10 Tech Industry Questions Simmering In July


Sometimes technology vendors make strategic moves that create more questions than they answer. From Microsoft's foray into tablet hardware to Google and Asus teaming up on an Android tablet to Cisco's latest executive reshuffle, CRN looks at 10 recent technology stories and the questions that will still be simmering in the minds of the channel this month.

Why Does Facebook Keep Making Under-The-Radar Changes?

Facebook has, in its brief history, made many changes to its terms of service that have upset users. Facebook’s most recent incident involved changing all of its users' default email addresses to @facebook.com, without telling them first (unless one counts the vague announcement Facebook made two months ago about making its site more consistent).

Which begs the question: If Facebook knows users will probably get upset by sudden changes, why do they keep doing this? Whatever the reason, now that Facebook is a publicly traded company, it will have to find new ways of generating revenue to keep shareholders happy, and that means users can expect to see more changes to the service in the future.

Why Should We Care About Google Glass?

Google gave a couple of rather flashy demonstrations of its Project Glass, its new image capturing and sharing technology, at its I/O conference this week.

Skydivers, sporting futuristic glasses made with Google Glass captured everything they saw on video and transmitted it through a live feed for everyone to watch as they jumped out of a blimp and landed on the roof of San Francisco's Moscone Center. They then passed the video feed on to bikers waiting on the roof, who, sporting their own glasses, then rode down the street and joined Google co-founder Sergey Brin on-stage.

Google Glass is a step into a futuristic world, but it has already sparked some privacy concerns that could arise from strangers recording and posting videos of each other online. Prototypes will be available to U.S.-based developers early next year for $1,500.

How Can VARs Protect Customers From Banking Malware?

Guardian Analytics and McAfee’s report on the new global business banking malware is startling, especially considering the level of insider knowledge required to pull off these higher-level scams. Security vendors have already acted by targeting the malware, which can be blocked or identified through a scan; however, solution providers can take certain preventative measures to protect their customers against an attack by conducting health checks and configurations to ensure their customers are safe.

How Much Benefit Will Partners See As Oracle Opens More Accounts To The Channel?

For many years, Oracle has held a large Rolodex of accounts it reserved for its direct sales force, but it is now opening many of those accounts up to channel partners. Oracle unveiled the change last month at its PartnerNetwork Kickoff event.

Oracle hasn’t said exactly how many of its approximately 2,000 private accounts it has opened up to the channel so far, or how many it plans to, but one thing is clear: Oracle listened to its partners and gave them what they were asking for.

When Will Intel's Thunderbolt Go Mainstream?

Intel’s Thunderbolt, a data transfer technology released last year, made headlines again recently when Apple doubled the number of Thunderbolt ports on its new Macbook Pro. Thunderbolt also made a splash in the ultrabook market at the end of June as part of Acer's Windows-powered Aspire S5 ultrabook launch.

While Thunderbolt is making strides, it is still expensive, and experts believe this could slow its adoption as a mainstream technology.

What's With All The Executive Level Changes At Cisco?

Cisco recently disclosed several key changes to its executive team that will shift more power to the company's top technology executives. Cisco’s chief strategist and M&A expert, Ned Hooper, is leaving the company, and senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group, Barry O’Sullivan, is leaving that role but staying with the company as an advisor.

Cisco commonly makes major executive changes near the close of its fiscal year, which ends on July 31. Other recent changes include the move of Edzard Overbeek, who is taking over Cisco's global services organization, and the promotion of Bruce Klein to succeed Keith Goodwin as head of Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization.

That's a lot of changes for partners to absorb.

Why Did Microsoft Pay Such A Hefty Price Tag For Yammer?

$1.2 billion may seem like a lot to pay for a Facebook-like social networking site for businesses. In today’s competitive market, however, Microsoft is looking to make its presence felt in the social media market, since companies like Cisco and Oracle have already done so. Yammer is anticipated to fill gaps in Microsoft’s existing collaboration software, SharePoint, which was created in 2001 in a pre-cloud computing and social networking world. In the end, Yammer cost a lot less than the $8.5 billion Microsoft paid for Skype, and time will tell if it was a step in the right direction for the company.

Why Is Apple Suddenly Paying More Attention To Security?

Apple's creativity and ingenuity have helped its brand to achieve a high level of consumer loyalty. However, as Apple's Mac and iOS market share grows, its products are becoming more of a target for hackers. Against that backdrop, Apple is planning to attend this year’s Black Hat security conference for the first time in company history. Apple also quietly removed Windows security comparisons from its site last month

Who Is Google Targeting With Its Nexus 7 Tablet?

With several tablets and e-readers already on the market, Google's Nexus 7 Android tablet is not a revolutionary offering. There is some debate about Google’s intended target, but the product’s specs -- and its $199 price tag -- suggest that it will compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The Nexus 7 probably won’t keep Apple up at night, but the price could cause Amazon to shift its focus from targeting Apple to stifling Google.

Will Microsoft's Surface Gamble Pay Off?

Possible alienation of its OEM partners is a risk Microsoft apparently wasn't afraid to take as it unveiled plans for its Surface tablet last month. Microsoft's decision to make its own tablet is being interpreted in some circles as a sign of its impatience with the hardware its OEM partners have been producing.

When word of the new Surface tablet hit the Twittersphere, some users suggested that Microsoft pursued making its own hardware because it had a different vision than its partners. Acer reportedly said last week that Microsoft’s Surface tablet wouldn't succeed against Apple's iPad, and that in order for it to take on Apple as a serious competitor, Microsoft would have to change the image of its brand.

Oliver Ahrens, Acer's senior vice president and president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, recently cast doubt on Microsoft's prospects for Surface, telling Reuters, "I don't think it will be successful because you cannot be a hardware player with two products."

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