Forty-One Percent of Enterprises Block Access for Employee-Owned Macs

  • Ars Technica reports: “Forty-one percent of enterprises do not allow employee-owned Macs access to any company resources, even Web-based e-mail, according to the results of a new Forrester survey of IT executives at North American and European companies.”
  • Some companies will offer a stipend to employees to buy Macs if they prefer, but the enterprise seems to stay away because of higher prices and ingrained IT Microsoft traditions.
  • Forrester suggests that productivity is linked with the freedom to choose personal computers. Many employees prefer the “uncluttered Macs — especially those with solid-state drives, which are more responsive and boot in seconds,” according to Forrester analyst David Johnson.
  • Problems arise with the need for Mac-specific management software and file sharing, but Johnson points out tech departments that stand in the way “will eventually get run over.”

Real-Time Entertainment Traffic: Have We Entered a Post-PC Era?

  • According to the new “Global Internet Phenomena Report” from broadband solutions provider Sandvine, North Americans have officially embraced the “post-PC” era.
  • The report suggests that for the first time, U.S. consumers are using their gaming consoles, smartphones and tablets more than PCs for entertainment.
  • “[We have] entered a post-PC era, in which the majority of real-time entertainment traffic on North America’s fixed access networks is destined for devices other than a laptop or desktop computer,” Sandvine reports. “Game consoles, settop boxes, smart TVs, tablets, and mobile devices being used within the home combine to receive 55 percent of all real-time entertainment traffic.”
  • Interesting stats from the “Beyond Bytes” infographic: 96 percent of broadband subscribers use real-time entertainment each month, 83 percent of broadband users access YouTube videos each month (compared to 20 percent for Netflix), and real-time entertainment as a percentage of peak period downstream traffic has doubled since 2009.

New Report: 40 Million Mobile Users Access Social Networks Daily

  • The number of Americans who use social networks has grown 37 percent over the past year, according to comScore.
  • In August for example, 72.2 million Americans accessed social sites or blogs via mobile devices.
  • “Nearly 40 million U.S. mobile phone users, which accounts for more than half of the mobile social media audience, use social sites while on the go nearly every day,” reports Computerworld. “As a result, mobile devices are an increasingly important part of the burgeoning social media market.”
  • The new comScore study also indicates the number of mobile users who accessed Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn increased by at least 50 percent for each service in the past year.

Google Development Experimentation Often Leads to Cancelled Projects

  • According to The Next Web, 90 of the 251 products (36 percent) that Google released in the past 12 years have been cancelled.
  • “Experimentation is a part of Google’s culture,” indicates TNW. “Launching in beta habitually creates a fearlessness that continues to serve them well. Even though Google knows that tons of their products won’t make the cut, their success is partially due to throwing a fist full of darts, and seeing what sticks.”
  • In a related TechCrunch post, the company plans to focus on Google+, and as a result will be killing off Google Buzz in a few weeks as well as iGoogle’s social features come January 15, 2012. Google Labs was shut down on Friday.
  • Additional services are also reportedly getting the axe by January 15: Code Search (for open source code on the Web), Jaiku (for users to send updates to friends), and the University Research Program for Google Search (available to select academic researchers).

TV Viewers Like their Tablets and Phones: Stay Tuned for More Innovation

  • A new study from Nielsen shows that approximately 40 percent of tablet and smartphone owners use their devices on a daily basis while simultaneously viewing television. The figures jump to 70 percent for users who do the same several times a week.
  • Most of these viewers are primarily checking email, followed by surfing information and accessing social networks, suggesting strong potential for second-screen applications.
  • The study suggests users are accessing social networks more than websites with information related to the TV program. “Unfortunately, the study doesn’t break down if people are 1) participating or just listening to social conversations and 2) if the conversations are related to the TV program at hand,” reports Lost Remote. “But it’s probably safe to say that more viewers are more inclined to talk about (or listen to) conversations about a TV show than proactively look up expanded content about it.”
  • Successful second-screen apps should bring together “social conversations, expanded content and interactive (even synchronized) advertising,” suggests the article. “Compelling second-screen experiences, in theory, will move the needle more in the ‘related’ direction, making TV viewers more engaged overall.”

New Studies Make Predictions for the Future of Connected Devices

  • The GSMA released research this week that outlines the market opportunity and revenue potential for connected devices.
  • According to the press release: “The research shows that the number of total connected devices is expected to increase from approximately 9 billion today to more than 24 billion in 2020, and within that, mobile connected devices will grow 100 per cent from more than 6 billion today to 12 billion in 2020.”
  • This would create a $1.2 trillion market opportunity for the wireless industry, seven times what is expected for 2011.
  • “We are entering the next phase in the development of the mobile industry, one where we will see mobile connect everything in our lives,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer for GSMA. “In this new Connected Life, mobile will transform society and will have a profound effect on the way we interact not only with each other, but also with our surroundings.”
  • These opportunities include increased connectivity with appliances, consumer electronic devices, and across sectors such as the health and automotive industries.
  • In a related story, Jon Peddie Research predicts that 300 million tablets will ship in 2016. Also, the firm expects three quarters of a billion smartphones will ship in 2016 and there will be increases in handheld game consoles and e-book readers.
  • “The processors powering these devices will be truly amazing, consuming remarkably little power, built in the latest nanometer technology, and delivering unbelievable performance and functionality,” suggests the Jon Peddie report. “And although all of the devices will share some functionality and capabilities, no single device will kill any of the others…at least immediately. Each device will have a different form, primary function, and price. All will be connected all the time, and most will have 3D displays and cameras.”

