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THE NEWS WRAP: Facebook adds money transfer feature on Messenger app

3:23PM | Tuesday, 17 March

Facebook is adding a new feature to its Messenger service that allows its users in the United States to send money to one another.   Users need to add a Visa or MasterCard debit card issued by a US bank to their Facebook accounts; they can then create a PIN which provides security for the payments system. They are then able to transfer money between one another directly from the Messenger app on iOS, Android and Desktop.   The service will roll out in the US in the coming months. There’s no word if it will become available in Australia. Nintendo entering mobile games After years of forgoing mobile gaming, Nintendo has announced an alliance with Japanese mobile gaming firm DeNA, TechCrunch reports.   The deal will see the two companies jointly develop games for “smart devices”. In addition, a service will be developed that will let users play games across a variety of devices, including mobile devices, PCs and Nintendo consoles. That service is expected to launch later this year. Tweet analysis startup raises $130 million Dataminr Inc, a startup which analyses tweets and information streams, has raised $130 million led by Fidelity Investments, The Wall Street Journal reports.   The startup’s software identifies patterns in hundreds of millions of daily tweets, web postings, traffic data, news wires and similar streams of data.   The deal values the New York-based startup at about $700 million. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 128.34 to 17,849.08. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at US76 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

How startup culture has ruined me for corporates

1:48AM | Wednesday, 21 January

I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty weird fit within corporate culture. Having never adhered very well to corporate dress codes, understood the reason for having a meeting to discuss a meeting or put the person who works the longest hours on a pedestal. It’s always been a little irregular for me to enjoy “office life”.   A little over a year-and-a-half ago, I was working for a pseudo-government company when I decided it was time for a change. I interviewed for a marketing role within Melbourne startup ‘BugHerd’. Attending the interview in my usual corporate regalia, a grey suit skirt and shirt, I prepped with answers to the “usual” interview questions. “Why my greatest weakness would have to be that sometimes I pay too much attention to detail” (barf).   I realised I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.   The people in the office played loud music, they wore t-shirts and jeans, they talked to each other in casual tones and there weren’t any partitions, cubicles or meeting rooms in sight. My interviewers didn’t ask me the usual questions I’d prepped for and instead told me a little about the history of the company. What they’d been working on, what they were looking for and, most importantly, they wanted to know about me. Not about my “top 5 Marketing Strategies” but about what kind of person I was. (Of course we eventually covered my skill-set but not in the first interview).   It was really refreshing and I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of it, even though I knew nothing about startups, little about the tech industry and even less about web development. However, I was technically proficient in digital marketing, had a good background in traditional marketing and have always had a roll-up-my-sleeves and ‘get shit done’ mentality. I got the job and started nice and fresh, waltzing in incredibly eager to make a big difference.   I had a lot to learn.   Other than the obvious differences between corporate and startup culture such as the lack of dress code, the plethora of beard styles and the casual working environment (thumbs up to all these things). I started to realise that I had to adapt my style of working, quickly. Things can change on a dime in less than 24 hours flat. I’d never heard of the term ‘pivot’ before but it sure makes sense in the startup world. You need to be able to adapt and move on as fast as you can.   It was the first time my Google Analytics code was stripped from the site during the middle of a campaign that I was confronted with one of the challenges of the ever-changing nature of a startup. “That’s going to affect how I prove ROI?!” I would cry. I had to come to terms with, unlike in the corporate world, there being no “chains of command” or “hierarchy of reporting” in a startup and often the only person really interested in your very important reporting and analytics is you.   Losing my data was the least of my troubles, it merely pointed to missing processes and protocols that I had the opportunity to implement along the way. Processes you can sometimes take for granted when you work with a corporate company. Marketers who can look to Brand Guidelines or Communications Strategies for guidance or have wonderful procedure manuals to turn to should be pretty thankful these documents exist. I’m thrilled to help create such resources, but will never again look the proverbial horse in the mouth for having them in the first place.   Startup marketing can be lonely.   Going from a marketing team to one person is challenging. Marketing folks are often outgoing, type-A kind of people who love to have a chin wag about what they’re doing with the rest of the marketing team. This is a luxury busy devs scarcely have time or inclination for, unless it’s within the realm of real time messaging services such as Hipchat or Slack. It can get very loud in a chat room (usually sharing amusing cat gifs) whilst you can hear a pin drop in the office. The blessing with such a small and accessible team is you can gain insight from people with whom you’d not normally have access to within the corporate world. It’s not often that marketing would have access to the IT team on a daily basis.   In startup culture the term ‘marketing’ is oft referred to as ‘growth hacking’ (I don’t love the term). You’re looking for opportunities to grow the company as quickly and efficiently as possible. Scalability is key and it often feels like you’re in a constant state of test and learn, learn and test. A lack of historical data existing and having to rely on information such as peer recommendation or gut feelings can be very exciting though incredibly daunting at first. So many articles I’ve seen on Growth Hackers bang on about quick wins, constant iterating, testing and quick hacks. Though it’s so rewarding to get that first data in yourself and being optimising.   I’m not proud to admit it, but in big corporate companies it’s sometimes easy to get away with being a bit slack. Depending on your career level (though I’ve known plenty of managers with questionable work outputs) you’re possibly just one tiny cog in a big machine. Despite the clichéd image of startup employees sitting around playing Nintendo all day, there really isn’t anywhere to hide. People without the aforementioned ‘get shit done’ attitude won’t go much further than the door.   If you slack off, it’s noticed.   Comparing the realm of corporate culture to venture into startup land is like comparing apples and Winnebagos. I do wonder if I’ll ever make it back to the land of the corporate and be able to hold down my job.   Chanie Hyde is the marketing manager at Macropod. This piece was originally published on Medium. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

