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Archive for July, 2009

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July 30th, 2009

Rumored Apple tablet just a jumbo-sized iPod Touch?

Rumored Apple tablet just a jumbo-sized iPod Touch?

Today the Internet is abuzz with the news that Apple is hoping to launch a tablet computer before the end of the year. While rumors of the product have been circulating for years, the Financial Times today reported that Apple is racing to get the device ready for the 2009 Christmas shopping season.

According to reports, the tablet-sized computer, codenamed “Cocktail”, boasts portability (it’s 10″ touch screen mirrors the stylish iPhone and iPod Touch) as well as functionality (it will be both wireless and 3G-enabled and run iPhone OS). Entertainment executives are hoping that coupled with new content deals like those endeavoring to boost sales of CD-length music, Apple’s latest creation will revolutionize the entertainment industry in the same way the iPod revolutionized the music industry.

Despite all the excitement that this news is generating, I can’t imagine a situation in which I would ever want or need a tablet computer. Because it’s made by Apple it will no doubt be nice to look at and fun to use, but there doesn’t seem to be anything that I could do with this tablet that I couldn’t do with my trusty iPhone.

Its larger size would definitely be easier on the eyes, but at an estimated 10″ diagonally it’s not exactly pocket-sized. As for its entertainment value, one entertainment executive described it as “fabulous for watching movies.” Probably, but so is my television that sits facing my very comfortable couch. Sure I could bring it along with me to pass the time in between day-to-day tasks, but how enjoyable could it be to watch a movie peppered with interruptions throughout the day?

As technologically advanced as it seems, the Apple tablet computer as it’s described in the rumors is at best a larger version of the iPod Touch, and with prices for the tablet estimated at $600-$1,000 I think I’ll take my chances with the iPod.

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July 29th, 2009

News organizations embrace mobile apps

News organizations embrace mobile apps

The O’Reilly Radar had a fascinating look at the stats of what applications people are downloading on Apple’s iTunes, and the results are surprising. News applications are now the fastest growing category on iTunes, surpassing the previous record holder, books.

The news category has added many new apps since late May, showing that the media have very recently began to embrace it. News applications are varied, from software to read and organize news to platforms that provide premium content. The most popular applications, in fact, are from media companies themselves. The article cites the statistic that there are over 1,500 news applications. Clearly, this is a trend worth paying attention to.

As people move towards using smartphones as their main means of accessing the internet, it will be interesting to watch how this affects the way we consume news. Right now, on our phones, we already have Twitter and the mainstream media in application form that optimizes text, images and video, so we can be up-to-date with news almost instantly anywhere. As the mobile broadband networks and the smartphones that rely on them improve and proliferate, and our culture becomes more used to the idea, we could see news become even more instantaneous than it is even now. Slowly, everyone is beginning to have cameras that can record pictures, video and audio on their bodies at all times. And those cameras are getting better. Companies should start to think now about how mobile content creation can be used as tools to engage with the media in new ways, and how to be able to react should a crisis occur which those tools record.

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July 16th, 2009

Tech stocks- expectations, anxiety and hope

Tech stocks- expectations, anxiety and hope

1862.90 is the magic number. It was the number the Nasdaq composite index reached yesterday and it’s a good thing – a jump of 63.17 points, or if you’d like it another way, 3.51%.

The tech-laden Nasdaq index outpaced the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. The word ‘rally’ was thrown about, and everyone is now talking about how tech may (no-one likes to commit) have a better year than most – and it could (see what I mean?) be the source of a market pullback.

It’s a tough economy and I like a bit of optimism, and I especially like it when it relates to technology . I love the tech market, the history, and optimism behind dreaming up and delivering a new way of doing things, and its influence on every aspect of our lives. DEC was the first vendor I ever worked with and I was hooked at ’64-bit RISC architecture’.

This week’s rally (it’s a good word, try it), was fuelled by a number of things including another personally adored vendor – Santa Clara-based Intel Corp – which posted Q2 results and a Q3 outlook above its projections (yes it reported a loss, and sales were down year on year and it had a nasty incident involving a $1.45 billion antitrust fine from the EU) but it was better than expected and beat forecasts around consumer demand for PCs, and now there’s excited chatter about tech stocks spurring stocks to the highest levels in a month.

The hope builds. And builds as other tech vendors including behemoths such as IBM Corp (don’t even get me started on Thomas J. Watson and punched card tabulating machines), Google and Apple all warm up their voiceboxes ready to announce their results over the coming hours / days. GOOG is first – end of day today.

I think the Wall Street Journal summed it up with the headline ‘Tech investors: once bitten, not shy’. Let’s hope.

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July 7th, 2009

Open source can of worms for European Commission

Open source can of worms for European Commission


On Monday, the European Commission announced its intention to recognise more technology standards bodies, in order to allow public sector organisations to select from a wider pool of vendors during their IT procurement processes.

As a supporter of open source software and open collaborative development, we greeted this news positively at Prompt, and hoped that the broader industry reaction would be equally as welcoming.

But of course there are always two sides to any argument, particularly those that include technology, politics and Europe, and so it panned out once more.

So here’s the basic state of play as we see it. Currently, if you are in charge of IT procurement, at a council or college or care trust say, then you can only offer tender to technology providers who are registered with one of a list of standards bodies recognised by the EC. It’s not a hugely unreasonable list, in that it embraces ISO and the ITU, but it fails to recognise major open source standards bodies with similar weight. As a result, it could be argued that European public sector procurement is dated and uncompetitive, certainly in light of the rapid acceleration in open source acceptance in businesses over recent times.

A more inclusive revision of the current rules, as proposed this week by the EC, would allow public sector organisations to evaluate technology supporting standards developed by the W3C and ECMA, among other open standards bodies. You can examine the complete suggested reforms for yourself in this EC white paper.

But acceptance of these plans is not universal, as IDG discovered when it approached industry groups from both sides of the fence. In a news story earlier this week, it quoted Open Forum Europe (OFE) as saying: “Strengthening collaboration and cooperation in ICT standards development, both Europe-wide and globally is crucial.” But it also spoke to the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT). President Jonathan Zuck claimed the proposed changes would be biased in favour of open-source software vendors, and said: “Our key policy objective should be the removal of systemic bias, not its introduction.” ACT is concerned that the policy changes suggested will favour open source software over proprietary software in the effort to achieve more interoperability.

We realise that a certain amount of friction continues to exist between open source and proprietary technology communities, but also feel that standards acceptance needs to evolve with an emphasis on openness to ensure the European market can continue to develop, grow and remain relevant.

Please let us know where you stand in the debate, and what the crucial factors are in your decision to either back or reject the EC’s new proposals. Consultation will continue until 15th September.

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July 1st, 2009

Prompt Boston moves into CIC and looks down on MIT

Prompt Boston moves into CIC and looks down on MIT

Prompt Boston has settled in to the Cambridge Innovation Center, which the team here loves: we feel very welcomed, are excited. From our home on the 11th and 14th floors, we overlook the Charles River and have a great view of it and the sailboats floating by, with the skyscrapers of the financial district in the background. Also directly below us is the MIT campus, and we’re in the same building that Google began its Boston operations, and are housed amongst the likes of Linden Labs. The CIC even wrote a nice piece about us.

Remember to follow us on Twitter @promptboston to hear about how we’re settling in. Oh, and our new address for anyone who wants to send us housewarming cards, presents, etc. is One Broadway, Floor 14, Kendall Square, Cambridge MA, 02142. Just label them for the attention of ‘Mr. Gerber’.

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