Weekend news round-up: The end of the web as we know it, will 4G be expensive?

4 Feb 2013

In our trawl through the most interesting tech stories from the weekend, we discover a computer scientist who heralds the web as we know it today will be history; e-commerce firm targeting Pinterest users will need to focus on their tablet strategies; US and EU data protection rules are oceans apart; and it emerged that some mobile operators won’t be charging a premium for ultrafast 4G LTE services.

The web will be history

In a mesmerising article on Wired, Davide Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale University and chief scientist at Lifestreams.com, predicted the end of the web as we know it.

The nuclear-era internet that morphed into the flatland desktop phenomenon we now call the web is being replaced by a heterogeneous, content-searchable, real-time messaging stream that owes its origins to Twitter, Facebook timelines and RSS feeds.

Gelernter says this new form of universal consciousness will be a place where information will flow and serve as a concrete representation of time.

“It’s a bit like moving from a desktop to a magic diary: Picture a diary whose pages turn automatically, tracking your life moment to moment … Until you touch it, and then, the page turning stops. The diary becomes a sort of reference book: a complete and searchable guide to your life. Put it down, and the pages start turning again.

“Today, this diary-like structure is supplanting the spatial one as the dominant paradigm of the cybersphere: All the information on the internet will soon be a time-based structure. In the world of bits, space-based structures are static. Time-based structures are dynamic, always flowing – like time itself.”

Pinners prefer tablets

Pinterest users are more au fait with sharing their top product picks on tablet devices than over PCs or smartphones, according to a report on PandoDaily.

Referring to figures from Science.com, Pinterest’s most-followed users (averaging 800,000 followers apiece) prefer to pin from tablets. Fifty-eight per cent surveyed by HelloSociety said they did the majority of pinning from a tablet, followed by mobile (30pc), and then a desktop/notebook (12pc). 

Asking what this means for e-commerce companies hoping to tap into Pinterest’s 30m-strong user base, PandoDaily advised: “In short, make sure your tablet site doesn’t suck. That way, these power users will have no problem finding your most pinnable products. And even more importantly, make sure your tablet site doesn’t suck when it comes to making purchases. HelloSociety CEO Kyla Brennan says that while consumers are extremely happy using a tablet to research, browse, and price hunt, they get frustrated by the purchasing experience.”

Apple introduces AppStore.com vanity URLs

During the Super Bowl frenzy, Apple released a new product just for developers – AppStore.com vanity URLs. According to CNET, Apple quietly launched its new service during someone else’s adspot during the game.

It reported: “At the end of the commercial for the upcoming Star Trek: Into Darkness film, Paramount flashed a quick promotion for its iOS app, complete with an AppStore.com link that takes people right to it. In function it’s identical to what Apple already uses through its iTunes links, but this one’s designed so that people can quickly type it into a mobile device or remember it for later.

“Whatever’s after AppStore.com can be changed by developers, which in this case is AppStore.com/StarTrekApp. Developers can pick this out when submitting an app, or plug their company name into it to do a search for multiple apps on the App Store.”

It is understood that late Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously acquired AppStore.com as a personal gift from Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff following the introduction of the digital store during a keynote in 2000. A legal battle is now under way with Amazon and others for the exclusive rights to the domain name to describe its digital software store on iOS and OS X.

Bridging the ocean of difference on data privacy and protection

The New York Times carried an analysis of the different approaches to privacy in the US and the EU, including a Q&A with EU Commissioner Viviane Reding.

The report pointed to the different approaches the US and Europe have taken towards protecting people’s personal information. Now it says both sides are struggling to bridge that divide.

“On this side of the Atlantic, Congress has enacted a patchwork quilt of privacy laws that separately limit the use of Americans’ medical records, credit reports, video rental records and so on. On the other side, the European Union has instituted more of a blanket regulatory system; it has a common directive that gives its citizens certain fundamental rights – like the right to obtain copies of records held about them by companies and institutions – that Americans now lack.”

Can the UK deliver 4G without increasing prices?

This is a question most people are asking ahead of the imminent launch of 4G services in the UK and Ireland. The Verge published a report that suggests Three will not charge a price premium for LTE connectivity on its smartphone plans.

The Verge quoted Three UK CEO Dave Dyson as saying: “As we add the next wave of technology to our Ultrafast network, we’ve listened to our customers and thought long and hard about the right way to do it. We don’t want to limit Ultrafast services to a select few based on a premium price and we’ve decided our customers will get this service as standard.”

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