Techzone 360 Week in Review

By Tony Rizzo August 03, 2013

Recently Microsoft went through a major re-org, although in our opinion it won't do anything to solve Microsoft's problems with innovation and mobility. The company followed that up with a rather lousy earnings report that revealed a $900 million write down on its Surface tablet business, which the company suggested was the result of slow Surface RT tablet sales. Lo and behold, this week we discovered through documents it’s required to file with the SEC that the Surface situation for Microsoft is much more dire than it let on at its earnings call. We've been referring to it as Microsoft's and CEO Steve Ballmer's Surface "Fools Gold" - and Ballmer owns the entire ugly mess directly.

This week saw the introduction of the long awaited Google/Motorola Moto X smartphone - and there is no fool's gold here. Over the last six months or so the device had taken on an aura of being a "superphone" of sorts, as well as one that was, even before its official release, being touted as both designed and built in the United States. Google and Motorola have placed a special emphasis on this in order to go one up on Apple, which has touted the tag line "Designed in California" in ads it has pushed out since its World Wide Developers Conference back in June. We've taken the notion of the superphone a step further and we've asked the question: Is the Moto X more like Superman or more like Clark Kent? Read on to find out.

Google made some other very interesting news this week when it announced that it has reached an agreement with Starbucks making Google the Wi-Fi supplier for all new Starbucks stores that will launch going forward. Meanwhile, over the next 18 months, Starbucks will convert more than 7,000 existing U.S. stores to the upgraded network and Wi-Fi. Google expects to deliver up to ten times faster Wi-Fi service than the current average of 1.5 Mbps the stores now provide. It is interesting to see Google take on the wireless carriers here, and quite honestly, the wireless carriers better watch out – they look to us to be in trouble if Google is going to eat their Wi-Fi lunch dollars.

But there's more. Google this week has also been making news over its new little $35 streaming video TV gadget, the new Google Chromecast, which has received generally positive reviews. Imagine quickly plugging it into a TV HDMI port, running some power to it (either through a wall socket or slightly more elegantly through a TV USB port, and suddenly having access to a good deal of Wi-Fi driven Web video services. It's pretty cool, and the price is utterly frictionless. The device is going give big headaches to Apple, Microsoft, TiVo, and the hospitality industry in subtly disruptive ways. Further, there is some very interesting speculation that WebRTC and Chromecast may prove a match made in heaven.

Though hardly anywhere near enough to rain on Google's parade this week, we will note that Symantec has identified that the Google Play store is positively laden with scams and applications of questionable content, and though Google is being vigilant in terms of keeping such apps away from buyers, there are simply so many that enough are slipping through various tiny cracks to make themselves dangerous to a lot of Google Play ecosystem participants. More generally, Appthority has delivered its new “Summer 2013 App Reputation Report,” and the company has uncovered numerous security and privacy risks within both paid and free apps across both Google Play and Apple's App store. It's not a pretty picture, and vigilance is of the essence.

If you are a serious gamer you have been waiting no doubt for NVIDIA's really cool new Shield controller to ship, and it finally has. It is kind of a game geek’s dream device. What it does is take the annoying part of playing an Android game out of the equation. That annoying part is the screen controls, and this is because Shield is basically an Android powered game controller with a screen and full wireless connectivity. The only shortcoming? There isn’t yet a truly epic title for Android - but that may be coming in the form of Project Snowstorm, the first really epic game for Android that has just started their Kickstarter campaign. Is the Shield for you?

Finally this week, we'll wrap up with Apple. Before you know it, we will have arrived at that highly anticipated moment when Apple finally tells us about all the amazing and magical new products it has up its sleeve for us this year. In anticipation of that, we've pulled together what we believe will be the likely announcements when September/October finally arrives – wwe're sticking with our belief that Apple will remain the mobile innovation champion.

We've also uncovered that Apple has an exciting new smartphone technology camera patent in hand - it likely won't see the light of day this year, but when – more accurately, if – it does, it will add to the innovation. We believe it has some awesome potential.

Last, but not least, the rumors are now flying that the iPad mini, which will be announced as part of the fall collection, will in fact be delivered with a retina display - something that had been dismissed throughout most of the year. We've taken it a step further - is it possible that Apple may in fact introduce a cool, new curve to the game with retina displays for both the new iPhone and new iPad mini that deliver a gentle curve and stunning thinness?

Have an awesome weekend!

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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