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

Posted by Joe McNamara on 1st May 2013

Bitcoin – the good, the bad and the ugly – 3rd April

Bitcoin, the decentralised digital currency may be associated with being the drug dealer’s best friend, but it’s caused quite a stir in the non drug-dealing world too this month, reaching a record high before suffering a sudden crash, causing a halt to Bitcoin exchanges. Mistrust towards banks and the Eurozone crisis has led to Bitcoin growing in popularity among libertarians, entrepreneurs and, notably, drug dealers or illegal gambling rings. However, the currency, created by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, seems to have suffered a crash every week since 2013 began. As the use of digital and mobile payment methods continues to rise, Bitcoin will become an alternative solution that it is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

We Are Hunted joins Twitter – 12th April

Twitter announced its acquisition of music service We Are Hunted in mid-April to a mixed reception from the technology world. It’s an interesting development for the microblogging giant and takes Twitter into different territory, as we saw with the acquisition of Vine, which saw video becoming a bigger part of the life of a tweeter. However, the more cynical among us have compared it to Spotify’s service that allows users to see what music their friends are listening to – just in a slightly messier way. Whatever your thoughts, Twitter’s continuing ventures into the multimedia sharing industry are interesting developments and a sure sign for users and brands that rich content is being shared more and more.

Google releases Person Finder in aftermath of Boston Marathon explosions – 15th April

The Boston Marathon is, of course, not a technology story, but almost inevitably one of the world’s technology giants stole some column inches with the release of a helpful new solution that was intended to assist families and friends find missing marathon runners in the ensuing chaos of two explosions. The tool allowed those affected to search for missing people and share information of their whereabouts, potentially providing peace of mind to friends and family that a loved one was alive and well. Of course, any kind of publicity that comes off the back of such an event has the potential to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths if it is interpreted as exploitative. However, Google’s contribution was timely and almost altruistic and should be seen as such. It makes perfect sense for a company of Google’s search capabilities to provide a solution to such problems.

Semiconductor equipment market shrinks – 22nd April

Reports from Gartner showed that spending on semiconductor manufacturing, usually a useful guide to the long-term outlook for the chip industry, shrank by 16% in 2012 – falling to ‘just’ $37.8 billion. Although it might seem to suggest a significant decline in the chip market the reality is a bit more mixed. Certainly the slump in sales of traditional computer products, particularly in developed markets, has hit semiconductor manufacturers. The other complicating factor is that it is thought that some manufacturers are delaying investment in new equipment until the next generation of machines are available for commercial production. However, new mobile and tablet product sales are rising sharply – but not enough to cover the decline in other product categories. That said the recent results from ARM and TSMC in April show very encouraging signs for the chip market – and are seeing high growth in developing and developed markets. As always it seems the outlook depends on where you choose to look.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill today receives Royal Assent – 25th April

The ERRB bill, now passed in the UK, has been dubbed by The Register as the ‘Instagram Act’, taking an ironic stab at the photo sharing app that last year provoked outrage by suggesting users photos could be reused without repercussions once they were shared and made public. It effectively reverses the existing UK copyright law in the sense that if information identifying the user is unattached from a piece of content, the work is considered ‘orphaned’ and consequently fair game for commercial exploitation. The ERRB will affect amateur and professional illustrators and may lead to them being more cautious about sharing their own produced content on social networks.

Joe McNamara