For once this winter, the weather gods have smiled and the forecast for the Super Bowl here in the New York/New Jersey area (I get a kick out of people referring to the game as being in New York) is for the temperature to be at an almost tropical 45 degrees. One thing that can be guaranteed: All the lanes approaching the tollbooths on the Fort Lee side of the George Washington Bridge will be open.
Pregame hype aside, it was a typically interesting week in the IT and telecom areas. Here are some highlights:
PoE Gets a Subcommittee
Power over Ethernet (PoE) has been kicking around the periphery of networking for a long time. It has a big advantage; sending enough juice over the Ethernet cable itself opens up a world of flexibility for where devices such as access points are placed.
The approach, which has had some success, has gotten a boost with the formation of a PoE subcommittee by the Ethernet Alliance. According to Enterprise Networking Planet, the subcommittee will build upon The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) PoE standards library and support application and device development. The story quoted John D'Ambrosia, the chairman of the Ethernet Alliance and an executive at Dell:
In general and for better or worse, Ethernet is often taken for granted, D'Ambrosia said, and the benefits of PoE can fly under the radar. Take the cloud, for example. "We talk about the cloud like it's this ethereal thing, but it's not. The cloud is primarily copper. And everything needs power, whether it's wireless, copper, servers, fiber optic data links, you're still delivering power. That's one of the great things about PoE," he said. To D'Ambrosia, the potential applications of the technology, from powering the cloud to powering vehicular Ethernet, and the impact those applications will have on the rest of the networking ecosystem, are vast and exciting.
Google, to anyone who is paying attention, has gone on a strange buying spree. When the types of companies it has acquired or projects it is undertaking are considered at one time, it all seems a bit unsettling.
eWeek has done just that, and presented the results in a slide show. Google, the slideshow points out, has bought robotics companies, is involved in taxi locating technology and driverless cars, is running a contest to get a lunar rover to the moon, and is launching balloons to provide connectivity in rural areas (Project Loon). Another project is developing contact lenses that measure glucose levels and it bought a company aimed at extending wellness (Calico). It is involved in wind farms, fiber infrastructure (through Google Fiber) and space elevators (Google X).
That isn’t all. The company recently bought Nest, a firm that provides connected thermostats and similar technology. It may be a bit unfair: Many, if not all, of these projects can potentially help people. But the visceral reaction is that these initiatives, when married to Google’s imposing core technology, will give it access to almost every sector of our lives.
Expansion Can’t Go on Forever
What goes up must come down and what sells fast eventually tapers off. IDC said this week that, according to Computerworld, the growth of worldwide tablet sales show signs of dramatic and significant deceleration. The low-hanging fruit, it seems, has been harvested:
IDC said there were 76.9 million tablets shipped in the fourth quarter of 2013, up 62% over the third quarter but just 28% higher than the fourth quarter of 2012. The rate of growth from the fourth quarter of 2011 to fourth quarter 2012 was actually 87%, well ahead of the 28% figure and the reason that Mainelli described a tablet market slowdown. "While the market's growth rates remain impressive, they're down dramatically," IDC said in a statement.
Analyst: The Moto Deal Makes Sense
At ExtremeTech, David Cardinal provides his take on the sale by Google of its Motorola Mobility division to Lenovo – minus most of the patents that initially attracted Google and some other elements. In hindsight, he suggests that Google was doomed to fail in a competitive business sector. This was especially true because Google, as noted above, has so much going on.
Cardinal spends most of the column looking forward. He suggests that Lenovo can do impressive things with the acquisition. He notes that in reality, the company is a major smartphone player worldwide, but this fact is not generally recognized because it has not launched in the U.S. or Western Europe markets. He sees great potential:
Personally, I’m excited by this deal — and not just because I said nearly two years ago that Google should sell Motorola. I’ve long been a fan of what Lenovo has done with the ThinkPad and IdeaPad product lines. With HTC in trouble, there hasn’t been a good competitor to Samsung in the US market for high-end Android phones. If Lenovo can combine some of the Moto X’s unique features, along with the excellent handset designs it is shipping around the world, consumers everywhere will benefit.
Circuit Switched: The Long Goodbye
And, finally, comes a story about the beginning of the end of an era. It’s been apparent for a decade that the traditional circuit-switched telephone network is on the road to extinction. With millions still dependent upon it, however, that road is a long and circuitous one.
A major step was taken this week, however, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a plan for a three-part test of an all-Internet Protocol (IP) network. The decision, in response to an AT&T petition to launch consumer trials, makes it clear that the FCC expects universal service, consumer protection, public safety and competitive standards to be maintained. Ars Technica says that AT&T wants to be all-IP by about 2020.