How to build a virtual reality system – in your living room

7:13AM | Thursday, 3 July

Virtual reality is no longer the expensive, cumbersome exercise it once was. Google Cardboard, launched at last week’s Google I/O conference, is a no-frills, cardboard frame that, when used with open software, transforms a smartphone into a basic virtual reality headset.   But for a more immersive experience, hobbyists can build their own virtual reality system in their living room using equipment they already have (and if not, can buy relatively inexpensively).   All you need to beam yourself onto the bridge of the USS Enterprise or into Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment is:   a computer an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset a Microsoft Kinect for Windows motion sensor a battery headphones a tablet with software used to create and develop videogames (also know as a game engine).   A stroll through virtual reality history   The term “virtual reality” was initially coined by American computer scientist Jaron Lanier in 1989 to describe a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment which a person can explore and interact with.   Virtual reality quickly attracted media attention and inspired films such as the The Lawnmower Man in 1992 and Disclosure in 1994 – but this fuelled expectations of virtual reality that couldn’t be met by the technology available at the time.   Virtual reality gaming interfaces such as the Virtuality HMD headset in 1991, Cybermaxx VR in 1994 and Nintendo’s Virtual Boy in 1995 left many enthusiasts of the technology disappointed, and often quite dizzy.   Systems that enable users to walk and interact in the space are generally expensive (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars), unsuited to routine use and obtrusive, so it’s unsurprising that virtual reality has mostly remained in the laboratory.   Virtual roaming at home   To make virtual reality practical for home use, you need a system that is inexpensive, easy to set up, does not encumber the user and works in a lounge room-sized area.   The availability of head-mounted displays such as the Oculus Rift, motion tracking devices such as the Microsoft Kinect and game engines such as Unity 3D or UDK are a step into the right direction.   The Kickstarter success of the Oculus Rift in 2012 reinvigorated the appetite for virtual reality experiences and paved the way for new wave of virtual reality head-mounted displays such as the Sony Morpheus and the Google Cardboard.   The Nintendo Wii and the Microsoft Kinect have already started a revolution in home gaming by getting the gamer out of the chair. The Kinect tracks the user’s movement in the living room in seconds without the need for special markers or lengthy calibration.   Ultra-light tablet computers are also becoming more powerful and are now capable to render convincing three dimensional environments at acceptable frame rates.   Okay, I’ve got the goods. Now what?   SpaceWalk is a platform developed by researchers in the GEELab at RMIT University that allows a user to physically walk around and interact in a virtual environment. The platform uses two systems:   a virtual reality backpack a separate tracking station.   The tracking station consists of a standard desktop computer connected to Kinect. The Kinect has a practical tracking area of approximately 6m2, about the size of most people’s living rooms. It can track movements as little as 1.3mm when users are close to the sensor and 6mm at the end of its tracking range.   The user’s backpack contains an external phone charger battery pack [B] connected to the Oculus Rift controller box [C] via a USB to DC Barrel Jack [E] and provides the Oculus Rift [A] with power. The Oculus Rift connects via HDMI [G] to the tablet computer [D].   The platform is only meant at this point to serve as an experimental setup and users have to move slowly in the space as particularly fast movements have the potential to induce nausea. Frame rates, screen resolutions, tracking accuracy and latency are expected to improve with the availability of new hardware.   The Oculus Developer’s Kit 2 already promises refresh rates of up to 75Hz and a third higher screen resolution of 960 x 1080 pixels per eye. Similarly, the Kinect 2 for Windows features more accurate user tracking and a larger practical tracking area.   Moving and interacting naturally in virtual reality creates an extraordinary sense of immersion that cannot be experienced sitting down, and the experience of walking and interacting in a virtual game space has been explored by number of recent projects.   