The Week in Tech: Apple iWatch, Firefox Phone, BlackBerry RIP?
BY John Brandon
Get your weekly serving of what's new in tech. This week: The latest sign Apple is working on a watch, and phones to watch (skip).
Welcome to the debut of a brand new series: tech trends of the week. Starting now and on each Monday, I'll cover the tech trends, gadgets, business services, and apps of note. The goal is to highlight not just consumer flash-in-the-pan ideas, but actual developments that could impact your business. Post in comments if you know of any other trends from the week!
1. Apple trademarks iWatch The big news of the week is the first real confirmation of an Apple smartwatch. Amid rumors and speculation about what Apple might be doing comes this news: Apple filed for a trademark for the name iWatch in Japan. As any entrepreneur knows, a trademark filing could be a strategic move or it could be the initial steps in product development. I'm hoping an iWatch doesn't just parlay what is on an iPhone to your wrist, but has some features for monitoring your environment and connecting you to other iWatch users. The iWatch could finally be the major innovation Apple needs.
2. Firefox phone debuts... in Spain I first wrote about the coming Firefox phone in a very popular article about tech debuts for 2013. Well, now we know the operating system, which works a bit like Google's Android, is for real. We now know the ZTE One will launch in Spain. Another model, the Alcatel One Touch Fire, will launch in other foreign markets. One reason to keep an eye on the Firefox phones: The phone doesn't run traditional apps but relies on rich HTML5 content instead. That could mean innovative features outside of the traditional app model. (For example, a feature that links your current location to social networks and upcoming business meetings.)
3. Google Reader is dead Google has diversified lately with services like Google Now (which shows you news and info about your day that's more personalized) and Google+, a Facebook clone that has more of a tech focus. If you're still using Google Reader to browse the Web, that service is going dark today. You can switch over to something like Prismatic or just follow the Google lead: rely on social networks, Twitter, and even Tumblr for your daily news fix. The posts from my Twitter friends are a much better source of news than Google Reader.
4. HP might return to smartphones What is the ROI on $1.2 billion when it comes to smartphones? Not much, considering that's what HP spent to purchase Palm back in 2010. I covered the Pre phones in all of their incarnations back then and was never impressed. Well before that fiasco, the company made many Windows phone models and PDAs. Recently, HP hinted in an interview that it might return to the smartphone market. My guess: HP is waiting to see if Windows phones can make any headway, which would match up well with its Windows 8 strategy. Tech companies: If HP does return to the fold, I'd recommend watching it closely--especially if you have already jumped on the Windows 8 bandwagon.
5. BlackBerry is dead again You may have missed this from late last week, but BlackBerry is in a slump... again. The company released actual sales numbers last week, revealing that the BlackBerry 10 phone like the Z10 failed to catch on. The company reported a major net loss that resulted in a shocking 26 percent decline in their stock price. I'm not quite ready to stick a fork in BlackBerry yet, though. I like the new OS and think it has potential. The main challenge has to do with perception. Businesses view the iPhone and Android phones as much more attractive. My advice: Wait and see if BlackBerry gets some momentum going.