Marc Andreessen Believes Software Is Eating the World (A Good Thing)

  • “In an upbeat and highly insightful essay on technology and innovation, pioneer Marc Andreessen outlines the ‘dramatic and broad technological shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy…'” comments ETCentric staffer Bob Lambert with this submission.
  • Andreessen notes HP’s announcement that it is “exploring jettisoning its struggling PC business in favor of investing more heavily in software” and Google’s plans to “buy up the cellphone handset maker Motorola Mobility” as recent surprises in the tech world, yet also examples of what makes the pioneer “optimistic about the future growth of the American and world economies.”
  • Andreessen suggests that Apple and Google are undervalued and we should avoid using the term “bubble” when analyzing the value of technologies. He writes: “…too much of the debate is still around financial valuation, as opposed to the underlying intrinsic value of the best of Silicon Valley’s new companies.”
  • “Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not,” Andreessen adds.
  • Andreessen’s essay offers a compelling take on the direction of the tech industry, its place in world economies and some of the challenges that lie ahead. He notes interesting examples including Amazon, Netflix, Pixar, Pandora, Skype and others.
  • “Instead of constantly questioning their valuations, let’s seek to understand how the new generation of technology companies are doing what they do, what the broader consequences are for businesses and the economy and what we can collectively do to expand the number of innovative new software companies created in the U.S. and around the world,” he concludes. “That’s the big opportunity. I know where I’m putting my money.”

Google+ Games: Should Facebook and Apple be Nervous?

  • The introduction of games to Google+ potentially threatens both Facebook (which also has games) and Apple (which takes a 30 percent cut versus Google’s 5 percent).
  • Google+ sees games as being core to their mission: “We don’t consider ourselves experts at making compelling games, but we can bring a lot to the party,” explains Bradley Horowitz, VP of Product for Google+. “There were some internal debates about whether Google was well-suited to have games in our repertoire and what is the value of games to the users. There’s tremendous value for users. They provide a way for people to connect, discover and interact with each other… We don’t see games contrary to our mission, or a diversion. We see them as being core.”
  • If HTML5 unifies the Web and mobile, it could become possible “for software to be written once and run across multiple devices.” And if Google+ games were to run via a browser on the iPhone or iPad, this could be an additional concern for Apple.
  • What do you think? Should Facebook and Apple be nervous?

Tablet War: Can Anyone Compete with the iPad?

  • You’re probably tired of reading about it, but as the tablet wars continue it seems little traction can be made against Apple’s market leader. The Wall Street Journal offers the latest look at the iPad’s impact.
  • HP announced it will lower its price on the TouchPad by 20 percent, only a month after the tablet hit the shelves. Motorola cut the price of its Xoom tablet following the February launch and offered a cheaper model, with little response.
  • Samsung has stopped reporting how many Galaxy Tabs they are shipping — and is now stuck in a patent dispute with Apple that threatens its European sales.
  • Motorola and RIM don’t say how many tablets they have sold and, as recently reported on ETCentric, RIM’s PlayBook is in carrier trouble since Sprint Nextel pulled its support.
  • Meanwhile, Apple has sold some 28.7 million iPads since April 2010. According to WSJ, Apple “says it is having difficulty keeping up with demand and selling every iPad it can manufacture. Five months after its release, its iPad 2 can be hard to find in retail stores. The company said it shipped 9.3 million iPads in the June-ended quarter.”
  • Despite price changes, many consumers seem to view the iPad as the tablet leader and others as imitators. As a result, the tablet market is essentially divided into two sectors at this point — Apple’s iPad…and everyone else.
  • Do any of our readers have a different take on this trend? Does anyone recommend using a tablet other than the iPad?

Mac OS Surpasses Linux in Popularity Amongst Developers

  • Apple’s Mac operating system has reportedly edged past Linux in popularity amongst developers in North America.
  • Windows OS remains the clear frontrunner for development with 80 percent of developers. However, while 5.6 percent of developers said they prefer Linux, Mac OS has taken second place with 7.9 percent.
  • “Apple has made tremendous strides in the last few years with innovative products and technologies. [As such], it’s quite reasonable to see developers adopting the Mac and its OS as a development environment,” explains Evans Data CEO Janel Garvin. “Linux has lost some of its luster after years of only single digit adoption.”
  • Mac OS X is based on the Unix operating system. The latest iteration — Mac OS X Lion version 10.7 — features a redesigned UI to help bridge Apple’s iOS for mobile devices and Mac OS for desktop computers.

