theEweekly Wrap: Court cases, collaborations and Project Spartan

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Manchester
Power networking A huge joint venture was announced this week that could revolutionise mobile technology in the UK. Networks O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere – itself a joint venture between Orange and T Mobile – are to collaborate in an effort to boost uptake of the mobile wallet and other payment services. Contactless payments were launched in May 2011 by Orange, Barclaycard and Samsung, but The Next Web speculated that the partnership would apply for a license "removing the need for third-party partnerships" – namely, with banks.

The venture will result in "targeted offers and deals" for users, while "retailers and advertisers will be able to deliver much richer marketing campaigns", according to Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 parent company Telefónica. Once approved by the relevant authorities, the project is set to go ahead by the end of the year. The only large UK mobile network left out of the agreement is Three.

Complete disaster A four-star hotel in north-east Ireland is suing Google over the autocomplete suggestions on its name. Typing just the first eight letters of the Barrymascanlon Hotel in Dundalk currently brings up an results for 'Barrymascanlon receivership'. The hint of financial trouble has reportedly led to the popular wedding venue being inundated with calls from worried couples. The hotel is now asking for an injunction against that particular autocomplete result, but not asking for damages or suing for libel.

Google has been taken to court – and lost – in the past over autocomplete results deemed libellous. But as is explained by Danny Sullivan in a Search Engine Land blog on the science behind autocomplete, the results are based solely on searches that have already been made, and sometimes influenced by the location of the searcher. Of course, certain results have been manually removed, including references to piracy and hate, so there's no reason Google will not be able to grant the hotel's request.

This is Sparta? A leak was reported this week by TechCrunch concerning a Facebook photos app for mobile. The documents and image mock-ups apparently show a kind of photo-based social network, complete with tagging, captions, location tags and a photo news feed.

However, news broke yesterday of further Facebook innovations that could be even more of a game changer. Facebook is currently working on something called Project Spartan, which is understood to be a new mobile platform that uses HTML5. According to TechCrunch, this is: "aimed squarely at working on the iPhone (and iPad). But it won’t be distributed through the App Store as a native application, it will be entirely HTML5-based and work in Safari. Why? Because it’s the one area of the device that Facebook will be able to control." This is one battle we can't wait to see.