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Saturday, Apr 02, 2011 Gulf News
Dubai The expected boom in digital currency via handheld devices and near field communication (NFC) could be buoyed by the growing popularity of Facebook Credits.
Saturday, Apr 02, 2011
Dubai The expected boom in digital currency via handheld devices and near field communication (NFC) could be buoyed by the growing popularity of Facebook Credits.
As more telcos, mobile phone manufacturers and retailers combine forces to enable NFC-enabled phone users to pay for goods wirelessly with the swipe of their smartphones, Facebook is working to make it easier for its 500 million members to use the brand’s very own digital currency to buy goods.
Ten Facebook Credits are the equivalent of one dollar and can be purchased by clicking on the payment tab on Facebook members’ profile pages. Or credits can be purchased via gift cards sold at major US retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target.
Jonathon Fisher, head of global consumer finance research at Euromonitor International, said in a report that “Facebook Credits have the potential to become the official currency for the internet in a way that no other virtual currency before it could ever do.
“Facebook is pushing it as the one-stop currency for members to purchase on-line games and applications on its network without the hassle of exchange rates across the world. That is important given that about 70 per cent of Facebook’s 500 million users live outside of the US where the network was founded in 2004.”
Fisher told Gulf News from his Chicago office said that Facebook could very well push its own credits into the international realm where other similar internet currency bids failed because Facebook has unsurpassed clout on a global scale.
Facebook is “way ahead of the game. It’s about leveraging these  million users — or roughly the population of Latin America — and demonstrating added value in purchasing lifecycle to them.”
Facebook’s platform marketing manager Deb Liu said since its formation in May 2009, Facebook Credits as a virtual currency are used primarily by gamers.
“People enter their payment information once and can buy, earn and spend safely across lots of different games,” Liu said. “Facebook Credits is currently used in more than 350 applications from 150 developers representing more than 70 per cent of virtual goods transactions volume on Facebook.
“Many of our partners have seen great results so far with Facebook Credits, including Zynga, Playfish, CrowdStar, Digital Chocolate, PopCap, Arkadium and others.”
Euromonitor’s Fisher, meanwhile, believes it may only be a matter of time before Facebook Credits will be used to buy physical goods in person at real world stores such as Wal-Mart and Target.
“I absolutely see Facebook Credits extending beyond the gaming environment,” Fisher said, noting there are already signs of third-party companies distributing goods for virtual currency. “For example, the deal with Warner Bros to allow users to rent movies via Facebook movie pages and pay with Facebook Credits demonstrates an early foray into extending the reach of their digital currency,” he said.
“A future Facebook payment system would most likely allow for purchases both online and at the point of sale. Using Facebook Credits, an individual could one day walk into a retailer and use their NFC-enabled mobile phone to purchase goods. Facebook could combine payments, loyalty, discounts and viral marketing all delivered via a mobile phone.”
By Derek Baldwin Business Features Reporter
© Gulf News 2011. All rights reserved.
Mobile phones could run for months between charges
Mobile phones could soon run for months rather than days between charges, after scientists discovered how to make them work more efficiently.
A team of electrical engineers at Illinois University in the U.S. believe their method will enable mobiles and laptops to run for up to 100 times longer between charges.
It focuses on changing the way a device’s digital memory works, as this consumes much of the charge.
At the moment mobile phone memories contain thin metal wires. Every time information is accessed, electricity is passed through them to retrieve the data.
The electrical engineers thought that if the size of the components used to store and retrieve the information could be reduced, so could the amount of electricity.
They have discovered a way of using carbon nanotubes – tiny tubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair – instead.
Feng Xiong, a graduate student on the team who was lead author on a paper, to be published in the journal Science, explained: “”The energy consumption is essentially scaled with the volume of the memory bit.
“”By using nanoscale contacts, we are able to achieve much smaller power consumption.”"
Prof Eric Pop, who led the project, said: “”I think anyone who is dealing with a lot of chargers and plugging things in every night can relate to wanting a cell phone or laptop whose batteries can last for weeks or months.”"
