Is Tim Cook like Steve Ballmer? Well that was the discourse in the tech blogs and business news channels this week, following the news of Apple issuing a less-than-stellar earnings report and higher dividends. Apple’s stock has been taking a beating for a while and some analysts want Tim Cook’s head. Remind you of anyone? Nick Wingfield at the New York Times made the connection between Cook and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, saying that while stock prices may be down, revenues and profits are the only numbers that really matter to the high-powered CEOs.
So why is it that, with Apple being the maker of all things cool — from the iPod to the iPhone and iPad — its stock would be tanking when profits are up 45 percent? Neil Irwin at The Washington Post ventures to guess it’s because there’s no obvious “next big thing” on the horizon, Apple TV and iWatch be dammed. Well, if it was obvious to columnists, then trust us, it wasn’t worth doing. Remember, gadget reviewers adored the Palm phones.
The Touchscreen Toddlers: Whether it’s video games or TV, children’s use of technology is always up for debate. Some parents might want to limit kids’ screen time and instead want them to focus on playing outside exploring the world, getting fresh air and exercise. The Atlantic looks at how technology affects child development, and how our tech might be causing addictive behaviors that result in major temper tantrums beyond the terrible twos.
In San Francisco, rents get bubbly: The startup boom is having a predictable impact on the San Francisco economy — real estate prices are rising faster than seed funding. When Facebook IPO’d last summer, real estate prices exploded in preparation of new millionaires. And now, it seems that it’s not just homebuyers who are finding it hard to compete with tech-millionaires. One of San Francisco’s coveted Marina district breakfast spots is being forced out due to doubling rent, which is ironic because a large percentage of its daily patrons are work-from-anywhere startup-types that enjoy the all-day breakfast and free-flowing WiFi. Maybe it is time to look at Austin, Boston, LA, Seattle, Philadelphia and others that are coining themselves the “next Silicon Valley”. For now their real estate price tags are in the manageable range.
Got 3D a printer, will print a gun. Debate: 3D printers might be great for homemade action figures, mini model home furniture, and battle-bots, but 3D printers also have the capacity to make dangerous goods. Take guns for example — Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed, a nonprofit focused on defending the 2nd Amendment rights of U.S. citizens, says that for better or worse, 3D printed guns are inevitable. Good sense aside, American’s are still divided on gun control laws. But unfortunately for those who believe that guns should be restricted, they may not have a say in the matter — Wilson says he and his team have successfully fired 11 rounds from a 3D printed firearm already. With 3D printers becoming more affordable and getting mainstream coverage, that’s kind of a scary thought to grapple with.
Netflix and the Future of TV: For a company that has been disrupting the business of television and cable for past few years, we are confident in putting a premium on their outline of the future of TV. During this week’s Q1 earnings call, and in an 11-page whitepaper shared on Netflix’s investor relations site, CEO Reed Hastings laid out his $2 billion+ plan to licence hot content and create original programming to compete with the likes of HBO, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. It’s an ambitious project considering the sheer volume of choices that TV watchers have when it comes to entertainment. Netflix also announced it’s new $12 family plan, which allows subscribers to access Netflix on four screens (instead of two). While some may think that the goal here is to cut down on password sharing, Hastings says it’s not really that big of a deal. Being flippant about password sharing and piracy seems to be the avenue of choice for popular content producers – even HBO says downloading Game of Thrones illegally won’t land you in court.
Rumors at network scale: Nothing reflected the growing role of social media in our lives as does the hack of the Associated Press Twitter account, which was compromised this week. Hackers falsely tweeted that explosions at The White House had injured President Obama. Mass panic ensued and the Dow quickly lost 100 points. It seems the AP was a victim of an email phishing attack purported by the same Syrian propagandists that hacked CBS’s 60 Minutes earlier this month. We think it’s time for Twitter to add in a second layer of account protection. Not only will two-step verification help users keep their accounts safe, but it can also prove to the public that Twitter is serious about security.
And now for some stories you might have missed last week:
How much would you pay win an hour-long coffee date with Tim Cook? Someone is willing to shell out over a half a million. Good news – it’s also for charity.
The PC is now an essential part of life. Much like an appliance.
SciFi flick Oblivion had at least one thing going for it – amazing sound design.
Speaking of sound, for the first time ever, you can now hear Alexander Graham Bell’s voice.