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Hey, Technology Eras Were Meant to Have Beginnings and Endings

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The odds were always against Microsoft dominating phones and tablets.

CompUSA
Bill Gates appears on a video monitor in a CompUSA store in Vienna, Va. on August 24, 1995, Windows 95’s launch day.

If it accomplishes nothing else, Steve Ballmer’s announcement that he will retire as Microsoft’s CEO has provided tech journalists and bloggers with an endlessly fascinating subject to discuss.

Depending on which stories you read, Ballmer’s planned exit was either abrupt or had been in the works for years. You can read countless articles pointing out how his Microsoft has been different from Apple and at least one drawing parallels — unconvincingly, at least to me — between today’s Apple and the Microsoft of Bill Gates’ glory days. You can find a story saying that Ballmer was the worst CEO ever, and ones that state what seems obvious to me: that his record was mixed, with both big-time successes and failures.

I haven’t, however, seen any articles that make what seem to me to be two other obvious points.

First of all, while it’s possible that different strategic decisions on Ballmer’s part would have put Microsoft in a different position today, I don’t think that the man broke a machine that was destined to work well forever. The odds were always slight that Microsoft would matter as much in the mobile era as it did in the more PC-centric one.

The default scenario in personal technology has always been for major platforms to suffer badly when sea changes come along. Here’s an extremely incomplete list of companies that once ruled their categories, then lost everything, or almost everything, as the world changed around them: Ashton-Tate (dBASE), Digital Research (the maker of CP/M, which Microsoft’s DOS toppled), Lotus, MicroPro (WordStar), Palm, Netscape, RIM/BlackBerry, Software Publishing Corp. (Harvard Graphics), Six Apart (Movable Type), Symbian and Visicorp (VisiCalc).

Microsoft was larger than any of those outfits, and has been more important to the industry over more time than any other company except Apple. (It remains astounding to me that those two companies, founded by very young people nearly 40 years ago, have mattered so much for so long.) But I’m a fatalist. The dynamics of the tech industry favor new blood, and Microsoft’s long run at the top wasn’t so much proof that it was an exception as a hint its time would eventually run out. No matter who was running the joint.

Second thing: If you’re Steve Ballmer, another Microsoft employee or a Microsoft investor, you might be gravely disappointed that the company failed to turn its 90-percent market share in PCs into a dominant position in smartphones and tablets. But I think it should be said that the world is far better off than it would have been if Microsoft had managed to stay on top forever.

I remember the days when Microsoft had what seemed to be permanent monopolies in operating systems, web browsers and office suites. But I don’t remember them fondly. They were bad for product quality, innovation and choice, which meant that they were bad for consumers. And, I’m convinced, ultimately bad for Microsoft.

Today, in mobile operating systems, Apple and Google are both thriving, albeit in very different ways. I’d like to see even more healthy players, which is one reason why I hope that Windows 8/RT and Windows Phone do O.K. I also contend that it’s entirely possible that the most popular mobile OS of 2018 is something that doesn’t exist yet, possibly from a company which hasn’t been founded yet.

Even now, though, the simple fact that there are two successful mobile OS companies makes this a far better time to be a user of technology devices than the 1990s was.

In other words: Any scenario in which everyone agreed that Steve Ballmer was an extraordinary successful CEO would likely have been a downer for everyone outside Redmond city limits. I’m happier with the scrappy, inventive, underdog Microsoft we ended up with.

source: http://techland.time.com/2013/08/26/hey-technology-eras-were-meant-to-have-beginnings-and-endings/?iid=tl-main-lead

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Industry

GOOGLE LAUNCHES A PODCAST APP FOR ANDROID WITH PERSONALIZED RECOMMENDATIONS

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Google today is introducing a new standalone podcast app for Android. The app, called simply Google Podcasts, will use Google’s recommendation algorithms in an effort to connect people with shows they might enjoy based on their listening habits. While podcasts have previously been available on Android through Google Play Music and third-party apps, Google says the company expects Podcasts to bring the form to hundreds of millions of new listeners around the world. (Google Listen, an early effort to build what was then called a “podcatcher” for Android, was killed off in 2012.)

“There’s still tons of room for growth when it comes to podcast listening,” said Zack Reneau-Wedeen, product manager on the app. Creating a native first-party Android app for podcasts “could as much as double worldwide listenership of podcasts overall,” he said.

Google Podcasts will look familiar to anyone who has used a podcast app before. It lets you search for new podcasts, download them, and play them at your convenience. More than 2 million podcasts will be available on the app on launch day, Google says, including “all of the ones you’ve heard of.”

Open the app, and a section called “For you” shows you new episodes of shows you’ve subscribed to, episodes you’ve been listening to but haven’t finished, and a list of your downloaded episodes. Scroll down, and you’ll see top and trending podcasts, both in general and by category. The podcast player has fewer fine-grained controls than you might be used to from apps like Overcast. You can’t customize the skip buttons or create playlists of podcasts to listen to, for example.

