DoD + Silicon Valley > ISIL

  • DoD: Department of Defense
  • Silicon Valley: Tech industry leaders, mostly located in California
  • >: Greater than
  • ISIL: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, jihadist militant group

Now you can understand the title of this post, DoD + Silicon Valley > ISIL? Meaning can a partnership between the tech world and the US government be the key to fighting terrorism? That’s exactly what the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, suggested this week (watch below).

It really is a crazy time in tech and I can’t imagine how the US government can expect this campaign to be successful, without the likes of Apple, who by the way is currently in a fight with the FBI for REFUSING to unlock an iPhone of one of the SanBernardino shooters. Don’t think this is at all inconsequential. As I told you before, it would be EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to see what side the other tech companies took in this battle. Facebook, Google, Verizon, MicrosoftAmazon and others ALL support Apple’s position.

U.S. Secretary of Defense on Apple encryption: ‘I’m not a believer in backdoors’

So how can the government on one hand, ask tech to help fight terrorism one way, while at the same time asking these companies to completely ignore the privacy of millions of Americans also in the name of fighting terrorism. Sorry; but, that is not going to fly, so saith and judge in New York.

US cannot make Apple provide iPhone data in drug case, NY judge says

Apple Gets Tech Industry Backing in iPhone Dispute, Despite Misgivings

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A la carte TV

The time for a la carte TV has come!!! The days where consumers spend $200+ a month on a channels they don’t watch will soon be gone! Truth be told, there are probably only 5-10 channels you watch on a regular basis. A la carte TV means viewers would be able to select the individual channels they want to pay for and ignore the rest. While we already have Netflix, Amazon on Demand, Hulu and others, in the past few weeks two major players have stepped onto the playing field: HBO and CBS, with a phenom called going Over-the-Top – media lingo for being able to watch TV with only a broadband connection.

As you can imagine, the top cable companies in the US (Time Warner, Charter, Cox) are not happy about this shift. But… where have they been? Surely they have not noticed the cable-cutting trend? Gfk, a market research firm, estimates that 19% of American TV households live without cable – and that was a year ago! IMHO, the best hope for the Big 3 cable companies is to do whatever it takes to ensure the sports community, namely the NFL, does not play ball with the a-la-carte TV business model but this is no small feat. The NFL’s nationally televised schedule includes broadcasting on ESPN, FOX, NBC and CBS. From CBS’s website:

“Some sporting events, including NFL coverage, are not available for live streaming through CBS All Access. We are continuing to work towards offering more live programming as part of CBS All Access.”

This is an important fact because the #1 reason people do not cut the cord is to get access to sports. Sure, if you’re a Verizon customer, you can watch the NFL via their mobile app, but Verizon Wireless’s market share is decreasing in the US. The company very well knows this and is launching it’s own a-la-carte service in mid-2015. Another key player, may be Apple, who is expected to leverage it’s Apple TV to serve as the “hub” for a revolutionary TV experience, fueled by a-la-carte programming.

While the big-players duke it out over the next few months, it will also be interesting to see how smaller channels like BET, Vh1 and even BRAVO fare out in the new a la carte TV business model. And by big players I mean Apple, the NFL, Verizon, and Walt-Disney (owner of ESPN).  Of course, you can never really count out mega-players like Microsoft and Google! I already told you about a deal between the NFL and Microsoft to get Surface tablets on the sideline and as tensions between companies and sponsors rise (see NFL-Bose-Apple, LA Clippers-Apple-Microsoft), would the NFL team up with Apple on a TV? Given recent tensions, I suspect not, which is probably the strategic alliance that most consumers would want. No one really knows how the alliances will shake out, but what we do know is that the race is on!

Exciting times for a techie like me!

Tech Companies Invest in Education

“Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit.”

tech-edThose are words from President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union. As a techie and an advocate of continuous education for all ages, that gets me excitedMashable reports that $750 million is being donated, some to low-income schools. Apple is contributing iPads, MacBooks and other products; AT&T and Sprint will provide Internet access; Autodesk and O’Reilly Media will provide software; Microsoft will “deeply” discount the price of its Windows operating system for all public schools, and provide millions of free copies of its Office software; and Verizon will provide cash and technical support. Several of the companies targeted their donations at low-income schools.

I’m a big proponent of supporting businesses that invest in “social good”, so I thought I’d share discounts you can get right now! In most cases, if you have a .edu email you will qualify immediately!

Apple: Offers Educational Pricing, up to $200 off a new Mac. You can shop Apple’s official online education store and check your eligibility here.

Microsoft: Academic Volume licensing for institutional purchasing agents, educators, or students. Free Office 365 (email, sites, online document editing and storage, IM, and web conferencing).

VerizonAT&T and Sprint all have offers and discounts up to 20% on your monthly wireless bill.

You can read more about Obama’s ConnectEd program here.