- Wearable computing could make a real difference to people who need it, like aid workers who risk getting kidnapped. A safety bracelet being developed would let them trigger a GPS tracker and signal social media. There are plenty of other applications for this kind of technology, too -- for young children, the elderly or homebound, police officers and first responders...the list goes on and on.
- A Facebook phone is coming...kinda. The company's approach to a phone built by HTC and running on Android is a lot like a skin or a meta-browser. Sure, it's probably going to attract some users...but it's also a little hard to see what the huge advantage would be. Some people like to put their Facebook (and Twitter and Google and Pinterest, etc., etc....) into silos, because different programs are used for different types of interaction. It's hard to see what the hugely compelling reason would be to use Facebook all the time, everywhere. And it's a sign of hubris, perhaps, that Facebook deemed the idea of selling their own branded phones to be thinking too small.
- Are Chromebooks really a substitute for Windows-based computers? That's the question posed by a ZDNet column this week, looking at the significant growth in Chromebook sales. It's hard to see them as substitutes, though...a Windows laptop generally starts at the $300 mark and does a lot of things totally differently than a $200 Chromebook. Chromebooks make sense for some applications -- especially with young people and those whose demands are only based on the Internet. But with the flaky way that Google has been treating its services lately -- like killing off Google Reader for no really good reason -- the business users upon whom Microsoft depends for revenues would be completely bonkers to abandon their Windows machines for Chromebooks. Side-by-side use? Sure. But not substitutes in the markets where they really matter.
- T-Mobile is gambling big with its no-contracts declaration of independence. You'll pay more for the phone up-front, but you'll be free to quit them anytime. It's 180 degrees the opposite from their competitors' approach, which is to try to lock users into as many (and expensive) a set of contracts as they can. Good luck to T-Mobile...consumers could use the freedom.
- Firefox is out with version 20 of the browser. It's good to see that the market for browsers remains so competitive, among MSIE, Chrome, and Firefox. It's healthy for them each to be challenging one another. New in Firefox 20: Per-window private browsing. Not revolutionary, but a good addition.