August is traditionally a slow month for technology news. It’s too early to begin the announcements for the 4th quarter holiday season, but too late for the back-to-school announcements. Generally speaking, there’s just not a lot to talk about in technology in August.
Well, this year shot that theory out of the sky. This has been one of the strangest months for technology news in recent memory, and in case you don’t keep up with it like I do, here’s the three things you should know that happened in the last 3 weeks.
In a move clearly designed to attempt to move Android forward, Google spends 12.5 billion dollars for Motorola Mobility, the company responsible for manufacturing the Droid line of Android phones and the Xoom tablet. This is the first time that Google has entered the hardware space, and put some doubt into what other hardware makers should expect from Google moving forward. In the past, the three big Android handset makers (HTC, Samsung, Motorola) were all competing to produce the best hardware that would run Android. Now HTC and Samsung have to believe that they will be second fiddle to Motorola in development and in how tightly Android can be tied to their hardware.
Why does this matter to libraries? As libraries increasingly begin experimenting with tablets and mobile devices, we need to be aware of what’s coming. This move can only improve the likelihood that the next Android device that you should be buying is a Motorola.
It came as a surprise that HP announced their decision to kill off their WebOS devision, although WebOS phones have been struggling, the Touchpad tablet wasn’t even 2 months old. Since the announcement, HP has softened the language somewhat to say that they are just getting out of the hardware game, and would be open to licensing WebOS to interested parties. This massive shift in focus has led to HP selling more Touchpads than ever, by dropping the price to $99 (down from $499) and clearancing them like crazy.
Why should libraries care? Because at $99, I would expect to see a lot of patrons carrying these things around in the next few months. At least, a lot more than we saw before the price drop. The much larger story is that HP is selling off their computing group. HP is the largest personal computer company by sales in the world, larger than Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and everyone else. When the largest computer company in the world decides to stop selling computers, ostensibly because they can no longer make an appropriate profit in that realm, there is a major problem somewhere in the market. If your library primarily buys from HP when it comes to desktop systems, you’re going to be looking for another vendor very soon.
In the typical Apple style, no one else can compete with the news out of Cupertino. This was the week that a lot of Apple faithful heard the news they’d been dreading for years....Steve Jobs has resigned as the CEO of Apple. Tim Cook, former COO of Apple, has been named as the new CEO, while Jobs will stay on as Chairman of the Board and Apple Employee. This is the second time in the history of Apple that Jobs hasn’t been CEO, and the first didn’t go well. For a decade between the mid-1980’s and 90’s, Jobs wasn’t at Apple, after being forced out by the Board of Directors. By 1997, with Apple’s stock at an all-time low, Apple decided to bring Steve back as interim CEO, and he turned the company into the behemoth that it is today.
I’ve been called an Apple fanboy, and in some ways I am. But even if you hate Apple, you can’t question how important Steve Jobs has been to the technology industry. He helped launch the first personal computer, the first computer with a mouse-based GUI interface, and when he was forced out of his own company he went and helped create the most award-winning and profitable movie studio in the world: Pixar. The iPod, the iMac, the iPhone, the iPad; all changed the world in a different way, and it would be difficult to find an individual who helped shape the technological world we live in more directly than Steve Jobs. Here’s hoping that his largest creation, Apple itself (depending on the day, the largest company in the world by market cap), maintains the course he’s set for it.