Facebook Home and the Work Question

    This is another edition of our Friday weekly roundup. Our own Carl Weinschenk highlights the week’s most newsworthy data and telecom stories.

    Business Needs to Prepare Itself for Facebook Home

    The biggest news of the week ending today was the introduction of Facebook Home. There was, of course, a tremendous amount of attention paid to the announcement of the initiative, which essentially attempts to create a Facebook-oriented, central focal point for Android users. The details of the app are available at CNN and in a nice eWeek slideshow.

    In the past, the assessment of such a new approach for IT staffs would purely be whether or not it is likely to be used in business settings and, if so, what the impact likely will be. That no longer is the first question. The assumption now is that anything that is released to the public and subsequently gets any traction will be used at work. Thus, the key for business is to seek to understand from the outset if there are any security and perhaps even personnel management ramifications from Facebook’s new approach.

    Microsoft’s Surface Pro Sees Progress

    InformationWeek’s Michael Endler took a look at the progress being made by the Surface Pro. The first part of his piece catalogs the missteps made by Microsoft during the tablet’s introduction. The verdict since then is a qualified positive. Users are reported to be very happy. Indeed, Endler cites a report that the Surface Pro scored a 4.62 out of 5 rating from 396 users. Endler also says that the Surface Pro is proving very hard to repair and that he recommends the $99 warranty package.

    Gartner: Computing Devices Shift from PCs to Mobile Devices

    In any given week, there are a number of studies and surveys released that point to the inexorable growth of mobile devices. This growth comes from two areas: an increase in the total number of computing devices and a shift from PCs to tablets and phones.

    This week is no different: Gartner released research that said the total number of devices – the whole tablet/mobile phone/PC pie – will reach 2.4 billion this year, which is 9 percent more than 2012. The total will reach 2.9 billion by 2017.

    Perhaps the most important point made in the press release is that about transition in the mix. As low-end tablets become more functional, the firm believes a higher percentage of people will see them as appropriate for all their main computing needs. This suggests that the shrinkage of the share held by PCs will continue.

    Automakers Looking to More than One Communications Platform

    It’s surprising how much electronic communications occurs in an automobile. There are dashboard displays for the driver, hands-free entertainment systems for the front seat, safety features such as rear-view cameras and, of course, video for the kids in the back. Lightreading’s Sarah Reedy looks at how the automakers approach distributing all these signals.

    There are three major platforms: Wi-Fi, LTE and, soon, an automotive version of Ethernet. The sense of the piece is that there is a lot of technical and marketplace work ongoing. For instance, Deutsche Telekom is working on Wi-Fi approaches with BMW, while Verizon, BMW, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Kia and Toyota are in an LTE consortium. She writes that 3G still is in the mix and that some companies are planning to use more than one platform. Other companies – such as giant General Motors – are biding their time.

    Purple Communications’ SmartVP Helps the Hearing Impaired, but at a Cost

    And, finally, The MIT Technology Review offers a story about Purple Communications’ SmartVP. The device is designed to help deaf people more effectively communicate over electronic networks. The story says that today deaf people often use sign language over video networks. When communicating with a hearing person, the piece says, they can employ “relay services” that access sign language translators. SmartVP, according to reporter David Zax, uses an inclusive approach that uses Purple’s relay service on a PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone or television.

    Zax is thinking ahead, however, to when such services may become costly:

    The question that interests me most is how long companies like Purple Communications will offer premium services that the deaf community will find worth shelling out extra money for. One of the surprises of the iPad, as I’ve written about elsewhere, is that though it was designed for a broad consumer market, those with disabilities have found it more useful (and certainly much cheaper) than more specialized equipment.

    It seems that the explosion in network bandwidth and device sophistication will change how deaf people use networks. That makes sense, since the onslaught has changed virtually everything about how networks are used.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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