Time Inc. to Offer its Magazines on Multiple Platforms

  • Time Inc. announced it will offer all of its 21 magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated, People and Fortune on just about every tablet platform.
  • Look for Time’s publications on iTunes, Android’s store, HP’s new tablet, Next Issue Media, and Nook by the end of this year. (There is no mention of RIM’s Playbook or Kindle yet.)
  • To date, Time’s digital magazine and content apps have been downloaded more than 11 million times.
  • “Note that while the release mentions ‘digital subscriptions,’ what that really means is ‘digital-only subscriptions available everywhere but iTunes,’ reports the Wall Street Journal. “Apple and Time Inc. still haven’t come to terms on subscription rules, so right now the only way to get a digital subscription for the iPad is to buy a subscription package that also includes print.”

Apple Expected to Launch iTunes Replay in Coming Weeks

  • Apple is rumored to be securing the rights to allow downloading of TV shows and movies in addition to previously announced music in a new service called iTunes Replay.
  • The service will allow users to access movies they purchased since January 1, 2009. Some content will only be available for download five times.
  • Streaming will be to Apple TV and most likely iOS mobile devices.
  • AppAdvice reports: “The name, iTunes Replay is currently being used internally, and is planned to be kept when Apple makes this public. You should expect this to go public in the coming weeks, as the necessary changes are being pushed to Apple’s servers at the moment.”

Unlocked iPhone Could Impact the Subsidized Carrier Model

  • While Apple has been working on the design elegance and overall quality of its iPhone, the existing business model with carrier partners has allowed the company to hide the true cost of the device in two-year contracts. Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5 launch may change this model.
  • The company is rumored to be considering a $350 price point for an entry level unlocked iPhone.
  • T-GAAP reports: “The main purpose for such a device is to penetrate China and other regions which are not fond of subsidized programs. If Apple can deliver an unlocked iPhone starting at $350, the impact in China will be stunning, and send U.S. and European carriers scrambling.”
  • If this is the case, consumers would be able to purchase an iPhone from the Apple Store and select any prepaid plan of their choosing (such as an “all-you-can-eat $50 month-to-month T-Mobile or Cricket or Boost plan”).
  • Carriers would most likely push other phones, but it may be too late for that based on consumer demand. Their next move could be lower entry prices for the iPhone.
  • “Plan on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint offering two-year contract plans for the iPhone 5 starting at $149,” suggests T-GAAP. “Carriers wil be scrambling to protect a model that has done them so well for the past 15 years. However, Apple is about to pull it all apart with a single product launch.”

Rovi Claims Hulu Infringes on Electronic Program Guide Patent

  • Rovi Corporation filed suit against Hulu last week, claiming that the video site infringes on its patents for electronic program guides.
  • Santa Clara, California-based Rovi provides technology that powers streaming services from Blockbuster On Demand and Best Buy’s CinemaNow. The company also licenses its technology to others such as Apple, Microsoft and Comcast.
  • The digital entertainment solutions provider claims that Hulu’s infringement “presents significant and ongoing damages to Rovi’s business.” The company is seeking compensation for lost license revenue and treble damages.
  • As previously reported by ETCentric, Hulu has been offered for sale by its owners (Disney, News Corp., NBC Universal and Providence Equity).

iOS Developers Unite Against Lodsys and Patent Trolls

  • Renowned iOS developer Mike Lee announced on Monday a new venture called Appsterdam Legal Defense Team that will band together the small developers to fight against patent trolls.
  • Ars Technica reports: “The goal, aside from the obvious one of being free from frivolous patent lawsuits, is to become ‘the ants of East Texas, minding their business until someone invades their anthill.'”
  • Apple has licensed patents from Lodsys, which it says covers third party developers — but the infringement claims against iOS developers are continuing.
  • The result is uncertainty that could imperil these smaller developers and the developer community generally, not only for Apple but for Android and other platforms.
  • “This is bigger than just Apple platforms,” explains Lee. “Apple has the luxury and history of moving very slowly — they accepted a 60 day discovery, for example. Dozens of app makers could be destroyed by then. There is also good chance Apple can’t actually sue Lodsys, since Apple is under contract by Intellectual Ventures and IV probably snuck indemnity in there.”
  • “We’re going after Lodsys for sure, but understand the ultimate target is Intellectual Ventures,” Lee added. “They are the Mordor to these trolls.”

BBC iPlayer Expands Internationally with New iPad App

  • The BBC’s popular iPlayer is an on-demand broadband television and radio service that has been available in Great Britain for four years.
  • As of last week, the service is now available through an iPad app to 11 countries in western Europe (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland) — with plans to launch in the U.S., Canada and Australia by the end of the year as a pilot program.
  • The app will allow users to stream programs over 3G and Wi-Fi, with the option to download for later viewing offline. International users will have access to some content for free, while full access will be subscription-based.
  • Luke Bradley-Jones, managing director of BBC.com, describes iPlayer as a VOD service: “We will have content from the last month, but also the best from the catalog stretching back 50 to 60 years.” He added, “What we’re trying to test in the pilot is the ability to drive exploration and discovery through a programming approach rather than an algorithm-based approach. We’re not trying to compete against a Netflix or a Hulu. This has to be tailored and hand-crafted, so we can create a tone of voice.”

