Tech Retrospect: Comcast bids for Time Warner and Flappy Bird buys the farm

Miss a few stories this week? We'll get you up to speed with this rundown of all the tech news.

Few people are truly in love with their cable provider, whether it be due to overpriced channel packages, inconsistent and annoyingly capped internet access, or the general angst caused by a lack of choice. News this week of a Comcast bid for Time Warner isn't likely to make any of those parties happier. The $42.5 billion deal would see the first and second place cable companies in the United States joining together to create a single entity that would corner 30 percent of the market whilst laughing maniacally and, presumably, swimming in a giant pool filled with gold coins.

To counter that image, Comcast promises to give some 3 million subscribers to Charter Communications as something of a token of good will, but it may take more than that to get the deal approved by the FCC. Indeed, it wasn't that long ago that the $39 billion attempted take-over of T-Mobile by AT&T was shot down, and this is even bigger.

If it does go through, with any luck some strong concessions can be demanded by we the subscribers? Highest on my list? Outright and concrete support for net neutrality. Removal of Comcast's bandwidth caps would be a good thing, too.

Flappy Bird gets grounded

It's a modern app developer's dream: write a silly little game, deploy it to the world, and watch as millions get addicted, resulting in tens of thousands of revenue deposited in your bank account every single day. Well, for most developers it's a dream. For Dong Nguyen, developer of Flappy Bird, it turned into a bit of a nightmare. The 29-year-old was obviously unprepared for the success of his little game and, over the weekend, turned to Twitter to say how overwhelmed he was at the massive response -- some 50 million downloads .

So, on Sunday, he killed the game , removing it from both iOS and Android platforms. "Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed," Nguyen told Forbes. "But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it's best to take down Flappy Bird. It's gone forever." So, the game is dead, but it will live on forever in the hearts and minds of gamers -- and through the dozens and dozens and dozens of clones that have flooded various app markets this week.

Verizon announces More Everything, costs a little less

Verizon Wireless

Hey Verizon subscribers, are you ready for a contract-free, subsidy-free plan that goes head to head with the offerings from T-Mobile and AT&T? Sure, we all are. Everyone, that is, except for Verizon itself. The company did announce some sweeping changes to its various data plans, but they all still include some sort of subsidy or another. Broadly called More Everything , the revised plans will save some subscribers $10 or $20 monthly while adding more data into the mix. As usual with Verizon, it's a little bit complicated. Thankfully, our Roger Cheng breaks it down for you.

Windows 8 crosses the 200M license mark

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

If you've been wondering how Windows 8 sales are faring compared to Windows 7, we now have a bit of an update. Tami Reller, Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Marketing, put the mark on 200 million licenses sold for Windows 8. That's 100 million more than the last update we got, back in early May. And how does that compare to Windows 7? Well, Windows 8 has been on the market for about 15 months now, and in that time Windows 7 had sold roughly 300 million licenses. You can do the math.

1 billion smartphones shipped worldwide in 2013

Google Nexus 5
Josh Miller/CNET

The mobile device market continues to boom, and in 2013 it crossed the threshold of 1 billion devices shipped -- according to research from IDC, anyway. The company said that Android alone made up nearly 80 percent of that figure, 793.6 million to be exact. The rival number-crunchers at Gartner were a bit more conservative, saying 969 million for the year, but it looks like Microsoft saw some strong growth, the Windows Phone market share climbing one percent. Apple, however, handed over 3.5 percent of its market share, while BlackBerry lost 2.6 -- shipping only about half the number of phones it did in 2012.

Proposed "kill switch" legislation goes nationwide

'Kill switch' sought as answer to phone theft epidemic

Recently proposed legislation in California would require any phone sold in that state have a virtual "kill switch" -- basically, an easy means for a user to flag that phone as lost or stolen, completely disabling it and wiping it of data. Now, just a week later, the same sort of legislation has been proposed for the entire nation . The hope is that such a feature would make stolen phones virtually worthless, curbing the increasingly high numbers of smartphone thefts. Wireless carriers are resisting, claiming that such a system, if hacked, could result in serious problems for users nationwide. My suggestion? Make the system secure and stop dragging your feet.

Thinner PlayStation Vita finally hits US this spring

Sony

The thinner, lighter PlayStation Vita finally has a date for a US release , though not a specific one: spring. The second-gen portable gaming system is already available in the UK and has been out in Japan since last year. Why we've had to wait so long is anybody's guess (payback for getting the PS4 first, perhaps?), but we are, at least, getting a rather nice bundle. Included with the system will be an 8GB memory card and, more importantly, a copy of Borderlands 2. The first-person RPG is a personal favorite of mine. With six content packs included in the Vita release, gamers on the go should have access to all the loot they could ever want.

30-year-old time capsule with Steve Jobs' mouse unearthed

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In 1983, Steve Jobs spoke at the Aspen International Design Conference and, afterward, donated the mouse he used to drive the presentation to a time capsule called the Aspen Time Tube. In 2000, it was time to dig it up -- with the slight complication that nobody could find the thing. Well, the hosts of the National Geographic show "Diggers" finally located the thing . Here's a sneak peek of its opening.

About the author

Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to videogame development. Currently he pursues interesting stories and interesting conversations in the technology and automotive spaces.

 

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