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They call it the cloud, but it’s a very physical, hardware-heavy business. Amazon.com and Google both announced great dollops of capital investment this week, in Amazon’s case enough to spook the Street. The giant platform business is building infrastructure again, and a large fraction of that is in the form of buildings, 13 of them, both warehouses and data centres. They’re also adding another 2,200 jobs. CFO Tom Szkutak specifically referred to their Filled by Amazon operation, which delivers packages on behalf of other e-commerce firms, and to Amazon Web Services as lines of business that were in need of more space. Google, for their part, spent $476m in the last quarter on capital goods, essentially all on data centres. As we pointed out in the Google executive briefing, not only does Google spend much more on capital investment than its closest rivals, it gets dramatically better returns.

No surprise, really, then that the market for servers is looking up. IBM says its sales of servers were up 30% this quarter, 36% the one before that, Intel’s server products are up 42% q-o-q, and the Wall Street Journal notes a string of cloud/hosting companies (e.g Rackspace) expanding.

On the other hand, there were rumours all week of an effort to depose Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo as CEO of Nokia. The Q2 results weren’t of a sort likely to help his case, with profits and average selling prices falling steeply. NAVTEQ is shipping a lot of product, but is a lossmaker, as is NSN. And they expect to sell 50 million N8s, although it will be the only Symbian ^3 device ever. OK…

Amid this sense of crisis, a former Nokia exec publishes a manifesto for change. Among other things, he says, Nokia shouldn’t be so proud of having invented the world’s best approval process, and he has hard words for the Soho-based design team.

“It’s a trend office - they’re sniffing trends. They look at what T-shirts people are wearing and design phones according to the trend. They’ve had their time….Since 2006, Nokia brand development has been a playground for marketing people and some fashion designers based in Soho, London. At the same time external marketing offices from London have been creating campaigns and Web visuals for Nokia basically without no relevant definition or guidance from Nokia’s side. Nokia brand directors, under SVPs and VPs, are from Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Disney and Nike, from companies without any connection to technology, gadgets, functional products or ‘rocket science’ visions - without competence, visions and customer understanding.”

He suggests the company should create a role for a co-CEO for innovations - which makes the whole thing sound rather like a manifesto for Anssi Vanj√∂ki’s next job application. He also makes the point that Nokia, if anything, does rather too much data capture, evaluation, and research. Given that two of the top five posts on Forum Nokia today are about just that, he may well have a point.

In better news, MeeGo got the nod from a car industry standardisation MLA, GENIVI, as their platform for “connected car” applications. NSN, meanwhile, landed the contract to supply 40,000 Node Bs for Harbinger Capital’s proposed US wholesale-only LTE network, which has since been named LightSquared. (Because < a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teledesic">Teledesic 2.0 wouldn’t have sounded as good.)

Symbian^3 is still coming along Real Soon Now. Similarly, WebOS 2.0 is planned for “later this year”, a target window closing at the rate of 24 hours per day.

Juicy gossip from within Microsoft after the failure of the Kin smartphone; allegedly they sold a total of 503 devices.

Qualcomm, meanwhile, had profits up 4% on shipments up 10%, although they confirmed that the FLO TV wholesale network is on the way out.

The Linux kernel developers and Google are working towards a solution that would let Android code get back into the main source tree of Linux. The current issue is whether it’s acceptable for the shutdown process to be interrupted if a phone call comes in - fairly important for a phone, you might think. Google also has said that future contributions to Android will go into the main Linux codebase, rather than staying inside Google, although they won’t appear until devices have shipped.

There’s some, heavily caveated, data on different Android versions’ share here.

Google has an update for Google Voice out. It looks like GVoice used to work as a callback service, a bit like Jajah, but now it uses a temporarily-assigned DID number and your carrier’s SS7 network, and then presumably maps the DID to the real phone number you want to call. Seriously worse voice and messaging; AdMob (that’s a Google division, remember) has been serving up an advert to iPhone users (and perhaps others) that contains a link that initiates a phone call to a premium rate number. Apparently the ad in question is “The Talking Cat”.

Skype updated its iPhone client to make use of multitasking in iOS 4, thus making it a proper telephony application (as in: can receive calls without being permanently in foreground). They’ve also, quietly, reversed the decision to charge for Skype-Skype calls on the iPhone - this may reflect some ultra-profound, tectonic shift in the triangle of forces between mobile VoIP developers, Apple, and AT&T, or then again they may just have been trying it on.

Wired asks why AT&T doesn’t do busy-hour pricing rather than data caps, a perfectly good question and one that reminds us that ISP people do actually know quite a lot about data pricing (busy hour, 95th percentile, burst, etc), contrary to the telco-establishment view that it’s all free on the interwebs and will end in tears.

DTAG, it seems, is still pushing the Google tax. In that light, it’s probably worth linking to the list of the top 10 tech spenders on lobbying; the top three are all telcos, and Verizon alone spends four times Google’s bill for spin and schmooze and six times IBM’s.

If you’ve ever wondered where telco lobbyists come from, meanwhile, wonder no more. The Sunlight Foundation has a useful chart. The short answer is “Congress”, with 201 of 274 registered telco lobbyists having that on their CVs.

Except trouble tomorrow. The Ontario Teachers’ pension fund, which speaks for 0.42% of Vodafone, is planning to vote for Sir John Bond’s dismissal as chairman at the EGM. They apparently would like the sale of some of the minority shareholdings, like Verizon Wireless.

Vodafone’s 360 product is increasingly looking like a way of using the Android Market to get access to the world Android user base. Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, is competing with RIM’s BlackBerry App World, pushing its own app store as an app to the top RIM devices on its network.

A T-Mobile UK employee has confessed to being behind a massive theft of customer data. With an accomplice, whose trial is coming up soon, he sold the details of subscribers whose contracts were coming up for renewal to resellers who were paid commission for winning new business. It’s a good reminder that the security of customer data is frequently threatened by fairly crude attacks.

TalkTalk is doing something unusual, in the name of fighting malware - it’s following every link its subscribers click on, and searching the servers for dodgy code. Nice of them…had they asked first. Especially as the system involves “Huawei servers” - does that mean servers made by Huawei, or servers they own? (Meanwhile, Motorola alleges that some employees who left Moto took trade secrets with them - although, as Huawei’s lawyers point out, the company they joined is nothing more than a reseller.)

Bizarre tale at Facebook: the man who paid Mark Zuckerberg to build “The Face Book” claims he has a contract that shows he should really own the company. Zuckerberg denounces it as a forgery. Popcorn?

Brough Turner’s notes from the WISPA conference are here. Incidentally, he also found out what became of xG Technology.

Richard Branson to launch an iPad-only mag, while Barnes & Noble has an e-book reader for Android.

DEFCON attendees will be delighted to know that the EFF will be teaching them how to get their FBI files, and what commands to type into your lawyer if the Feds seize your laptop.

A novel view of the hype cycle. All Windows shortcuts are potential threats. A look back at the best of the Apple Newtons.

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