He thought that the method could improve a mobile phone’s efficiency so much that they could be made to run simply by harvesting heat, kinetic energy or solar energy.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
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The $42 million investment in Angry Birds creator Rovio could be a watershed event for mobile games.
The deal shows that at least one mobile game company is able to attract marquee investors and a valuation (as yet still unknown but undoubtedly big) that social game companies attracted in their run-up to the big time.At some point, the industry will flip, with Facebook becoming the smaller part and mobile becoming the bigger part, since the number of mobile phone users is something like five times the number of Facebook users.
In mobile gaming, upstart companies will battle with established giants to become multibillion-dollar mobile game companies. This may sound like they’re smoking crack. But bullish observers believe the battle has been joined and it will play out in the next couple of years. Neil Young, chief executive of Ngmoco, said last week in an interview that he believes that multibillion-dollar companies will be created in this market in the next couple of years. Rovio itself is perhaps the most bullish of all, since it is closing in on 100 million users.
Besides Rovio, the contenders on the stage include Electronic Arts, Zynga, and DeNa, which fired the first shot across the bow when it bought Ngmoco last summer for up to $403 million. Others are moving into the game. Marc Andreessen’s venture firm invested $18 million in mobile game publisher TinyCo just a week ago. Digital Chocolate, an established maker of cell phone and social games, raised $12 million earlier this week. Pocket Games raised $5 million from Sequoia Capital in December. There’s a lot of chess pieces in motion.
“We were approached by a lot of people and talked to a lot of investors,” said Peter Vesterbacka (pictured top left), the Mighty Eagle at Rovio, responsible for business development. “We were in a good position because we didn’t need the money. The money was not the key thing here. It was more about getting the right people involved. We wanted people who bought into our bigger vision. A lot of people don’t see beyond an iPhone game. What we are trying to do is build an entertainment franchise. We believe we can build this into a multibillion-dollar ecosystem.”
Rovio’s investors include Atomico Ventures, the venture fund created by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom; Accel Partners, the veteran VC firm that invested in Facebook; and super angel fund Felicis Ventures, headed by Aydin Senkat. They slowly came around to a meeting of the minds with Rovio.
Rich Wong, a partner at Accel, said he had known Vesterbacka, who joined Rovio in the spring of 2010 and was a former HP manager, for a long time. Wong caught up with Vesterbacka, who formerly worked at Hewlett-Packard, at our MobileBeat conference last July, about the time when Rovio was starting to go public with all of its success with Angry Birds. Vesterbacka also met Senkat at MobileBeat.
They began a conversation and began the slow process of earning trust, Wong said.Rovio was an eight-year-old company that had worked on 51 games before Angry Birds. That helped Wong and his partners get over any fear that investing in a game company could be a highly risky thing, since there were no guarantees that a game company could be more than a one-hit wonder. Such fears had stymied VC investments in games for many years until recently. Rovio had a team of veterans in place in Finland.
Started in 2003 as Relude, Rovio began as a mobile game firm started by three students from the Helsinki University of Technology: Niklas Hed, Jarno Vakevainen and Kim Dikert. They had participated in a mobile game competition sponsored by Nokia and Hewlett-Packard. Vesterbacka, then at HP, was one of the judges and he suggested the trio start their own mobile game company.They did so and got Digital Chocolate to publish the game, King of the Cabbage World, on cell phones. They started doing work-for-hire games such as Need for Speed Carbon for Electronic Arts. Mikael Hed (pictured top right) joined them as CEO in early 2009 and steered them toward making internally produced games they could own.They hired subcontractors to do their work-for-hire jobs and free a team to focus on new iPhone games.
They wanted to exploit the iPhone’s hardware, such as its touchscreen, and create memorable characters. They conceived Angry Birds — where the player would slingshot birds with bushy eyebrows at green pigs in fortresses — and targeted at everyone. They focused on every detail and wanted to get the slingshot game mechanic just right.They paid attention to details, such as the animations of the birds crashing into the pig fortresses and the laughter of the pigs whenever you failed to demolish them.
