Communications

TR: The Week in Review

The digital camera smart phone is taking off, and companies are scurrying to corner the picture-swapping market…Barry Diller, who still wants a portal, goes shopping for Jeeves…Netizens join the Terry Schiavo watch…and more in The Week in Review.

Whatever Happened to the Polaroid Instamatic?

Last week bore witness to the fact that recent improvements in camera phones and digital cameras – such as the increased megapixel quality and the precipitous price drops – have poised photo management to be a hotbed of competition.

The nation’s two biggest wireless providers, Cingular and Verizon, announced an agreement to roll out services over the next six months that will make it easy for customers swap photos over wireless networks regardless of their phone plan. This cooperative effort is expected to be a major boon in sales for both companies, but they aren’t the only ones taking advantage of people’s desire share snapshots.

The much rumored Yahoo buyout of the photo management/sharing webservice Flickr had finally come to pass. The next day, HP announced that it had bought the similar photo service, Snapfish.

The two companies may have entirely different targets for the services, however. It’s likely that Yahoo will try to integrate Flickr into its upcoming Yahoo! 360 service, which will attempt to unify blogging, instant messaging, search, and various file-sharing tools. It will also probably play into another service rolled out last week, the Yahoo! Creative Commons Search, which lets users find copyrighted pictures and content that can be used for personal or commercial use.

HP is more likely to be focused on capturing more of the digital-developing market by aligning with some of Snapfish’s printing options. HP’s home-photo-printing products are in a price dropping war with Shutterfly.com and Ofoto’s “order prints” services as well as companies like Walmart, Walgreens, and Costco that offer increasingly cheap digital developing.

But for those of you who are just interested in sharing digital art, check out Ourmedia.org.

Doing It to the Butler

Media mogul Barry Diller has added a search functionality – Ask Jeeves –  to his growing collection of online-enabled search tools. Last week, Diller put in a bid to purchase Jeeves, the fourth largest search engine, for $1.9 billion.

If the deal goes through, Jeeves will likely be integrated throughout Diller’s other holdings:  Expedia (travel), Home Shopping Network (shopping), Citysearch (going out) and Ticketmaster (tickets).

The acquisition could mean that Diller’s company InterActiveCorp could become a major player in the continuing battle for the lucrative search-engine-advertising market.

Schiavo…

It doesn’t take much to see that the world has become unhealthily obsessed with the case of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman at the center of a heated political and judicial debate for the last several weeks. The netizens haven’t been immune from the chatter, either.

As this is being written, the woman in a persistent vegetative state is still alive despite having her feeding tube removed ten days ago.

I know this because I downloaded the special Terri Schiavo Status Firefox Plugin (from the makers of the Abe Vigoda Status Plugin), that puts a little box in the corner of my browser displaying the word “alive.” Presumably, it will switch to “dead” when she finally succumbs.

And, if that is a bit too much, there’s the Wikipedia entry that’s seemingly being updated by the hour.

But maybe the most poignant commentary came on Craigslist: “FOR SALE/BARTER: My body in a Persistent Vegetative State–$2.”

In the event of the seller’s slip into brain-deadness, he offered up his “impending unplugging” for political leverage; but, only if it’s for debt relief to impoverished nations, nuclear disarmament and de-escalation, humanitarian foreign policy, or environmentally sensitive policy.

Getting to Know You

In what some would call a bad idea, British smart-phone software maker Symbian has agreed to use synchronization software from Microsoft so that Symbian phones can better link with users’ Outlook applications.

This seems an odd pairing for two reasons.

First, Symbian was actually created by the world’s largest mobile phone makers to keep Microsoft out of the mobile-device market, which is has successfully done so far – although Microsoft’s big push for Windows Mobile 2005 pop up later this year.

Second, Symbian has been the most-targeted mobile device platform for malware. Just last week, there was a sudden charge of Trojan viruses targeting the software.

One of the most obvious advanced attacks for such malware is to use mobile devices as disease vectors into larger networks – infected mobile devices make the perfect backdoor route into otherwise secure systems. One would hope that there will be plenty of precaution built into this upcoming synch system.

VoIP: Can You Hear Me Now?

The good news: VoIP is being so quickly adopted that the markets are surely headed for a price competition.

The bad news: VoIP is a hot new tool for scammers who modify it to fool caller-ID technology.

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