Apart from Architectural Visualisation and Industrial Training, defending yourself against a horde of zombies is a popular use case that has been explored by Project Holodeck and ZeroLatency.   On a similar vein, participants could experience vertigo using a setup developed by Inition at the 2013 Digital Shoreditch Festival.   If encountering your worst nightmare within the confines of a few square metres is not enough, users can explore the vast expanse of their virtual world on foot with an omni-directional treadmill.   To understand how virtual reality can be become a useful extension of our real world, the technology must break the boundaries of the dedicated virtual reality laboratory and become accessible by a wider user group with a variety of backgrounds and motivations.   We have just begun to realise the potential of virtual reality and there are many strange new worlds for us to explore. Stefan Greuter does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.   This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The dark side of vertical integration

1:26AM | Tuesday, 21 January

Recently, your humble correspondent looked at vertically integrated companies.   But if you’re just starting a business, the chances are you will – at least initially – be focused on a single stage of production, dealing with companies that are far more vertically integrated than you are.   Well, as Old Taskmaster says, business is war. The dark side of vertical integration comes when someone else tries to take your businesses out of the supply chain.   It happens. Just think about all the small businesses that supplied specialty foods to Coles and Woolies, only to find their lines deleted and a generic product taking their shelf space at $1 per litre.   Or, for that matter, the local servo owners who used their local supermarket as a supplier of their convenience store, only to find a shiny new Coles Express or Woolworths Plus Petrol opening down the road.   In theory, the ACCC should do something about it when it happens. In practice, Australia’s competition watchdog is more of a chihuahua.   On the other hand, Apple seems to be doing just fine, despite the fact its vertically integrated arch-rival (Samsung) also supplies a number of key iPhone components, including the processor and display.   And it’s not the first time Apple has found itself in such a predicament. Way back when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were in their parent’s garage, guess who the supplier was for the main processor in the original Apple I and Apple II computers?   It wasn’t Intel. Nor was it Motorola. And ARM didn’t exist yet.   No, Apple’s first computers from the late 1970s were built around an MOS 6502 chip. From Commodore. As in, Jack Tramiel’s Commodore.   A number of their competitors did likewise, including Atari (including the 2600), the original Nintendo NES and Acorn (who built the BBC Micro B). All used a variation of the processor in the Commodore 64.   When Tramiel started a price war by dropping the retail price of the Commodore 64, all of those companies were left buying processors at retail price while Commodore was effectively buying them at cost price.   Jobs actually referenced the industry shakeout that resulted while unveiling the Macintosh: “Nineteen eighty three… The shakeout is in full swing. The first major firm goes bankrupt, with others teetering on the brink. Total industry losses for ’83 outshadow the combined profits for Apple and IBM, for personal computers.”   So what can you do when a key supplier or customer decides to compete against you?   Apple survived by marketing premium, value-added products. Premium products command premium prices, and are less susceptible to a price war. After all, you might build your own computer, but it won’t be an Apple.   In the long run, Jobs also built his own vertical integration. That’s why you can buy Apple’s Final Cut Pro for your Apple Mac from an Apple store.   Perhaps the best response is to avoid getting locked into a single supplier in the first place. Look for products where you can get a second source – that is, a second company that can competitively supply you a similar product.   Likewise, avoid getting yourself in a position where your entire business is locked into supplying a single customer or outlet. After all, there’s no use crying over spilled, non-generic milk.   Finally, the next time you revise your long-term strategy, evaluate what would happen if your largest supplier, business partner or customer decided to compete with you. Is there a risk? If so, what would you do?   Old Taskmaster says it’s time to evaluate the risks facing your business from potential rivals – and reduce them!   Get it done – today!

