Future trends

Is Apple the new IBM?

Apple released its quarterly earnings statement, and some analysts have noted that its market cap has surpassed that of IBM. Market cap is calculated from the stock price, and Apple has left computer rival Dell in the dust; Dell is barely one third the value of Apple right now. Dell's founder, Michael Dell, is famous for stating a decade ago that Apple had no future and should be just shut down.

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Have we re-invented TV?

Pundit Bruce Nussbaum writes about a report by analyst Bill Tancer that suggests most of us are using the 'net as a kind of glorified TV, meaning we sit and watch. Only a small percentage of 'net users are actively participating in online "social networking" sites and an even smaller number is actually creating content and posting it.

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Long commutes could be good news for smaller towns and cities

USA Today's front page article on long commutes could be good news for smaller towns and cities that are focused on enhancing quality of life. Commutes in big cities are now beginning at 5 AM so that commuters can reduce the amount of time spent on the road.

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What the iPhone price drop really means

The 'net is abuzz with discussions about the dramatic price cuts announced yesterday by Apple. The price of the pricey iPhone was cut by $200, and Apple also introduced an new iPod, called the iPod Touch, which is an iPhone without the phone function.

TV still on track to die

Those of us who have been on cable or satellite connections for our TV service for many years can easily forget that a lot of people still watch TV the old-fashioned way, from signals coming through the air from a nearby TV tower. In just about a year and half, all those TVs will stop working because Congress has mandated a switch to digital TV. The old TVs will need a converter box that is able to pick up the new digital over the air signals.

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Have FaceBook and MySpace peaked?

Those of us that have been watching how people use public networks (I started in 1982) know that there is a certain "newbie" phenomenon that takes place when some new feature or service is introduced. I have always been skeptical of the "social networking" trend, which is best represented by sites like FaceBook and MySpace.

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iPhone and the Web

The hype over the iPhone is reaching the boiling point as the release of the new gadget is now just a week away. Speculation over still unknown features, frustration over the price, and the lure of the touch screen interface that no one really knows much about is fueling the furor.

Cellphones stop ringing in the UK

This article notes that the number of cellphone calls has declined in the UK for the first time ever, suggesting that the "newbie" period for cellphones is over. Since 1993, I have been able to observe the "newbie" phenomenon firsthand as new systems and technology are embraced by the public, and in fact, it is a well known process that is often ignored, strangely enough, by many in the IT business, who want to believe in endless growth and by extension, endless profits.

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The dark side, the bright side

The tragedy here in Blacksburg earlier this week highlights the dark side and the bright side of technology and the Internet, and is a useful reminder that technology is neither good nor bad--how people use it--for good or for evil--determines its value at any point in time.

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Hotel surveys as spam

I am a member of several hotel frequent traveler programs, and all of them seem to have launched a new strategy of annoying their most important customers by bombarding them with surveys. Lately, every time I stay in a hotel (which is pretty often), a few days later I start getting email asking for my "valuable" input. I can delete the email without taking the survey, but some of the chains just keep sending you "reminders" that you have not yet filled out the survey. At that point, it is spam and nothing more than spam.

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Has technology killed customer service?

At lunch the other day, a group of us were trading horror stories of bad customer service--each story was worse than the previous one, and the whole table was groaning at the utter stupidity that was being described. The two common characteristics were big companies and highly automated customer service systems. Some of the examples include:

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Verizon passed on the iPhone

Word has leaked out that Verizon passed on an opportunity to be the exclusive provider of cellular service for the iPhone. Apple's choice of Cingular puzzled some because Cingular is not known for great customer service (note that "customer service" in the cellphone industry is a relative term, but generally Verizon has a better reputation than Cingular).

New media is beating old media

It has taken about five years, but the New Media revolution, which I think started in 2002 with the availability of easy to use blogging software, has started to put real pressure on Old Media. This article talks about huge job cuts among the Old Media newspaper and TV giants. It is not so much that Old Media is irrelevant--it is more about the fact that Old Media has stubbornly refused to rethink what it does and how it does it. The stubbornness has led to loss of revenue and job cuts.

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Reconstructing Ma Bell

First, AT&T and the regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) were split up in 1984. Who knew then that there was a twenty-five year plan put into effect to put it all back together again?

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The Apple iPhone

As expected, Apple is showing off (as I write this, the keynote is still in progress) the Apple iPhone. It is a combination phone, iPod, and desktop computer, running Apple's flagship operating system, OS X.

At the risk of being boring and/or repetitive, this changes everything, and just made every other cellphone obsolete. Palm is in deep deep trouble.

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Microsoft blesses IPTV

Microsoft has officially blessed IPTV by announcing that the next XBox revision would be able to act as an IPTV set top box. Content will be provided by certain broadband providers like AT&T and BellSouth. If this sounds like a marriage made in heck, it probably is. The most likely reason Microsoft has made this announcement is to try to counter the buzz that will likely emerge on Tuesday (January 9th) when Apple announces its own set top box.

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Is the 'net being ruined by spam and crooks?

The popular social networking site MySpace is beginning to have problems with spam, phishing, porn, and other kinds of unfriendly and malicious content. At the root of much of this is the anonymity of the sites. Anyone can register as a MySpace user, which has delighted sexual predators who use the site to find vulnerable underage children.

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World's largest copper reserve is in the U.S.

Much is being made in the media over the rising price of copper. It is apparently now cost effective to melt down pennies and nickels for the copper content, although the Federal government is about to outlaw that.

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New Year's resolutions for communities

Old minds (communities) think: If it didn't work last year, let's do MORE of it this year.

New minds (communities) think: If it didn't work last year, let's do something ELSE this year.

Old minds (communities) think: How do we stop these bad things from happening?

New minds (communities) think: How do we make things the way we want them to be?

Quoted from "Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure" by Daniel Quinn (of 'Ishmael' fame)

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Faraday cages for test takers

A government study in Britain recommends Faraday cages for examination rooms. A Faraday cage is basically a metal-lined room that blocks all radio frequency signals. In other words, test takers won't be able to use their cellphones to text message friends for exam answers. The study also recommends scanners to detect MP3 players and other devices. It seems that some students are recording notes on their iPod and playing the content back during the exam.

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