The week in technology: Google wobbles

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Google troubles

Google’s chief financial officer warned on Tuesday that the company’s growth rates were slowing. That sparked a sharp drop in the share price, already turbulent over the past month as a result of concerns that the company was too dependent on its advertising revenues for growth.

By Thursday the company was sounding more bullish, reassuring analysts of further strong growth in its core search engine business and talking about a broader role in the advertising world outside the online arena.

Origami unfolds

The mystery over the new portable media device that Microsoft is developing, dubbed “origami” rumbles on. The company confirmed at the start of the week that it was developing a device, and it has set up a somewhat cryptic website linked to the project.

According to a report in the New York Times, Intel has agreed to supply chip technology for a light version of a tablet personal computer. The devices - which would have handwriting recognition software - would be tailored towards consumer entertainment such as playing music or films, as well as connecting to the internet.

A promotional video found its way onto the internet, showing people using a device to sketch pictures, use a map and play games. Microsoft said the video was old, and has hinted that more information will be forthcoming on March 9 - the same date as the launch of trade show CeBit in Hannover. Until then at least, the speculation about the nature of the product is likely to continue.

Two-tier internet?

AOL, the internet service provider, and Yahoo came under fire after announcing plans to introduce a service where companies can pay to ensure email reaches the intended recipient. Critics charged that the move could lead to a two-tiered internet. Leading the assault was a coalition of bloggers, charities, civil liberties groups and others who have launched a website DearAOL.com, to campaign against the service, which they say amounts to an “email tax”.

The service will be provided in partnership with Goodmail Systems, which will authenticate the identity of the sender. Each message sent through the service is embedded with a cryptographically-secure token, which is detected by the internet service providers before the message is delivered to the recipient’s inbox flagged up as a certified email.

Nokia departure

The man responsible for designing Nokia’s iconic handsets, Frank Nuovo, announced he was leaving the mobile phone company after 16 years. Mr Nuovo will continue to design for Vertu, Nokia’s high-end “precious technology instrument” range, where handsets featuring gold, platinum and diamond studs are featured.

Nokia has missed some design trends - such as the success of “clamshell” models in 2004. A survey from Gartner out earlier this week suggested that after a dip that year, Nokia had bounced back to a 35 per cent global market share. New head of design Alastair Curtis is currently responsible for the lower-end mobile phones division.

Yahoo backtracks on content ambitions

Yahoo scaled back its plans to produce original television-style content as part of its online offering. The company said it was trying to lower expectations about the amount of programming it would produce.

Oracle takes on Google with new search

Oracle took on Google when it unveiled new search software that will allow users in businesses and other organisations to search content such as databases and email on their computers. Chief executive Larry Ellison described it as one of the company’s biggest products in years.

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