10 events and trends that shaped the tech industry in 2013

12:02AM | Friday, 6 December

The tech sector has always been hyper-competitive, and never has this been truer than in 2013.   For the likes of Twitter, Samsung and Google, the harvest of 2013 was bountiful.   However, from the perspective of Nokia, Microsoft, BlackBerry or the PC industry, it was a year to forget.   Here’s a look back at 10 of the big events and trends that shaped the tech sector in 2013.   1. One billion smartphones sold this year – and counting   The most important tech story of 2013 didn’t take place with a major product announcement or a Steve Jobs-style keynote speech.   Instead, it took place without fanfare at an ordinary mobile phone retailer somewhere deep in suburbia.   It was there that a consumer decided to purchase the one billionth smartphone to be sold during 2013.   To put that number in perspective, it is projected that 227.3 million tablets shipped worldwide during 2013, 158 million television sets, 180.9 million portable PCs and 134.4 million desktop PCs.   Meanwhile, figures from market analysts IDC show smartphones also outsold featurephones worldwide for the first time in history during the first quarter of 2013.   What this means is that while smartphones now account for more than half of the 418.6 million mobile phones shipped worldwide each quarter, there are still millions of old-fashioned featurephones being sold each year.   Especially in the low-end of the market and in emerging economies, that means there’s plenty of extra room for growth in the future – especially at the low-end of the market.   Make no mistake about it. The smartphone industry is big – far bigger than the PC or TV business. And it’s only going to get bigger in 2014.   2. Google Android and Samsung: The juggernaut rolls on The biggest winners from the spectacular, ongoing growth of the smartphone market have been Samsung and Google.   Last year, smartphones running Google Android outsold Apple. In 2013, that trend morphed into total industry domination.   For example, of the 261.1 million smartphones shipped worldwide during the third quarter of 2013, 211.6 million or over 80% ran Google’s Android operating system.   That compares to just 33.8 million iPhones, representing around 12.9% of the market, and a measly 3.6% for Windows Phone.   Samsung managed to ship 72.4 million smartphones during the second quarter of 2013 alone, representing around 30.4% of the market – more than double Apple’s sales during the same period.   Those device sales also mean increased component orders flowing through the various divisions of the South Korean tech conglomerate, which manufactures everything from semiconductors to batteries and smartphone displays.   The growing strength of the South Korean electronics behemoth is demonstrated by its advertising and marketing budget, which has been estimated at around $US14 billion worldwide.   To put that figure into perspective, as of 2011, North Korea’s entire national economy was estimated to stand at $US12.385 billion.   3. The PC industry bloodbath   While Google and Samsung have had a stellar year in 2013, the same certainly can’t be said for the PC industry.   The September quarter was the sixth consecutive quarter of falls, according to Gartner, with shipments falling to 80.2 million units for the quarter from 87.8 million a year earlier.   Figures released by IDC forecast PC shipments for the full year to fall 9.7% in 2013.   More alarmingly, it appears the emerging middle class in China, India and Brazil aren’t keen on buying computers, with total PC shipments in emerging markets expected to drop from 205.2 million to 185 million this year.   Australia and New Zealand led the trend, with a massive 21% year-on-year fall in shipments for first quarter in Australia, along with a more astounding 27% fall in New Zealand.   The implosion of the PC market was disastrous for a number of PC makers, including Dell, HP and Acer.   In August, HP announced a major shake-up of its senior management team after announcing a large 15% year-on-year drop in net earnings and a 22% drop in revenue from consumer devices during its quarterly results.   That same month, Dell reported a massive 72% year-on-year collapse in quarterly earnings, while a consortium including founder Michael Dell, Silver Lake Capital and Microsoft successfully fought off high-profile investor Carl Icahn’s bid for control of the company.   And at Acer, founder Stan Shih made a surprise return as interim chairman and president, following the resignation of former chief executive JT Wang and president Jim Wong after the company recorded a record third-quarter loss.   