahead and make a claim for any actual or direct damages resulting from the case.

ICPS CEO Timothy M. Yager said: "Technological advances are central to any wireless business and we are confident that after the evidence is presented in this case, the court will uphold the business deal that we reached with Spring over 10 years ago to 'be Sprint' in our exclusive territories and offer the most advanced seamless wireless nationwide network to our subscribers."

ICPS is also waiting for Sprint to comply with a court's ruling that it must stop owning, operating and managing the Nextel wireless network in IPCS wireless terrority by January next year.

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11:47 PM

eBooks fail to attract young readers


If Amazon's Kindle e-book reader is looking to make reading fab, hip and groovy, it is failing miserably.

A few months back, CNET mused about whom exactly was using Kindle, as Amazon itself seems somewhat recalcitrant to discuss the matter in public. Some 700 people replied, leading the mag to conclude that, at $359, younger folk would prefer to buy a gaming console, an iPod or to rent a copy of Porky's VIII - Revenge of the Vomit with a side order of a mega bucket of Buffalo Wings and chilli sauce.

Of 700 users polled, half were over 50 and 70% are over 40. This would seem to indicate that the majority of users are people who would read books anyway, rather than being kewl dudes and dudettes with the attention span of - hey! Look! A castle!

While more mature folks are on record as stating that the digital reader can be easier to handle and read than printed books for arthritis sufferers and those with poor eyesight, we cannot but help feeling that Kindle has abjectly failed in diverting younger folk from the shiny allure of ten second YouTube clips of dancing kittens, co-eds drinking tequila shots using only their feet and people throwing up in their shorts. Or someone else's.

It's at times like this that I feel very, very old and very, very worried about the future of personkind. I've never met a person I liked who didn't love reading books. Either in print or pixel form.

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11:45 PM

Mozilla’s Fennec gets Firefox 3.5 core


Mozilla thinks beyond the desktop version of its Firefox browser and the next big opportunity to claim market share: The mobile version of Firefox, currently code-named Fennec, will receive similar capabilities as the desktop version and integrate the core technologies of Firefox 3.5.

Mike Beltzner, director of Firefox at Mozilla, confirmed in a recent conversation with TG Daily that Fennec will adopt the same code base as Firefox 3.5, which is currently available as a public Beta 4. While it will be a streamlined version, Fennec will be based on the Gecko 1.9.1 rendering engine and include the TraceMonkey JavaScript engine. Beltzner noted that Mozilla believes that mobile browsers “should not be second class browsers,” but provide an experience similar to a desktop browser.

Beltzner made the comments when talking about growth opportunities for Firefox, which he said are primarily in making the software faster, more secure and much more extendable to enable a “customizable web.” Another opportunity is in corporate applications, which still rely on Internet Explorer 6 in many environments. Beltzner said that Mozilla moves into this field by allowing companies access to Mozilla developer teams and browser documentation. For example, the organization helped IBM develop an “IBM-specific version” of Firefox, which apparently is deployed company-wide.

He noted that Microsoft has significant progress with the recently released Internet Explorer 8 and said that Mozilla welcomes that “Microsoft is investing in the web again.” However, despite the apparent enhancements in privacy and performance, he did not think that IE8 has any new or unique features Mozilla would want or adopt for Firefox.

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11:44 PM

iPhone to overtake Linux within 18 months


Since June 2008, the iPhone has more than tripled its market share, while Linux has merely added 0.18% to its customer base.

According to new figures from MarketShare, iPhone users accounted for just 0.16% of web users last June, but now total an impressive 0.55%. Linux, on the other hand, has grown from 0.8% to 1.02% share over the same period.

Mac users have increased from 7.94% to 9.73%, while Microsoft must be crying into its beer as its market share has plummeted to a derisory 87.9%.

But it is the seemingly-unstoppable rise of the iPhone that has industry watchers all-aquiver. Assuming the iPhone batteries don't explode and the displays don't crack, it looks very much as if Linux will be consigned to the dustbin of history before the decade is out.

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11:42 PM

Google expands Gmail search options


Google has introduced a new web search widget for its popular Gmail service. The optional feature, which can be activated in Gmail Labs under the Settings tab, allows users to search the Internet without opening a new browser window.

