technology

I once wrote how the future of driverless cars won’t be one in every home, but one replacing taxis and other car services. Imagine a future where these cars are optimally located around every corner; enough units to match demand, and easily deployable where mismatches occur.

Singapore is the first to take a step into that future in 2015, when they will pilot driverless cars on the road in one of its busiest neighborhoods.

Driverless taxis make a lot of sense for this densely packed city-state. Singapore has long discouraged its citizens to buy cars. A Toyota Corolla that costs $23 thousand in the US, for example, would cost a stunning $136 thousand in Singapore (source). Even then, cars are only allowed to be on the road for 10 years, after which they are scrapped unless you pay another exorbitant tax.

Singapore wants its citizens to use public transport as much as possible and keep congestion out of roads. This is a city-state where a mobile app used to easily hail taxis existed long before Uber became popular.

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Starbucks is not just in the business of coffee and real estate — they are moving into mobile payments and are Apple Pay’s real competitor.

Earlier this week, Starbucks dropped Square for mobile payment in its stores, unwinding the partnership the companies announced in 2012.

Square had made Square Wallet obsolete in favor of its newer Square Order, but Starbucks declined to support either. According to a spokesperson for Starbucks:

Starbucks is not adopting Square Order in our stores. We opted to build our own mobile ordering solution, leveraging our own mobile app and world-class loyalty program.

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I am a little confused by all the hubbub the The Interview movie has generated.

Did the North Korean government really do it? I have no doubt there’s a hacker unit in their intelligence agency — there’s probably one in every agency — but why would you target a movie or a Japanese entertainment studio of all things? I understand The Interview is offensive to North Koreans, but the movie isn’t even out yet so how would they even know just how bad it is.

If I was the head of that agency I’d target something more important. Something that would actually matter to national security and strategy. I wouldn’t expose my country to something as mundane as a movie, and a comedy at that.

I’m also a little confused with Sony. They pulled the movie because theaters didn’t want to show it? Everyone’s talking about this movie; it’s a goldmine with all the publicity it has generated. If I ran a movie theater I’d be falling all over myself to show it.

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There was the PC revolution, than the Internet and now mobile. Tech analysts are falling all over themselves to predict the next great thing, with wearable devices like the smartwatch being the primary candidate.

Maybe the next frontier is not on your wrist but on your butt instead, by which I mean cars.

There’s some impressive tech on the horizon coming soon to cars. There is of course driverless cars, and that’s been covered here before. There’s a ton of cool stuff brewing between now and that future.

The first is this new take on navigation by Jaguar. Forget the traditional map and blue lines. Imagine a blue hologram car that’s just ahead of you, guiding where to go. It’s the future take of how we used to do guidance — by following a buddy.

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In a recent conference keynote, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner said the following:

We’ve got to monetize [Windows] differently. And there are services involved. There are additional opportunities for us to bring additional services to the product and do it in a creative way. And through the course of the summer and spring we’ll be announcing what that business model looks like. At the same time it’s wonderful to see these nine-inch and below devices explode, because that was an area, candidly, I was blocked out and I had no share of what was getting built. So it’s a very fascinating transition for us. And finding new ways to monetize the lifetime of that customer on those devices, again, I would tell you we’re learning, we’re growing, and we’re smarter and wiser every day.

The key language is “finding new ways to monetize the lifetime of that customer,” which is another way of saying that they’re shifting from a product-centric view to a customer-centric one. It doesn’t have to be Windows per se necessarily.

Many have interpreted that to mean the base OS might be free, and that Microsoft will earn via subscription or freemium. While the Redmond company will likely continue to charge enterprises and computer manufacturers, Windows and all its updates should absolutely be free to consumers. It probably will.

Although it may not look like it, Microsoft has actually been dealing with monetization questions for a long time. Back when Windows was a monopoly, it was difficult for Microsoft to add features to Windows without incurring anti-monopoly wrath. Security was one such example – the likes of Norton and McAfee lobbied hard behind the scenes to keep built-in security out of Windows.

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One of my biggest learning from writing this blog is the power Google wields. Building a following that is loyal and reads whatever you write is incredibly hard; much easier to appeal to the Google gods to send traffic your way.

I understand this, and I’m writing a rinky-dink blog.

The newspaper publishing industry in Spain doesn’t, so they lobbied the government to enact a law so newspapers can charge Google every time snippets appear on Google News. This wouldn’t just apply to Google News but to all other news aggregators too like feecha.

Google responded the way I would’ve and called their bluff — by pulling Google News out of Spain and excluding Spain-based newspapers from Google News.

Here’s the industry’s response:

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Chromebooks are finally getting serious about penetrating the mass market. No, it’s not better offline capabilities, though that would help greatly. And no, Minecraft is not making an appearance any time soon.

Chromebooks are getting serious because finally, Acer is releasing a 15.6-inch version of its Chromebook, supposedly on March 2015.

Months ago, I wrote about how the most popular computing device of the future will be a 15-inch tablet weighing less than 1.5 pounds with a keyboard accessory. While we are a good three to five years away from that getting there, the rationale is that the 15-inch display size is actually the most popular category of laptops.

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