European news round-up

In our new regular weekly round-up of news in Europe, here’s some of the broader stories that may be of interest.

• The European Union is never very far away from reaching for the regulation trigger, so it was refreshing this week to see that it was warning member states that people should not be criminalised for the file-sharing of copyrighted material if they are not profiting from doing so. I guess they’ve heard music is going free.

Phorm, the “deep packet inspection” company which works with ISPs to target adverts, continued its PR woe in the UK where it has been having a torrid time trying to convince the press, government and consumers that it won’t be spying on everyone. It’s now hired a chief privacy officer to try and allay fears. In Europe we tend to be more concerned about private companies snooping on our privacy/data than governments, slightly the reverse of the general attitude in the States I believe.

• Google is rapidly becoming Britain’s biggest advertising business. It earned $803 million (about £407m) in the first three months of 2008, about 40% up on a year ago. By contrast the biggest TV broadcaster, ITV, had net advertising revenues of £1.5 billion. So Google is on track to beat it by the end of this year. In general the UK internet advertising market is at £2.8bn in 2007 up 38% on 2006.

• Everyone is expecting Finland’s Nokia to come up with an ‘iPhone killer’ with the rumoured “Tube” handset, but it had better hurry up. Nokia’s shares were hit after it said the market would shrink in value in euro terms this year for the first time.

• After the EU fined software giant Microsoft 899 million euro last February, things have cooled off a little. Until a question by EU Parliament representative about whether the EU’s legal findings against the company kicked off yet more headaches. Plus ca change!

• In the UK the head of the BBC’s new media department controls a budget of £400 million, so it’s of keen interest to everyone in the tech commmunity. The former Microsoft executive Erik Huggers is tipped to be the BBC’s new director of future media and technology, replacing Ashley Highfield, who is leaving to head the commercial web TV venture Project Kangaroo.

• The iPhone in Europe is a “patchy” success. So far it’s officially available in France, England, Germany, Austria, and Ireland. Demand has been strongest in England. French sales have been just okay. Germany, however, is cool on the Jesus phone. One third of the iPhones sold in Europe are unlocked after purchase.
They may also be being sold at a loss. And is Orange testing a 3G iPhone v2.0 with GPS in France? And maybe it’ll launch in Russia soon? I predict a lot of unlocking…. Luckily we’ll soon be able to use them on flights in Europe.

• And in other news TechCrunch UK is bringing 20 UK startups to ‘press the flesh’ in Silicon Valley this week. So at least were bringing a bit of Europe to you. Much easier!