Could Removal of DRM Restrictions Actually Decrease Music Piracy?

  • New research from Rice and Duke universities challenges conventional wisdom by suggesting that the removal of digital rights management restrictions can actually decrease music piracy.
  • “Marketing professors Dinah Vernik of Rice and Devavrat Purohit and Preyas Desai of Duke used analytical modeling to examine how piracy is influenced by the presence or absence of DRM restrictions,” explains the press release. “They found that while these restrictions make piracy more costly and difficult, the restrictions also have a negative impact on legal users who have no intention of doing anything illegal.”
  • “In many cases, DRM restrictions prevent legal users from doing something as normal as making backup copies of their music,” said Vernik, assistant professor of marketing at Rice. “Because of these inconveniences, some consumers choose to pirate.”
  • According to the research paper, copyright owners don’t necessarily benefit from less piracy. “Decreased piracy doesn’t guarantee increased profits,” Purohit said. “In fact, our analysis demonstrates that under some conditions, one can observe lower levels of piracy and lower profits.”
  • The press release includes a compelling statement from the late Steve Jobs: “Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.”

Researchers Convert the iPhone into Affordable Medical Microscope

  • UC Davis researchers have determined how to transform the iPhone camera into a microscope with details up to 1.5 microns using a 1mm ball lens that offers 5x magnification.
  • The team “has one-upped the competition by making the iPhone into a 350x microscope for very little money,” reports TechCrunch. “Now you’ll be able to send people Instagrams of your blood cells.”
  • “The field of view is very small and there’s distortion to deal with, but by combining the in-focus areas of several pictures you can get a clear enough image to identify cell types, make counts, or even take spectroscopic readings,” comments the article on the image capturing process.
  • The post includes compelling side-by-side images comparing a commercial microscope with the iPhone camera set-up. There is also a link to the UC Davis paper, “Cell-Phone-Based Platform for Biomedical Device Development and Education Applications.”
  • “It may not be a mobile clinic, but in areas where money and electricity are hard to come by, an iPhone could be a valuable diagnostic tool,” suggests TechCrunch.

Facebook Shares Designs: Will Cloud Hardware Get Cheaper and More Efficient?

  • Facebook launched its Open Compute Project as an effort to open-source the technology of its 147,000-square-foot data center that opened in Oregon in April.
  • “It published blueprints for everything from the power supplies of its computers to the super-efficient cooling system of the building,” reports MIT’s Technology Review. “Other companies are now cherry-picking ideas from those designs to cut the costs of building similar facilities for cloud computing.”
  • Although the concept of sharing designs and allowing other companies to build similar cloud-computing facilities at a lower cost may seem altruistic, it also serves as “an attempt to manipulate the market for large-scale computing infrastructure in Facebook’s favor,” suggests the article.
  • “The company hopes to encourage hardware suppliers to adopt its designs widely, which could in turn drive down the cost of the server computers that deal with the growing mountain of photos and messages posted by its 750 million users,” explains Technology Review. “Just six months after the project’s debut, there are signs that the strategy is working and that it will lower the costs of building — and hence using — cloud computing infrastructure for other businesses, too.”
  • Frank Frankovsky, Facebook’s technical operations director and a founding member of the Open Compute Project, notes that the project opens the flow of ideas necessary to improve cloud technology. He is encouraging others to contribute new ideas and improvements to the current designs.

Will Big Data Help Shape the Next Market Winners and Losers?

  • Forrester Research defines big data as “techniques and technologies that make handling data at extreme scale affordable.” The research firm estimates that companies effectively utilize less than 5 percent of available data, and further suggests that big data will help companies use information to dominate the competition in their market.
  • “It seems that every week another vendor slaps ‘big data’ into its marketing material – and it’s going to get worse,” writes Forrester analyst Brian Hopkins for Forbes. “Should you look beyond the vendor hype and pay attention? Absolutely yes! Why? Because big data has the potential to shape your market’s next winners and losers.”
  • Big data is not only concerned with the volume of information but also in velocity, variety and variability of data, since “data is usually generated so fast that you need to constantly capture more of it to be valuable for some decisions.”
  • The write-up in Forbes is promoting Forrester’s new report, “Expand Your Digital Horizon With Big Data.” From the executive summary: “At extreme scale, traditional data management and business intelligence (BI) become impractical, and your business does not get what it demands — more insight to drive greater business performance. Big data helps firms work with extremes to deliver value from data cost-effectively.
  • However CIOs must understand that this is not business as usual. In fact, big data will disrupt the data management landscape by changing fundamental notions about data governance and IT delivery. Take the time to understand big data as well as its implications and begin a balanced approach that considers more than just the technology hype.”