The resignations came after Acer announced its consolidated revenues for the third-quarter of 2013 fell 11.8% year-on-year to $US3.11 billion, resulting in an operating loss of $US86.6 million.   4. Surface falls flat   On top of falling PC sales and 3.6% Windows Phone market share, the news was dire for Microsoft on another front in 2013.   Late last year, Microsoft launched its Surface series of tablets as a first step towards making devices, with the company believed to have manufactured around six million units.   The release of the Surface instantly made Microsoft a direct competitor to many of its already struggling PC partners, straining relations in the process.   Fast forward to July of this year when Microsoft announced a massive $US900 million writedown on its inventory of unsold tablets. The writedown came less than a week after Microsoft announced a large price cut of $US150 for the struggling product line.   Adding insult to injury, Microsoft also revealed it has spent $US898 million advertising the tablets, while only generating $US853 million in sales.   According to many leading analysts, the company was believed to have sold just 1.7 million of the six million tablets it had built.   To put those numbers in perspective, Apple sells around 14.6 million iPads each quarter, while Samsung sells around 8.8 million.   5. Steve Ballmer resigns   During the 1990s, Microsoft was undeniably the 800-pound gorilla of the tech industry.   Then, in January 2000, founder Bill Gates stood aside as chief executive, in favour of Steve Ballmer, in order to focus on his philanthropic efforts.   Since then, the company has lost much of its former dynamism, and has failed to become the dominant player in a range of new technologies that have emerged since then, including search, tablets, smartphones or social media.   In August last year, Vanity Fair magazine journalist Kurt Eichenwald ran a feature exploring why Microsoft fell behind its rivals. A management technique called stack ranking was almost universally blamed.   “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, two people were going to get a great review, seven were going to get mediocre reviews, and one was going to get a terrible review,” a former software developer told Eichenwald. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”   Add the low market share for Windows Phone, poor sales of the Surface and the PC industry bloodbath, and it became clear something had to give at Microsoft.   In July, the company announced a major management restructure, with the company’s strategy shifting to focus on “devices and services”.   Then, just one month later, Ballmer resigned as chief executive, with stack ranking dumped as a management technique soon after.   The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant is currently searching for his replacement.   Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 6. Nokia sold for a song   Soon after Ballmer’s resignation, the news was overshadowed by an even bigger story.   In September, Microsoft announced it was buying Nokia’s smartphone and devices businesses for $US7.2 billion, with the Finnish telecommunications company retaining its Nokia-Siemens services network equipment business and the Nokia brand name.   The deal came after Nokia announced its smartphone sales had slumped 27% year-on-year during the second quarter of 2013, with an overall loss of €115 million ($A190 million) for the quarter.   The sales plunge was led by the company’s Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphone unit, where shipments fell 27% from 10.2 million units during the second quarter of 2012 to just 7.4 million for the same quarter in 2013.   To put that number into perspective, it was a little over one-tenth the number of smartphones sold by Samsung during the same quarter.   It was an inglorious end to a company that absolutely dominated the mobile industry through the 1990s and 2000s. As recently as 2010, when Apple sold 47 million smartphones, Nokia managed to sell 104 million.   According to prominent industry analysts, such as former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen, the fateful moment came in February 2011, when then chief executive Stephen Elop made the decision to switch its smartphones to the Windows Phone operating system.   Soon after, a leaked internal letter from Elop known as the “burning platform” memo likened the company’s situation in the mobile phone market to a person standing on a burning oil platform.   After the takeover was announced, Elop was named as one of the top contenders for the position of Microsoft chief executive.   