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April 30th, 2013
07:24 AM ET

iTunes at 10: the cracks are showing

Wait, the iTunes Store is 10 years old?

It's true, the digital media store was launched a decade ago this week - on April 28, 2003.

These days, it sells TV shows, movies, apps and books. But back then, it only sold music and marked a sea change for the recording industry.

iTunes became the largest music retailer on the planet by 2010. According to NPD, iTunes is currently responsible for 63% of all digital music sales - putting it well ahead of rivals like Amazon and Google.

The iTunes music store may still be the leader of the digital music arena but according to Nilay Patel, Managing Editor of The Verge, the cracks are starting to show.

The business model has hardly changed over ten years and a number of music streaming and subscription options are out there, grabbing the attention of a younger demographic.

After a decade of success, can Apple continue its dominance in digital music?

With competition coming from Pandora, Spotify and others that stream music online, Patel says, "iTunes itself needs to change to become a more Internet-centric service."

Apple is starting to move in that direction. But there's no time to lose.

April 19th, 2013
01:27 PM ET

Watching #BostonMarathon unfold online

The manhunt is ongoing.

Officers in Boston are going door to door, searching for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing. He is at large and believed to be armed and dangerous. The first suspect is dead. Residents in the area have been urged to stay indoors.

This dramatic turn of events took place shortly after the FBI released to the public additional photos and videos of the suspects at the site of the blasts that killed three people and wounded 180 people.

What role did social media play in tracking down the suspects? To what degree was the FBI investigation crowdsourced? And what have we learned about the suspects from their own digital footprints on various social media channels?

Earlier this week on News Stream, I talked to our regular contributor and NewYorker.com editor Nicholas Thompson about the role technology and social media has played - from disaster communications to offering help to the victims to communing during a time of senseless tragedy.

But given events in the last few hours, it's a conversation that begs to be revisited.

April 12th, 2013
02:27 PM ET

PC sales down but not out

You've seen the report by now. Research firm IDC says global shipments of PCs fell 14% last quarter - nearly twice as bad as expected.

The report says consumers are putting their money on mobile devices instead, adding that the sector is at "a critical crossroads."

OK. PC sales are declining, but is the PC really going away?

Regular News Stream contributor Nicholas Thompson, editor of the NewYorker.com, is a defender of this technology in decline.

He points out that PC sales will still outnumber tablet sales in the next two years and that, paradoxically, one of the reasons why PC sales are declining is that they simply last longer.

"In 5 years, when we fully enter the mobile era, there will be many of us with desktops," says Thompson.

Call me a PC-hugger. I plan to be one of them.

April 11th, 2013
02:03 PM ET

Will people flip to make their own magazines?

Want to be a magazine publisher? There's an app for that.

Popular news aggregator Flipboard has launched a new version with a "curation" feature that allows anyone to run their own magazine inside the app.

Sounds cool. But why would an average joe with a smartphone want to do that?

"A lot of people have a lot to say. There is a desire to curate and organize content," says Flipboard co-creator and CEO Mike McCue.

"They don't want to create a blog, it's too technical. This gives them a very easy way to do that."

McCue says there have been "hundreds of thousands" of magazines created so far by Flipboard readers around the world on topics ranging from profesional equestrian sport to the latest research in cancer genetics.

It's a development that's prompted one media commentator to call it a major threat to established publishers akin to "a giant iceberg lurking in the path of the media."

But McCue insists he wants high quality journalism and content to thrive online, adding that "the future has never been brighter for publishers."

The Flipboard chief says the company works with over a thousand different publishers to help them reach a new generation of readers on mobile devices to "take their media operations into a new realm."

But could the smartphone-wielding news junkie supplant the publisher in both news creation and spinning money from the business?

"We are thinking about how to let individuals, the people who are curating magazines, to be able to generate revenue," admits McCue.

"But the first priority is to enable publishers whose content can get curated inside these magazines to get revenues. That's priority one, and then we will look at how individual readers can participate in that economic scenario."

Traditional media execs, you have been warned.

March 26th, 2013
02:25 PM ET

Yahoo pays a large sum for Summly

Yahoo was already around two years old by the time app developer Nick D'Aloisio was born. Now the Internet giant is paying the teen millions of dollars to acquire his mobile start-up, Summly.

Neither side has released details of the deal. But we do know the 17-year-old will go to work for Yahoo... while still doing homework.

D'Aloisio tells News Stream, "I’ll be focusing on other projects on the side as well as finishing my A-level exams. But I’m really going to be focusing on integrating summarization technology at the heart of Yahoo’s mobile solution. These summaries that we provide make it a lot easier for users to consume content and information when they’re on their mobile screen. So it’s really exciting to be working with Yahoo and Marissa Mayer on this."

But this deal is notable for much more than D'Aloisio's age. It tells us that Yahoo's Marissa Mayer is interested in making Yahoo relevant for the mobile space.

