Future trends

Good-bye to the video store

I finally signed up for Netflix, largely because the local Blockbuster has fewer and fewer movies these days. And I'm not the only one that has noticed that the video store chain seems ill. Despite the fact that Blockbuster claims it does not have late fees, the company continues to annoy customers by simply billing your credit card for the full retail value of a late movie.

Music, videos, newspapers, books: Going, going, gone

The Kindle (version 2) is getting rave reviews, and Amazon has released a version for the iPhone. It suggests that we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the era of the book. Unlike music, videos, and newspapers, I don't think books will disappear entirely. Think of art and architecture books, how to books with lots of pictures and illustrations, certain kinds of specialty topic books.... but the Kindle hints that printing books on paper is about to become much less common.

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Computer vs. TV: Why the computer won

Paul Graham has a short, cogent article about why TV has the lost the computer vs. TV wars. He has several reasons, but two key ones are that things like BitTorrent and YouTube have trained people to watch video on computers, and the social, interactive features of things like FaceBook, blogs, and email really do connect people in a way that is impossible with TV. A good read.

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Is iPhone the interface?

Ed Dreistadt sent me this link about using the iPhone as an in-vehicle interface for information like tire pressure and reminders about changing your oil. One key design feature of the iPhone is its interoperatbility--it has WiFi, so it can talk to any other WiFi device, it supports standard email and Web data, and it has an open software API so it is fast and easy to write custom applications for the iPhone.

The newspaper really is dead

Here is a clever analysis of the financial woes of the New York Times. It turns out the Times, which is mired in red ink, would do much better financially if they gave most of their subscribers an ebook and let their readers download the paper every day.

Wind jobs overtake coal jobs

A new report says more workers are employed in the wind-based power generation business than in the coal industry. Bad news for coal? Not necessarily, as coal will continue to be an important alternative to imported fossil fuels. Coal and nuclear will be important to support base load electric generating capacity, as wind and solar can't provide reliable 24/7 power.

Will Google GDrive change the way we use the computer?

Google's rumored GDrive would allow you to access your computer files from any Internet connection, and would be tightly coupled with Google's online applications. Users should be aware of potential content ownership issues. The user agreement for such a service would likely mirror other Google terms of use, which basically gives the company complete and full access to every bit of information stored in the Google "cloud computing" environment.

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Duke University unveils Klingon cloaking device

Duke University researchers have developed a cloaking device that is actually, um, a cloak. They have designed a nanotechnology-based material that has the property of bending electromagnetic radiation, including visible and infrared light. The picture accompanying this article shows someone in a cloak with the background behind them clearly visible.

Revenue share model works for iPhone software

I have long advocated a revenue share model for community broadband, in which a single community-owned digital infrastructure is made available to private sector providers to deliver services like voice, video, and Internet access to customers. Service providers would pay a share of their revenue to the network to cover the cost of build out and maintenance.

Critics of this approach argue that it is too "risky," and "unproven," although it has worked successfully for years in other countries.

Mobile phones driving social networking, the Web

A new report says that mobile phones are playing a bigger role in Web use, especially with social networking sites. Users are updating their social network information directly from their cellphones, adding commentary, pictures, and video with their phones. The iPhone and other iPhone competitors have much improved Web browsers, allowing fast and easy access to social networking Web sites, and the integrated cameras make it easy to upload multimedia content.

Pew Study: TV viewing still declining

An October, 2008 study released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project supports other data showing that more and more people are not bothering with the TV anymore. Among all adults, Pew reports that TV viewing has declined 25% in the past year. Among 18-49 year olds, a slightly higher average of 28%. What this means is that if the trend continues at about the same rate, no one will be watching TV in less than a decade. What has replaced TV? The Internet.

Technology News:

Get ready for telepresence

Cisco has announced a new marketing effort to expand the availability of high quality videoconference facilities, or telepresence rooms. What is the difference between these rooms and older videoconference systems? Three things:

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Air travel becoming an expensive luxury

This brief report discusses the fact that airlines are dropping nonstop flights even to and from major cities like New York. For business, this is devastating, as the increased cost of tickets can, to some extent, be moderated via other cost-cutting measures. But sending business people on trips that take all day instead of three or four hours is devastating, because you can't recover the lost time spent traveling.

Video link to the elderly parents

This Slashdot article quickly gets into a down in the dirt technical discussion, but the question about full time video to elderly parents is an indication of what is coming. If you browse through the comments, what you quickly realize is that people are already doing this routinely. What is missing is high quality "like you are there" connectivity.

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9% of workforce already working from home

A new study out from Forrester says 9% of the workforce is already working from home for their employer, and another 22.8 million are running their own businesses out of their home. This adds up to a major demographic that is turning neighborhoods into business districts.

iPhone breaks more records

The iPhone continues to break records. According to some estimates, Apple has sold 3 million phones in the first 4 weeks after the updated iPhone 3G was released. Last year, it took Apple three months to sell 1 million. One estimate suggests that Apple will continue to sell 800,000 phones a week for many months.

NBC upset that people use on demand video

NBC, which has exclusive rights to broadcast the 2008 Olympics in the United States, is apparently upset that people are simply not bothering to wait for prime time to watch NBC's repackaged broadcasts. Instead, viewers are simply going to the Internet and watching the Olympics on the Web sites of media outlets in other countries.

No one wants to drive anymore

As I predicted months ago when gas prices first started to rise, the suburbs are about to undergo a transformation. USA Today had a front page article about the 'burbs and the changes. In Arizona, they are doing what planners have been recommending for at least thirty years, which is to redesign suburbs as destinations, rather than just a place to sleep.

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Cloud computing replaces Web 2.0

Cloud computing has replaced Web 2.0 as a popular IT buzzphrase. Nobody ever really knew what Web 2.0 was, but it sounded important, and a lot of small companies got lots of cash to "really important" Web 2.0 applications and services that were going to change the world, make a lot of money, and cure cancer. None of them made much money, and most of them made no money.

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3G iPhone smashes all records

Apple's second generation iPhone was released for sale last Friday, and promptly broke every consumer electronics record. Apple and AT&T sold an astounding one million phones in just three days, making it not only the most popular cellphone in history but the most popular consumer electronics device ever. Even more incredible, there are still long lines of buyers waiting for phones--according to numerous reports, all 1800 AT&T stores are completely sold out, and most Apple retail stores are out of stock.


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