Sunday, December 28, 2008

Digital Prognostications for 2009

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With 2009 just a few days away, the year ahead in technology promises to be tumultuous as the troubled economy that has already knocked around smaller tech companies looks like it will get much worse. This blogger gazes into the proverbial crystal ball and sees...

1. Handset makers start dumping Windows Mobile and go to Google Android

With the astounding growth of smartphones, the iPhone will remain on top, however Microsoft's Windows Mobile will fall further behind as the much Google's Android will appear on handsets made by those other than HTC on carriers other than TMobile. Rumors have already surfaced that Motorola is developing an Android based handset. It would be most probable to see the next Android based smartphone on Sprint in an attempt to regain subscribers lost to AT&T and Verizon.
For handset makers looking for something that can help them to compete with Apple's iPhone, Motorola, Samsung, and LG will probably put out Google Android and Windows Mobile will fall to wayside.

2. Canadian cell phone carriers start marketing blitz in advance of arrival of competition

Bell, Rogers and Telus will be getting new competion in the end of 2009 or 2010 and to saturate radio, television, print and online media with advertising to try to tell cell subscribers of all the reasons that they should stay with their current cell carriers. Everything from better coverage, more relabile established networks, and bundles with television and Internet service will be reasons that the big three of Canadian cell carriers will give to prevent subscribers from jumping to the startup cell carriers.

3. Yahoo! Fire Sale

In the aftermath of the Microsoft's failed bid for the dot-com pioneer, the share price has plumeted and hasn't recovered. Investors in the troubled Yahoo will look to get out. While Microsoft may pick it up at a bargain basement price it is more likely that one of the traditional media companies will buy up Yahoo looking to expand it's online presence. That may be a 1999 business model but for a print media company that's a big step forward.

4. Apathy towards Windows 7 gains momentum

In preparation for the release of Windows 7 scheduled for 2010, Microsoft's marketing machine goes into overdrive to attempt to get over the hostility that some people feel towards Windows Vista. Microsoft hoping to make a new version a hit with PC users after a previous version bombed (Windows XP after Windows ME). Even if there is nothing wrong with Windows 7, Microsoft hasn't given a compelling reason for people to move from their current operating systems to Windows Vista let alone Windows 7.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Digital Prognostications Revisited

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2008 is rapidly drawing to a close which makes it a perfect time to revisit the predictions that I originally made in my blog post "Digital Prognostication for 2008"

1. Bands leave recording companies to distribute direct to fans

I thought that online music distribution and retailing had come to a point that singers and bands could sell direct fans while escaping the bondage of the recording industry. Radiohead may have blazed a new trail but few dared to follow. I totally struck out on that one!

2. WiMax deployment begins, Municipal WiFi dies a quiet death

This is one that I got right. The first consumer broadband service using WiMax was deployed in Baltimore. In the past year less was said about Municipal WiFi than last year.

3. Adoption of Windows Vista continues to flounder even after Service Pack 1 drops

This one was dead on. Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista came and went and attitudes about Windows Vista stayed the same. Even with the improvements that Service Pack 1 brought, corporate IT departments are still avoiding Windows Vista. It is now estimated that there are as many corporate desktop systems running Windows Vista as there are running Windows 98.

4. Dot-com bubble II

This one was as wrong as wrong could be. I expected that Social Networking would be next big thing that venture capitalists would try to make money from. With the metaphorical belly flop that the economy took in 2008 startup money disappeared and layoffs in many small web sites came about.

That's how I saw 2008, a couple of dead on hits and a couple of wide misses. What's in the crystal ball for 2009? Stay Tuned

Monday, December 22, 2008

RIAA Drops Lawsuits, Expects ISP to Enforce

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The Recording Association of America (RIAA) AKA Big Music, has announced that they will stop filing lawsuits against users of peer to peer networks to download music because it was costing more to sue music downloaders than they recover. Instead the recording industry will be working with Internet service providers to cut off Internet access the heaviest downloaders.

While the big guys such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon will play ball with the RIAA, resistance is mounting among the smaller independent ISP's. According to a CNET story Jerry Scroggin owner and operator of Bayou Internet and Communicatons says that the RIAA had better bring their checkbook. Independent ISP's looking for an offer of cash will probably will get an offer, an offer they can't refuse.

Suing seven year olds and their grandmothers didn't work, hiring ISP's to be goons won't work ether the only thing that will work is to follow the money. Most Peer to Peer file sharing clients come with some kind of adware or spyware bundled with it. If the RIAA would have sued the companies that make the adware and spyware they would have put most peer to peer download clients out of business, and would have made them look good. What if the RIAA would have sued Gator, oops I mean Claria out of existance back in 2002 imagine how much different things would be today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is Pulling Out of MacWorld Expo A Smart Thing To Do?

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The event that kicks off the year for Apple Fanboys is no more, Apple Inc. has announced that they are pulling out of the MacWorld, and along with it the yearly iconic announcement of new products dubbed the 'Stevenote' is history as well.

Undoubtedly the decision on the part of Apple executives to drop announcing new products at MacWorld comes in part to leaks of announcements. While this can be seen as a way to quash the rumour mill. In turn this will help Apple's own hardware and software developers, they will no longer be presured to rush new products through the development cycle just to be ready to demo at MacWorld.