"People would ask me questions, over chat or email, and I'd have to leave Gmail to search Google for an answer. Then I'd have to select the answer, copy it, go back to Gmail and paste the answer into the chat window or my reply," software engineer Adam de Boor explained in a blog post. "Sometimes I'd get distracted and forget to go back to Gmail, and I'd have to go through it all again when I remembered what I'd been doing. With the new Google Search experiment in Gmail Labs, my problem is solved. Type your search in, and a window (like a chat window, but a bit bigger) appears at the bottom of your screen with the first few search results. "
According to de Boor, users can easily insert the search results into chats and e-mails. De Boor also recommended enabling the "Navbar drag and drop" in Labs to move the web search box up to the top of the page for easier access.

Google has added a number of new features to Gmail over the past few months, including search autocomplete, support for various Indian languages and extra emoticons. The search giant has also "rewritten Gmail" for mobile devices and offline use.

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11:40 PM

Twitter citizen journo beat New York packTwitter citizen journo beat New York pack


It was a tweeter who first reported Air Force One flying close to Manhattan earlier this week.

According to Harvard University project, the Nieman Journalism Lab, there was a heap of backchat on social media sites, blogs, message boards and on Twitter.

That back footed the New York news organizations that, however, jumped onto the story as quickly as they could. Unlike Trachtman, they have news web sites.

Nieman quotes New Jersey resident Amy Trachtman, who tweeted away seconds after she heard the aircraft approach NYC.

Trachtman took her dog for a walk, still spooked by her experience, but noticed that the building next door was being evacuated. She used her BlackBerry to tweet again. Then she phoned her friends in Manhattan and went to the news sites to see if there was anything up online.

A reporter at the Advance filed the first online report, but meanwhile the stock market began to get the collywobbles.

The Wall Street Journal go to the story before the New York Times, but the Twitter was the first off the mark. Nieman reckons there's no grand lesson about reporting on the Interweb.

The twitterati were first, but the Harvard project reports there is no great lesson to be learned from this. We think there is.

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11:39 PM

IE8 can’t stop IE market share decline


Internet Explorer 8 may now be available through Windows Update, but the more aggressive rollout of the browser has yet to impact IE’s continued loss of market share. According to Net Applications, Microsoft’s browser shed another 0.72 points of market share setting another 10 year low. And yes, Firefox is still gaining.

IE was estimated at a market share of 66.10% in April, down from 66.82% in March. Mozilla’s Firefox kept the pressure on Microsoft and was able to increase Firefox’s market share from 22.05% to 22.48% in the same time frame. Safari lost slightly, from 8.23% to 8.21% and Opera also saw a marginal decline from 0.70% to 0.68%, according to Net Applications.

Of course, the truly interesting information of these statistics is unveiled when we dig a bit deeper. For example, IE saw its market share decline to as low as 60.90% on one day, while Mozilla topped 25% on two days for the first time ever in Net Applications’ charts. Also, we know that Microsoft has not found an effective way to use IE8 to stop the overall IE market share decline: IE7 was estimated at 44.51% during April, down 2.05 points from March. IE6 dropped by 0.86 points to 18.36%, bringing the total share loss of these two browsers to 2.91 points for the month. Meanwhile, IE8 picked up only 2.16 points to 3.99%, leaving 0.75 points - or roughly 25% of the market share IE7 and IE6 dropped - on the table. Those 0.75 points seem to have fed the majority of a 0.59 point gain of Firefox 3.0, which climbed to 20.25% as well as a 0.23 point gain of Safari 3.2, which jumped to 4.29%.

The conclusion here clearly is that Microsoft needs to do much more to push IE8. Of course, we also notice that the monthly market share loss is relatively small and, according to a previous TG Daily analysis, it would take Mozilla, at the current pace, more than five years to surpass the market share of IE. Microsoft has some time to catch up with the leading browsers, but it can’t make too many mistakes anymore. The current IE market share is hovering around a 10 year low: IE5, which was introduced in early 1999, was among Microsoft’s most successful browsers and lifted IE’s share from about 62% at its introduction to more than 70% within one year after launch.

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11:34 PM