A string of CEOs before her have tried and failed to figure out what Yahoo does. Mayer has made many internal changes since taking the helm. But her broader vision for the company still remains to be seen.

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March 20th, 2013
01:20 PM ET

Witness to a cyber takedown

South Korea has been on heightened alert after a suspected cyber attack on major media outlets and banks.

But what is it like to experience a computer outage that may in fact be a cyber attack?

I talked to Seoul resident and KBS employee Luke Cleary about the massive computer outage in South Korea.

Cleary was among the first to tweet a screengrab of what the outage looked like.

"First I thought it was just my computer, and slowly we started to realize other people in the office were being affected as well," says Cleary.

March 12th, 2013
01:04 PM ET

How data stopped SARS

10 years on, SARS survivor Cathy Kong is still haunted by the outbreak.

Outside the Amoy Gardens housing estate, her former home and site of the biggest community outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong, Cathy tells me how she used her willpower to cast the virus away.

“I talked to the virus,” she tells me. “I talked to the disease: ‘go away, go away.”

The SARS outbreak killed 780 people and infected over 8,000 more. It crossed borders and triggered an international health scare.

A decade ago this week, the World Health Organization first named SARS - the deadly virus that would infect 29 countries before it was finally contained four months later.

And, looking back, what was the most indispensable tool that ended the outbreak?

According to Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, WHO Director of Global Capacities Alert and Response, it was data.

FULL POST

February 28th, 2013
02:17 PM ET

Making a call on what’s next in mobile

Inevitably, I met a booth babe with a t-shirt that read, “Call Me Maybe.”

I’m at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona - home of fine food, football and phones with the biggest mobile industry gathering of the year.

Why am I here? Our world is changing fast. We are at a critical inflection point as desktop computing shifts to mobile, and smart mobile devices become more and more ubiquitous. We are ushering in a new digital era where everyone will be on the move and always connected.

The change is happening so fast, blink and you may miss it. It’s already challenging the authority of established computing giants like Microsoft and pre-smartphone era stalwarts like Nokia.

Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE are chipping away at the authority of BlackBerry. Open-source operating systems are emerging as players in the race for mobile OS supremacy. Messaging apps like WhatsApp are stealing revenues away from network providers.

So I’m here to determine what’s happening and try to anticipate what’s next before reality slams me in the face.

So, here goes. These are the three top emerging mobile trends I’ve picked up here in Barcelona:

FULL POST

February 28th, 2013
08:25 AM ET

Day 3 at MWC

Most top tech brand showcase their latest products at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Of course, one big name is missing. Apple never attends shows like this.

And it feels like other companies are starting to follow suit.

The Verge's David Pierce says it feels like Samsung is starting to pull away. He notes that the Galaxy S4 will come out in two weeks in New York, though it did announce the Galaxy Note 8 in Barcelona. HTC unveiled its flagship phone last week. Google executives are in attendance, but the company does not have booth and announced its new Chromebook last week. And Pierce feels Nokia fell flat, failing to announce anything big.

So is the Mobile World Congress going the way of Las Vegas's Consumer Electronics Show?

Pierce says, ""There's a lot here but it seems like a show like this, and even CES, they're becoming traditional trade shows again where it's industry people coming to getting to know each other and make deals. There's a putting green upstairs just for making deals. It seems like, in a sense of big consumer show where we see the really exciting stuff, it's starting to slow or at least lull."

And there are many movers-and-shakers at MWC. Check out our Day 3 highlights below:

Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley

PayPal President David Marcus

BlackBerry's Vivek Bhardwaj, the man behind BB10 OS

Plus, a fun look at how FC Barcelona reaches its fans through apps!

February 27th, 2013
10:10 AM ET

Day 2 at MWC

As you might imagine, mobile phones are front and center at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. We've already highlighted Nokia's big push with cheaper phones.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop also hinted the company is looking to launch a tablet. He told Kristie Lu Stout, "We're considering what's the right way to enter, if we were to enter. How do we differentiate in that market. How do we as confidently stand up with a tablet as we do with the Lumia smartphones. We want to make sure we understand all of that."

Three of the biggest new products at the show this year are tablets. They are the latest offerings from Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and Sony.

HP is back in the tablet market with the 7-inch Slate 7. But CNNMoney's Adrian Covert says, "(It) is not a premium-grade tablet, nor a remarkably cheap device."

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 takes aim at Apple's iPad Mini. Covert calls the Galaxy Note 8 "fast and speedy." But he notes that while 8 inches is small for a tablet, it's huge for a phone. It is still  unclear if the phone-enabled version will be sold in the U.S.

Covert says Sony's Xperia Tablet Z could be the best tablet at the Mobile World Congress. And at 10.1 inches, it is also one of the biggest.

Among our other Day 2 highlights:

Discussing the rise of Chinese smartphones

Nvidia's Project SHIELD and its new vision for gaming on the go

Sitting down with Greg Sullivan, Microsoft's Senior Marketing Manager

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