This may mean waiting for new Apple products a little longer but may not be as buggy. For Apple this will means giving up the fanfare that products announced through the annual Stevenote. While it may be understandable to advertise to a wide audience instead of hooting and hollering fanboys but is a mass market advertisng campaign after a press release really the way to go?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Palm Nova, A new OS from an old name in PDA's and Smartphones

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Palm, the one time kingpin of the PDA world, floundering in the age of smartphones is preparing to release a new version of it's operating system for their smartphones at the upcoming 2009 Consumer Electronics Show. The Palm OS which has been is serious need of a revamp for years is finally getting it, code named 'Nova' the new operating system is supposed to bring new life into Palm's smartphones.

With the new war of supremacy between Google's Android and Apple's iPhone it is needless to say that any new Palm OS will need to be above and beyond insanely great, just to catch the eye of the consumer. Even Microsoft's Windows Mobile has been sidelined as cell phone subscribers are now choosing their carrier just to get an iPhone or G1.

Even Research in Motion has been struggling to bring new phones to market with the wow factor that attract subscribers. With mediocre reviews for the Blackberry Bold and downright frosty reviews of the Storm even RIM will have some tough sledding ahead.

With Palm trying to engineer a renaissance of their own operating system there leaves very little doubt that 2009 will be the year of the smart phone.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

BCE Deal Dies, And What It Means For The Rest Of Us

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The deal that would have seen Canada's largest telco, Bell Canada brought under private ownership of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has fallen apart. While there may be very little effect on most Canadians at first there will be impact further down the road.

In coming troubled times if Bell's bottom line starts sinking, then look for Telus to come back proposing a merger, if Bell doesn't opt to merge with Telus then a hostile takeover would come next. After Bell and Telus unite then it wouldn't be too long before the last two remaining regional telcos, MTS and Sasktel get gobbled up.

While the idea of having a single national telco may scare many consumers, it should be especally worrysome to those that don't have a competitve alternative such as telephone service from a cable company.

Bell and it's CRTC endorsed traffic shaping is seen as the biggest threat to Net Neutrality in Canada. With Bell as a majority part of a single national telco would practically guarantee Net Neutrality would be a memory without any kind of legislated intervention. That could also mean that in some communities where DSL is the only high speed Internet service is available, moving telephone service to Vonage or some other VoIP service wouldn't be practical or even possible.

With a national monopoly telco becoming a possibility in just a couple of years. It's time to support alternative broadband technologies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Canadians To Get Fleeced Even Further

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Living in Canada comes with a premium cost to enjoy modern technology. From the highest prices for broadband service in the industrialized world, to system access fees on cell phone plans being a geek in the great white North means many numerous hits to the bank account. One biggest hits in the wallet is going to hit harder in 2009. The recordable media levy that is charged on blank CD's audio tapes (remember those?) and minidiscs is going up as much as 40 percent.

The levy intended to compensate musicians and songwriters for any potential revenue loses from home recording of copyrighted songs was applied to recordable media about ten years ago. In 2001 the levy on blank CD's was raised from 5 cents per CD to 21 cents due to the rise of peer to peer file sharing networks.

The Canadian Private Copying Collective is the body in charge of collecting the levy and dispersing it, but instead of musicians and songwriters the money collected has been going to recording companies. In the past I have been of the opinion that the term 'Corporate Welfare' was used by extreme left wing nut jobs to describe any favorable treatment that any private sector company gets from government but even I can't find any other phrase that more accurately describes the recordable media levy.

While the recording industry is getting a hand out taken right out of the pockets of Canadians many of which are using blank CD's for data backup, not music, the recording industry practically authored previous copyright bills that would have seen Canadians fined $500 per song downloaded from a peer to peer file sharing network.

Unlike other tech rip offs the recordable CD levy is one you can get away from. Because this is a levy and not a tax, it's not collected by Canada Customs on blank CD's that are imported from outside of Canada. So get on E-Bay buy your blank CD's, it's your duty.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Why Apple Needs To Do a Netbook

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Apple has always been the one of the names that been associated with the leading edge of computing, but surprisingly absent from the netbook market. During troubled economic times, it's been ultra compact, ultra inexpensive netbooks that have been driving sales for PC manufacturers. It was the original netbook the Asus eeePC that was giving Linux it's much sought after foot in the door before Microsoft caught on and extended the shelf life of Windows XP and put out a version of Windows XP just for netbooks.

Apple has put a lot into the iPhone and iPod touch but as great as users of those devices think they are, it's netbooks that are the big thing in portable computing. In the upcoming hard times it will be especially hard to try to use a 17 inch MacBook Pro in an economy airline seat.

It was the original iMac back ten years ago that brought Apple back from the brink of extinction because it was a economical alternative to Windows PC's with their security nightmares at the time. An Apple netbook especially if priced under $400.00 that would make living without Windows an easier choice to make.

The next Stevenote at the next MacWorld in January will show if Apple will jump off the fence and ship a netbook or will sit it out and let Microsoft own the netbook market.

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