Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.
The curtain came down on the International Consumer Electronic Show on Friday, bringing an end to the largest event in its history. As expected, the Las Vegas show was filled with TVs, smartphones and computers. But despite the acres of print and online space given to covering the show, there has been no shortage of tech commentators questioning its continued relevance. Read more
Aaron Swartz, a computer programmer and ardent internet activist who played a key role opposing 2011 anti-piracy legislation, was found dead on Friday at age 26.
His family confirmed that he hanged himself in his apartment in Brooklyn, New York.
Friends and fans of Mr Swartz’ work flooded social media feeds and web sites over the weekend with grief-stricken tributes to a coder they considered a “genius” and a “hero”. Many offered lengthy defences of his activist work to make legal and academic documents available for free online – work that garnered the attention of government prosecutors and led to criminal charges still outstanding at the time of his death. Read more
What it is: ION’s second-generation point-of-view action camera, the Air Pro 2
Key points: 14Mp sensor, 180-degree lens and the addition of a microphone in-jack are the main improvements to the Air Pro, which retains its basic design and features, such as vibrating when it is turned on and its body being watertight, obviating the need for an extra waterproof case. Read more
What it is: The PowerShot N - a point-and-shoot camera from Canon with a radical new design.
Key points: Very compact and lightweight with an 8x optical zoom, 12.1Mp sensor, 28mm wide-angle lens, tilt-touch LCD panel and Full HD video capability. The unusual feature is two rings on the lens are used for operating the shutter and the zoom. The camera’s Creative Shot mode analyses a photo taken and offers you five different versions of it, using various filters, crops and focuses. A “mobile device connect” button activates Wi-Fi, turning it into a hotspot and allowing a mobile device such as a tablet or laptop to connect to it and download photos. An app is available. Read more
What it is: Cambridge Consultants, the product development company that helped create the first round tea bag, has come up with a prototype pod-based tea maker called the Tê.
Key points: Hot water is drawn into a brewing chamber where a pod containing tea has been placed on a spindle and will begin to spin, pulling water in, mixing it with the tea leaves and then forcing it out through small holes in the side of the pod. (See video below) This dispenses an excellent cup of tea in just two minutes. Read more
There are few greater indignities for a tech company than to be sought out by investors chasing dividend yield. The industry was founded on growth: yield is for old-economy investors who can’t stomach the risk of investing in the next big growth markets.
So spare a thought for the PC world, which in remarkably short order has become the tech world’s high-yield haven. After years of talk about a post-PC future, the alarms are now sounding loudly: rather than growth, accelerating decline is assumed in Wall Street’s forecasts. Read more
Samsung has been at the International Consumer Electronics Show in force this week, but despite its massive booth, 64th-floor parties and flashy press conference, perhaps its most interesting event happened on the sidelines.
Two dozen reporters crammed in to a small meeting room on Tuesday afternoon to quiz a panel of Samsung’s top designers from Seoul.
Their appearance at CES follows Samsung’s $1bn defeat in patent litigation against Apple last summer, where a jury found nearly all of the accused Samsung smartphones to have infringed Apple’s iPhone designs.
This was never addressed directly; instead, the event was focused on Samsung’s new “design identity 3.0”, which aims to “make it meaningful” – and on driving home the Korean giant’s designer credentials. Read more
The Pebble smart watch, which raised a record $10m on Kickstarter last spring, will finally start shipping later this month after months of delays – albeit with a few missing features.
The device is one of several smart watches on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, including the voice-controlled Martian Watch, another Kickstarter project. Read more
Getty Images, the world’s largest supplier of stock photos, has formed partnerships with two start-ups that help publishers transform online images into interactive adverts and virtual shopfronts.
The deals mark a big step forward for a new, highly-targeted form of advertising that Getty expects will become a significant source of revenues for news and magazine publishers. Read more
Aereo is not sitting around waiting for a judge to decide its fate. The digital video service that might disrupt traditional television economics if it can get through a legal thicket thrown up by those most wedded to traditional TV economics is going for growth.
Chet Kanojia’s start-up, which last year began offering streams of high-definition broadcast TV signals to devices from smartphones to tablets, plans to expand from New York City to 22 new markets, having secured $38m in a series B financing round, led by Barry Diller’s IAC and Highland Capital Partners. Read more
Surging mobile sales drove earnings at Samsung Electronics to another record, despite competition from Apple’s iPhone 5. The FT’s Simon Mundy reports from Seoul on how Samsung beat analysts’ forecasts and how the company is positioned.
Sony is calling its new smartphone, launched at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a ‘super phone’, winding the clock back to the time of super models, super cars and when the Japanese group ruled the high-end electronics market. Daniel Thomas, telecoms correspondent, says the device is grown-up but far from revolutionary.
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer made a surprise appearance at Qualcomm’s opening keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday night alongside Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs.
With Microsoft a CES keynote staple for many years, the moment was choreographed as a symbolic passing of the torch to Qualcomm which – as the two chiefs chimed in unison – was “born mobile”. Read more
Sony has announced new TVs, content and distribution services for the Ultra HD standard it refers to as 4K, where screens have four times the number of pixels as the current Full HD standard.
At its press conference at the International CES consumer electronics show here in Las Vegas on Monday, it also showed a prototype TV where 4K was combined with another hot technology – OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes) – although the demonstration failed. Read more