They launched the game on the iPhone in December, 2009, via Chillingo, a mobile game publisher. It caught on in Finland first and then became a hit in Sweden. It hit No. 1 on the App Store in the United Kingdom and then made its way to the top of the charts in the U.S. The title spread through social media and Apple featured it in the App Store. People began tweeting about Angry Birds every minute.
Vesterbacka talked to Mikael Hed about joining Rovio and said he would only do it if the company was committed to making Angry Birds into something huge. They all agreed on the larger vision. Jim Breyer, the Accel partner who helped land Facebook in the venture firm’s portfolio, knew a lot about betting big. He told the Rovio leaders about his experience on the Marvel board of directors. Marvel grew up as a comic book company, became huge with movies, and then took creative control of its own properties by bringing movie production in-house. It pretty much came to own everything.
That’s what Breyer suggested for Rovio. Vesterbacka said that advice was useful and that the company is now thinking seriously about how to build itself up so that it can retain more creative control so that it doesn’t dilute the brand with small-time efforts.
“Like the Marvel experience, you have to do a lot of stuff yourself,” Vesterbacka said. “We realize we have to do that. There are a lot of things that we just can’t outsource to others. Niklas Zennstrom also immediately got the vision of what we wanted to do, as did Aydin.”
The potential for Angry Birds reminded Wong of the star of his hometown, Santa Rosa, Calif. Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, which ran in newspapers from the 1950s to 2000.Wong went to an ice rink that Shulz owned and the museum in his honor as well (Shulz died in 2000).Peanuts became a multigenerational brand. Angry Birds has a way to go before that happens. But about 40 million Angry Birds fans play the game each month. And roughly 200 million hours are spent with the game each day.
It became clear to everyone, including Accel, that Angry Birds was growing into a cultural phenomenon.As you can see from this Google Trends chart, the awareness of Angry Birds began to surpass Bejeweled in October and by November it blew past FarmVille, which at the time was the most popular game on Facebook. Google Trends show how many people are searching for that term and it is a good measure of the changing awareness of a subject.
“Could Angry Birds become the Peanuts of this generation?” Wong said. “My mother-in-law plays it. It absolutely can.In the past decade, I can’t think of anything except Twitter than has become so popular so quickly.”
Vesterbacka said in interviews that Rovio’s plan was to treat the game as a franchise, similar to the way that Nintendo treated Mario or the way that Disney handled Mickey Mouse.The company made plush toys with the Angry Birds characters and started talks about TV shows or a movie. Then it came up with Angry Birds Seasons, a free game that had constant updates based on seasons or holidays. And it announced that it would create Angry Birds Rio, a new game connected to the upcoming Rio animated film being released April 15. The relationship with Twentieth Century Fox enabled a cameo appearance by the Angry Birds characters in a Super Bowl commercial.
“Our main goal is we want to make Angry Birds part of pop culture,” Vesterbacka said. “We have come a long way toward that goal. Once we do that, the money and other opportunities will follow. We don’t optimize for short-term profits.”
The more successful that Angry Birds became, the more it generated solid revenues and profits for Rovio. And the less it needed venture capital money.
“Whether we should do the deal was no longer a question,” Wong said. “Convincing them was the hard part.”
Rovio also talked to the established game companies in the video game market. But Vesterbacka said, “We didn’t meet with any company that we felt could make us move faster toward our goal.”
As Rovio moved to new platforms, it began dealing closely with the portfolio companies of Accel. On Android, Rovio launched an exclusive on GetJar, the independent app store and one of Accel’s investments. It also had to rely on advertising through Google’s AdMob division, which was also an Accel investment before Google acquired it. Accel was clearly in-the-know when it came to mobile investments and how to craft multi-platform strategies. After months of talks, everyone finally agreed to do the investment.
“Every VC says they add value,” Wong said. “But this was a good combination.”
Rovio will use the money to grow to 100 or 200 people this year. The company will create a presence on Facebook, but that will be part of a larger web strategy that includes a stand-alone Angry Birds web site. Rovio may create games around spin-off characters, such as the green pigs or the Mighty Eagle. Rovio is going to milk it until Angry Birds are everywhere — or we all get sick of it and move on to something else.
And at some point in the distant future, Rovio may get back to creating original titles beyond Angry Birds. That’s the only way to create something that could be bigger than Angry Birds.