The Podcasts app is integrated with Google Assistant, meaning you can search for and play podcasts wherever you have Assistant enabled. The company will sync your place in a podcast across all Google products, so if you listen to half a podcast on your way home from work, you can resume it on your Google Home once you’re back at the house.

In the coming months, Google plans to add a suite of features to Podcasts that are powered by artificial intelligence. One feature will add closed captions to your podcast, so you can read along as you listen. It’s a feature that could be useful to people who are hard of hearing or for anyone who is listening in a noisy environment. (I usually miss a few minutes of the podcasts I listen to every day, thanks to a noisy subway ride.)

Closed captions also mean that you’ll be able to skip ahead to see what’s coming up later in a show. Eventually, you’ll be able to read real-time live transcriptions in the language of your choice, letting you “listen” to a podcast even if you don’t speak the same tongue as the host.

Google also wants to expand the number of people making podcasts. The company’s research showed that only one-quarter of podcast hosts are female, and even fewer are people of color. In an effort to diversify the field, Google formed an independent advisory board that will consider ways to promote podcast production outside of the handful of major metropolitan areas in the United States that currently dominate the field.

Google will not pay any creators to make podcasts directly, the company said, but it will likely explore ways of giving podcasts from underrepresented creators extra promotion. It’s also examining ways to make recording equipment more accessible to people who can’t afford it.

If you already listen to podcasts on Google Play Music, nothing will change today. But the company made it clear that it plans to focus its future efforts around podcasting in the standalone app.

The Android app can be downloaded here. There are currently no plans for an iOS app.

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Business

BANK OF CHILE HIT BY CYBER-ATTACK, HACKERS ROB MILLIONS

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Shares in the Bank of Chile were down on Monday after it confirmed hackers had syphoned off $10 million (roughly Rs. 67 crores) of its funds, mainly to Hong Kong, though the country’s second-largest commercial bank said no client accounts had been impacted.

The cyberheist is the latest in a string of such attacks, including one in May in Mexico in which thieves used phantom orders and fake accounts to steal hundreds of millions of Mexican pesos out of the country’s banks, including Banorte.

Shares in the Bank of Chile, which is controlled by the Chilean Luksic family and Citigroup, were down 0.47 percent at CLP 100.4 ($.16) in mid-day trading.

Bank CEO Eduardo Ebensperger told Chilean daily La Tercera in an interview on Saturday that hackers had initially used a virus as a distraction, prompting the bank to disconnect 9,000 computers in branches across the country on May 24 to protect customer accounts.

Meanwhile, the hackers quietly used the global SWIFT bank messaging service to initiate a series of fraudulent transactions that were eventually spotted by the bank and cancelled but not before millions were funnelled to accounts abroad.

“The [attack] was meant to hurt the bank, not our customers,” Ebensperger said.

Ebensperger said a forensic analysis conducted by Microsoft had determined the attack was the work of a sophisticated international group of hackers, likely from eastern Europe or Asia, and that the bank had filed a criminal complaint in Hong Kong.

The bank said in a May financial statement that it would work with insurers to recoup the lost funds.

 

 

 

 

source: Gadgets 360

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Industry

HUAWEI MATE 20 PRO TIPPED TO SPORT A 6.9-INCH SAMSUNG OLED DISPLAY

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arlier this month, Huawei introduced the Watch 2 smartwatch with an eSIM and voice call support. Now, a new development claims that the company is procuring OLED displays from Samsung. The South Korean giant is said to have already sent out samples to Huawei, and if all goes well, full scale production is expected to start by Q3 2018. The smartphone to sport these 6.9-inch OLED panels is said to release sometime in the fourth quarter or even early 2019, and we largely expect to see them on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

South Korean media The Bell reports that Samsung is in the process of finalising samples with Huawei for its order of 6.9-inch OLED displays. These large-sized displays are usually seen on Huawei’s P series or Mate series. While the P30 series is not expected to arrive before MWC 2019, the Mate series traditionally arrives sometime in Q4. Furthermore, with the screen size being so large, we expect the Pro version to sport the 6.9-inch display, while the Mate 20 could sport a 6.1-inch or some such.

If Huawei is indeed bringing a 6.9-inch display smartphone, it should easily win the screen size battle, as the iPhone X Plus is expected to sport a 6.5-inch display, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is expected to sport a 6.4-incher. These large sized displays are very popular in the Chinese market, and Huawei wants to meet expectations in its home market. Bigger screens are popular also because of the large text area used by the Chinese language, the report adds. Huawei wouldn’t want to lose its momentum in its biggest market by not staying ahead of its game.

Of course, all of this is based on sheer speculation, and we expect you to take everything with a pinch of salt, till Huawei makes things official.

 

 

Source: Gadget360

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