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

Posted by Joe McNamara on 5th June 2013

Lord Young proposes removing start-up loans age cap – 13th May

The Prime Minister’s Enterprise Adviser, Lord Young, has published his latest report ‘Growing Your Business’, aimed at UK startups and SMEs. Lord Young’s report suggests that the government has created a ‘valley of death’ for startups and that entrepreneurs in Tech City and beyond need more help to establish themselves in the science and technology market. Lord Young has proposed: that those over 30 should be eligible for startup loans, to make it easier for small businesses to bid for £230 billion a year of public sector contracts and to create a £30m voucher scheme to encourage firms to get expansion advice. We have a lot of exposure to both ends of the spectrum: the technology startups and the expert consultancies trying to help them. While entrepreneurial spirit and good advice will take Tech City so far, the government needs to provide a better springboard for growth.

McAfee launches all-in-one security suite – 15th May

We fear the worst when we see McAfee in the news now as global tabloids continue with their relentless ‘Where’s Wally?’ campaign trying to corner the troubled businessman. Thankfully, it appears he’s taken time out running away from law enforcers and photographers to develop another extremely advanced piece of security software. The new all-in-one suite allows consumers to store their most sensitive data in a cloud, meaning they, and only they, can access it on desk-based and mobile devices. The Personal Locker requires biometric authentication, so users must prove their identity using voice, face and device recognition technologies.

Yahoo! acquires Tumblr for $1.1 billion – 20th May

Yahoo! has acquired the popular microblogging platform, Tumblr, for a sum of $1.1 billion. Tumblr currently has over 184 million global users, which is more than Yahoo!’s US user base (170 million) and rising rather than declining. The big worry is, will Yahoo! leave Tumblr in the lurch the same way it did with Flickr for a while? It says something that one of the first comments to come out of the company was promising ‘not to screw it up’. Our very own social media and Yahoo! expert, Ian McKee, seems willing to believe that Yahoo! will get it right and that this will be a positive strategic move for all involved.

Microsoft launches the Xbox One – 22nd May

Gaming PRs may have received a few out of offices from journalists visiting Seattle this week, with the largest console launch this year so far happening courtesy of Microsoft – the Xbox One. However, despite the anticipation, Wired led with the headline ‘Confusion ruled the day’, and hardcore gamers were left slightly disappointed to see that the ‘all-in-one entertainment’ angle being pushed so vigorously. Kat Farminer, former Microsoft Xbox PR, gave her thoughts on the news and feels Xbox risks alienating its hardcore audience, but that the entertainment model is probably the way to go – a view shared by gaming expert Chris Kohler, who feels hardcore gamers expect the impossible from Microsoft and its rivals.

New push to grow chip manufacturing in Europe – 23rd May

Europe has traditionally been somewhat of a niche player in semiconductor manufacturing. However the European Commission has unveiled an ambitious new strategy aimed at securing €100 billion of private funding to double Europe’s chip production by 2020, which would represent about 20% of global chip production. Of course that’s a big challenge – primarily in terms of attracting the skilled workers that will enable such an expansion. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Commission’s announcement is that the main focus will be on production of embedded systems and “internet of things” devices. These are hugely exciting markets, with huge growth potential, and targeting these sectors could prove very successful for Europe as the ‘sensorfication’ of the world around us gathers momentum. However you look at it, it is certainly an interesting roll of the dice from the EU.

Joe McNamara