Twitter IPO a sign of the times
Twitter's November initial pubic offering was three bellwethers in one: a coming of age for the microblogging site; another milestone in the rise of social networking as a major force in contemporary culture; and a signal that a hot stock market was igniting the tech IPO market once again. After setting an IPO price of $26, Twitter shares shot up to $50.09 on its IPO day before closing at $44.90. The share price gives Twitter a $24.5 billion market capitalization, not bad for a company with no profit. Investors are banking on the company's ability to use the cash infusion from the IPO to build up its infrastructure and invest in mobile and video technologies. Twitter is just the marquee name on a roster of other tech companies that have gone public lately, riding a stock market that has fueled a 25 percent rise for share prices of Nasdaq tech companies so far this year. But the big question for Twitter is how it will be able to best monetize its millions of users.
Samsung's Galaxy Gear and the advent of smartwatches
Despite its poor reception with early reviewers, Samsung's Galaxy Gear, unveiled in September, has helped establish the smartwatch market. The watch sports a 1.6-inch screen and displays email, text or call notifications from a few Galaxy smartphones. Samsung is also working to make the device with products such as TVs and various network devices. The Galaxy Gear suffered from issues including intermittent notification problems for many users, and critics attacked Samsung's long-perceived weaknesses in software engineering and design. But the company reported that it shipped 800,000 of the watches to retailers within two months, making it the most popular such device. With Qualcomm and Sony also launching smartwatches, a Google device expected soon and an Apple smartwatch reportedly in the making, users can expect the competition to result in more polished, advanced devices.
Google Glass: sideshow or the future of computing?
Google Glass was first unveiled in 2012 year and is not expected to be generally available until next year. But it was the most hyped wearable in tech this year as developers got their hands on prototypes, followed by a select group of early adopters who had shelled out $1,500 to get "Explorer" versions of the devices -- essentially optical, head-mounted display computers that users can control with voice commands. Public reaction has provided an inkling of how wearable technology might affect culture. Police arrested a driver who was wearing the device; a surgeon used the device while performing surgery; government officials raised questions of privacy since facial recognition is an obvious application. Meanwhile, Google announced it would disallow sex-related applications and declared that facial recognition applications would not be enabled until privacy questions have been settled. Expect another wave of Glass mania when the lower-priced commercial version comes out next year.