The floods in Thailand in 2011 sent a tidal wave of high prices through the HDD market. The ripples of the flood are just receding and HDD prices are finally rebounding. Black Friday sales are going to feature HDDs for roughly $25 a terabyte, and expect many of these great deals to come without the normal mail in rebate programs. External drives are also going to be exceptionally low priced and feature speedy USB 3.0 interfaces.
After years of declining sales the PC market is also finally improving. Storage devices are somewhat of a litmus test for the PC market. When sales of PC are bad the HDD market declines. Users seem to be turning back to their home computers. Sales of tablets, which helped eviscerate the PC space, are also starting to decline. The personal storage category has rebounded with a 4.8% increase in overall units shipped last quarter, according to IDC.
Consumers and retailers both took a beating in 2014, with a number of significant data breaches hitting millions of victims. A recent survey found that consumers are uneasy when shopping online, along with some customers avoiding retailers because of data breach concerns. Sixty-two percent of consumers are worried about online shopping, while 23 percent said they are making less online purchases, according to information from the International Data Group and NCC Group.
Even more frightening, more shoppers expect to be victimized, with 64 percent believing they will be compromised in a data breach at least once in the next year.
"The data suggests that this could continue," said Stephen Boyer, BitSight CTO. "It's going to take some time for retailers to right this ship. If everybody had cleaned up we would see very different results. I hope that we don't see another Target-like breach this year, but when we look at the sector we see that they are actually worse off."
There are now more than 3 billion people with access to the Internet, as information and communication technology (ICT) growth has increased in almost every country across the world. Internet expansion has increased 6.6 percent year-over-year, as companies continue to expand Web access - especially in developing nations.
"ICTs have the potential to make the world a much better place - in particular for those who are the poorest and the most disenfranchised, including women, youth, and those with disabilities," said Dr. Hamadoun I. Toure, ITU Secretary General, in a statement. "This important report is a critical part of the global ICT development process. Without measurement we cannot track progress, which is why ITU gathers ICT statistics for 200 economies across over 100 indicators."
Denmark leads the world in the ITU ICT Development Index, with Korea following in the No. 2 spot.
It looks like one of the bigger rumors for CES 2015, at least for me, is the news of Sony launching its new Xperia Z4 smartphone at the Las Vegas-based event in January 2015.
Sure, the Xperia Z4 will launch with an impressive Snapdragon 805 processor from Qualcomm, a sure-to-be gorgeous 5.4-inch QHD display (which I'll presume is their "Triluminos" panel), Android 5.0 Lollipop, and more than likely, 3GB of RAM will be great - but it's the image sensor in the camera that has me interested. Sony is rumored to be using its next-gen Exmor IMX230 camera sensor, which will have the Z4's camera turning some heads.
The new image sensor works almost like anti-aliasing when it comes to pictures, giving them a much sharper look as if you were using a much more powerful camera. All the other specifications and grunt under the Z4 hood is just gravy, baby.
Tech giant Google is now promoting the Liftware spoon, a custom-designed smart utensil that is able to help people with tremors and Parkin's disease make eating easier. Lift Lab, the smart spoon's manufacturer, was acquired by Google earlier in 2014 - and has now been rolled into the Google X life sciences division.
"We want to help people in their daily lives today and hopefully increase understanding of disease in the long run," said Katelin Jabbari, Google spokesperson.
The spoon is able to analyze how a hand is shaking, and uses hundreds of algorithms to make adjustments to stay balanced. There are more than 10 million people throughout the world that suffer from Parkin's disease and tremors, and the spoon can reportedly reduce shaking by an average 76 percent. The Liftware spoon is available now for $295.
To counter package theft, and make e-commerce shopping and delivery easier, San Francisco Bay Area startup Doorman will deliver packages to customers. The service costs $4 per package, or frequent ecommerce buyers can pay $19 or $29 per month for the silver and gold packages. Deliveries are made from 6:00PM until midnight, currently available only in San Francisco.
"Once it arrives, we notify you on your phone and then you use the Doorman app to schedule a delivery on your phone until midnight, seven days a week," said Zander Adell, Doorman founder.
Doorman is designed to make it more convenient for residents to receive their packages, while also helping prevent against theft. Throughout some parts in the Bay Area, package theft - taken off house porches and from apartment doorsteps - as thieves tend to take packages while people are away from their house in the afternoon.
Many cybersecurity specialists working for the NSA and GCHQ tend to get burned out, and then head to the private sector. It provides a unique opportunity to hear more about some of the efforts the US government have employed to conduct organized cyberespionage against foreign governments.
For regular Internet users, it doesn't matter whether it's the government or a foreign cybercriminal, cybersecurity must be appreciated and not overlooked. As former government programmers and security experts abandon their government jobs in favor of the private sector, companies want to rely on technology advice from intelligence officials - providing valuable insight into how governments are conducting increased surveillance.
"Whether they're cybercriminals or state sponsored actors, I think a lot of times they can get into a network using a less sophisticated approach or a variant of a known piece of malware... it's a lower risk operationally for them," said Jim Penrose, former NSA employee and part of the department's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group. "They don't want to fire silver bullets unless it's absolutely necessary; like a zero day or something like that, or a previously unseen piece of malware. Those are really high quality and you want to save those for a time when it's absolutely critical."
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi has enjoyed a meteoric rise to become the No. 3 smartphone company in the world - but don't expect it to jump into new markets just for the sake of expansion. Xiaomi is focusing on China, India and Indonesia, for example, while Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Turkey and Thailand will have to wait until later down the road.
"We have to build better and better products making sure they're catered to each market and sold at the best possible price," said Hugo Barra, Xiaomi VP of global operations.
As Xiaomi continues to grow, the company will likely need its own manufacturing plants - and lessen the burden on its partners. However, it appears Xiaomi management is prepared to have new markets wait as it is able to establish itself further - showing impressive logic that other companies don't necessarily appreciate until it's too late.
NASA is doing some cool things on-board the International Space Station, with the US space agency taking up a 3D printer and printing out some cool faceplate.
The experiment has revealed to NASA that parts stick to the print tray much more in space and its microgravity, than they do on Earth. It's possible that plastic layers bond differently in zero-gravity, than they do here on Earth. More 3D-printed objects will be printed, but they won't be coming back down to Earth until next year.
Amazon is trialling a new marketplace for service providers, something it calls Selling Services, which wants to hook buyers up with professionals who can install, or perform services.
This will have shoppers buying a product that requires installation, like a wall-mounted TV, after which they'll be offered the opportunity to look at an approved list of local service providers. If you do find an installer that can do what you require, click the Add the Cart button and it'll be included with your purchase. The Amazon-approved installer will be covered by a money-back guarantee, with the e-commerce giant running a business background check for any and all service providers, and personal background checks on technicians.
Amazon will take 20% of the service fee on jobs worth up to $1000, while jobs over $1000 will see Amazon taking 15%. Background checks will cost $50 per business, and $40 per participating employee. Amazon is trialling Selling Services in over a dozen cities and surrounding areas across the United States.