TechZone 360 Week in Review

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Last week we began to hear rumors that there might be a possible top down, company-wide restructuring of Microsoft in the works. Rumors have ranged from CEO Steve Ballmer considering such radical steps as breaking the company up to much less severe prognostications of simply moving a few leadership positions around. We've long admired Ballmer as a "value CEO" from an investment perspective, but we've also long stated our position that he is no longer the right CEO to drive Microsoft forward from a a new products and visionary perspective. We certainly haven't changed our position and we absolutely have to question if Ballmer can indeed pull off the sort of changes that would make a real difference for the company's future. Can Ballmer call down the needed thunder and bring on the necessary hell?

While Ballmer ponders the perhaps imponderable, it's good to know that both Microsoft and Intel are at least working hard to bring new options to the tablet world. To date there has really been only one option - Apple. More recently Android has gotten into the mix, and in fact Android collectively now has more tablets out there than Apple, but Apple holds a significant lead from a single vendor perspective. Microsoft and Intel hope to break it all up and claim the tablet world for their own.

While we ponder that question, the federal government is certainly trying its hardest to do just this. A number of different federal government issues have emerged this week ranging from possible National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance overreach to FCC issues on net neutrality. Interestingly, both issues this week seem to put Verizon at the center of all activities. But apparently Verizon isn't the only business affected. Now it turns out that the NSA is also demanding all sorts of data from the major tech companies. What's really going on between the tech companies and the NSA?

On the other hand Verizon is certainly in the middle of the net neutrality issue. On the government side we have the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) trying to assert itself as the arbiter of rules and regulations that are likely to have a significant business impact not only on Verizon but on every other wireless and landline carrier as well. Verizon's take on it? The FCC has no authority what so ever to make any rules and that net neutrality violates free speech. It will certainly make for some interesting fireworks here in the United States.

But net neutrality is also becoming a big issue in Europe - and top of mind for Neelie Kroes, the European Commission's (EC) vice president in charge of the Digital Agenda. In fact, she had made her feeling quite clear with a net neutrality proposal for European Commission consideration. Kroes is at least mindful of the need for ISPs to receive compensation for the use of their networks, particularly when it comes to being able to price their services based on getting a premium for assured quality of service (QoS), but she also does not want to see average customers disadvantaged. Kroes believes “best effort” Internet will meet the needs of most people and leave the flood gates open for innovation. We're just not sure how anyone can really define "best effort" in any reasonable way.

Enough with so much grim news however. Here's a more fun thing for you mobile mavens. At the annual Luminato Festival in Toronto, Canada, CrowdOptic - a maker of crowd-powered mobile applications -  will use a new mobile app to generate the world’s first crowd-powered heat map logo. To borrow an almost cliché phrase, this is “very cool!”

Last this week but hardly least, Amazon has signed a new deal with Viacom that will allow it to stream a whole slew of kids programs and comedies to subscribers. It's liable to bring in a whole lot of eyeballs and revenue. The question is, should Netflix be worried? It doesn't have these shows to stream in its stable. This explains why Netflix is spending $100 million on original programming such as House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey. Is it an either or scenario or will consumers just tap into both with equal enthusiasm? We believe the latter will prevail ourselves.

Have a great weekend!



TechZone360 Senior Editor

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