Weekend news round-up: Remembering Steve Jobs, Google’s IoT play

6 Oct 2014

The late Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple

In our round-up of the weekend’s tech news, remembering Apple’s Steve Jobs, Google’s internet of things vision of smart devices anyone can use is compelling, and watch out for North Korea’s iPhone killer.

Remembering Steve Jobs

Rollingstone.com published a profile from 2011 of Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of consumer tech giant Apple, to mark the anniversary of the visionary leader’s death three years ago on 5 October.

“Jobs not only turned Apple into the most valued company in the world, worth an estimated $342 billion, he rewrote the rules of business, combining Sixties idealism with greed-is-good capitalism. At a time when software was the model, he built hardware. At a time when everyone focused on the macro, he focused on the micro. He never did anything first, but he did it best. More than anyone else on the planet, he is responsible for fusing the human realm with the digital, for giving us the ability to encode our deepest desires and most intimate thoughts with the touch of a finger. ‘He’s the Bob Dylan of machines,’ says (U2 frontman) Bono, who knew Jobs for years. ‘He’s the Elvis of the hardware-software dialectic.’”

Facebook to reveal friend-to-friend payments in Messenger

TechCrunch reported social network Facebook is planning to reveal a new way of allowing friends to transfer money to one another using Messenger.

“Facebook Messenger is all set up to allow friends to send each other money. All Facebook has to do is turn on the feature, according to screenshots and video taken using iOS app exploration developer tool Cycript by Stanford computer science student Andrew Aude.

“Messenger’s payment option lets users send money in a message similar to how they can send a photo. Users can add a debit card in Messenger, or use one they already have on file with Facebook. An in-app pincode also exists for added security around payments.

“It’s unclear whether Facebook will monetize Messenger by charging a small fee for money transfers, or offer the functionality for free to drive usage of its standalone chat app. That will be up to David Marcus, the new head of Messenger who was formerly the president of PayPal.”

North Korea’s iPhone killer

Apple and Samsung aren’t the only entities who can make cutting-edge hardware. It appears there’s a new kid on the block: North Korea.

According to Venture Beat, the Pyongyang Touch is about to give y’all a lesson in how to design a smartphone.

“The North Korean government first released the ‘Arirang’ smartphone in 2013, which appeared to run a modified version of Google’s Android operating system. The updated Pyongyang Touch now comes in a range of colors and is reminiscent of the iPhone 3.

“Internet access is banned in the country, which instead uses a government-controlled intranet. North Korea’s 3G network only came online in 2013. While iPhones are also blocked under international sanctions, it’s highly doubtful the government would allow them in any case.”

Google’s internet of things play

TechCrunch reported on a new project under way at Google called the Physical Web that will allow people to use smart devices without the need for intervening mobile apps.

“This would make it possible for users to simply walk up to a bus stop and receive the time until the next arriving bus, without any additional software needed.

“The project is an ambitious bet on the future of smart devices. Analysts are predicting explosions in connected devices over the next few years, with Cisco anticipating 50 bn internet-connected gadgets in action by 2020, and Intel pegging the total at 15bn by just next year. Google’s project, spearheaded by Jenson, would make it much easier for people to interact with the growing web of connected devices every day.”

Yahoo!’s potential Snapchat buy barely raises a Yay!

PandoDaily poured scorn on Yahoo!’s likely acquisition of social messaging platform Snapchat in a tartly headlined piece, ‘This is not 2005 and investing in Snapchat is the last thing Mayer’s Yahoo can afford to do’.

“When Yahoo decided to invest $1 billion to acquire 40 percent of a then up-and-coming Chinese ecommerce company in August 2005, the US company had the luxury of soaring revenues in its core business. Jerry Yang, the company’s founder who was still CEO at the time, was coming off a year in which Yahoo more than doubled its revenue from $1.63 billion to $3.57 billion, and was two-thirds of the way through a year in which those revenues would grow by another 47 percent to $5.25 billion. In other words, the company could afford to look externally for longer term growth opportunities because it had its own financial house in order. Similarly, when Microsoft invested $240 million for 1.6 percent of Facebook in 2007, Steve Ballmer’s company was was literally on top of the technology world.

“Marissa Mayer’s Yahoo of today? Not so much.”

Steve Jobs image via Shutterstock

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years