Europe

Nokia — the remaining phone-free Finnish firm, not the handset business that Microsoft bought and recently renamed — has something in store for us. In a Monday tweet teasing the unveiling of “something” on Tuesday at the Slush Festival in Helsinki, Nokia showed off a black box with the company’s familiar logo on the top. All very mysterious, especially considering that, while the company has hinted at a return of its brand to consumer goods, it appeared to do so in the context of brand licensing. The remaining bits of Nokia deal with location-based services and mapping, network equipment and advanced materials research. The black box in that picture doesn’t look like any of those.

Europe’s last antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, couldn’t settle his department’s four-year case against Google, keen though he was to do so. Now the new European Commission is in place, his successor, Margrethe Vestager, has said she wants to meet with “those most directly affected” by Google’s anticompetitive practices. That would include vertical search engines such as Yelp and Foundem, publishers and consumer rights groups. “We are talking about fast moving markets – I have to be sure that we have all the facts up to date to get it right,” Vestager said in a Tuesday statement. “The issues at stake in our investigations have a big potential impact on many players… I will therefore need some time to decide on the next steps.”

Germany’s Deutsche Telekom has launched an enormous venture capital fund, totalling €500 million ($621 million) over five years, that’s aimed at newer startups and more mature companies. The fund will be run by a new company called Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners (DTCP) rather than the telco’s existing T-Venture arm, which will still retain responsibility for follow-up investments in its hundred-or-so existing portfolio startups, but will be otherwise closed to new investments. DTCP will have a “special focus” on German startups, and will launch in early 2015. People love to whine about the lack of startup funding in Europe, but in truth the last couple years have seen billions of euros put on the table to support local scenes.

The Samaritans suicide prevention charity in the U.K. has suspended its controversial Samaritans Radar Twitter app, which scanned the tweets of people that subscribers follow, in order to find signs of heavy depression and alert the subscribers. Critics, many of whom have experience of mental health issues, pointed out that the app was a gift to stalkers and trolls, and a disincentive to using Twitter to vent. Consent was a major issue, with the people being monitored not even receiving notifications when their tweets were flagged. In a Friday blog post, the Samaritans apologized “to anyone who has inadvertently been caused any distress” and said they would test “potential changes” to the app. The suspension took too long to arrive, but I’m glad it has.

Salesforce.com has taken the wraps off its first EU-sited data center in Slough, England, little more than a week after Amazon opened up its second European facility in Frankfurt. The SaaS CRM giant will also open two data centers in France and Germany next year, with all three being powered by renewable energy sources. Apart from offering lower latency to European businesses, going local in the EU also makes life easier from a compliance point of view – sensitive customer information, for example, should ideally stay within European borders, or even national borders when it comes to countries like Germany that have strict data protection regimes.

As predicted a couple weeks back, the British mobile operator EE has begun rolling out LTE-Advanced “4G+” across central London. The technology aggregates spectrum in EE’s 1800MHz and 2.6GHz holdings to provide “real world” peak speeds of 150Mbps and average speeds of 90Mbps, EE promised in a statement. As the carrier noted, the use of EE’s 2.6GHz spectrum will take some of the load off its existing 1800MHz 4G network, theoretically speeding things up for 4G users who don’t have the latest devices – such as the Samsung Note 4 – that can take advantage of so-called 4G+. EE also said its 4G network now covers 300 cities and large towns.

145678155page 6 of 155