Internet & Technology
Written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling
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At year end it is a good practice to take stock of what's going on in technology. It will save you money long term. What are the big trends and who are winners and losers.
Here is a list of things that went on this year:
Blackberry continues to struggle. Sadly, this company missed a window on technology that opened and closed for them. The damage was done a few years ago. Their products continue to be good, but slightly off the mark and late. This is news to nobody but the brain dead.
Can they recover? I think their cuts were not deep enough early enough to matter and as their woes grew, no cuts were big enough to matter either. They need to get much smaller. Is their innovation spark gone? Could be.
One thing they missed was to offer a good software development tools early on to outside and independent developers. If they are to return, they must do something very good there to attract independent application programmers. They were too used to doing everything inside. Everybody else figured out that outside application development was the way to go. The cost comes in developing a good development platform.
Google has the Software Development Kit (SDK) that draws application programmers to them over others including Apple. The consumer never pays attention to SDKs because they can't understand them. They just see results. But they are the new driving engine of technology and Google has done a good job with Android and their open SDK.
One of the not so hidden gems of technology is YouTube. What can't you learn on YouTube? It's the dominant force in 'how to fix' anything or learn something. It's a great addition to learning SDKs also
YouTube is my Internet destination of choice for most anything.
Apple's Proposed New Headquarters
This year Apple did not bring out any blockbusters, but they did not need any. They are riding the wave.. Their stock is healthy for sure. Evidently they want to get rid of money on a giant building.
Maybe they should give some dividends to shareholders instead of building a super expensive corporate centre. Maybe they should use their huge cash reserves to buy back some stock? The notorious corporate raider Carl Ichan I chan hinks so he does own a huge chunk of Apple too!
For me the most telling thing about Apple is this push for a new headquarters that does not fit my image of the urban warehouse development push of Silicon Valley innovators and the current move to locate downtown in San Francisco.. Could the corporate guys be blind to this?
According to Wired Magazine ....
"Employees arenít expected to start working in the new Apple headquarters until 2016, but the potential risk already is mounting. Last month, the San Francisco real estate scene began buzzing with the rumor that Google is looking to snag massive amounts of space in the city. Though the search giant has a decent-sized San Francisco office ó a complement to its headquarters 36 miles south in Mountain View, California ó a major new Google outpost in the city could shift techís center of gravity away from Silicon Valley proper and bring even more companies tumbling after.
Already, the most talked-about and valuable startups in the tech industry have set up shop in San Francisco almost as if itís a foregone conclusion. Dropbox, Uber, Square, Airbnb, Pinterest. All of these are companies on track for IPOs of Twitter-esque proportions. (Twitter, too, makes its home in San Francisco.) In a recent report from IPO market research firm CB Insights, the 26 still-private tech startups believed to be valued at $1 billion or more include nine in San Francisco and an equal number spread across the Silicon Valley suburbs."
The giant ring with no corner offices seems out of place with scruffy developers, real work and lots of local fun around the area of their development digs. Silicon Valley types are moving north to San Francisco.
"Oh are you on the inner ring or the outer ring?" does not seem important?
In the Internet age, any development organization can be distributed. If you want them together, then an urban site is very attractive. Is Steve Jobs final design over kill? I don't think Google or Microsoft are losing sleep over the draw of the new 175 acre campus in Cuppertino.
They are developing for the long haul and System 8 is doing surprisingly well. Also, its predecessor System 7 is very solid. It is so solid that corporate types are in no hurry to switch.
System 8 is designed to span phones, home appliances, pads, laptops and PCs. It seems to be a hit with people who supply hardware like Dell, HP and Toshiba. It is also a model for software developers new user interfaces. They are copying its design.
Developers like it because they can use Microsoft's SDK to span so many platforms. Apple, by contrast, has an annoying closed architecture that they seem to love.
Microsoft's Surface Tablet is starting to attract attention. I'd like to buy one to test the Cloud connections that Microsoft above others is poised to exploit.
I like the new trend that Microsoft is promoting. You see a merging of the tablets and laptops. Some vendors have 'tear off screens' that morph a laptop into a tablet. That's very good. Real keyboards for real work and a pad for browsing, book reading and movies. Real mice when you need them. Lots of USB ports and connections to HDMI ports.
Facebook and Twitter:
Well, what can we say? They are here to stay, but I have a bone to pick. Why on earth do small retailers put all these connections to Facebook and Twitter on their web sites? It makes no sense. Get a customer on your web site and get the information to them.
Here is what I know to be true. Small business and retailers don't attract many people to their web sites. Why would a casual visitor be interested in John Doe's Facebook page when I'm looking for a product? Let's say I'm a specialty high end retailer that is not in direct competition with people like Wal-Mart and Amazon.
If I get a customer on my web site, I'd like to keep them there to get to know me and my products. I would not put up a sign directing my customers to competition, would I?
Would this same retailer have a sign inside their store that would flash "I know you just came inside, but while you are here take a look at my competitor's offerings. Take a look go to Alice's store down the street!" Obviously they would not tell the customer about Alice.
So don't these same retailers know that once they go to Facebook or Twitter from their web site, they are targeted for other vendors. Who targets them? Facebook and Twitter do.. That's in the business model for both Twitter and Facebook. It's all traffic related. Until you understand 'cookies' don't put Facebook and Twitter connections on your site.
So, the small retailer should not make it easy for visitors to their web site to find the competition. It's easy enough to do anyway. Don't bring them into your own store and then direct them to competition.
Also, the connections make it easy for disgruntled people to post bad stuff about the retailer's company and products with very little recourse.
This company is a real force. They are challenging large retailers world wide. They have a vast selection, but most of all they make it easy to buy. They ship quickly and remember what you are interested in on a day to day basis.
If you can't find it anywhere, then try Amazon. If you don't understand it, then try YouTube.
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Monday, December 30, 2013