It’s easy to make fun of overly enthusiastic Google Glass early adopters, particularly when they use the computerized headset to take shower selfies. But there are some potential applications for Google Glass that go way beyond the realm of consumer electronics and are genuinely worth getting excited about. Case in point: Fast Company reports that San Francisco-based cardiothoracic surgeon Pierre Theodore has just wrapped up a three-month trial where he used Glass to help him perform complex medical procedures. And the good news is that he says that Google’s device has actually been a help. More →
Let’s face it: The chances that the federal government will let Amazon fly delivery drones around in densely populated areas by the end of 2015 are basically slim to none. So why did Amazon bother putting on a big show about its delivery drones for CBS’s 60 Minutes earlier this week? Wired’s Marcus Wohlsen and Forbes contributor Will Burns each suggest two plausible explanations that make Amazon look either very cynical or merely somewhat cynical. More →
It looks like the cord-cutting phenomenon is finally getting big cable companies’ attention. Variety reports that Time Warner Cable “is now marketing a low-cost bundle that includes a limited bunch of TV channels and HBO” that is “aimed at ‘cord nevers’ and others who aren’t interested in paying for a typical lineup of cable channels.” The new package, dubbed “Starter TV with HBO,” will be priced at $29.99 per month for the first year and “does not include a set-top box fees or other charges.” More →
Nintendo’s Wii U had a one-year head start over its rival consoles and it now appears that all of that time has now been squandered. Bloomberg notes that Wii U sales are being absolutely crushed by sales of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One in early holiday shopping as Sony and Microsoft “each sold more game consoles in 24 hours than the Wii U maker did in nine months.” Recent sales figures have led analysts to project that Nintendo will whiff badly on its goal to sell 9 million Wii U consoles by the end of March and many think the company will instead sell only around 6 million units. More →
If you want to understand why Windows 8 has been a failure so far, the following quote from IDC analyst Jay Chou explains it all: “The chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system.” This is a big problem for Microsoft because the entire point of Windows 8 was to ignite demand within the PC market and make people want to replace their older systems with new touch-enabled PCs that would slow the growth of iOS and Android as rival mobile computing platforms. But as IDC’s latest research shows, that simply isn’t happening. More →
Things just get worse and worse for HTC. Bloomberg reports that London Judge Richard Arnold has issued a sales ban against the HTC One mini smartphone in the United Kingdom for infringing upon Nokia-owned patents. Even more ominously, Arnold ruled that a similar sales ban could soon take effect for the flagship HTC One smartphone, although he’s holding off on issuing an injunction so that HTC has time to appeal a ruling that will deal it “considerable” harm. Getting its top-selling phones banned in major markets is just about the last thing that HTC needs right now since it’s already dealing with quarterly losses of $100 million and employees who have allegedly been stealing its trade secrets and selling them to a municipal government in China.
Like any good pusher, Microsoft knows that the best way to get kids hooked on your product is to start them off with free samples. Microsoft this week officially launched its Student Advantage program that will give students at more than 35,000 participating schools free access to Microsoft Office 365 as long as the schools license Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus for their faculty members. This is the second big Office 365 promotion Microsoft has announced for students this year, as over the summer the company said that it would give new Office 365 subscribers in select countries free 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions.
Apple’s Retina-equipped iPad mini is still in short supply at the start of the holiday shopping season. AppleInsider flags a note from Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore, who surveyed more than 100 retail outlets over the past few days to figure out both supply and demand for a range of Apple products during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year. More →
Given the ridiculous number of versions of the Galaxy S4 Samsung has released this year, it’s not surprising to learn that the company may be planning a similar barrage of gadget spam for its flagship Galaxy Note 3 phablet. One of SamMobile’s sources claims that Samsung will unveil a cheaper version of the Galaxy Note 3 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2014 that will feature “mid-range” specs and two different display size options of 5.49 inches and 5.7 inches. If Samsung’s past behavior is any indication, however, then the Galaxy Note 3 Lite will be only the start of the Galaxy Note 3 variations the company will release next year and we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the company is planning to release the Galaxy Note 3 mini Active Spring 2014 Edition sometime in April.
Sorry, Microsoft: Even the superficial return of the Start button isn’t enough to make people clamor for Windows 8. TheNextWeb takes a look at some of the latest numbers from Net Applications and finds that Windows 8′s growth has stagnated as the combined market share of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 grew by only 0.05 percentage points in November. In contrast, Windows 7′s market share grew by 0.22 percentage points, which means that users upgrading to new PCs still seem to prefer Windows 7 to Windows 8. It also seems that Windows 8.1′s growth is almost entirely driven by current Windows 8 users who are eagerly upgrading their PCs to take advantage of the latest software, as Windows 8.1′s market share grew by 0.92 percentage points and Windows 8′s market share shrank by 0.87 percentage points.
If there’s one legacy Internet protocol that really needs to go, it’s the password. Given how easy it’s become for hackers to decipher most passwords and how annoying it’s become to memorize multiple passwords that all require capital letters, numbers and symbols, it’s only a matter of time before some enterprising tech company comes up with a way to get rid of the password nuisance once and for all. More →
Microsoft’s mobile platform has made some impressive gains over the last year and the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel show that Windows Phone’s market share has passed the 10% barrier across Europe’s five biggest markets, a huge improvement from a year ago when it accounted for under 5% of smartphones sold across the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Windows Phone sales have gotten a big boost in Europe thanks to the efforts of Nokia, which has long been a popular brand in the Eurozone and which this year released some top-notch handsets such as the Lumia 1020 alongside some very competitive budget handsets such as the Lumia 520.
Whenever you see an industry with high profits and low customer satisfaction ratings, it’s a good bet that it doesn’t face the same kinds of competitive pressures that most industries deal with on a regular basis. Such has certainly been the case with the cable industry, whose largest two vendors don’t even compete with one another in any major markets. And as Ars Technica reports, cable companies could dramatically boost their services’ speeds starting today if they wanted to… but they won’t because they aren’t facing any competitive pressure to do so in most markets. More →