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If You Were Apple, You'd Ignore Low-End Smartphones, Too
February 18, 2014
Smartphone sales have been rising. The 968 million smartphones sold surpassed feature phone sales for the first time, Gartner reported. However, sales actually topped 1 billion, according to IDC. What's the difference of 32 million between friends? Not much. Here's a more important point: High-end smartphone sales have been slowing fast, while low-end smartphone sales have been rising fast.
China Calls Kerry's Internet Comments 'Nave'
February 18, 2014
Maybe they aren't fighting words, but they sure aren't friendly. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks about Chinese Internet freedom were, shall we say, a bit base. Kerry had a half-hour-plus chat with bloggers Saturday in Beijing, during which time he expressed support for more online freedom in China.
Recognizing and Defending Against Creeping Violence
February 17, 2014
I spoke last week with a woman who built a house in Belize. Apparently it was burglarized several times. After she moved away, her husband mysteriously died there -- he had stayed to protect the house before they sold it. Then I got a visit from a friend who'd retired to Brazil but badly wants to come home. He recently had his gold chain ripped from his neck while he was on a private beach.
High-Tech Suits a Suspect in Weak US Speedskating Performance
February 14, 2014
The U.S. speedskating team's high-tech suits -- which theoretically are supposed to help shave seconds and accrue medals -- have been identified as a suspect in the team's stunning faceplant at the Sochi Games. Before the Games, the suits, designed by U.S.-based sportswear giant Under Armour, were deemed to be on the cutting edge of racing technology.
Learning the Business Value of SaaS
February 14, 2014
Computer and software companies have been battling for the hearts and minds of students for decades, and now school administrators are becoming the target of smart Software as a Service and cloud computing service providers. The most notorious examples of using classroom marketing tactics to gain a long-term strategic advantage are Apple and Google.
iBeacon: It's Time for Mobile Marketers to See the Light
February 13, 2014
Never mind the Seattle Seahawks completely smoking the Broncos -- Super Bowl XLVIII may go down in history as the turning point for iBeacon. Apple's iBeacon is an indoor positioning system based on Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Its proximity-detection capabilities enable it to send relevant information -- including, most enticingly, targeted ads -- to a mobile device.
Microsoft Accidentally Applies Chinese Censoring Outside of China
February 13, 2014
Microsoft cited an "error in our system" for quirky results given to users making searches in Chinese on the company's Bing search engine. Chinese-language searches outside of mainland China were yielding results that mirrored those inside mainland China, where Bing filters in accordance with the whims of Beijing. This resulted in wildly different results for English vs. Chinese language searches.
Completeness Is the New Black
February 12, 2014
Are we collecting enough data? It seems like a weird question given the glut of it at most companies, and perhaps it is. Perhaps a better question is, are we collecting the right data? We could get into a long philosophical discussion of just what the right data is, but that would only happen if we made the mistake of thinking all data was the same.
US, France Team Up for Mars Mission
February 12, 2014
While the U.S. and France haven't exactly been chums when it comes to tech, the two countries are teaming up for a new mission to Mars. The plan is to send an unmanned lander to Mars to study the interior of the planet. The mission will launch in 2016, with the lander touching down six months later. At least that's the plan. France and the U.S. have had plenty of digital disagreements of late.
FBI 'Red Tape' Keeps Oscar Pistorius' Mobile Phone Locked
February 11, 2014
FBI "red tape" is preventing detectives from accessing the mobile phone formerly belonging to South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee known as "Blade Runner," who faces murder charges over the 2013 death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. South African investigators reportedly have been trying to persuade the FBI to back a request for Apple to unlock Pistorius' iPhone.
Apple's Sapphire-Screen iPhone Less 'If' Than 'When'
February 11, 2014
If the latest sapphire tech rumor is true, Apple's exclusive manufacturing partner, GT Advanced Technologies, is gearing up its Mesa, Ariz., manufacturing facility with enough furnaces to forge up to 200 million iPhone displays. Previously, most super-hard sapphire crystal rumors were limited to small component usage in Apple products, like scratch-proof Touch ID sensors or camera lens covers.
Conflict Minerals: The Human Cost of Technology
February 11, 2014
The retail image of consumer electronics products -- bright and shiny in their meticulously sterile packages -- fundamentally contradicts how they are manufactured. Anyone who has spent time on a factory floor knows this. The work is often dirty and sometimes dangerous, emphasized speed leads to injuries, and the constant stress of repetitive motions and work quotas can exact other kinds of tolls.
Mass Surveillance: The Day We Fight Back
February 10, 2014
Well it's been roughly eight months since the first major leaks about the NSA's PRISM surveillance program began to appear, and at last a coordinated global protest is imminent. Scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 11, The Day We Fight Back involves thousands of participating websites as well as protests, speaking events, street theater performances and more.
Unable to Dent Wallet, France Attacks Google's Pride
February 10, 2014
France's top administrative court ruled that Google must display a notice on its French search page saying that the company was fined by a local privacy watchdog. Google plans to fight the fine, but will have to adorn its Google.fr page with the humiliating message in the meantime. In January, French privacy regulators followed through on previous threats by fining Google roughly $200,000.
Innovation vs. Execution: Nadella's Brilliant Stroke
February 10, 2014
There has been a lot of discussion on the differences between Steve Jobs' Apple and Steve Ballmer's Microsoft, with a common argument being that Apple innovated and Microsoft didn't. I'd argue that Microsoft out-innovated Apple during Ballmer's tenure, but Apple out-executed Microsoft. During the last decade, Bill Gates proved to be more of a liability than an asset to Microsoft.
Will Data Localization Kill the Internet?
February 10, 2014
In the wake of revelations that the U.S. and UK governments regularly monitor private communications, a number of countries are considering a new type of law called "data localization." In the simplest of terms, data localization laws would require that businesses that operate on the Internet store that data within the country where the businesses are located.
Turning Up the Heat on Insider Trading
February 07, 2014
Criminal and civil allegations of insider trading recently were filed against Brian Jorgenson, a senior portfolio manager at Microsoft. This news amazed me, because over the last few years there has been an abundance of published information about the hazards of insider trading, especially the criminal consequences. Consider what happened to the hedge fund billionaire, Raj Rajaratnam.
US Diplomat Caught Red-Tongued Dissing EU
February 07, 2014
The United States' top diplomat for Europe was caught saying, "F*ck the EU," in a now-viral recording. The diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, made the comment in a thought-to-be private telephone call that later was leaked online. She has apologized to EU officials, but her remarks figure to live in infamy online.
Careless, Reckless Staff Are Corporate Security's Biggest Threat
February 07, 2014
We have met the enemy and he is us. Pogo's philosophical observation perfectly describes the way IT and security professionals view their end users' attitude toward data security. An overwhelming 80 percent of corporate security professionals and IT administrators indicated in a recent survey that "end user carelessness" constituted the biggest security threat to their organizations.
An Awesome iWatch Is Apple's Greatest Challenge
February 07, 2014
There are two words I try to avoid connecting: "greatest" and "challenge." Clearly I've failed. I try to avoid this phrase because it reeks of hyperbole -- and yet here I am, typing it out in association with Apple's mythical "iWatch." Still, the more I look ahead, the more I realize that Apple's greatest challenge might be convincing a world that it can produce an iWatch that matters.

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