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Apple's New iPhones: Ho-Hum and Controversial Too
September 11, 2014
Apple's new iPhones didn't take center stage at this week's big event. "The fact that they are ho-hum is interesting in itself," said Nick Spencer, a senior practice director at ABI Research. "Apple is now a company that follows rather than leads." Apple is "at least 18 months late with a large screen device," he pointed out, and its Apple Pay mobile payment feature is "not exactly new."
If Google Were French
September 11, 2014
Europeans are relentlessly attacking Google: A German official called for its breakup, a French minister charged it was a threat to sovereignty, and a publisher compared it to a dragon, according to a report. Really? I would have thought the euro and the draconian austerity program needed to keep it functioning threatened sovereignty more than Google.
The Fortune 500 Crowdfunding Conundrum
September 11, 2014
Marvell recently launched its Kinoma Create construction kit for consumer electronics on Indiegogo. Should a $6.5 billion company turn to crowdfunding to raise money? Are large companies drying up a source of funding that otherwise would be available to startups? Is that morally reprehensible? "Ethics is a personal set of standards and beliefs," noted marketing prof Larry Chiagouris.
Apple's Cook Hits It Out of the Park
September 11, 2014
Apple made its annual iPhone announcement Tuesday, and there were several surprises, including one of those Steve Jobs "one more thing" moments. Now the question is, will the two new iPhones, Apple Pay and Apple Watch be a home run? Generally speaking, yes -- but with some caveats. The iPhone is coming in two new sizes. One is larger, meaning longer. The other is even larger, meaning even longer.
Pols Besieged by Fast, Furious Messages on Internet Slowdown Day
September 10, 2014
U.S. lawmakers were getting an estimated 1,000 calls a minute from constituents concerned about Net neutrality by noon Pacific Time on Internet Slowdown Day, an online demonstration held on Wed., Sept. 10. "We've set a new record for FCC comments and beat Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction,'" said David Moon of Demand Progress. Father of the Internet Tim Berners-Lee tweeted his support.
Comcast Ad Tinkering Could Muck Up WiFi Security
September 10, 2014
Comcast has begun using JavaScript injection to serve ads for its services to devices connected to its publicly accessible Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the U.S. The ads are fleeting, but they can appear roughly every seven minutes. The program reportedly began months ago. "This practice is definitely concerning for multiple reasons," said the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Jeremy Gillula.
Can Cook Stir Up That Old Black Magic?
September 08, 2014
Excitement is mounting as the countdown to Apple's mysterious Tuesday event ticks away. Apple is widely expected to unveil two new iPhones -- one in the usual smartphone form factor and the other a phablet. There's also a good deal of anticipation for an iWatch or other stylish wearable that will kick the sector into high gear. Some expect Apple to go full blast into the healthcare industry.
Bad News Hounds Apple Days Before iPhone Gala
September 05, 2014
Apple has been forced to do some serious damage control when it no doubt would rather be rallying fans for its big iPhone launch next week. The company on Tuesday learned that a number of celebrity accounts on its iCloud service had been cracked and some embarrassing photos posted. Then two activist groups on Thursday released a report critical of work conditions at an Apple supplier in China.
Big Pharma Joins Google's Quest for Aging Antidote
September 04, 2014
Pharmaceutical giant AbbVie on Wednesday announced it was teaming up with Google-funded Calico, the life sciences initiative aimed at helping patients deal with diseases and other negative effects associated with aging. Under the terms of the partnership, both AbbVie and Calico will invest up to $250 million in the project, with the possibility of another $500 million each.
Americans Mad as Hell Over Proposed Net Neutrality Rules
September 04, 2014
More than 99 percent of the 800,000 or so comments on Net neutrality the FCC released last month were in favor of an open Internet, according to the Sunlight Foundation's analysis of the comments. At least 60 percent of the comments, or more than 484,000, were form letters written by organized campaigns, although that is a lower percentage than is common for high-volume regulatory issues.
Alibaba's IPO Will Blast Mobile Retail Into Hyperdrive
September 03, 2014
It seems the long-awaited, much anticipated IPO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding is imminent. Granted, similar rumors this spring turned out to be groundless, but this time the drumbeats for the IPO are louder and more insistent. Whenever the IPO launches, it is clear that it will have a huge impact on the U.S. e-commerce space -- and the mobile retail subsector.
American Airlines Veers Out of Orbitz
August 28, 2014
American Airlines this week withdrew its flight content from Orbitz Worldwide's websites, which include Orbitz.com, ebookers.com and CheapTickets.com. The companies are locked in a booking fee dispute. They have clashed on this issue before, and it is also a brewing source of discontent between the airlines and Orbitz's competitors, such as Expedia.
