The TechDay Weekender – May 19th 2012

closeThis article could be out of date, as it was published 2 years 5 months 13 days ago.

There was no escaping Facebook in the tech world this week, as excitement built for the social networking behemoth’s historic Initial Public Offering (IPO).

The offering will have taken place by the time you read this, but as I write I don’t know if the price is going to rise or fall from the US$38 opening. It’s a tricky balance, as a fall indicates weakness of demand to potential investors, but a rise indicates the price was set too low, costing the company millions.

At any rate, the transaction’s still going to net the company somewhere in the neighbourhood of US$18.4 billion, and sets Facebook’s value at around US$104 billion.

All this despite major advertiser General Motors throwing a spanner in the works on Wednesday by pulling its US$10 million annual advertising spend, casting doubts on whether Facebook’s targeted advertising is really as effective as Mark Zuckerberg would like marketers to think.

Amazingly, Facebook’s development team have plodded on regardless, releasing a ‘pages manager’ iPhone app on Thursday to help businesses and organisations with well-subscribed or multiple brand pages keep on top of their presence on the network.

Finally on the Facebook front, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin – responsible for The Social Network, the 2010 film about the founding of Facebook – has signed on to write Sony Pictures’ biopic based on Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.

This is great news for Jobs fans, as Sorkin is one of the most highly regarded writers in Hollywood, and his contribution may be second only to that of the actor playing Jobs in shaping the final outcome of the project.

In telecommunications news, Telecom announced this week that it is preparing to trial Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile network technology, otherwise known as 4G. Even though the trial hasn’t even started yet, the company is marketing it heavily, leading some to wonder if Telecom mightn’t be jumping the gun a touch. After all, technology is a harsh mistress, and Telecom has been burnt before as a result of overpromising.

LTE is the connectivity standard on which Apple’s new iPad achieves its maximum performance, although Apple has interestingly stopped advertising the device as such since differences in technology mean the iPad is incompatible with many of the world’s LTE networks.

Speaking of Apple, the company copped some flak earlier this week for apparently issuing a patch to stop its voice assistant, Siri, from recommending the Nokia Lumia 900 as ‘the best smartphone ever’.

The iPhone 4S was revealed last week to answer the question ‘what’s the best smartphone ever?’ with Nokia’s Lumia 900, owing to its reliance on Wolfram Alpha, the ‘answer engine’ Siri turns to for many of its queries.

However, users trying to repeat the trick this week found that Siri was back to repeating the witty answers that are offered to other forms of the same question, such as ‘the one you’re holding’ and ‘you’re kidding, right?’

Apple, of course, hasn’t commented on the change, leading to much debate about whether it was deliberate or simply a coincidence of the search algorithms. The issue was put to rest when the Lumia 900 itself was found to recommend the iPhone 4S, due to the vagaries of Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.

Finally, we don’t usually go too much into Apple scuttlebutt, but reputable publishers Reuters and the Wall Street Journal both reported this one, so we think it’s got some credence: the next-generation iPhone, likely to be the iPhone 5 (if it has a number at all), looks to be getting a larger screen.

The publications’ sources say Apple has placed orders with its OEM partners for a bunch of screens measuring four inches diagonally, a jump from the 3.5 inch screens of all previous iPhones.

If true, it could be a sign of Apple doing something it rarely does – taking a cue from the competition. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Have a great weekend!

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