Disclosure: Felicis Ventures is an investor in VentureBeat.
Previous Story: Weekend warriors discover the pivot
Tags: Angry Birds, Farmville, Google Trends
Companies: Accel, Atomico Ventures, Rovio
People: Jarno Vakevainen, Kim Dikert, Mikael Hed, Niklas Hed, Peter Vesterbacka, Rich Wong
Beyond making mobile phones and other mobile devices flexible enough to wrap around your wrist, I have been a strong proponent of efforts to improve the battery life of these mobile gadgets.
There have been a number of announcements recently reporting on work that improves the li-ion batteries used in mobile phones, or efforts to reduce the amount of energy used by these devices through the use of steep-slope transistors and thereby lengthen the battery life.
It is in this latter area of seeking to lower power consumption in these devices that we have our latest breakthrough to extend the battery life of mobile phone from hours to weeks.
Researchers from the University of Illinois’s Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, led by electrical and computer engineering professor Eric Pop, have reported in Science that they have used carbon nanotubes to control bits and lower power switching in phase change materials (PCM).
Just as a bit of background on PCM, one of the major commercial initiatives with the material in memory applications was the joint venture between Intel and STMicroelectronics with their Swiss-based Numonyx, which Micron Technologies acquired last year. PCM compares quite favorably with NOR-type flash, memory NAND-type flash memory, and RAM or EEpROM. Cost is still high compared to DRAM and read speed is not as good as DRAM, but unlike it DRAM it is non-volatile. You can read more about PCM memory here.
But what the researchers recognized was that one of the drawbacks with PCM memory was that high programming currents have made it difficult to realize low power operation. The researchers overcame this drawback by replacing metal wires with carbon nanotubes.
In a press release prepared by the University of Illinois, graduate student Feng Xiong, the first author of the paper, explains, “The energy consumption is essentially scaled with the volume of the memory bit,” says Xiong. “By using nanoscale contacts, we are able to achieve much smaller power consumption.”
The way the system works is that bits are created by putting a small amount of PCM in the a nanoscale gap located in the middle of a carbon nanotube and then by applying just small currents to the nanotube they can switch the tube on and off.
According to the abstract in Science, the researchers were able to achieve “programming currents as low as 0.5 μA (SET) and 5 μA (RESET), two orders of magnitude lower than state-of-the-art devices.”
What this may translate to for your mobile phone is that a smart phone will consume so little energy that it may not even need a battery but could run on its own thermal or mechanical energy. (Battery manufacturers are not going to like that part).
“I think anyone who is dealing with a lot of chargers and plugging things in every night can relate to wanting a cell phone or laptop whose batteries can last for weeks or months,” Pop is quoted as saying in the University of Illinois press release.
Employee motivation: Smartphones could boost performance says T-Mobile
Smartphones can help to boost employee motivation as they allow for more flexible working practices, according to T-Mobile.
The mobile phone company has suggested that small businesses could benefit from smartphones and other mobile technologies as they boost staff performance wherever they are.
“Mobile technology is becoming increasingly important in all walks of life. Workers expect the same technology at work as in their personal lives,” said Martin Lyne, director of SME marketing at T-Mobile.
“Small businesses need to be flexible and available at all times, regardless of whether in the office or on the road. Smartphones especially help small business workers to remain responsive to queries through calls, texts and emails at any time and any place,” he added.
And he also mentioned that access to Google Maps, addresses and contracts could also be easier with smartphones, when usually they would require staff to be at the office.
Another way to boost performances and productivity in the workplace is by playing music, according to Francis McGinty from the International Stress Management Association UK, who said it improves the wellbeing of staff.
Posted by Elizabeth Mewes
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POLICE hope the mobile phone records of racing identity Les Samba, shot dead in Middle Park on Sunday evening, will provide a breakthrough in their investigation.
The murder probe entered a third day yesterday with Victoria Police investigators preparing to fly interstate to interview key associates of the former trainer.
Police told The Age yesterday that Samba, 60, was carrying a mobile phone when he was gunned down after driving to a meeting on the street in Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park, on Sunday night.