7. BlackBerry’s failed comeback and takeover attempt   It wasn’t just Nokia that had a tough time in the smartphone market at the hands of Samsung and Google.   In January, BlackBerry launched its new, all-touch BlackBerry 10 smartphone operating system. The platform, originally scheduled for late 2011, had been delayed by a year, preventing the company launching a flagship phone in 2012.   The Australian launch for the first smartphone to run the new platform, the Z10, came in March at a gala event in Sydney hosted by Adam Spencer. A second device using a traditional BlackBerry keyboard, called the Q10, came soon after.   While the reviews were generally positive, the new devices failed to be the big comeback success the company’s then-chief executive, Thorsten Heins, had hoped for.   By August, the company formed a special five-member panel to examine takeover options after director and Canadian investment guru Prem Watsa quit the board.   In its September quarter results, the full carnage was laid bare. The Canadian smartphone maker reported just $US1.6 billion in revenues for the quarter, down 45% year-on-year and 49% quarter-on-quarter.   The company also revealed it sold just 3.7 million smartphones for the quarter – and less than half of those ran BlackBerry 10.   Total losses came in at $US965 million, including a massive $US934 million inventory writedown against unsold stock of the company’s Z10 smartphone.   The company announced more than 4500 staff layoffs, representing nearly 40% of its global workforce, while Heins bought a new private jet.   Meanwhile, the company’s rollout of its Messenger app for Android and iOS was frozen due to technical issues with its release.   In early November, with banks uncertain of the company’s long-term future, Watsa failed to raise the requisite $4.7 billion for a buyout, instead lending the company $US1 billion.   As part of the deal, Heins stood aside as chief executive, replaced by former Sybase chief executive John Chen, with Watsa rejoining the board.   Heins received a $US22 million golden parachute for his efforts, significantly less than the $US55.6 million he would have received had the sale gone through.   8. The Twitter IPO   Last year, Facebook’s disastrous IPO ended in tears – followed by lawsuits.   Thankfully, the outcome was not repeated when its social media rival, Twitter, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in November.   After opening at $US26 per share, the company’s share price surged 72.69% in its first trading session.   It closed at $US44.90 per share, before dropping slightly to $US44.44 in after-hours trading.   Making the result even more amazing was the state of its balance sheet.   While the tech giant has revenues of $US534.46 million and around 230 million users worldwide, it has never posted a profit.   Despite this, the company now has a market capitalisation north of $US20 billion, with chief executive Dick Costolo claiming the company’s long-term investment strategy has prevented it from chasing profits in the short term.   9. iOS7, iPhones and iPads   For Apple, 2013 was a solid if somewhat unspectacular year.   In June, the company released a redesigned version of its smartphone and mobile operating system, iOS7, alongside a new version of its Mac OS X desktop operating system, known as Mavericks.   It was the year that Apple finally unveiled a low-cost version of its iPhone, known as the iPhone 5c, alongside a new 64-bit flagship smartphone called the iPhone 5s, complete with a 64-bit processor and a fingerprint sensor.   Then, in October, the company unveiled a lighter version of its iPad, known as the iPad Air.   None of the products had the industry-shaking impact of the unveiling of the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone or iPad.   That said, with billions in profits each quarter, a solid second place in the smartphone market and the world’s biggest selling tablet, solid and unspectacular for Apple is better than most companies could dream of.   10. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launch   Last, but certainly not least for gamers, 2013 marked the introduction of next generation games consoles from both Sony and Microsoft.   Coming a year after Nintendo launched its Wii U system, Sony announced one million first-day sales of its PlayStation 4 system, but the launch was marred by a number of angry consumers taking to social media to complain about non-functional systems.   Sony’s first-day sales were soon matched by the first-day sales of Microsoft’s new Xbox One system.   So how will the two new devices perform over the long term? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out!   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Make your tech attack ads interesting

