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It’s news to us: stories that caught our eye in September

Posted by Joe McNamara on 28th September 2012

Raspberry Pi being manufactured in the UK – 6th September

The app development game, as we see in a story later this month, is increasing in accessibility with every passing month. One of the products allowing budding tech entrepreneurs, young developers, and general tech enthusiasts to pick these skills up is the revolutionary £22 mini-computer, Raspberry Pi. So we were delighted when our client Premier Farnell announced that the Pi is to be manufactured in the UK.

Thanks to a deal signed with Sony, 300,000 of the credit-card sized gadgets will be made right here in Britain, a huge opportunity for those young, quirky developers we see wandering around Shoreditch on a daily basis. Leaving the hipster bashing aside for one second, the Silicon Roundabout initiative to drive activity from UK start-ups in the technology space stands to benefit greatly from the Raspberry Pi. Not only can it be used to improve coding and algorithm skills, but it is also a fantastic tool for educating school children.

UK to fight energy product ruling – 10th September

The UK government is fighting a ruling from the EU Commission stating that the UK must raise VAT on energy efficiency products from 5% to 20%, as the current rate contravenes the EU VAT directive. The UK government had previously lowered the VAT rate to encourage take up of energy saving products to help reduce energy waste and emissions, so the ruling has been met with widespread consternation.

As one of our clients Navetas pointed out this week, the ruling flies in the face of the many and various EU-wide initiatives designed to improve energy efficiency. Navetas went on to argue that energy efficiency needs to be kept as a high priority across the EU and that the Commission’s ruling sends out a clear message that this is not the case. With the UK’s Green Deal commencing this Autumn and the smart meter roll out fast approaching, energy efficiency seems set to remain at the top of the political agenda for some time.

Also this month, David Cameron highlighted the potential for solar PV technology in the UK. Opening a new solar array in Oxfordshire, Cameron talked about the potential Solar PV has to help diversify the UK’s energy mix as well as to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions. This is significant as the UK is a hotbed of innovation in solar technology, with a growing sector dedicated to enhancing the fundamental technology involved in capturing solar energy.

iPhone 5 officially launched at Apple press event – 12th September

As always with Apple, this is just the beginning. By 24th September, the iPhone 5 had passed the five million sales milestone and caused numerous industry rows over its iOS updates and compatibility with 4G in the UK. Ironically, one would need a satellite navigation system to sift through the rants and raves of angry customers when they realised that iOS 6 had been stripped of Google maps and replaced with a service developed by Apple and TomTom.

The drama doesn’t end there – the show very much goes on with the ‘4G or not 4G’ debate. We’d just about lost the plot trying to figure out when the iPhone 5 and 4G would eventually be joined together in the UK. Thankfully, our very own Nujira cleared the whole thing up for Mobile Europe, explaining the challenges and solutions to the iPhone 5 and LTE’s woes.

BT hails most connected Olympics ever as video traffic smashes records – 12th September

London 2012 is still stealing the headlines for a number of reasons but, for us tech PRs, this is the one that takes the biscuit. Not only did we win more gold medals than ever before, more people watched them being won than ever before – with record levels of video and internet traffic being recorded. Thanks to BT and its partners, we watched them from lots of different places too – be it on the huge screens of BT London Live, or at a tube station using free WiFi to stream the BBC Sport Olympics app.

The capital lived up to its reputation as ‘Twitter central’ too, and the social media activity led to some interesting developments in the digital marketing space – as this really cool infographic from Salesforce Radian6 shows us. Using sportsmen and women as brand ambassadors and using Olympics relevant content took on a whole new level of potency, something to consider for brand marketers looking to create buzz around future events whatever they may be.

UK games jam breaks world record – 17th September

Just weeks after we’d emotionally waved goodbye to the Olympics and a record breaking summer here in London, Train2Game broke another with a ‘jamming’ session that Bob Marley would be proud of. The UK games jam held at the University of Bedfordshire entered the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest event of its kind to date, with a total of 299 students attending over a period of 48 hours. The Olympics topic continues here as students were briefed to develop games for the new Windows 8 platform with a London theme.

Windows 8 has been stripped of a number of features in a bid to increase ease-of-use and efficiency. However, this gives app and programme developers an opportunity to fill any gaps left by Microsoft. The release of software such as Nero 12 (one of our exciting consumer technology clients), bringing features such as Blu-ray playback and advanced video and photo editing applications to Windows 8, is a great example of this.

Google+ passes 400m registered users, now has 100m active users – 17th September

Google said it was going to do a social network and it was going to do it well. Guess what? It has. As SEO becomes a priority for companies looking to take advantage of Google rankings to drive e-commerce and brand awareness campaigns, Google+ just becomes more and more of a big deal. In addition, thanks to Google’s authorship markup feature, it has become a great way for individuals such as bloggers to communicate with their industries – a telling factor of any social media platform.

However, we’ve seen another interesting development that turns this whole scenario on its head this month. Facebook, has hinted at, or at least others have hinted for it, that its search feature is no longer limited to being a tool that is used to find people. Actually, it can be used to find films, locations, books and all kinds of products. Furthermore, rather than a straight search platform, Facebook has the added advantage of being a social network full of opinions that act as a reviews forum for consumers. As Facebook’s search platform gets stronger and Google’s credentials as a social network increase, we may be leading to something of an arms race between the two digital giants.