The Weekly Round-Up: 26.03.10

Hello Digital David!
Written by The Round-Up, Contributor

Hello Digital David!

Securing the votes of the middle-of-the-road Mondeo Man helped Labour win the 1997 election. Now, with another general election looming, have both parties pinned their hopes of victory on his 21st century equivalent, Digital David?

Whereas back in the day a sought-after electoral demographic was defined by its choice of sensible family runabout, now it seems politicians have decided the best way to make us vote for them is to appeal to our gadget-loving geeky sides.

The election campaign hasn't even officially kicked off yet, and already both Tories and Labour are trawling shiny high-tech baubles in front of the electorate. Vote for me, says one, and you'll get 100Mbps broadband in most of the country. Vote for me, says the other, and you'll get superfast broadband everywhere. (For more on this political fat-pipe one-upmanship click here.)

It's all a bit odd, considering that when it comes to IT, politicians are less switched on than an Eskimo's fridge.

But kissing babies is out, poking you on Facebook is in. They won't stand on a soapbox anymore but they will record rather uncomfortable videos and post them to YouTube.

In fact, they're tripping over each other to prove how tech-savvy they are - Gordon Brown has an iPhone app now (you can see it here). It brings together all the news from Number 10 Downing Street (but seems a bit light on the brooding and glowering the Round-Up would have expected).

On top of all this, the Budget even held out a few crumbs of benefit for smaller tech companies too.

Admittedly, all of this is coupled with forthcoming brutal cuts to public sector IT budgets, which means there might not be much in the way of government services to connect to from your superfast broadband - but so what?

Expect the wooing of Digital Derek (and Digital Denise) to become more intense when Gordon Brown actually gets around to announcing a date for the Election. Chances are by the middle of April they'll be offering us all free iPads and nipping around to sort out your printer drivers in exchange for putting a cross on a ballet paper, which to the Round-Up seems like a pretty good deal.

Talking of iPads, the iPhone's extremely big brother should be hitting these shores sometime next month. That much is known, as is the fact that it's got a touchscreen and that Apple fanbois are saving their pocket money already.

But how much will they have to save? Apple's staying mum on the pricing so instead we asked you, dear readers, how much you'd actually pay for one of Apple's shiny tablets.

In an exclusive poll of readers of silicon.com and sister publication CNET UK, 15 per cent said they're intending to buy an iPad, 49 per cent they're not tempted, while 36 per cent said 'maybe'. Not bad considering how tablets have previously fared in the marketplace.

But how much will they shell out? An extremely optimistic 12 per cent said they would only pay £100-199 for the gadget (they might be waiting quite some time - like forever - for it to hit that price point), while at the other end of the spectrum an extravagant minority said they would pay more than £700 to get their hands on one.

Considering the US starting price for the basic iPad model is $499 you could fly to the US, buy one for one of these big spenders, fly back and still have change for a hot dog.

Some of the respondents to the survey also voiced their opinions about the Apple brand. "I love their attention to detail and the fact that they understand the harmony that can be created when you manufacture the hardware alongside the software," said one, rather poetically.

Another comment was less generous: "Apple products seems to value form over function - look great, but have obvious limitations compared to the wider market," to which one Mac enthusiast gleefully retorted: "I agree, my Mac does not crash all the time like my fellow Windows users - I feel really limited by not experiencing their regular lock ups!"

Now then kids, play nicely…

Facebook has been blamed for many things in its short life so far.

At Silicon Towers it's mostly responsible for wild outbreaks of tittering on a Monday morning when someone's weekend antics are revealed by photos tagged with their name.

This is usually followed by howls of indignation and a furious clatter of keyboards as these photos are rapidly untagged or deleted, while the rest of the office races to see the evidence before it is lost forever.

But this week saw an outbreak of over-excited newspaper stories - in among other places The Sun and The Telegraph - claiming a link between the use of the social networking sites and the spread of sexually transmitted disease syphilis, because such sites make it easier for people to meet new partners.

If a mechanism that helps people to meet up were really behind the spread of syphilis, the Round-Up wonders why the tabloids have drawn the line at Facebook - why not point the finger at the existence of roads, public transport or telephones, all of which facilitate such behaviour?

The Round-Up isn't a doctor by any means but would suggest that maybe the rise in STDs spotted by the researchers has much less to do with social networking and a lot more to do with foolish people not practising safe sex.

Fortunately, Facebook has had the last word on this, issuing a statement to the newspapers which read rather pointedly: "Facebook is no more responsible for STD transmission than newspapers are responsible for bad vision."

In other news this week: Is Twitter on the wane? The Round-Up hopes not, as it can only think in 140-character bursts now. But read on here.

And - following last week's big debate about the wisdom of letting staff choose their own kit, CIOs wade into the argument too.

The Round-Up will be munching its Easter eggs next week, but will be back, reinvigorated and slightly tubbier the week after.

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