Weekend news round-up: who is the fifth horseman of tech; CES no longer a trendsetter?

7 Jan 2013

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In our round-up of some of the top tech stories of the weekend, it seems Samsung is the fifth horseman of tech rather than Microsoft. As CES kicks off, is it really the pulse of tech innovation, and, as the world runs out of IPv4 addresses, how ready is IPv6?

Is CES really the bellwether for technology?

This week in Las Vegas, the world’s biggest electronics industry fair kicks off, highlighting the latest in technology and gadget wizardry. However, there is a growing sense of dissent among technology writers as to how much of a bellwether the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) actually is, considering it takes place post-Christmas, Microsoft is no longer a headline sponsor, and much of the real innovation in technology is unveiled throughout the rest of the year.

All Things Digital’s Mike Isaac described it as the technology world’s equivalent of hell on earth.

“It is a non-stop onslaught on the senses. Companies, journalists, vendors, distributors, start-ups, wannabes, has-beens and never-weres packed into 1.8m sq feet of convention centre concrete, wares splayed across plastic booths waiting to be picked over and sneezed upon.

“And all the rigmarole presupposes one major assumption: that any of this actually matters to you, the lovers of tech, the nerds – the consumers.

“Does it? Is the supposed premier event of the tech industry really the place we’ll see all of the year’s coming trends and successes play out? Can anyone name one single thing they took away from last year’s CES, save a nasty case of show-floor SARS?”

Oh dear.

We’re stuck in the dangerous middle distance between IPv4 and IPv6

OK. So the world has supposedly run out of IPv4 web addresses but if you get an internet connection from an ISP that caters only for IPv6 you could be limited in your choice of websites. That’s the conclusion drawn by Ars Technica, which highlighted the current state of the internet.

It reported: “According to the ISC Domain Survey, there were 909m systems present in the Domain Name System (DNS) as of July 2012 (resulting in an HD ratio of 93pc). Obviously, that is well beyond that practical maximum. In this sense, IPv4 is like a tube of toothpaste that’s almost empty: every day, if you squeeze hard enough, a little more will come out. But at some point it’s easier to just buy a new one.

“Now, with IPv4 in decline, surely IPv6 must be ready to pick up the slack? Yes and no. Yes, IPv6 is doing incredibly well compared to even one or two years ago, but … it’s not enough.”

A dark horse: is Samsung really a tech innovator?

By volume, Samsung is the largest manufacturer of smartphones on the planet. And Microsoft is still the world’s biggest software company. But, it seems, according to TechCrunch, when it comes to describing the five horsemen of tech – Samsung is in and Microsoft is out.

The four horsemen are – Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google – and the fifth, which had been Microsoft, is now Samsung.

MG Siegler writing in TechCrunch at the weekend said Microsoft no longer belongs on the list but said that while Samsung is the odd one out in not being a US company and has its origins as a pre-WWII produce distributor, not describing it as one of the world’s most important tech companies is folly. He even suggested it could be the most important tech company of 2013.

“Not only is it bigger than Apple from a revenue standpoint, it’s almost twice as large as the three other ‘horsemen’ combined ($190bn versus what should be about $100bn for Amazon, Facebook and Google in 2012). And unlike Amazon and Facebook, which make little or no profit, Samsung is hugely profitable – $12bn in profit for 2011 should move closer to $20bn in 2012. That’s not a ton compared to Apple ($55bn in profit in 2012), but it should be roughly twice as much profit as Google pulls in for the year,” Siegler wrote.

Microsoft can rejoice – Google removes Maps redirect on Windows Phone devices

Despite MG Siegler’s differences with Microsoft, the Redmond, Washington, technology company can draw some consolation this week from a decision by Google to remove a redirect that sends Windows Phone users searching for Google Maps to Google’s search homepage.

The Next Web reported that Google has decided that Windows Phone 8’s new Internet Explorer version is satisfactory in its handling of the web app.

“Earlier versions of Windows Phone had been found to be more lacking. Google has, in fact, limited access to Maps on other platforms where performance has lagged, such as Opera on iPad,” The Next Web reported.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com