Will London's mayor put the brakes on Uber?

Uber app on the phone near London black cab

It is the new technology superpower, promising to transform the way we travel and much else, and London is one of its most important bases. But now the car service Uber is at the centre of a major political battle, and the new Conservative government has a tricky choice to make.

London's mayor Boris Johnson, who has until recently been seen by taxi drivers as far too kind to Uber, is now backing new laws which could put a stop to its growth. The newly elected MP for Uxbridge is pushing for the inclusion in next week's Queen's Speech of a proposal to cap the number of minicab licences in London.

In the last year, the regulator Transport for London says the number of private hire vehicle licences has risen from 52,000 to 77,000, and most of that increase is made up of new Uber drivers. Another 1,200 private hire drivers are swelling that total every month, according to the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), which lobbies for the traditional black cab drivers.

The LTDA applauds Johnson for tackling what it says is becoming a pollution problem affecting the lives of all Londoners. Its chief executive Steve McNamara says the capital is suffering growing congestion as an increasingly desperate pack of Uber drivers move constantly from one resident parking space to another as they wait for a customer.

Uber, of course, sees it very differently. The Californian firm is lobbying hard against what it believes is simple protectionism. It cites the average speed of Uber cars through London, up by 9% since it arrived in 2012, as proof that it is not responsible for congestion. And it says further growth in its network is needed so that it can launch its UberPool service here, allowing several customers to share the same car, cutting congestion and costs.

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Will Britain's Chirp be drowned out by Google Tone?

Chirp logo
The Chirp logo

A few years ago I came across one of those rare inventions that make you sit up and go "wow".

Chirp was launched in 2012. It's an application that allows you to transfer files between devices simply using an audio signal. It was instantly appealing - and best of all it was the work of a British inventor, Patrick Bergel, from University College London.

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Will mobile firms really block ads?

Iphone 5

How much do you enjoy seeing adverts pop up as you browse the web on a computer, or increasingly on a mobile phone?

Not much, I bet, but advertising is all that keeps many online businesses afloat and on mobile phones it is turning into a multi-billion dollar industry.

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Facebook tightens its grip on news

Facebook on a laptop

Where do you get your online news? For millions, the answer is Facebook, and now the social media giant is moving to make it even easier to access news articles.

It's introducing something called Instant Articles, which will offer news organisations the chance to create interactive content that is much simpler and faster to read on Facebook via a mobile device.

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Election 2015: It wasn't social media 'wot won it'

Reporter live tweets a press conference by Michael Fallon during the election campaign

Five years ago, in the aftermath of the 2010 election, it became the received wisdom that next time things would be different.

Technology and in particular social media would play a key role in the 2015 campaign. Twitter and Facebook would become vastly more influential than newspapers in spreading election messages, and sentiment analysis - mining the big data of social media - would tell us exactly what was going on. How wrong that turned out to be.

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Twitter, Facebook - and the battle for advertising dollars

Facebook and Twitter logos

It's been a dismal week for social media companies that aren't Facebook.

Last night the professional networking site LinkedIn posted a disappointing revenue forecast, sending its shares plunging 25% in after-hours trading. Earlier in the week, Twitter had also shocked the market by missing revenue forecasts.

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Secret fails fast - but did Silicon Valley fail too?

Secret app logo

Silicon Valley is applauding the founder of the Secret app, which allows people to share rumours anonymously. Which is strange because he's failed.

But what he's done is admit that the project has gone wrong, shut it down and return the remaining cash to investors. And in the West Coast start-up bible, failing fast and moving on has become one of the 10 commandments for all true entrepreneurs.

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Brand/Miliband: Is this the real start of the 'social media election'?

Russell Brand and Ed Miliband

Was Ed Miliband right or wrong to agree to an interview for Russell Brand's YouTube channel?

I'll let you be the judge of that, but the strategy seems clear - reach an audience of young people who are more likely to watch online video and share news on Facebook than tune in to TV news or read a newspaper.

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Google’s 'mobilegeddon'

Google on mobile

If your business depends on people finding your website, then this will be an anxious day for you.

Google is making changes to the way its search engine ranks sites, and that could send some hurtling down the rankings.

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Is Google a fading force?

Searching on Google

So here's a funny thing. The day after the EU accuses Google of abusing its dominance of the search market, new figures are published showing it's not quite so dominant after all.

Comscore reveals that Microsoft's Bing now has 20% of the desktop search market, Yahoo, which has a search alliance with Microsoft, has nearly 13%, and Google has a measly 64%.

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