The Weekly Round-Up: 09.04.10

Finally, the announcement we've all been waiting for...
Written by The Round-Up, Contributor

Finally, the announcement we've all been waiting for...

Just a few short days ago, all the speculating and waiting came to an end when an announcement of global importance was finally made.

Pundits watched eagerly to see the reaction from the general public and opinion poll followed opinion poll as the analysts tried to make sense of the buzz on the street.

General election, what general election? The Round-Up is talking about the launch of the iPad.

Yes, on Saturday Apple's tablet finally went on sale after weeks of hype.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the game-changing/navel-gazing device (delete according to your personal level of fanboi-ism/cynicism) sold a truck load on its first day.

According to the company, it shifted more than 300,000 units in a single day, which isn't bad for a device that some claim has no defining purpose.

Still, no defining purpose or not, the iPad was still enough to get people camping out overnight outside Apple stores as they waited for the device to finally be released. Yep, those poor souls who queued up overnight to buy iPhones lost another good night's sleep queuing for an iPad.

Hell, the iPad launch was enough to get even Steve Jobs down to his local Apple store, where he helped out for half an hour. According to reports, the Apple CEO even demoed the iPad to a teenage girl.

On the downside, the company has apparently been inundated with complaints that the 3G-less and largely port-free devices don't work very well in areas with perfectly serviceable wi-fi, which is a bit of handicap for a web tablet.

Yet, while the US fanbois have their iPads, web-connected or not, we sad little geeks in the UK have nothing, nada, zilch. No firm date and no firm price for when we can get our own tea-drinking, soccer-loving hands on the device. All we have to console ourselves with are photos for the top iPad apps that people over the pond are enjoying right now, and pictures of the tablet from every conceivable angle.

So get on with it, Jobs. If you've got time to show off your new touchscreen gadget to teenagers in shops, you've got time to sit down with Bill from accounts and work out how much it's going to cost in pounds sterling and when we can get our mitts on it...

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown showed he's not afraid of setting dates: he only went and called the general election this week, although it's not as if he had much choice.

So what are the technology issues the politicians should focus on to get the all-important techie vote?

While the political parties' pledges to boost superfast broadband coverage have been grabbing the headlines of late, the UK's tech leaders feel politicians should be making other technology issues - such as boosting skills and innovation - their priority.

Funnily enough, in the run up to the election, it looks like superfast broadband maybe isn't at the top of the government's list after all. In a tiny bit of good news if you're a 'have' and bad news if you are a 'have not', the government sacrificed the 50p per month tax on landlines on Tuesday, dropping it like a political hot potato.

Largely because that's exactly what it is.

The Next Generation Levy (or tax to those less fond of euphemisms) was sacrificed as part of a compromise between opposing parties to get the government's Finance Bill through before the dissolution of Parliament.

The levy was intended by the government as a mechanism to raise up to £170m per year to help finance the rollout of superfast broadband access to areas where commercial providers are unlikely to extend their networks, such as remote rural regions. You know, the ones that would actually benefit from things fibre broadband would enable, like telehealth, not the city numpties that are used to decent broadband and would only use 100Mbps to speed up their illegal file-sharing or something.

Although presumably not for very much longer, after this week also saw the advent of the Digital Economy Bill, best known for the clauses it contains aiming to tackle online copyright infringement, by compelling ISPs to take action against persistent illegal file-sharers, including cutting off their internet connection.

The blogosphere and Twitter is agog with anger over the way the controversial Bill was rushed through during the so-called 'wash-up' period without proper debate and a number of MPs weren't too impressed either.

Labour MP Kate Hoey is reported as saying: "The reality is that, out there, the ordinary person who has only begun to realise the repercussions of this Bill, are going to feel totally let down by Parliament just before a general election."

Meanwhile, former minister and all-round geek champion Tom Watson said it would be a "catastrophic disaster" if the Bill went through.

Despite more than 20,000 emails from the public opposing it, the Bill has now passed into law.

So much for digital inclusion and the government using online channels to engage with the populace then.

Still, here's some links to keep you going:

What's Britain's favourite mobile?

What's white and shiny and not afraid of multitasking? Find that out here.

And how much could playing fast and loose with customers' data cost you? Yep, you can find that out here.

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