Monthly Archives: April 2011

Google Apps Conforms to Flexible Pricing Structure

If you follow the technology and business news at any degree, I believe that it goes without saying that it’s a rarity (at best) to witness a “trend-setting” company like Google blatantly and openly mimic the actions of a competing company; although I’m sure there are a few iPhone users who got a chuckle at that statement.  But regardless, one cannot deny that Google’s business practices are usually seen as new and often unorthodox in a practice that often-times leaves Google one step in front of their competition.  One great service that Google has been mildly successful with is previously reviewed Google Apps, a service that allows Internet domain owners to quickly and easily set up managed and branded Google services for their organizations.  And while Google was indeed one of the first companies to bring third-party email and cloud hosting into the mainstream, the company has recently been subjected to stiff competition from a surprising source.

You see, Redmond-based Microsoft recently released a public beta of a new small-business targeted collaboration and communication system dubbed “Office 365”.  When looking at the service last week, I quickly came to the conclusion that Microsoft was definitely heading in the right direction with their new service which gives smaller businesses and organizations cost-effective access to the same services (Exchange, Sharepoint) that are typically only seen in larger businesses, leaving Google with a bit of catching up to do.

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Will Mobile Phones Replace Wallets, Key Chains, and Passwords?

When the Apple iPhone was first released in 2007, one of the greatest features it sported (it was a first generation product, mind you) was the integrated “iPod” application which allowed users to store, carry, and listen to music just like Apple’s famed iPod music player.  While I cannot find the story or video for the life of me now, I distinctively remember seeing a gentleman discuss the fact that his iPhone actually replaced his iPod, freeing up more room in his pocket.  And while this is really a corny “feature”, one cannot help but realize that the modernization of mobile phone technology – not only with the iPhone, but with other platforms as well has made our handheld device incredibly powerful and versatile.  For many, this has indeed eliminated the need to carry separate devices for different tasks.  But for those of us who live, breathe, and sleep technology the question remains; how long until mobile devices are able to replace our wallets?  How about our keys?

And really, the thought concept really isn’t all that far out.  Many people have recently been discussing the future of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and its potential to revolutionize retail payment processing.  At core, the technology is actually very simple, involving a point-of-sale machine reading a small signal omitted from a customer’s mobile phone in order to access pre-defined payment information to complete the transaction.  Sure, there’s a bit of criticism towards the idea and there aren’t all that many folks on board just yet, but the technology is already there and is even being implemented in some large chain-stores as part of a testing process.  However, with patents having surfaced earlier this year, many believe that the next generation iPhone (dubbed the iPhone 5) will be the first major consumer device to feature RFID technology.

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How To: Sync Your Flickr Photos to Facebook

Want an easy way to transport your photos off Flickr?  Well, one Twitter user (@Digeratii) found a simple web service which allows you to sync your Flickr photos to your Facebook account.  The service is called PhotoSync and is dead simple to setup.  Simply go to the website and give the service access to your Facebook and Flickr accounts and you’re able to sync.

You can customize the settings which allow you to control which Flickr sets you would like to sync.  So if you didn’t want all of your Flickr photos on Facebook, you can easily sync only individual sets of photos.  Additionally, you can configure Facebook privacy settings for the photos being synced.  However, by default, it will use your default privacy settings on Facebook.

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Why Aren’t Analysts Jumping on the Netflix Bandwagon?

Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) has become a very hot stock recently.  The stock is currently trading at $229 (which is down from a high of $254) and has seen over an 1000% return in just over nine months under Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.  In its most recent Q1 earnings report, Netflix reported it currently has 21.4 million subscribers, which is up 57%.  The company’s earnings are also up 88% in the most recent quarter.  Netflix is also planning on expanding its service to other countries, it recently launched its streaming-only service in Canada.

Netflix earns a majority of its revenue through its subscriptions which start at $8.99 per month in the U.S. and $7.99 in Canada.  The company expects to see the majority of subscribers move over to its streaming services within the next year.  The streaming services cost significantly less than its DVD delivery service.