The Pros and Cons of Twitter: Analyzing and Manipulating Tweets

  • Twitter’s 200 million tweets per day are being analyzed to monitor political activity and employee morale, track flu outbreaks and food poisonings, map changes in moods around the world, predict box-office success or failure for new movies, and predict changes in the stock market.
  • Hewlett-Packard’s Social Computing Laboratory used Twitter to successfully forecast the box office of 24 films by analyzing “the intensity of the word-of-mouth” about them on Twitter. They are now looking at doing the same for other products.
  • The Twitter users are younger adults, more urban and less likely to have children, but there is enough diversity to make judgements from the Twitter’s 200 million user stream.
  • Twitter is also being used to manipulate public opinion. “Twitterbots” have been created to automatically generate messages and thereby attract large followings by building relationships with unsuspecting users.
  • “Network sociologists are worried that these newest contrivances may offer others a powerful way to manipulate people through Twitter on an even larger scale,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Doing this on Twitter with a thousand accounts or a million accounts is the next step,” said Indiana University computer scientist Jacob Ratkiewicz.

Pegasus Global to Build Entire City in New Mexico for Technology Testing

  • Tech development firm, Pegasus Global Holdings, recently announced its plans to build a “fake” city in New Mexico for the sole purpose of testing green and next-gen technologies.
  • “The Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation” — which will have all the infrastructure of a fully operational city (including water, power and standard roads) — is expected to take up 20 square miles of desert and cost $200 million to build.
  • According to Pegasus Global, the city will offer a one-of-a-kind “opportunity to replicate the real-world challenges of upgrading existing city infrastructure to that of a 21st Century smart city, operating within a green economy.” The company will encourage companies and organizations to “test the benefits and costs of their proposed next-generation innovations and technologies, hardware and software.”
  • “While the specific technologies that will be developed using The Center remain to be seen, Pegasus Global has a few ideas in mind, including the ability to test the true cost of solar implementation, smart grid technology, next-gen wireless networks, Intelligent Transportation System technologies and driverless cars,” reports Digital Trends.

iTunes on Movie Share Upswing: Report Credits AirPlay and iPad

  • The recent IHS Screen Digest Media Research report indicates that Apple’s iTunes held the number one spot for movie electronic sell-through (EST) and Internet video on demand (iVOD) with 65.8 percent of the market in the first half of 2011. The Zune Video Marketplace was second with 16.2 percent, while Walmart’s Vudu came in third with 5.3 percent.
  • The research suggests much of Apple’s success can be traced to AirPlay which allows you to stream wirelessly to other devices including TVs.
  • “IHS believes that the ability to stream media from Macs or iOS devices to an Apple TV or third-party AirPlay receiver has prompted users to buy more movies from iTunes — presumably so they can AirPlay them to somewhere else,” reports Ars Technica.
  • It should be noted that Amazon spent this period shifting its strategy to streaming video on demand (SVOD), which IHS ranks in a separate space from iVOD. According to the article: “Amazon still saw a small bump from 4 percent in the first half of 2010 to 4.2 percent a year later, showing that users are still sticking by Amazon’s ‘old’ service.”

Disney Demonstrates Surround Haptics System for Gaming and More

  • Disney Research has developed a new technology that leverages phantom sensations and other tactile illusions to provide a wide range of physical sensations for gamers and film-goers via chairs outfitted with vibrating actuators. The technology is being demonstrated this week at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver.
  • Disney says its Surround Haptics system makes it possible for video game players and film viewers to “feel the smoothness of a finger being drawn against skin, for example, or the jolt of a collision.”
  • The system could potentially have a wide range of applications in movies, music and games, even communication systems for the blind.
  • “Although we have only implemented Surround Haptics with a gaming chair to date, the technology can be easily embedded into clothing, gloves, sports equipment and mobile computing devices,” says senior research scientist Ivan Poupyrev. “This technology has the capability of enhancing the perception of flying or falling, of shrinking or growing, of feeling bugs creeping on your skin. The possibilities are endless.”

Microsoft Develops Accurate Technique for 3D Facial Modeling

  • Researchers from Microsoft’s Beijing lab have developed a technique to automatically model human faces in 3D with a new level of accuracy.
  • According to the research, the new approach can acquire “high-fidelity 3D facial performances with realistic dynamic wrinkles and finescale facial details.”
  • The technique combines 3D scanning technology with a motion-capture system, in addition to what Geekwire describes as “a technique they developed to determine the minimal number of face scans needed to create an accurate model, which makes the system faster and more efficient.”
  • The research paper will be presented this week at the SIGGRAPH Conference in Vancouver.
  • ETCentric staffer Phil Lelyveld comments: “This more-accurate facial modeling, tied to game engine character behavior generation, will make for some very interesting experiences. There was a recent story on an emotional (versus Q&A response) Turing test. Would you hurt a visually realistic avatar?”

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