The Week in Innovation: Sept. 3-9

‘Startup Battlefield,’ Skype turns 9, the perils of online reviews, and what else to watch for in the next 120 hours.
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Happenings

TechCrunch Disrupt | Sept. 8-12 | San Francisco The highlight of one of the tech world’s best-known conferences: Startup Battlefield, in which 30 finalists launch their products on the Disrupt stage and compete for $50,000 and the Disrupt Cup.

Works and Process | Sept. 9-10 | New York The new season of the Guggenheim’s behind-the-scenes look at the artistic process starts with a preview of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s upcoming turn at City Center and a conversation with former New York City Ballet star Peter Boal, who will speak about George Balanchine’s Apollo.

Nokia World 2012 | Sept. 5-6 | Helsinki, Finland The mobile phone company will showcase product, services, design, and research innovations. The event coincides with Nokia’s launch of a free music streaming service, the Nokia Music app, and the company’s scheduled unveiling of its first Windows Phone 8 devices (in New York).

Conversations

Skype turns 9 Skype’s 9th birthday has critics wondering what’s next for the Internet voice company that disrupted the telecommunications industry. Although research estimates that Skype accounted for 33 percent of all long-distance minutes last year, the company faces challenges from new forms of social communication that don’t involve voice at all. “Instead of the little company taking on ‘the Man,’ Skype has now become ‘the Man’,” writes tech pundit Dan York.

The perils of online reviews According to news reports, British crime writer R. J. Ellory used a series of pseudonyms to praise his books on Amazon. Ellory, who has won numerous prizes—including crime novel of the year in 2010—was also discovered to have written negative reviews of other crime writers, including Stuart MacBride and Mark Billingham. The news comes on the heels of a recent article by David Streitfeld, who quotes a data-mining expert at the University of Illinois, Chicago, estimating that about one third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. While Amazon has since taken Ellory’s reviews down, it appears there’s a need for new technologies and services to police the dishonesty.

FROM the greenhouse