Monday tech roundupThere were probably more losses than wins in the tech industry last week. IBM managed to create the smallest chip yet but then we also had news about the 7,800-job cuts at Microsoft, we learned apps on Google Play are not always safe and that tablets, like PCs, are seeing a decline in sales.

Android route of attack – game software

Android has been under increasing attack from malware, and one of the latest examples is a malicious game called Cowboy Adventure.

Many thought they were safe because they downloaded the app from Google Play – but that wasn’t the case. The malware in the game pointed users to a malicious Facebook login page, where they were asked to give details of their phone number, email, and password. Bad idea. That info was immediately purloined. Up to a million folks downloaded the software.

Google tries to vet the software it offers through Google Play, but to be honest, no system is perfect, especially with a software development community as active as Android.

MSN family to grow smaller

Microsoft bit off more than it could chew with its growing family of MSN apps, not all of which are worth their weight.

Many of these apps used to be branded as Bing, a moniker that came after MSN, but in typical Microsoft name changing fashion, the company changed it back to MSN. The apps that look to be on the chopping block include MSN Food & Drink, Travel, and Health and Fitness.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been paring down less successful business to focus on those with great potential. The good news is that most of the MSN tools will continue as Microsoft considers the site to be a key portal.

IBM continues to prove Moore’s Law

Moore’s Law has been proven right for decades, despite worries that processor miniaturization can only be taken so far. In fact, IBM just developed a miniscule 7-nanometer chip, over 30% smaller than the next smallest chip.

The whole idea of Moore’s Law is that the amount of transistors on a single chip will double every year and a half, and so by definition, so does processing power. That is one underpinning of our amazing seemingly everlasting technical revolution.

Chip designers keep coming up with new materials, such as the hybrid fabric used by IBM. Optical and other techniques also offer great promise. One issue chipmakers face is that denser chips create more heat, demand more cooling and power. So there is an opposite trend at work – low power chips that can drive smartphones for days and also power servers in so-called green data centers.

The super small IBM processor is more a proof of concept, and won’t be commercially available for some time.

The Promise of Windows Phone never seems to materialize, and now slipping away?

Microsoft was so late to the smartphone party that all the beer had been drunk, jokes made and pretzels eaten. It dove in any way. The first phones were some real stinkers – I mean should it really take a computer science degree to work a phone? But they gradually got better, and were on par with rivals for usability and function.

One advantage that Microsoft strove to build was integration with its own productivity tools and cloud services especially since the ties for IT to Microsoft admin tools went particularly deep. Microsoft showed its earnestness by shelling out (US) $7.7 billion to buy Nokia, the leading maker of Windows phones.

That grand plan has been a financial disaster that fortunately Microsoft is huge enough to withstand. In recent financial news and restructuring, Microsoft is writing off almost that entire amount. Some critics blame former CEO Steve Ballmer for buying the darn thing and paying out way too much. But there were thousands of Nokia and Microsoft employees charged with making it successful and they failed as well. Now, nearly 8,000 employees are out of work due to the debacle, and what did Microsoft get for all its effort? A paltry 3% market share, according to IDC.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has no plans to throw in the towel, but it is not quite clear what the strategy is. Here is what is said in a recent company-wide memo.

“I am committed to our first-party devices including phones. However, we need to focus our phone efforts in the near term while driving reinvention. We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family.”

Sounds like Microsoft may be focusing more on a software strategy, including continuing to support alternative platforms.

Computer device market tanking, tablets included, Gartner says

The PC market has been declining for years, but only recently have tablets taken the same hit. Now Gartner is predicting that the overall computing devices market will be in period of decline this year, with overall revenue down 5.7%.  That means a total market of (US) $606 billion.

And Windows 10 won’t really help matters. My take is that we have been at a point of near saturation for a long while.

The report Forecast: PCs, Ultramobiles and Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 2012-2019, 2Q15 Update was written by Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner who said “We do not expect the global PC market to recover until 2016. The release of Windows 10 on 29th July will contribute to a slowing professional demand for mobile PCs and premium ultramobiles in 2015, as lifetimes extend by three months. However, as suppliers and buyers adjust to new prices, Windows 10 could boost replacements during 2016.” The one bright spot is smartphones which will grow 3.3% this year.


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