Surveying the tech landscape

Blue Light Vector BackgroundFrom time to time, we’ll take a look at emerging technology stories, and add our spin. We’d love to hear your perspective, so please use our commenting tool to weigh in.

Love Netflix? Read this.

Net neutrality is the idea that all digital data is created equal, and therefore your Internet service provider (ISP) should not discriminate. In fact, the FCC has mandated net neutrality up until last month, when the Federal Court of Appeals ruled that it was unenforceable as written.

Verizon and Comcast wasted no time and were caught throttling down Netflix and Amazon streaming video to their customers’ TV sets. I’m sure the thought process was something like, “Why should we prop up our competition?” My answer: “Because we are paying you to provide a service, and we want our bits, all of our bits, just as fast as you can send them.”

Fake it ’til they make it

The Internet is abuzz with rumors that Apple will be announcing larger screen iPhones this year. Reported sizes range from 4.7 to 5.5 inches, both significantly larger than the current 4-inch screen size. This yearning for a larger iPhone is so powerful that apparently people will post made-up stories and meticulously Photoshopped pictures

Is Windows 8 a Flop?

When well-known blogger and Windows devotee, Paul Thurrott, throws in the towel, does this mean Windows 8 is a flop? Thurrott, a long-time proponent of all things Microsoft, writes, with respect to Windows 8, “Microsoft has simply fallen into an all-too-familiar trap of trying to please everyone, and creating a product that is ultimately not ideal for anyone,” The latest version of Microsoft’s iconic operating system offers a consistent tile-based touch interface across Windows-based PCs, tablets, and smartphones. But different devices are used in different situations and for different applications. Does the same interface across all your computing devices make sense? The predominance of negative reviews says no.

But wait a minute, Microsoft announced this week that it has sold over 200 million Windows 8 licenses. Not quite up to Windows 7 standards at this stage in its availability, but Windows 8 hardly seems like a flop. What’ s your take?

An AppleTV for the rest of us?

Reports this week emerged that Apple is about to release a new version of its AppleTV, and is partnering with Time Warner. Does this mean we are moving closer to on-demand programming that has heretofore been shackled to cable TV?

Don’t bet on it. With Comcast buying Time Warner for $45 billion, new reports are backtracking on the scope of a potential deal, saying that Apple will likely have to “play ball” with cable providers.

We’ve been wanting to cut the cord from cable TV for a long time now, but are waiting for a compelling alternative. Looks like our wait will continue.

Don’t Discount China Tech

With Lenovo purchasing Motorola Mobility from Google, it’s clear that China is no longer content (if it ever was) with being just high tech’s manufacturing arm. Lenovo has been one of the few PC providers that has been making money lately, and now with their foray into smartphones and tablets, perhaps the company now has the basis for becoming an industry powerhouse like Apple and Samsung. The company’s CEO, Yang Yuanqing, says Lenovo’s goal is to surpass them.

Don’t count the company out. IBM was happy to sell its ailing PC business to Lenovo in 2004, and since that time, Lenovo has made the division profitable, surpassing Dell and HP in the process to become the number one PC brand.

Toy or Tool?

With recent reports that the iPad has captured 91% of enterprise tablet market, the long-standing Internet meme that Apple’s quintessential device is little more than a toy can officially be put to rest. These days, iPads are widely being used for applications in the business, manufacturing, professional services, government, healthcare, communications, media and entertainment, energy and utilities, and legal sectors.

Counting down on Windows XP

Microsoft will declare Windows XP end-of-life on April 8, 2014. Normally, end-of-life means that a company will absolutely, unequivocally no longer provide support of any kind for a product, and there’s nothing Microsoft would like more for its 13-year old operating system.

However, apparently at least one customer is negotiating with Microsoft to continue supporting XP after the end-of-life date.

Really? Windows XP? Give it up already.

What is Google up to?

There’s no question that when your company or brand name becomes a verb, you’ve made it. Google is synonymous with Internet search and advertising, and has been tremendously successful in those areas. Google recently became the second most valuable company in the world (behind Apple).

But what is most intriguing are some of Google’s other ventures: Google Glass, Nest, driverless cars, robotics.

Is there any rhyme or reason here, or is this simply a company with so much wealth that it can afford to experiment in whatever areas it fancies, whether these ventures are money makers or not? (Hint: they’re not, at least not yet.)

Case in point: Motorola Mobility. Google bought the mobile phone business from Motorola for $12.5 billion in 2011, but recently sold it off for $2.9 billion. It’s hard to say that Google really gained anything by the purchase, but it’s clear they took a sizable loss. Just how big a loss is debatable, but a loss nonetheless.

Regardless, it’s fascinating to watch this company’s machinations and try to figure out where they are headed. Many believe that it’s only a matter of time before they are the most valuable company in the world. But right now, to our eyes, Google is a search and advertising company, and all the other stuff is Google at play.

The Beatles 50th Anniversary Tribute

With iTunes, Apple has established itself as the preeminent purveyor of music, and, in this role, the company regularly sponsors special concerts, tributes, and other events. Its most recent offering is a joyful 14-minute video of the Beatles’ 1964 performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, available as a new, limited-time channel on Apple TV. We couldn’t confirm this, but the audio on the video seems to have been cleaned up and remastered. Regardless, it sounds great.

If you don’t have an Apple TV, the video is also available on Apple’s website at http://www.apple.com/itunes/. Scroll down to the bottom to find the link to the video. Enjoy!

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