MediaFile

Three tech predictions for 2013

Sometimes the most important ideas in tech are hiding in plain sight. In that spirit, here are three predictions for 2013 that are just waiting to happen. No 3D TVs, wearable computer or jet packs for me — at least not this year.

The Kindle Offer You Can’t Refuse

Demand is rapidly shrinking for e-ink e-book readers. IHS iSuppli predicts that when the books close on 2012 some 15 million will have been sold — down 36 percent from 2011.

And why not? Tablets are getting cheaper. Sure, you can pick up an ad-supported Kindle for as little as $70. But why shell out even that when $200 gets you an e-reader, and a media player, and a gaming machine, and everything else?

Dedicated e-ink readers aren’t falling out of favor because the technology has been surpassed. They’re losing out because the value proposition has changed. There’s a simple solution. Make them inexpensive enough so that it becomes an offer you can’t refuse.

That will happen at $50. At that price, buying a niche item you might use only occasionally is a relatively easy decision. It would be a no-brainer for students. A stocking stuffer for pre-teens that might even tear them away from their gaming consoles. An afterthought.

Google Chrome OS coming next week…maybe

It’s been four months since Google dropped a bombshell with its announcement that it is getting into the PC operating system game, in a direct challenge to Microsoft and Apple.

Now the world may get the first glimpse of Chrome OS, the PC operating system as envisioned by the folks in Mountain View, California.

According to a report in TechCrunch citing “a reliable source,” a version of the Chrome operating system will be available for public download within a week.

The end of the story…

……is the cash cow for Chinese company Shanda Literature Ltd, a
subsidiary of Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

The company’s business model is simple: read the first half
of a book online for free, and if you want to know the rest
(which usually is the case if you have read that far) you need
to pay for it. Revenues are split with the stories’ authors.

In China, this proves to be successful. According to Shanda
Literature CEO Hou Xiaoqing, the company now has cash reserves
of $1.8 billion, with 800,000 authors creating up to 80,000 new
pages of content per day, he said at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Nokia shows off first netbook

Cellphone giant Nokia showed off its first netbook on Tuesday and announced that it would go on sale at Best Buy and would connect to the Web using AT&T’s network.

John Hwang, general manger for Nokia’s brand new connected computers division was coy about discussing future plans for Nokia computing products except to say that “there are other products in the works.”

Hwang said he would look at all options for future products when asked whether Nokia, currently using the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system,  would consider making netbooks using other technologies such as systems from Google, a rival in the cellphone world.

Netbooks, Goldilocks and Nvidia

Netbook makers say the small laptop computers are perfect for Goldilocks – not too big, not too small, just right. But Nvidia wonders if smaller Internet-connected smartbooks might make the netbooks line look like a fairy tale.

“I wonder if the netbook is not enough satisfaction for a PC, not enough battery life to be mobile? I kind of feel like the netbook is a ‘tweener’,” Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang said on Monday on the sidelines of a conference on the Stanford University campus, later adding that he thought netbooks would be replaced by “smartbooks.”

That would be great for Nvidia Corp, since it is making ARM-based chips for smartbooks while its rival Intel Corp’s Atom powers most netbooks. The bet on lower-power ARM chips is that consumers will privilege battery life over computing power.

Netbook grows up, learns to play games

Slowly but surely, the netbook is growing up.

At first these sub-notebook machines were seen as weaklings. Now Nvidia Corp, which makes computer graphics cards, has teamed up with Lenovo to offer its second “ion” Netbook, following an announcement last month with Acer.  Nvidia’s suggestion for computer makers is to soup up the low-powered Intel Atom chips which run netbooks by combining them with Nvidia graphics cards.

The new product, the Lenovo IdeaPad S12, is touted by the companies as having the long life of Netbooks, but the quick graphics performance of Nvidia chips. It has a 12-inch screen and a keyboard, which puts it closer in size to the average laptop than to the average netbook.  Of course, the machine is priced closer to a low-powered laptop than it is to a traditional netbook, at $499 (if netbooks, being of such recent vintage, can be characterized as traditional).

The machine is said to run video games and other applications that usually can only limp along on a normal netbook. It runs all recent versions of Windows and will show high-definition Blue-ray movies.

from Summit Notebook:

Dell’s enterprise chief pooh-poohs netbooks

Netbooks: flavor of the month? Not according to Dell's Steven Schuckenbrock.

The PC giant's head of enterprise sales was quick to point out flaws in the stripped-down, no-frills mini-computers that have garnered rave reiews for their ultra-portability and anywhere-connectivity.

"Netbooks are a secondary device. The user experience of a netbook is just not as good. It's slower than a conventional notebook computer," Schuckenbrock said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York.

Perhaps that's why Dell was slow to get into a space dominated early on by aggressive Taiwanese upstarts like Asustek. Dell, the once-preminent U.S. personal computer manufacturer, which has steadily given away market share to rivals from Hewlett Packard to Lenovo, unveiled its first netbook only in September.

from Summit Notebook:

AT&T: Netbooks key to expansion beyond cellphones?

AT&T says it sees a lot of promise for the netbook and the connection fees that come with the devices as a growing source of revenue as consumers look to take broadband connectivity on the road. But will consumers be as enthusiatic to sign another contract for the service? Click below to hear AT&T's President of Mobile & Consumer Markets talk about what he sees as the future of the netbook.

AT&T: Netbook popularity on the rise from Reuters TV on Vimeo.

RIM says phones will still trump netbooks

Amid a wave of hype about wireless gadgets like netbook computers and mobile internet devices, Research In Motion’s Co-CEO Jim Balsillie says he will keep focused on the BlackBerry maker’s core business of phones even as computer makers are starting to make phones and phone rival Nokia eyes netbooks.  

This means that Balsillie is focused on developing more new versions of each of BlackBerry phones: those shaped like candy-bars, with touch-screen controls and devices with mini-QWERTY keypads. 

“Form factor is a personal preference but it’s got to be something that lasts the better part of the day and you can hold up to your ear and clip onto your belt,” he said  in response to our question about his vision for future products. “Those are a very tight systems constraints for a netbook.” 

Apple and the netbook question

Given the phenomenal success of netbooks — small, cheap, lower-performance PCs — everybody wants to know what plans Apple, the only major PC player that doesn’t have a netbook offering, might have for the space. Netbooks are one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak PC landscape.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs openly dismissed netbooks.  And when the company was asked again asked about them on the conference call following its quarterly results Wednesday, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook sounded similarly unimpressed. Current netbooks, he said, suffer from “cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware.”

“Not something that we would put the Mac brand on, quite frankly. And so, it is not a space as it exists today, that we’re interested in. Nor do we believe that customers in the long-term would be interested in. It is a segment we would choose not to play in.”