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iPhone Developers Get Their Hands on Non-Released Handsets

Irish novelist James Joyce once said that “a man’s errors are his portals of discovery.”  While you can take what you will from that statement, many perceive it as meaning that mistakes and blunders are what give us the knowledge to better pursue the future.  And while the company is highly successful one would be ignorant not to realize that Apple has made a fair amount of mistakes over the last couple of years.  Perhaps one of the largest and most widely known of these mistakes was an incident that took place about this time last year when Apple made the misjudgment of allowing a number of select employees to actively use prototype versions of the yet to be released forth-generation iPhone.  One of these employees, the now infamous Gray Powell, overlooked the then highly secretive device and ultimately ended up misplacing it in a Bay Area bar.

After making its way through the news the story was quickly forgotten by many, and based upon Apple’s tremendous sales of the device later that year we can only infer that their overall business didn’t considerably suffer from the occurrence.  But now as we edge closer to iPhone season last years events have gained a whole new level of importance, raising questions as to what Apple would do this time around.  After all, the company is in a very touch situation.  You see, Apple still needs to have their hardware tested and evaluated by developers and engineers.  But taking into consideration the near blow that the company was dealt last year, it’s probably safe to say that we all expected to see stronger restrictions imposed by Apple for this year’s iPhone prototype.

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AT&T’s Free MicroCell Campaign Is Awesome.

It’s not often that I’ve been known to praise AT&T for anything, but this time I think they deserve some recognition.  The other day, I received an email from AT&T stating that I was eligible for a free MicroCell.  What is a MicroCell you ask?  A MicroCell is essentially mini cell phone tower for your home/business.  It promises up to 5 bars (I have consistently had 5 bars at all times) at all times and so far in my experience it has delivered just that.

It connects via your Internet connection over ethernet and is designed to support up to 4 simultaneous devices at once.  If you were to buy one, the device costs $130.  There’s no additional monthly fee, all phone calls use your existing minutes on your cell phone plan.  The AT&T MicroCell will only work with AT&T 3G phones and can be configured to support specific phones using the phone number associated with that device.

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Will the BlackBerry PlayBook Struggle to Attract Developers?

It’s no secret that mobile communication devices (tablets in general) are the “in” thing in the tech industry right now.  After releasing the first generation iPad last year, Apple grandfathered an entirely revolutionary and previously unheard of market; one that many didn’t think would go far at all.  But here we are now, just a tad more than a year later, and the struggle on the part of retail stores to maintain stock on the second generation iPad speaks for itself in terms of the tablet computer’s popularity and overall success with consumers as a whole.  And with the outstanding success of the iPad product line, the last year has brought way to a number of other companies rolling out their own tablet computers in moves quite obviously devised to take a stab at Apple’s stronghold in this promising market.

One of the companies that has been working to anchor into the tablet industry has been Resources In Motion; the company that is best-known for producing and developing the BlackBerry smartphone line.  After previously discussing the PlayBook in January I more recently looked at the viability of RIM‘s tablet computer in a critical light, questioning if users would be willing to give the device a go despite the fact that it wasn’t priced any lower than the already established Apple iPad.

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Why Google’s Less Than Expected Earnings Don’t Worry Me in the Least

In terms of Internet-driven companies, Google is the living breathing definition of the success attained through hard work and innovation.  The company, originally formed as part of a side-project on the part of a few eager college students on a mission to index the Internet, has managed to become a large-scale enterprise that is just as profitable as it is influential.

For years now this influence and profit has been entirely evident in Google’s noteworthy road to success.  The company has done very well for itself by expanding beyond its original search engine foundation, and has (for the most part) done well with newer services such as Gmail and Google Apps; services that have  been a wild success amongst individuals and businesses of all sizes alike.  However, more recent news has shed a critical light on Google’s success after the company failed to meet profit expectations in their last quarterly posting.  But even though this news doesn’t seem to have set very well with some investors that have opted to side with caution after the news came out earlier this week, I honestly am not buying into the fear of Google’s failure.

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