The Week in Tech News
The Nokia Lumia 900 and Microsoft Windows 8
On Easter Sunday, Nokia will launch its new smart phone, the Lumia 900. Opinions ran the gamut this week, with your humble writer penning not one, but two pleas to the Finnish telephone giant. The New Yorker concurs with me, titling their review “The Resurrection of Nokia“: “There is a good reason to root for the overdogs-turned-underdogs. One of the banes of the technology world is a lack of competition.” This is true for Microsoft as well as Nokia. “When Microsoft has to compete, it makes good stuff, as it appears to have done with the Lumia.”
The Atlantic took a different view. They chastise Microsoft for their weak app offering (some 70,000 apps, as opposed to the 400,000 and 600,000 apps of Android and Apple). I contend that Microsoft ought to turn this apparent weakness into a strength by emphasizing the simplicity of their product and how uncluttered their product is. They ought to concentrate on developing the most popular apps (read, Instagram) for their operating system, and then market their product as an alternative to the over-saturated, chaotic apps marketplace.
A Netflix for Magazines?
Next Issue Media will soon launch an app that will allow you to “browse, manage and read all of your favorite magazines” (assuming your favorite magazines are among the titles that Next Issue Media carries…). Matthew Ingram at GigaOM acknowledges that having access to many magazines with a single app is a huge improvement over the current setup. However, he wonders whether today’s readers want magazines at all. He writes: ” In many ways, I have adopted the motto of “if the news is that important, it will find me” — I would much rather have individual articles suggested to me or revealed by people whose opinions I trust than go manually wading through dozens of titles looking for something I might want to read.”
Months ago, I wrote about the decline of chain book stores and the need for “digital browsing.” The browsing model that the Next Issue app provides could prove to be the template necessary for a future book browsing app. It’s only the beginning, but any app that can simulate the browsing experience will facilitate the decline of the bookstore.
Pinterest Now Third Most Popular Social Networking Site
Back at the end of February, I wrote: “[Pinterest] looks like an emerging juggernaut. It’s hugely popular among women and its most loyal demographic is the coveted 25-34 age group. If you think that Pinterest is a passing fad, the statistics say otherwise.” Fast forward to the beginning of April and Pinterest has skyrocketed to the third most popular social networking site on the Internet, behind only Twitter and Facebook. Now we’re just waiting for the $1 billion valuation…
In other Pinterest-related news, Snatchly, the “Pinterest for porn,” signs up 15,000 users in 2 months. And we wondered where all the men were…
Google Finally Makes an Official Augmented Reality Announcement
Meanwhile, the rest of the media criticized Google for peddling technology they haven’t even perfected yet. How dare they offer us a unique vision of the future! The Atlantic had the tenacity to write about “the myth of augmented reality.” Even Wired (they of the Sergey Brin gushing: “…you sir are the future.”) took shots at Google. It won’t matter when Google starts selling their product (probably next year). As people fret over the technology, I’d like to remind them of something I wrote late last month: “Augmented reality seems a natural extension of technology’s possibilities to a generation that has grown up with the “augmented” reality of constant connectivity.” What’s the big deal exactly? It’s like having a smart phone in front of your eyes at all times. Isn’t that the natural next step anyway? Just another way to block it all out.
More Technological Distractions
Automakers want to distract you from driving. Tell me what’s wrong with this headline: “Intel and Nissan Bring Multitasking to Infiniti Vehicles.” And back in the lab, Ford develops their very own infotainment system. I mean, just look at that dash!
I need to get off of the road and into a city as soon as possible.
President Obama signs the JOBS Act
In a rare moment of bipartisanship, Congress passed the JOBS Act, and this week President Obama signed it into law. The law now permits crowdsourced funding, up to $1 million, for startups. About the bill, President Obama said: “Because of this bill, start-ups and small business will now have access to a big, new pool of potential investors — namely, the American people. For the first time, ordinary Americans will be able to go online and invest in entrepreneurs that they believe in.” But is this true?
Some skeptics have voiced concerns about the potential for major scams. Forbes magazine notes: “Investors need to prepare themselves to be bombarded with all manner of offerings and sales pitches. Congress has just released every huckster, scam artist, and small business owner and salesman onto the internet.” Even Ralph Nader weighed in, saying that “after the recent devastating Wall Street crash and bailout, here they go again—just throw the federal cop off the corporate crime beat.”
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. The Los Angeles Times took a much more balanced approach: “Does the JOBS Act increase the possibility that people will make bad investments and lose money? Yes, it does…But the new law doesn’t force anybody to make those investments. Instead, it gives more people the chance to invest at a stage when the potential gains are the greatest, while also giving entrepreneurs more avenues to raise cash.” Let’s see if this bill can live up to its considerable hype in tech circles.
Sherry Turkle TED Talk 2012
TED finally got around to posting Turkle’s March 2012 talk (see embedded video below). You can read my review of Turkle’s book Alone Together here.