Adobe Announces New Web Creator: Alternative to Flash?

  • Adobe has announced Adobe Edge, its new HTML5 Web motion and interaction design tool.
  • Gizmodo reports: “Far from Adobe surrendering to Apple and the good HTML5 fight, Adobe’s Edge Web creator is simply a little shrug and acknowledgment that HTML5, CSS and JavaScript will get them on more mobile devices than Flash will.”
  • Compatible with Macs and Windows, it can be used to add motion to existing HTML documents and create visually rich HTML and CSS3 content from scratch.
  • According to the company’s press release: “While in public preview, Adobe Edge will be a no-charge download that Web designers are encouraged to explore and provide feedback on, to help shape future preview releases. To download the software, visit www.labs.adobe.com.”
  • The post includes a 5-minute video preview from Adobe.

Apple iOS Facial Recognition Could Change Mobile Interaction

  • Reports are circulating this week that Apple will reportedly release facial recognition capabilities for iOS 5 as an open API for developers.
  • The technology was made available as a result of Apple purchasing Swedish facial recognition algorithm specialist Polar Rose in 2010.
  • Polar Rose is the developer behind Recognizr, which Digital Trends describes as “a social media linking app co-developed with TAT that recognizes users and displays their network profiles on-screen.”
  • The iOS API can determine where a user’s mouth and eyes are located, and can process images for face detection, which introduces new possibilities for Faces and iPhoto. Since it is an open API, we should expect that third party developers will create more advanced facial recognition applications.
  • GigaOM reports: “It’s not something Apple is advertising about with the software update yet, but as it develops, it could become one of the most significant additions ever introduced to Apple’s mobile operating system.”

E-Commerce: Purchasing via Tablets on the Rise

  • Consumers are increasingly using iPads and other tablet devices for mobile purchases, according to a new report by Forrester Research released this week.
  • Tablets might even one day outpace smartphones and PCs in terms of e-commerce volume.
  • The devices already account for 20 percent of mobile sales, even though just 9 percent of online shoppers have tablets. Additionally, 60 percent of tablet owners say they have used the devices to shop.
  • Tablets typically offer richer catalog presentations than those available via smartphones, and applications often produce faster loading times than retailers’ websites.
  • “Everyone thinks that mobile phones and mobile commerce are the next big things, and I think what this data shows is it’s probably actually tablets,” explains Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester analyst. “We have always capped e-commerce at 10 to 15 percent of total retail sales, but this potentially has the capability of really expanding e-commerce much beyond that.”

Review: Critics Chime In on New MacBook Air

  • Apple introduced its new MacBook Air last week (in 11.6 and 13.3-inch versions, starting at $999) and announced it would discontinue the iconic white MacBook. Gizmodo reports that critics across the board are enamored with the new ultra-thin device. This meta-review provides clips from six notable sources.
  • Laptop Mag (11-inch): “As an ultraportable, the Air is superior in almost every way.”
  • CNET (11-inch): “…if you’re looking for a small, fast MacBook and don’t mind paying a higher price for superior design and performance, the 2011 11-inch MacBook Air is flat-out the fastest ultraportable we’ve ever used.”
  • TIME (13-inch): “I keep trying to stumble across a task or two that will prove that an Air is just too wimpy for some folks, but I’ve failed so far.”
  • PC Mag (13-inch): “The Air 13-inch (Thunderbolt) is perfectly adept at running any video and photo editing software package, compiling a huge database, or watching a 1080p video clip.”
  • Engadget (13-inch): “Keys are more springy than before, more solid and responsive than the somewhat loose, flappy ones on the last generation… It continues to impress when it comes to contrast, brightness, and viewing angles… The 2011 MacBook Air addresses nearly every concern anyone could lob at its predecessor.”
  • TechCrunch (13-inch): “With just the right combination of portability and power, it is hands-down the best computer I’ve ever owned.”

20th Century Fox will Offer Movie Downloads for Android

  • Twentieth Century Fox has announced a new service that will offer Fox movie downloads on Android devices as early as October. This is a first for the Google Android OS.
  • Due largely to the lack of playback and copy-protection technologies, Android has so far taken a backseat to Apple’s iPhone and the convenience of the iTunes store.
  • These issues should be addressed now that Google has acquired rights-management company Widevine.
  • Digital Trends points out that the service won’t enable downloading directly to phones: “Customers will need to initially buy a physical Blu-ray disc of a Fox movie. Afterward, they will be allowed to download a digital Android-friendly copy of the movie from Fox’s website to a computer, which can then be side loaded onto the Android device.”

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