Future trends

Hanging out online is a mental disorder

Well, that explains a lot. If you think the world is going to heck in a handbasket, it is apparently because we are all glued to the computer all day long. I tend not to take these studies too seriously, as they often cannot discern cause and effect. That is, do people who are already prone to depression tend to make that problem worse by hanging out online?

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Virtual grocery shopping

Shop for groceries at the bus station? That's something you can already do in South Korea, where the traditional grocery store is being nudged out of the way by an interesting new approach to shopping that combines a large "aisle" display and QR codes. A kiosk shows a typical array of products that would be found on one aisle of a grocery store. You hold up your smartphone, scan the QR code of the product you want, and that item gets added to your virtual shopping cart.

The brilliance of the Kindle

I was given a Kindle for Father's Day. I had thought about getting one for a while, but have become risk averse when it comes to new gadgets. There is always some new gadget that is supposed to save me time and money, and they almost never do. And I read a lot on airplanes, and they don't make you turn off your old-fashioned paper book during take off and landing. But I had a three day business trip just after the weekend, so I took the Kindle along.

I was hooked almost instantly.

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No one can afford to have every service as a subscription

Adobe has announced Muse, "...a program for creating web pages without hand coding." Great. Except it costs $14.99 a month, or buy the CreativeCloud package for $49.99 a month. We're in the midst of a bubble where lots of companies think they are going to make lots of money by selling software as a service. But this bubble, like all bubbles, is unsustainable. No company or individual can afford to be paying what quickly adds up to hundreds of dollars a month for "cloud" services. It just does not scale.

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Broadband and the walkable city

This short article on the weak housing market has big implications for "big broadband," which few of us have right now. A major economist is predicting that the housing market may not recover for years, but coupled with high gas prices, walkable communities will be in high demand.

It's not triple play, it's "century play"

In Sweden, home security offerings have been an important service on their open access networks, and start up companies have very successfully taken business away from the "big" security companies, which were slow to adapt using an IP network rather than phone lines. The network owner (e.g.

Our data is doubling every year

This story from MIT's Technology Review says that the amount of data we are storing is doubling every year. Doubling every year. So that $120 terabyte hard drive you bought to back up the baby pictures and your music library? You'll need another one in a year or two. Then four. Then eight. Hard drive densities keep going up, but they are not doubling every year.

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A modern failure to communicate

David Strom does a good job of describing the awful Tower of Babel mess we are in with the myriad of ways to supposedly "contact" someone. It's a good read, and describes what most of us struggle with on a daily basis.

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XKCD: Twitter is faster than earthquakes

Twitter messages are turning out to be useful for all sorts of real time data collection needs.

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Siri, What's on TV tonight?

A cryptic reference in the wildly popular biography of Steve Jobs suggests that Apple has something up its sleeve with respect to the TV set. MacRumors reports on a NY Times story that suggests Apple's intelligent agent technology, called Siri, may show up in an Apple-branded TV set. Instead of complicated remotes, we will just talk to our TV and tell it what we want to watch.

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Siri is another Apple game changer

I had a chance to try out an iPhone 4S over the weekend, and I think Siri, the voice recognition service built into the phone, is potentially another Apple game changer, just as the touch interface on the original iPhone was a game changer.

Why broadband still matters

Now that the broadband stimulus money has been distributed, and the Google fiber initiative has taken root in the two Kansas Cities, a lot of communities seem to have lost interest in broadband initiatives. The cable companies have done a fairly good job of keeping up with demand, and the telephone companies continue to cling to their share of the broadband market by competing on price rather than on bandwidth.

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Has the Kindle Fire just redefined the tablet?

Amazon has just announced the Kindle Fire. You won't be able to get your hands on one until November 15th, but you can order one now. If Apple was planning to release an upgraded iPad before the holidays, Amazon just stole all of Apple's thunder.

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The iPad is making business broadband indispensable

What do Lowe's, Home Depot, PacSun, and Nordstrom all have in common? All these major retailers are starting to deploy iPads in place of cash registers. The firms are finding that putting iPads in the hands of customer sales reps roaming the floors of the store increases both the average size of a sale and increases the number of sales processed per day per employee.

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Skype HD video rolled out for Macs

Skype has rolled out HD videoconferencing for Macs--it's been available on the Windows platform for a while. Here at Design Nine, we just upgraded our own business videoconferencing software to include multi-party video. We use Skype videoconferencing daily for internal communications in our three geographically distant locations, which saves us money on our landline phone bill. We use Go To Meeting for client meetings, and find the screen-sharing particularly productive when trying to discuss something like a spreadsheet financial model.

Netflix raises prices

Netflix has raised prices. I got my notice via email yesterday. They have unbundled streaming from the traditional DVD via mail, and you now can buy one service, the other, or both. The DVD service is still more expensive than streaming, which suggests that the cost of mailing DVDs remains significant compared to the cost of buying bandwidth to drag streaming content across the Internet.

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Broadband and the emerging revolution in health care

Take a look at this blood pressure cuff that connects directly to an iPod Touch, an iPhone, or an iPad. The data is stored and displayed on your own device, but the data is also sent to the manufacturer (Withings), where it can be shared with a health care professional.

Copper prices make fiber interesting

With the price for copper hitting $4/pound, the biggest copper mine in the world is hanging on poles in the U.S. Copper thieves are actually knocking over poles to steal the copper cable in Antioch, California, but copper theft is a problem all over the U.S. The high price of copper and the steadily decreasing price of fiber makes fiber less expensive in new construction, and of course, with fiber, you have the added benefit of being able to expand capacity as needed.

Re-assembling Ma Bell: The customer is the loser

Art Brodsky has an interesting article about the T-Mobile/AT&T wireless merger. Brodsky illuminates a wide range of interlocking business relationships that are helping to push the merger forward, even though it would create what amounts to a duopoly in the cellular business, with AT&T and Verizon having about 80% of the U.S. market locked up.

Love the cloud...the Amazon cloud

I have always had the feeling that becoming an Amazon customer is a bit like joining the Borg: resistance is futile. But Amazon really does believe in customer service, and is particularly good at identifying trends and then developing services to meet the new market demand. Amazon is beginning a big push for their Cloud Drive service, which lets you upload files to an Amazon server and then access them from anywhere. In concept, it is no different that the file storage Apple has offered first via dotMac and now via MobileMe.

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