The embarrassment of foreign riches among US tech companies is starting to become conspicuous.
This is not just a reflection of the huge amounts of cash involved. (Apple has nearly $50bn stuffed under mattresses in countries beyond its home base. Like other US companies, it prefers to keep its foreign earnings offshore rather than bring them home and pay tax.)
The more gadgets we accumulate the harder it becomes to remember where we put them and, more often, what we’ve put on them. I remember I took photos of a dogs’ pool party (yes, really) at the weekend on my iPod Touch but the pictures of the last barbecue could be on my Android smartphone or the digital camera – and I may have copied them to my PC or my laptop, or maybe not at all. It is the same story with video, while the songs I buy on Napster and Amazon could be on any number of devices.
Keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy – not my words, but those of Steve Jobs when he unveiled Apple’s iCloud service last week.
Microsoft was in advanced discussions on Monday night about purchasing Skype, the internet telephone company, in what would be one of the US software company’s largest deals so far as it seeks to boost its online operations.
Worldwide shipments of personal computers declined in the first quarter of 2011, contrary to expectations of modest growth, due to competition from tablets, disruptions in Japan, and increased fuel and commodity prices.