BitDepth#918 - December 31

Some high points from our coverage of technology news and developments in 2013.
Top T&T tech stories: 2013
Samsung got serious about the Caribbean in 2013, opening the fourth of its experience stores in the region at Gulf City in San Fernando. Jorge Lopez, Caribbean Regional Mobile Product Manager and Michelle Alvarez, who prepares the stores for the public in the new store. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

This year proved to be a roller coaster ride for technology on all fronts.
The biggest and ultimately quietest technology story of the year both in T&T and in the world at large was the rise of Samsung as a provider of mobile technology.

From its former presence an also-ran producer of me-too phones, the company has built its market profile as a provider of Android powered mobile technology to the point that it’s a significant rival to Apple’s devices.
In 2013 the company swiftly
followed up on the flagship S3 smartphone with the S4 and introduced new tablets and a strong upgrade to its market sector defining product, with the Note3.

Samsung proved itself fallible with the
release of the Gear, a smartwatch that proved to be too little for too much money, but fans of the company’s devices can expect revisions and improvements to that device and all its products at a rapid pace in 2014.

Along the way, Samsung has effectively mainstreamed the Android operating system, making its presence viable on a range of devices at the bottom end of the technology pricelist and improving the ecosystem for developers along the way.
Microsoft had a good year and a bad year with its flagship operating system, Windows.

The style and elegance of its new tile-based launching metaphor scored well on mobile devices, giving Nokia a strong line of
smartphones running Windows Phone 8, and a promising enough lease on life in the sector that Microsoft simply bought the company’s mobile phone business.

This gives Microsoft robust hardware as well as a strong software platform on which to build. It can now either become Apple, working to develop a closed ecosystem that links its OS and hardware more effectively or Google, building smartphones as a reference platform to show how well its software works.

What it can’t continue to do is to be the
Microsoft of the desktop, where muddled thinking and UI design has resulted in poor adoption rates for Windows 8 and an OS experience that continues to stymie the average user.

Blackberry, I’m sorry to say, is dead as a provider of mobile devices.
It’s time somebody called time of death for this once market leading and sector defining company, but the company’s phones aren’t just faltering in the marketplace; their presence in the hands of its users has come to connote a fatal unhipness.

Blackberry has some
powerful software in its warchest, but the longer it takes to figure out what to do with its intellectual property assets, the more time its rivals have to create parallel software that does exactly the same thing or something that’s close enough that it will no longer matter.

The local
conversation about e-mail transcripts, now mercifully silent for many months, has never been settled to anyone’s satisfaction, nor is it likely to ever be.
The revelations about the level of spying done by America’s National Security Agency should finally put an end to the illusion that there’s anything private about using the Internet and raise expectations for what constitutes incriminating evidence using digital communications.

Also stalled is the local discussion about
Carnival and copyright. In the wake of Carnival 2013, when considerable fuss was raised about what people had the right to photograph during the festivities, a consultation was planned to discuss that matter.

Consultations were held to discuss the parade route, Dimanche Gras, the future of the festival and generally to rehash and agonise over the same problems that arise each year, but no consultation had been announced yet to address the vexing matter of copyright issues related to Carnival.

With the festival already in gear and everyone in various states of pumping, it’s unlikely that any changes will be made or discussions held at this stage of preparation for the 2014 event.

Photographers, documentarians and broadcasters should eagerly await more of the bitter brew served during 2013.
Photography took some
curious turns in 2013, with the rise of the smartphone as the most common image capture device and new developments like the mirrorless camera bringing size and technology improvements to the classic profile of the DSLR.

In 2014, expect an acceleration of that pace, as software and sensors improve in smartphones and more iterations on mirrorless camera designs appear to stoke interest in photography that demands more hardware than the one you make your calls on.

The success of Evernote and Wunderlist point to the rise of a new model for software that’s quickly catching on. Both apps offer a useful free option that will meet the needs of casual users but can be upgraded at reasonable cost to a more powerful version that’s a better fit for small business needs.

It’s similar in concept to the lure of in-app purchases for low cost and free games on mobile platforms, but needs to be far more subtle and feature appealing to lure a user deeper into the software’s capabilities.

Adobe took the plunge into
formally licensing its software in 2013, shifting its business model from buy-and-use until-you-upgrade’to pay-as-you-go.

The entirely predictable fuss that arose was matched by surprise at Adobe’s r
elease of the seven-year-old version of its entire CS2 suite. Officially, the product was said to be a courtesy release for current users after the company decided to shut down the activation servers for the product.

Still, long after the link to the software was made widely available, Adobe made no moves to shut down the server or to remove the serial numbers. The product is now protected by an Adobe ID password gateway.
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