11:35AM | Tuesday, 5 November

Earlier today, old Taskmaster read about an ad by Microsoft that has been criticised for attacking Apple. Apparently the folks up in Seattle think putting the latest iPhone in a range of different coloured plastics isn’t particularly innovative.   And they’d be right – Apple first offered a selection of different coloured plastics for the original iMac, back in 1998.   However, what some of you young’uns might not realise is that there’s nothing new about one tech company directly naming, attacking and mocking its rivals. In fact, attack ads have been a feature of the tech sector for almost as long as they have been used in politics.   Back in the 1980s, Commodore founder Jack Tramiel made it a regular feature of his advertising. From William Shatner having a dig at Atari while selling the VIC-20 to a Commodore 64 advert literally chewing out Apple, competitors were regularly named and shamed:     During the late 1980s, then videogame giant Sega took Commodore’s attack ads and added ‘blast processing’. Now, whether or not blast processing exists outside a counter-terror squad investigation remains dubious. Nonetheless, Sega claimed to have it and Nintendo didn’t (or should that be Nintendon’t?).     Apple is certainly no stranger to this form of advertising either. The first and best known example was the company’s now infamous 1984 ad. That said, even during their weak late 80s and early 90s period, the attacks continued:     And then there’s the company’s Mac and PC ads:     Like most things, Samsung has taken this concept off Apple and then begun churning out variations like sausages. Here’s one recent example:     So, like many things in the computer industry, the attack ad was first developed by a company like Commodore, was quickly followed by Apple, was mass-produced by Samsung, and then Microsoft eventually had a go.   And the big problem with their ad? Compared to the other examples, it’s a bit boring:     The moral of the story is simple. If you want to make an ad (or YouTube clip) attacking your rivals, go for it. Just make it interesting. Even if you have to make up a phrase like ‘blast processing’ to do it!   Get it done – today!

Electronic Arts cross a Firemint with an IronMonkey and get Firemonkeys

7:29AM | Wednesday, 25 July

Entertainment giant Electronic Arts is merging Melbourne-based games studios Firemint and IronMonkey to form Firemonkeys, one year after EA acquired Firemint for an undisclosed sum.

Sprinkle your start-up with stardust

5:27AM | Wednesday, 2 May

A problem that every new business struggles with is brand recognition. Pitted against large, established corporations with gargantuan marketing budgets, start-ups have to battle under a cloak of near-anonymity.

Rovio turns Angry Birds into TV series

4:09AM | Friday, 20 April

Feathers will fly on the box with mobile game Angry Birds being made into a TV show.

THE NEWS WRAP: Retailers attack workplace laws

6:33PM | Sunday, 19 June

Three of Australia’s largest retailers have attacked the federal government workplace regulations, claiming that they are hampering businesses.

Five hot technology trends from the E3 conference

6:09AM | Thursday, 9 June

Tablet computing, the continued improvement and penetration of 3D technology and the widespread integration of social networking are just some of the trends revealed at the annual E3 gaming conference.

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