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Tech Retrospect: Nokia's end and Amazon's new offerings

Amazon spices up its Fire TV offerings, thanks to HBO, while Nokia gets formally and comprehensively consumed by Microsoft. All that and more in our regular look back at the week in tech news.

Amazon's just-launched Fire TV is already heating up, thanks to a major acquisition of some great content. Amazon has signed an exclusive licensing deal with HBO to bring much of HBO's original programming to Amazon's Prime streaming service -- but there's a major catch: none of the programs are exactly fresh. There will be some newer episodes of shows like "Boardwalk Empire" and "True Blood," but the bulk of the content includes shows like "The Sopranos," "The Wire," and "Band of Brothers." Great shows all, but long gone are the days when they dominated watercooler discussion.

Amazon is also raising its game when it comes to grocery deliveries. A new service called Prime Pantry augments the company's current household shipping services like AmazonFresh and Subscribe and Save, but with a different approach. Prime members will be able to fill a large box with four cubic feet worth of nonperishable goods (up to 45 pounds worth) for a flat shipping fee of $5.99. Users can simply add items to the box over time and, when it's full, it'll be shipped to them.

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Amazon's Prime Pantry website. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Some of the goods are available in bulk, theoretically posing something of a challenge to the Costcos of the world, but it remains to be seen just how this will stack up from an economical standpoint.

Positive Apple numbers lead to stock split

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James Martin/CNET

The latest Apple earnings are out, and though I don't often worry about financial reporting on Fridays (it's typically tedious stuff), Apple's financials can bring with them plenty of other news. Such is the case with the latest quarter's report, in which strong iPhone sales (43.7 million) helped the company beat its (typically conservative) estimates. That good news, along with a plan to buy back a further $30 billion in shares, sent the stock up more than 8 percent. Additionally, Apple is splitting its stock by a whopping factor of seven, making it easier for smaller investors to pick up some shares.

But it wasn't all good news. iPad sales were slightly down: 19 million for the quarter, compared with 19.5 million last year. Tablet demand overall appears to be waning, while sales of tablet-size phones from other manufacturers continues to grow. The time is right for Apple to release its own big phone, but that was the other bit of bad news from the earnings call: We're a third of the way through 2014 and still Apple has yet to unveil anything new. You can check out more analysis of the earnings call here.

Latest iPhone 6 rumors don't necessary line up

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Video screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

As anticipation for a new iPhone grows, so too does the volume of rumors. Latest, and perhaps most credible, is a case that's supposedly made to fit the new iPhone 6. The case is to the left in the image above and appears to point to a roughly 4.7-inch display size -- a mighty increase over the current iPhone 5's 4-incher. The other major change is the location of the power button, shifted to the side rather than the top, but other buttons and ports appear to line up with those on previous devices.

The other, and somewhat less credible, rumor this week is of an iPhone with a curved display. There have been indications that the larger of the new expected iPhones, which may have a display as big as 5.5 inches, may come with rounded corners. There's talk that the display will curve as well, possibly wrapping around the edges. This sounds rather unlikely to me, if only because it doesn't match the above case, but I leave it to you to make up your own mind on the subject.

Google SVP and Google+ guru Vic Gundotra departs

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James Martin/CNET

It's been a bit of a bumpy road for Google+, the search guru's big stab at social networking. While it has received great adoption thanks to its integration with a variety of Big G's services, it has yet to resonate with the Internet population as a whole. It's certainly never received the kind of love Facebook and Twitter have. The primary cheerleader behind the service has historically been Google Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra, and this week he announced an abrupt departure. Rumor has it that many Google+ engineers are being reassigned as the social network becomes less of a focus for the company, and though it remains to be seen whether that's actually the case, it would certainly help explain some things.

FCC's refreshed Net neutrality plans spark debate

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Maggie Reardon/CNET

Net Neutrality is the idea that the Internet is free, that it should remain free, and that no Internet service provider (ISP) should be able to get involved and prioritize which website traffic is easily accessible. The recent deal between Netflix and Comcast, in which Netflix paid the cable provider and ISP to stop handicapping its streaming, demonstrates that Net neutrality is currently a bit of a myth. This week the FCC took another stab at clarifying its rules, which created something of a firestorm online. Many people have interpreted the revisions as implicit permission for ISPs like Comcast to create a "fast lane" for Internet traffic -- with tolls only big companies could afford, leaving startups and smaller businesses eating their dust. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler struck back, citing a "great deal of misinformation." Much of the debate surrounds a restriction in the rules that says arrangements with the ISPs must be "commercially reasonable": what, exactly, does that mean? Wheeler says the FCC will provide more details and that any fears of resulting price increases from the rule changes are "unfounded." CNET's Maggie Reardon breaks it down, should you like more analysis on this incredibly important matter.

The end of Nokia as we know it

It's something of a sad day, dear readers. Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia has closed. This, of course, has been coming for a long time now, dragging on a bit since the announcement last September, and apparently costing Microsoft a little more than the originally announced $7.2 billion.

Acquisitions needn't be sad, but it seems somewhat unfortunate that the Nokia name appears to be getting shelved, with the new division now called Microsoft Mobile Oy. ("Oy" being the Finnish equivalent of LLC -- not a last punk rock exclamation from the consumed brand.) Nokia itself will continue to exist, expanding and licensing its valuable Here Maps technology and providing other related services, but it's not known whether the words Nokia, Lumia, or any of the company's other familiar branding will ever appear on a phone again. Here's to hoping. Enjoy the classic commercial above, and if you're feeling especially nostalgic, check out Roger Cheng's look back at the history of the brand.