Detective Inspector John Potter said last night that police were still analysing calls made and received by the phone. It was hoped they could hold the key to establishing whom he met and argued with moments before he was shot in the head and back around 9.35pm. Police believe that man also killed him.
Sydney-based Samba owned numerous race horses including 2006 Victoria Derby runner-up Gorky Park and was well known in racing circles, working his way from a small-time South Australian trainer to major buyer and expert judge of yearlings.
Horses he owned recently included Sea Lord and Defiant Dame, which he co-owned with multimillionaire and accused murderer Ron Medich.
Jockey Danny Nikolic was interviewed at the St Kilda Road police station yesterday. Police say he is not a suspect.
Nikolic is married to Samba’s daughter, Victoria, but the pair, who have a three-year-old daughter, are said by racing insiders to be separated and have a strained relationship.
Police will also travel to NSW to interview Medich, who was charged last year with murdering his former business partner Michael McGurk. He is now out on bail.
Police say he is not a suspect, but will be questioned as they try to establish who Samba met and why he was killed.
Inspector Potter said police would review any old criminal investigations into Samba, including a National Crime Authority inquiry that began in 1999 into claims he had failed to declare $1.2 million in income.
”We’re still reviewing and identifying associates of the deceased,” he said. ”We’re trying to identify possible motives. At this stage we have no suspects.”
Police are still hunting a dark Mercedes sedan parked near the shooting scene. Up to three people were standing around it and it left after the shooting.
Police believe the killer is a man in his mid-20s to mid-30s last seen running into Langridge Street, wearing dark-coloured clothing and a dark-coloured hat.
Comments | Share | Print | New ‘lightRadio cube’ could spell the end for ugly mobile phone masts 2011-02-13 16:20:00
Ugly mobile phone masts that blight the landscape could soon become a thing of the past, for scientists have developed tiny cubes which you can hold in your hand.
The pioneering technology could also create a seamless wireless network and eliminate Internet ‘black spots’.
Designers at Bell Labs, New Jersey have developed a tiny antenna that transmits signals without the need for huge unsightly towers, reports the Daily Mail.
The ‘lightRadio cube’ is the size of a Rubik’s cube-vastly smaller than the ironing-board-sized antennas found on mobile phone masts.
These tiny devices could be attached to lampposts, buildings or telephone poles as single cubes or in clusters, connected to the mobile phone network with optical fibres.he lightRadio cube has been developed by French-U.S. communications giant Alcatel-Lucent.
Wim Sweldens, of the firm’s wireless division, said: “We see more and more towers that become bigger and bigger, with more and bigger antennas that come to obstruct our view and clutter our landscape and are simply ugly.”
“What we have realised is that we, as one of the major mobile equipment vendors, are partially if not mostly to blame for this,” he said.
Sweldens said the new ‘small-cell’ technology could make mobile phone masts ‘go away’.
Rather than connecting all phones within a mile or two to the same mast, mobile phone companies could instead divide traffic between several smaller cells.
This would allow for a far greater capacity for calls and data – crucial at a time when smartphone users are saturating the network with data requests.
The new technology would go on show at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. (ANI)
All About: London, Cellular telephone, Smartphone, Alcatel-Lucent, World Congress
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I’ve found and interesting small cap company operating in the mobile technology industry – one that stood out from the pack because it has morphed two trends into one business model for those on the go.
But there’s a catch: This microcap company is looking to make money by giving away their products.
Sound far-fetched? Not really, if you think about other consumer product companies. After all, Procter & Gamble’s ( PG ) Gillette and Energizer Holdings’ ( ENR ) Schick brands don’t make money off the razor handles that they package with the razor blades – they’re counting on repeat blade sales to drive profits.
The razorblade comparison isn’t far off in terms of widespread use either. Cell phones have become an integral part of many people’s lives, especially smart-phones. With integrated browsers and apps to meet any mobile need, we’re using our phones to stay in touch with friends and family, check e-mail and play games.
The company I’m looking at is Glu Mobile (Nasdaq: GLUU), a small cap company that develops games for handheld units.