TWC Bungle Could Jeopardize Comcast Merger
August 28, 2014
Time Warner Cable suffered a massive service outage in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, leaving an unknown number of its nearly 12 million customers nationwide without service for hours. "As of 6 a.m. ET, services were largely restored ... . As of 8 a.m., all services were back to normal," said TWC's Eric Mangan. Well, not quite all -- Downdetector's statistics showed outages continued.
Comcast: Friendlier Attitudes Aren't Enough
August 28, 2014
Comcast has been trying to improve customer care. It has made some headway, but reliability is a big issue. I like Comcast people. During the last couple of years, their performance has gotten better. However, the quality of Comcast's service is still unreliable, at best, and problems just don't go away. Think of Comcast as a family-owned company that happens to be the largest in the industry.
California Lays Down the Kill-Switch Law
August 27, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a bill requiring that anti-theft measures be incorporated into all smartphones sold within California. It doesn't specify the particular technologies used to enable that capability, but it does require that the feature, also known as a "kill switch," give smartphone users the ability to remotely disable their devices in the event they're lost or stolen.
NSA Shares Its Data Wealth
August 26, 2014
The United States National Security Agency secretly shares the communications data it has amassed over the years with nearly 24 U.S. government agencies using a search engine resembling Google Search, according to documents released by Edward Snowden. That's more than 850 billion records of phone calls, emails, cellphone locations and Internet chats.
Amazon Pulls a Twitch on Google
August 25, 2014
Amazon has inked a deal to acquire Twitch Interactive, a real-time video platform for gamers. Prior to the disclosure, rumors had been building that it was on track to snatch Twitch from Google, which reportedly had been very close to buying it. The pending acquisition was rumored to be for upwards of $1 billion. However, Amazon said it was buying the company for $970 million cash.
Google Autocomplete's Brushes With Libel
August 25, 2014
Can an automated Google feature that ostensibly helps users with a search be a basis for libel? Courts in Germany, Italy and Hong Kong have had to field that question. Google's position is that there is no human intervention, and that its algorithm is based merely on what others have searched for, or strings of words in indexed pages. Autocomplete predictions are just possible search terms.
Comcast Really Does Hate Its Customers
August 25, 2014
We were treated to the customer support call from hell earlier this month when a couple of well-connected bloggers taped their call to Comcast attempting to disconnect from the service and posted it online. Apparently there has been a sequel. The clear lesson -- particularly from the second call -- is that if you talk to Comcast support you need to record the call if you don't want to get screwed.
Salesforce Stock Climbs on Great Expectations
August 22, 2014
Salesforce.com on Thursday reported a second-quarter loss of about 10 cents per share -- but hey, who's counting? Not investors, apparently, who drove up the price of its stock 7.6 percent by market close Friday. Certainly not Wall Street analysts like Deutsche Bank, which promptly raised its target price for the company to $70.00 per share, pointing to a potential 25.65 percent upside.
Nook Redux: Is B&N Shooting Itself in the Foot?
August 21, 2014
After Barnes & Noble bled serious cash trying to create its own Nook e-reading tablets to compete with Amazon's Fire and Apple's iPad -- eventually, scrapping most of the Nook-building unit -- I figured it was pretty much down for the count. Letting Samsung give select tablets the "Nook" brand seemed more like a cry for help them a business decision that had much chance of success.
Netflix Ponies Up for Better TWC Net Connection
August 21, 2014
Netflix on Tuesday announced that it has signed an interconnection agreement with Time Warner Cable, marking the fourth such deal the content provider has signed with a major Internet service provider. Netflix in recent months has signed similar agreements with Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. News of the agreement has raised fresh concerns about the future of Net neutrality.
Sprint's Moment of Truth
August 21, 2014
The good news for Sprint is the stars seem to be lining up for a recovery. Change is occurring throughout the entire wireless industry. Every player -- including AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and C Spire Wireless -- is changing. We will start to see lots of new services, pricing, competition and marketing going forward.
Ballmer Leaves Microsoft for Hoop Dream
August 20, 2014
Steve Ballmer on Tuesday severed the last of his official ties with Microsoft -- he resigned from the board of directors. Ballmer gave up his CEO role in February. Ballmer's other duties have become too pressing for him to focus on Microsoft, he wrote in a letter to CEO Satya Nadella. "I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve, and it is best for me to move off," he said.

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