7-days

Weekly Tech Round Up: An Apple Product Release, Blackberry Outage and More!

In  the world of technology, things change in an instant. A lot can happen in seven days, and the last week was no different. This new column will be rounding up all the top tech news that happened in the past week. In today’s update, you’ll get the latest news on Apple, Blackberry, Sony, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Zynga, Netflix and Oracle.

Apple, iPhone 4S and iOS5

Starting October 12, the iPhone 4S was available at Apple stores and existing Apple product owners could update to iOS5. As expected, the ritual of crowds camping outside Apple stores a full night before  a launch continued this year. All Things D reported that carriers (Verizon, Sprint and AT&T) saw record sales in those two days. But, the launch of the iPhone 4S and iOS5 was not smooth. The huge demand for the iPhone 4S led to an overload of AT&T’s servers and iPhone 4 owners faced errors while upgrading to iOS5.

Samsung and Apple have been competing with each other over their mobile products in the market and in court. The past week was quite interesting as Samsung Australia set up a temporary shop next to the Apple store in Sydney to sell their latest Android phone, the Galaxy S II, for 2 hours before the iPhone 4S went on sale. While the move contributed to Samsung’s sales and garnered attention, an Australian court sided with Apple and has issued a temporary ban on Samsung’s Android-based tablet computers.

The reviews for iPhone 4S have been positive with Siri getting lots of love. The artificial intelligence in iPhone 4S is amusing and provides quite a bit of entertainment. The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky shared some of Siri’s intellectual responses.

Also, Bloomberg has an excellent profile of Scott Forstall, the man in charge of iOS5, and his role at Apple in a post-Jobs era.

Dennis Ritchie, 1941-2011

As if Steve Jobs’s untimely death wasn’t enough of a blow to the tech world, last week we lost another stalwart. Dennis Ritchie  is responsible for two technologies that define today’s IT world. He developed the C language and the Unix kernel. In many ways his contribution is what led to much of today’s technology, including the iPhone. Working at Bell Labs, Ritchie co-authored the famous book titled The C Programming Language.

BlackBerry service outage

Troubled mobile company RIM went through testing times last week as their BlackBerry services blacked out across the world. BlackBerry users were unable to surf the web, use BBM or email for a couple of days. In many ways this was indeed the worst time for BlackBerry to go down as Apple launched the iPhone 4S. The global outage led to RIM scrambling for a solution and their founder, Mike Lazaridis, issued an apology when the services were fully restored.

Sony’s PlayStation Network compromised… again

Hacker groups have been targeting Sony for quite a few months now. Back in April, the PlayStation Network was hit and affected for a few weeks. In reports that surfaced last week, 93,000 accounts were compromised after hackers attacked the PlayStation Network. Sony’s Information Security Chief issued an explanation on the company blog explaining the situation. According to Sony, 93,000 PSN accounts amount to 0.1% of their online users and passwords for these accounts have been reset to avoid further damage.

Google’s 3rd quarter better than expected, they kill some products and create a new language

Google Buzz was expected to take the social networking world by storm and change how we communicate. Merging instant messaging, email and sharing content, Google created a lot of buzz around Google Buzz. Unfortunately for Google, the product didn’t succeed and was a buzz kill. In an announcement last week, Google said they will be killing Buzz, Jaiku, Code Search and the University Research program for Google Search will be shut down in the coming months. Google plans to focus on Google+ as their social product and divert resources from Buzz to Plus.

(Side note: A Google employee’s internal rant about Google+ was accidentally made public. It’s a good read about platforms and Amazon.)

Google announced their third quarter results on the 13th and shared some interesting numbers about Android. The company’s numbers beat Wall Street expectations with the company reporting $9.72 Billion in revenue ($6.74 billion of this came from Google owned websites). CEO Larry Page said 190 million Android devices have been activated worldwide.

Google also announced a new web programming language called Dart. As explained in their blog post, Dart is for structured web programming and an alternative to JavaScript. Dartlang.org is the one-stop shop for technical details, tools and discussion on the new language.

Microsoft and Skype

Microsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype was finalized last week. Skype is now a division under Microsoft and the two companies hope to see Skype being integrated into Microsoft’s consumer and enterprise products over the next year. In a recent Skype update, the bundled Google Toolbar has been (rightly) removed.

Congress asks Amazon to answer privacy concerns over Silk 

During the unveiling of the new Kindle, Jeff Bezos also introduced a new browser from Amazon called Silk that can predict what you might click based on other user’s behavior. The company ran into privacy concerns and now the Congress has asked the company to explain the implications of the new technology. Representative Ed Markey expects Amazon to answer specific questions he sent them in a letter.

Zynga launches HTML5 games

Creators of the popular Facebook game Farmville launched several new games powered by HTML5. These games do not require Flash and can be played on Facebook’s recently released iPad app. Zynga plans to work on cross-platform games using open web technologies like CSS, JavScript and HTML5.

Qwikster abandoned before launch

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had previously announced that the company would be splitting their DVD and streaming businesses by launching Qwikster for DVDs and Netflix for streaming. The decision was not received well by Netflix customers (even though it did make some sense). The execution seemed confusing since users would have to visit two different sites to see if they could watch content on their preferred medium. Taking the feedback into consideration, Reed Hastings announced that the company will NOT be splitting the business.

Oracle announces their cloud

With every major consumer & enterprise company offering cloud-based solutions, Oracle has now joined the race. Unveiled by CEO Larry Ellison, Oracle’s Public Cloud will compete with Salesforce, Amazon, Microsoft and others by offering better interoperability. Oracle Public Cloud will include Oracle Fusion CRM, workforce management tools, database & Java services and an enterprise social networking solution.

Other interesting developments:

Ebay to deepen Facebook relationship
HP’s Layoffs Taking Effect, ~500 Gone From San Diego Group
The real world, now in real-time! Say hi to foursquare Radar!

Contact Manan via email at manan_kakkar@hotmail.com or on Twitter @Manan.