The company changed its profit strategy once Niccolo DeMasi took over as CEO a year ago. Rather than trying to make money off the mobile market by selling its popular games, Glu Mobile now tries to sell the concept of microtransactions. It’s generating revenue from millions of smaller in-game transactions, usually of a dollar or less, and from in-game advertising.
Glu Mobile’s concept is that the users pay their fare for the software by buying add-ons, trinkets and little things that enhance their playing experience in a social atmosphere. By melding the type of game-playing you might encounter over a network using a Wii from Nintendo (OTC: NTDOY.PK) or an Xbox from Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), with the mobile devices that we depend on, Glu is banking on becoming the ruler of a mobile social-gaming kingdom.
***Glu Mobile is not a newcomer to gaming – the company is actually celebrating a decade of development this year. The company went public in 2007, but the stock raised some eyebrows on January 11, when it announced a secondary offering of 7.3 million shares at $2.05 apiece, a deep discount from the $2.34 price where they had been trading. The company plans to use the $13.8 million to speed up development of its gaming community, which is actually a good use of the money.
Glu has an impressive portfolio of top-rated games that includes Beat It!, Bonsai Blast, and Super K.O. Boxing! It also turns brands from partners including Activision, Atari, Hasbro, Microsoft, SEGA, Sony and Warner Bros. into games.
Under the Glu social mobile model, gamers can go head-to-head in shoot-’em-ups like Gun Brothers, or take control of toys with Toyshop Adventures. In December 2010, Glu said its Gun Brothers was approaching 3 million downloads, averaging 175,000 a day.
***By switching its strategy to free-to-play, Glu got a head start over its bigger competitors. Moving forward the company plans to release 25 titles each year.
Since DeMasi took over the company’s share price has doubled, and its cash position has improved. On January 6, 2011, Glu Mobile’s stock hit an all-time high of $2.90, right after announcing at the Consumer Electronics Show a partnership with Nvidia (Nasdaq: NVDA) to develop games for Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android platform .
Glu Mobile still hasn’t reached the sweet spot of profitability and has had to tap into the equity markets to raise cash. That always makes investors nervous, but considering the long-term growth potential it appears that the equity raising strategy (vs. debt) is probably the better option.
In addition to the recent stock offering, the company received $13.5 million from a private placement in the summer of 2010.
Glu Mobil cut its losses in 2009 to $18.2 million, and indications are that it will report a smaller cash burn for 2010. For the three months ended September 30, 2010, Glu reported a $1.6 million loss, an improvement over a $4 million loss in the year earlier quarter.
With its substantial roster of games and an improving revenue picture Glu Mobile could become a takeover target. Recently old-line Publishers Clearing House announced that it was buying Funtank, which creates online video games for companies including Trident gum, The Walt Disney Co. ( DIS ) and Toyota Motor Co. ( TM ).
Glu Mobile may be on the cutting edge of gaming technology, and it appears to have put in place the financing needed to grow. At the current price, it’s definitely worth investigating.
My Small Cap Investor PRO portfolio includes additional great technology plays that subscribers are currently sitting on 30 percent, 80 percent, and even 17 percent gains. Click here to read more on why small-cap stocks produce the biggest returns, and to sign up for a risk-free subscription to Small Cap Investor PRO .
Cameron could face defeat on EU bill – report
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- LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister David Cameron could face a parliamentary defeat over Europe but is set to avoid a damaging split in the ruling coalition over a controversial counter-terrorism measure, reports said on Sunday. The Sunday Telegraph…
LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister David Cameron could face a parliamentary defeat over Europe but is set to avoid a damaging split in the ruling coalition over a controversial counter-terrorism measure, reports said on Sunday.
The Sunday Telegraph said “eurosceptics” among Cameron’s centre-right Conservatives could combine with opposition Labour legislators to inflict an embarrassing first parliamentary defeat on Cameron over his flagship European Union bill.
The proposed law, designed to prevent the transfer of further powers from London to Brussels without a referendum, will be debated in parliament on January 11.
Cameron proposed the so-called “referendum lock” in an attempt to appease eurosceptics in his party angered by his decision to give up his campaign for a referendum on the EU’s Lisbon treaty. But the Sunday Telegraph said his strategy appeared to have backfired.
