Digital Zone 204: A ‘Kin’ to Change

current technology news, technology podcast

In this edition of the Digital Zone, we talked about:

  • Multi-tasking comes to the ‘i’ products
  • Palm rumored to be for sale
  • Microsoft announces their ‘Kin’
  • Twitter announces free ‘Virgin’ advertising
  • Password changes are a waste of time
  • Netflix Wii discs coming to subscribers

Third-party multi-tasking is coming to the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices. Steve Jobs made that announcement and said the company waited so long because it wanted to offer multitasking in a way that didn’t drain the iPhone’s battery or reduce the phone’s performance. The iPhone 4.0 update will also include the ability to have messages from multiple e-mail accounts land in a single inbox and a way to connect an iPhone with a regular keyboard using Bluetooth wireless technology. The multitasking function won’t work with the original iPhone or the iPhone 3G — only the 3GS versions that came out last summer and last year’s iPod Touch. Jobs also announced an advertising platform called iAd in which Apple will sell and host ads to run on apps made by outside developers; those developers will get 60 percent of the ad revenue. Jobs said users shouldn’t find the ads annoying because Apple will make it easy for people to navigate back to what they were doing before clicking. Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones.

Palm is in trouble. It’s being reported that the company has hired bankers to explore several options, including a sale of the company. The company is also looking at pursuing additional capital or an attempt to reach a licensing agreement for its WebOS phone operating system software. The potential asking price for Palm would be more than $1 billion because of the deep portfolio of patents. We reported a few weeks ago that Palm shipped a total of 960,000 smartphones in the February quarter, but only 408,000 of those went to consumers. HTC is one company looking at purchasing the company.

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PODCAST SPONSORS: The Digital Zone is sponsored by Amazon.com. Buy thousands of tech products at great prices and get free shipping on most of them. Go to PatrickWiscombe.com and click the links on the right side of the homepage.

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Microsoft announced their new ‘Kin’ phones, a design they came up with on their own and it comes six months before it rolls out its new Windows software for phones made by HTC. Called the Kin One and Kin Two, they’re being built by Sharp and will be sold by Verizon. The new phones are aimed at the 15 – 25 crowd and will focus on combining feeds from Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Both of the new Kin phones have a touch screen, slide-out keyboard and camera. Kin One is smaller, designed to be used with only one hand, while Kin Two has a larger screen and keyboard, more memory and can record high-definition video. The phones incorporate Microsoft’s Zune digital music player and FM radio and almost everything on the phone is stored by Microsoft in remote servers and accessible via the Internet from any Web browser called the Kin Studio. Kin automatically backs up text messages, call history, photos, videos and contacts, in an attempt to soothe fears of data loss that happened last October with their Sidekick phones.

Twitter announced it is introducing advertising by allowing companies to pay to have their messages show up first in searches on its site. The service will be called “Promoted Tweets.” Twitter invited Virgin America to test the concept and won’t pay anything for its promotional messages. Best Buy, Sony Pictures and Starbucks are among the other companies using Promoted Tweets. The ads will be rolled out gradually, with fewer than 10 percent of Twitter’s users likely to see them. The company says the ads should be appearing in all relevant searches within the next few days. About 69 million people worldwide used Twitter.com last month, up from roughly 4 million at the end of 2008, according to comScore. Twitter is making some money by providing Google and Microsoft with access to messages for their search engines. The promoted tweets will appear on top of Twitter search results…basically pay per click marketing. If the “Promoted Tweets” don’t resonate with users, they’ll be taken down immediately.

New research says that changing your password is a big waste of time, according to a Boston Globe report. Microsoft studied how effectively frequent password changes thwart cyberattacks, and found that the advice generally doesn’t make much sense, since someone who obtains your password will use it immediately and not sit on it for weeks until you have a chance to change it. However, the study concludes changing your password isn’t harmful, either, unless you use overly short or obvious passwords or you’re sloppy about how you remember them. According to the Microsoft researcher’s very rough calculations: To be economically justifiable, each minute per day that computer users spend on changing passwords (or on any security measure) should yield $16 billion in annual savings from averted harm. No one can cite a real statistic on password changes’ averted losses.

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PODCAST SPONSORS: The Digital Zone is sponsored by Amazon.com. Buy thousands of tech products at great prices and get free shipping on most of them. Go to PatrickWiscombe.com and click the links on the right side of the homepage.

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