Technology Today: Apple Buys into Twitter, Microsoft on Edge, and Google’s Tangent’s
Since technology and politics are so tightly intertwined (unless you are Dick Sharpe), let’s take a change of pace for today and talk about the latest technological trends and news. So, what happening with technology today.
First on the list, rumors surfaced late last week about Apple investing a bunch of cash into the profit-less fail-whale that is Twitter. After a quick and failed attempt at social networking by Apple, they have probably decided to invest in a successful tool rather than re-invent the wheel. Interestingly, for the first time in a long time, Microsoft beat Apple to the punch by investing a bunch of its cash in Facebook 5 years ago.
Question: Should these gigantic company’s really be investing in social this way? Perhaps I’ll say. The whole thing is slightly reminiscent of the browser wars from a decade ago, and in my opinion, every player than spent a lot of time and money investing in a browser came out as a loser (see Netscape). There is a slight difference with social networking, and that is that some of these firms actually make money, like Facebook and LinkedIn, so it’s not a total lost investment. And much like the browser, social networking is not going away any time soon, so it’s better to be invested in it, and not developing it youself is the safest investment you can make. If you think creating the social network is something big company’s like Apple and Microsoft should be doing, tell me – how is Google+ doing these days?
Second on the agenda, Microsoft. Poor, poor Microsoft. This cash juggernaut is playing with napalm on the edge of a 1000 foot cliff juggling hand-grenades. Just today, Microsoft announced the dismantling of Hotmail for a new email service called Outlook (get your desired email handle today, just in case it takes off). I played a bit with it, and it’s actually quite nice. It is a no ads, easy to use, and nicely configurable web email client. It’s a bit clunky with its other services, such as the calender which links to the old Hotmail site, but I assume that will change over in time. It also connects nicely with Facebook, as just about every new service needs to do these days.
Question: Will this really work for Microsoft? I say, who the hell knows. Much like Gotham believes in Harvey Dent, I still believe in Microsoft, but my confidence is starting to wear thin. The only reason I remain confident is because of the enterprise: Microsoft still dominates the enterprise with Windows, Office, Exchange, Active Directory, and even MSDN. The biggest problem Microsoft faces is its mixture of enterprise and consumers, and that’s something no tech giant has really been able to accomplish. I’d say if Microsoft can continue its stranglehold on the enterprise, introduce the Surface to enterprise clients, it may actually stand a chance in the future.
Third and finally, Google. The Warren Buffet of search if you will. Google last week expanded its unrelated-to-its-core-business to Internet and television service in the Kansas City area. For a one time fee of $300, you can get no-contract, free monthly Internet with a download rate of 5mbps and an upload rate of 1mbps. By modern metrics, that’s equivalent to a good cell phone signal, but you can’t beat the price. For $70 a month, you can get a 1gbps upload and download, which by any modern metrics of price to performance for an ISP, kicks more ass than the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus combined. The third tier of programming adds television into the mix, for $120 a month you get TV and Internet. Similar to a FiOS package, but without one of those outdated home-phones.
Question: What the hell is Google doing? Other than burning through its stock piles of cash, I have no idea, but I like it a lot. Any time a large player enters a market is has no business being in, they either turn out looking incredibly smart or incredibly stupid. I hope it’s not the latter, because I would really enjoy some gigabit Internet, which is not something Time Warner, Comcast, Cablevision, and even Verizon come close to. If this does nothing but get the other players to move to a faster Internet method, then I’m happy with that.