Some eurosceptic Conservatives feel the measure offers no real safeguards, because ministers would have discretion in many cases over when a referendum was required and their decision could be challenged in the courts.
The report said eurosceptic Conservatives would propose radical amendments to the legislation and, if these were rejected by the government, some could vote against the entire bill.
It quoted sources in the main opposition Labour Party as signalling that Labour leader Ed Miliband would order his members of parliament to oppose the legislation.
CONTROL ORDER COMPROMISE
The Sunday Times said “control orders” — a contentious form of house arrest imposed on some terrorism suspects who have not been charged — would be scrapped in a victory for the centre-left Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in Cameron’s coalition.
The cabinet was poised to approve a compromise deal next week, ending months of arguments that Cameron feared could destroy the eight-month-old coalition, the newspaper said.
Suspects will be allowed to stop wearing electronic tags and be released from home curfews. They will be able to travel freely in Britain, but not overseas, and to use mobile phones and computers, the report said.
The LibDems promised to scrap control orders in last year’s election campaign and a reversal of that position could fatally undermine the credibility of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, with his party.
Support for the LibDems has slumped since the party performed a U-turn over raising student tuition fees to help cut a record peacetime budget deficit.
Security agency MI5 and the interior ministry have pushed for control orders, introduced by the former Labour government, to be kept, the report said.
Nine suspects, all British, are now subject to control orders, the Sunday Times said. They are electronically tagged and confined to their homes for 16 hours a day.
International civil liberties groups have united to call on the government to abandon control orders, accusing it of presiding over one of the most serious violations of natural justice in any developed democracy, the Observer reported.
(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Alison Williams)
The Boston mobile tech company Where Inc. announced a major victory with the U.S. patent office this morning – the award of a broad patent that appears to cover a wide swath of the mobile business of fellow venture-backed competitors. In the red hot market for location-based services on mobile phones, companies like Facebook Inc., New York-based Foursquare and Boston-based Scvngr Inc. are all doing location-based special offers, which appear on a mobile phone when its user nears a specific location – usually a business or a neighborhood.
The technology behind that service typically relies on geo-fencing, which allows a service provider to trigger certain responses on a phone, based on proximity to a point on the map. As of last week, Boston-based Where Inc. holds a patent that covers everything from the conce geo-fencing itself, on down to its application in such special-offer services.
It’s a big stick for 75-person Where. The company intends to carry it quietly, said Vice President of Marketing Dan Gilmartin. He declined to discuss specific competitors, but said in general, other companies operating in the space have nothing to fear. “For us this is about defensive protection, rather than offensive protection,” he said. “This is a shield rather than a sword. We’re going to shield ourselves against those that would come after us.”
Where is already paying license fees negotiated in settlements to lawsuits filed by two separate entities, Gilmartin said. He declined to specify their names or the nature of their business.
Boston-area angel investor Roy Rodenstein, whose focus includes investments in mobile technology, said if Where Inc. decided to tap its competitors for licensing fees, it probably could – but it would be a long and painful legal battle to get there. “I would definitely expect a lot of pushback from the industry, just as there was with the six degrees patent and Amazon’s 1-click patent, if Where gets aggressive,” Rodenstein said. “But historically those patents do stick.”
Gilmartin said Where is focusing on its own business, with plans to incorporate geo-fencing into new features to be announced in a coming release that will let users “friend” or “like” businesses they want to get timely special offers and messages from, based on their proximity.
Gilmartin declined to discuss specific revenue numbers, but said Where is projecting 350 percent growth this year, and has been steadily profitable since 2009, though it has more than doubled in staff this year. The company started out 2010 at 30 employees.
“We’ve made some mistakes. We’ve got lucky on some other things. 2010 was really a great year for us,” Gilmartin said. “2011 for us is a year about redemption.”
Founded in 2004 as uLocate Communications, Where Inc. is backed with at least $16.5 million in private funding from investors including Cambridge-based Venrock, Newton-based GrandBanks Capital and Waltham-based Kodiak Venture Partners.