There's been talk of Amazon raising the cost of its Prime service, when the company posted some less than enticing earnings. Back then, the word was a $40 price hike, a huge jump from $79 to $119. Your reactions, and indeed my own, were overwhelmingly negative back then.
Now, the increase has come to pass -- but, up to $99 for a year. It's possible that Amazon listened to consumers and decided that a $40 increase was simply too much. However, it's just as likely that the company threw out that initial figure to make an eventual $20 increase a little more palatable. Regardless, considering there was no streaming media included in the original version of Prime, an extra couple of bucks a month still seems well worth it.
And it could get even more worthwhile soon. Amazon has long been expected to launch a streaming audio service of its own, andpoint to the forthcoming debut of an iTunes Radio competitor. Music will apparently be served up according to a user's perceived likes and dislikes, rather than something like Spotify where users can listen to whatever they want whenever they want. Unlike Spotify, Amazon sells music, too.
The World Wide Web turns 25
It was on March 12, 1989 that Tim Berners-Lee proposed what he dubbed a "universal linked information system" to help connect global research facilities and universities. It would be built atop the (still largely obscure) Internet, providing the means to post content and, crucially, to link from one bit to another. This week our Stephen Shanklandto get his thoughts on everything from Wikipedia to Edward Snowden. It's a fascinating read, and I recommend you check it out.
Berners-Lee alsofor an Ask Me Anything session. One of the most popular questions: "What was one of the things you never thought the Internet would be used for, but has actually become one of the main reasons people use the Internet?" The response? "Kittens."
Google slashes prices for Drive storage
Storage for your desktop or laptop computer is continually getting cheaper, so why too shouldn't cloud storage? Google, citing "infrastructure improvements," drasticallyof its online storage options. 100GB of space formerly cost $4.99 a month, but it's now just $1.99. 1TB goes from $49.99 to $9.99. A secure online backup for all your files just got a lot easier -- so long as you don't mind Google indexing and analyzing their contents, of course.
Target reportedly knew of hack for weeks
The data breach that saw something north of 110 million credit card numbers exposed? Apparently Target knew about it. According to a Bloomberg report this week, Target had invested in a $1.6 million system from security firm FireEye designed specifically to detect attacks like this. That system, just deployed last May, apparently worked as designed and alerted Target's team to a potential incursion. Sadly, though, it would be weeks before it took any action to shut down the hack. And, of course, those weeks came during the busiest shopping season of the year.
T-Mobile plans aggressive LTE rollout, wants to 'decimate' Verizon
T-Mobile has been making waves of late by offering low-cost, subsidy-free plans and encouraging subscribers to bring whatever phones they want. This is a move that's resonating well with many consumers, but there's still one giant hurdle for T-Mo to overcome: its own network. The company offers less coverage than either AT&T or Verizon, but it's working to fix that, planning toto LTE by mid-2015.
That, of course, won't actually cover any more people than the network currently does, something that Verizon loves to highlight in its ads. In response, T-Mobile has fired a lawsuit, claiming the ads are deceptive because they highlight only Verizon's expansive LTE coverage. I'd rather see T-Mo put that money into building more towers in more places, but I suppose that wouldn't earn nearly as many headlines.
Microsoft reportedly dropping Windows Phone license fees in India
Microsoft's push on the smartphone market, Windows Phone, has been making progress of late -- but still has a way to go if it wants to compete with the Androids and iPhones of the world. A major opportunity exists in places that aren't quite so smartphone-saturated, places like India. According to a report this week in Times of India, Microsoft hasfor Windows Phone for device makers in that area. So, instead of paying a certain amount for each Windows Phone device created, those makers get the software for free, ultimately resulting in cheaper prices to the consumer. It's a nice incentive and very important for markets that are highly cost-sensitive, but only time will tell whether it has a drastic impact on sales.
Neil Young launches high-quality PonoMusic portable media player
The massive success of the iPod has come at a cost, according to many music purists: sound quality. The lossy nature of the MP3 is a painful state of affairs for Neil Young, who for years has talked about creating his own portable media player with higher-quality audio. Well, this week he finally launched it, on Kickstarter, wherequickly rocketed past its $800,000 goal. As I write this it stands poised to top $3M, showing there's a market out there for those with sensitive ears. It supports FLAC playback for lossless audio and offers two output jacks: one amplified and one non, meaning you're set whether you want to use it with headphones or a home entertainment system. A $300-or-greater pledge gets you yours. Just make sure you enunciate properly when telling your friends what it's called.
Angry Birds goes turn-based
The pick-up-and-play nature of Angry Birds has turned it into a global phenomenon and made its Finnish developers at Rovio very, very wealthy indeed. The next iteration of the series, though, will take a rather more...strategic approach to gaming.will be a turn-based RPG, ala Final Fantasy and its ilk. Check out the teaser video above, in which a bird wears a suit of armor, and have yourself a great weekend.