Showtime is removing its newest shows from Netflix’s instant watch library. Instead, it will run its own video streaming service where you can find past seasons of current shows, a move that other networks have already started. Netflix will still maintain the right to stream Showtime’s canceled shows. In other news, textbook publishers are investing in a company called Inkling that specializes in producing interactive e-Textbooks for the iPad. Digital textbook sales have not caught on, but new interactive content and the popularity of the iPad have publishers betting that the numbers will soon change. And finally, a recent survey shows that 9% of U.S. Internet users still download illegal content using peer-to-peer file transferring. Most users only download a few songs and the shut down of programs like LimeWire has contributed to the decrease. While P2P use is down, illegal streaming of music and movies has skyrocketed.
Amazon.com officially launched its app store for Google Android devices. By creating its own marketplace, Amazon can choose which apps make it to the store and better eliminate malicious programs. Developers might not me too happy though—Amazon will set the prices for the apps based on driving demand. In other news, Sprint already plans on appealing to Congress in order to stop AT&T’s $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile. Within the same day as AT&T’s announcement, Sprint’s shares dropped a staggering 14 percent. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse stated that the takeover would stifle innovation and give AT&T a competitive stranglehold. And finally, Research in Motion announced that its long-awaiting tablet PC the PlayBook will hit store shelves starting April 19th. With the BlackBerry’s waning popularity, RIM hopes its tablet can bring back some customers. The PlayBook will cost you between $500-$700 and Best Buy has already begun taking pre-orders.
Google claims that the Chinese government is interfering with Gmail’s service within the country. The block implicates Google’s servers and is set up to look like the problem comes from Gmail itself. Chinese authorities have been attacking Google since it refused to censor its search engine. In other news, Bill Gates is venturing into education reform, donating $290 million to select school districts. The money will be used to oversee a new personnel system that would reward teachers based on their performance. Gates said that improvements would require working closely with teacher unions and making more targeted investments. And finally, a recent report revealed that the earthquake in Japan put a halt to nearly 25% of the world’s semiconductor wafer production. This material is responsible for making flash memory and DRAM that you can find in any personal computer. The overall impact shouldn’t be enough to drastically hinder future production.
AT&T announced that it plans on purchasing T-Mobile for $39 billion. The deal would make AT&T the United States’ largest cellular carrier and only provider of GSM phones. If approved by the government, the acquisition would allow AT&T to upgrade much if its network and make 4G speeds available nationwide sooner. In other news, ICANN voted to allow for the creation of the .XXX domain name suffix. Over 100 governments objected to the resolution and its passing reflects ICANN’s tradition of government independence. Fees will be collected from .XXX registrations to fund efforts to keep children away from online pornography. And finally, Microsoft recently put an end to the Rustock spam bot that was responsible for nearly 50% of the world’s spam as of 2010. A series of 5 server centers and the hijacking of a million machines allowed the bot to anonymously send spam from users’ computers.
The New York Times will begin charging users for any content beyond 20 articles a month. To view all of its content it costs $35 a month for the All Digital Access pass. A pay wall has been a long time coming and will officially launch at the end of this month. In other news, the United States Air Force is using special software to manage phony identities on popular social media websites. When questioned about it, they replied that it’s for collecting data outside of the United States and that the technique isn’t new—the platform is. Even spying has gone social. And finally, Canadian researchers have found a way to use remote-controlled nanoparticles to fight cancerous cells. Doctors can guide the magnetic nanoparticles through arteries using a remote control and target cancerous tissue. Nanotechnology is becoming an increasingly popular and powerful technique for cancer-fighting research.
The Obama administration is pressuring Congress to pass a “privacy bill of rights” to protect users from being targeted online. The rules would expand the Federal Trade Commission’s power to enforce a do-not-track tool that would prevent companies from gathering data unless you give them the right to. In other news, Facebook’s possible IPO has investors clamoring for shares. People are so eager to invest that some are getting scammed by fake offers to buy shares in the company. Pre-IPO scams are nothing new, but are becoming even more of a problem with the surge of tech startups. And finally, Google is looking to help out U.S. non-profits by offering upwards of $10,000 a month in free AdWords advertising. Google’s Nonprofit Marketplace will serve as a network for organizations to reach professional service providers at a discount. A one-stop application will make you eligible for all the perks.
According to recent research data, Netflix is delivering 61% of all digital video being streamed online. Competitors like Amazon are falling behind due to Netflix’s strategy of saturating the set-top box market. Netflix’s large collection of movies and stranglehold on the market will make it tough to topple its lead. In other news, HarperCollins Publishers will now restrict how many times a library can rent out an eBook. Public libraries have been receiving an overwhelming amount of demand for eBooks and the new rules would cost them much more. The eBooks only last 26 rentals before it needs to be rebought. And finally, Chicago is the first city to let citizens send photos and videos to 911 via cellphones. So far, most pictures being sent in are showing damage from a crime scene or accident. But, if snapping a photo puts you in harms way, stick to the phone call.
Facebook is planning a service that will challenge group-buying sites like Groupon.com. The program is part of Facebook Deals where users can share discounted offers from solicited retailers. The online coupon market made nearly $900 million last year and Facebook hopes to cash-in on the success. In other news, the recent earthquake in Japan has damaged the large underwater cables that provide Internet access to Asia. Half the cables are damaged, but the system between Japan and the U.S. remains unscathed. Damage to undersea fiber-optic cables is an out-of-sight problem much larger than most realize. And finally, AT&T is going to put a 150GB data cap on its DSL customers. It will cost $10 for each 50GB over the cap and is designed to affect the 2% of data-hogging customers. The cap is to ease bandwidth congestion, but some analysts think it’s purely a move for more profit.
In wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that recently hit Japan, tech giants are doing all they can to bring support to the region. Google and Microsoft have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars and Twitter is readying multiple sources for news and communication. To get involved with relief efforts visit redcross.org. In other news, engineers are using wireless systems to monitor infrastructure. South Korea’s Jindo Bridge has over 600 sensors that alert engineers via email when a structural problem arises. The technology is becoming more widespread and although it doesn’t replace human inspection, it can help reduce costs and prevent accidents. And finally, the Department of Justice has ruled to allow government access to WikiLeaks related Twitter accounts. The court order will give access to any associated IP and email addresses, including the account of an Icelandic parliament member who helped release a classified US military video.