Verizon gets the Pre... Sparring over the cyberczar... The next HDMI spec

What's Now | What's Next main bannerWith hours (if not minutes) to go before President Obama reveals the results of a comprehensive study of federal cybersecurity, consumer gadgets take the stage on a sleepy Friday to cap off a noisy week. We now know, for instance, just how long Sprint's exclusivity over the Palm Pre will last in the US. Did anyone have dibs on six months? No, not even that.

It's no longer the "Sprint Pre"

Evening of May 28, 2009 · In a special conference call with reporters yesterday, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam announced that the nation's largest wireless carrier will offer the Palm Pre as part of its broader lineup of smartphones. The sequel to the touchscreen BlackBerry Storm will also be in that lineup, said McAdam in comments cited by Reuters this morning.

"Over the next six months or so you will see devices like Palm Pre and a second generation Storm," Reuters quotes McAdam as saying.

Though it may be too early at this stage to gauge reactions, the announcement could only be a major blow to Sprint, more for Verizon's ability to announce it now than for any other reason. While Sprint's network quality in the US has been perceived as improving, it has had to rise from the absolute bottom of the well. Consumers considering a Palm Pre purchase next month have been weighing whether investing in Sprint's network long term will be worth it.

So consumers who do make the jump next month will be those willing to overlook Verizon's leadership in network quality, who are impressed by Sprint's "Everything" calling plan, and who don't want to wait until near-Christmas to own what could still be the coolest device of the summer. But all of a sudden, there are a lot more "if's" for consumers to consider, and Sprint cannot be happy.

Attention shoppers: Empty your wallets

Morning of May 28, 2009 · The consortium that sets the standards for HDMI would really, really appreciate it if you would spend some money already. The group has announced the HDMI 1.4 specification, which adds an Ethernet channel to the cable's capabilities, increases the data-exchange rate, and introduces the ability for the cable itself to optimize the TV image based on the content type. Of course, 1.4 will only work with a bunch of sets and boxes that aren't even on sale yet, so if you want the functionality you should prepare to lay out money for an all-new setup. Fast Company's excited, but the Associated Press could barely stifle a yawn and BusinessWeek's Cliff Edwards correctly notes that many erstwhile shoppers will simply wait until their old gear "conks out."

There's money in computing, we hear

12:43 pm EDT, May 28, 2009 · Via The Consumerist, a report reaches us from St. Louis that a Best Buy customer who dropped his PC off with the Nerd Herd Geek Squad for repairs somehow forgot that he left approximately $10,000 in cash wadded up inside it. Best Buy called the cops, who confirmed that the money was legit. Your reporter suggests that maybe if Scrooge McDuck hadn't used his tower case as a wallet, perhaps the computer wouldn't have needed "repairs" in the first place.

Friday's tech headlines

The New York Times

· As your reporter waits (and waits and WAITS) for the White House to finally announce its cyberspace security plans and who the czar will be, the Pentagon's already making plans for a military command for cyberspace. (More on this in What's Next, below.)

· Today's financial-report gloom is brought to you by Ashlee Vance, who digs into Dell's 63% drop in quarterly earnings.

· Everyone's awfully excited about that New Yorker cover the artist created on his iPhone. Gadgetwise looks at four iPhone programs that will let you make art of your own, though a cover spot... let's just agree it's still a long shot.

Los Angeles Times

· Joe Flint and David Sarno deliver a nice analysis of what the AOL-Time Warner breakup means from an entertainment-industry perspective.

· Op-Ed writer Jon Healey detours to the site's tech blog to opine on a new study from the Digital Watermarking Alliance, which presents a case for watermarking as an alternative to DRM technology. That's a dubious tech proposition for various reasons, but Healey cites some interesting stats and links to the report itself if you're curious.

The Register

· Mmm, fresh steganography. Researchers in Warsaw have found a way to send nearly undetectable messages through the Internet by manipulating a design glitch in how TCP confirms packet receipt.

· Wikipedia puts the hammer down in its long-running battle with certain overzealous 'editors" from the Church of Scientology, banning all contributions from IP addresses owned or operated by the Church of Scientology and associated entities. (No, not EarthLink. Stop that.)

· We missed the golden anniversary of monkey spaceflight? We're really just living all wrong here at Betanews. Able and Miss Baker went up and came back (take that, Laika-murdering Russkies!) fifty years ago Thursday.


· Are you easily distracted, or do your powers of concentration awe and frighten your co-workers? New research indicates that one's ability to focus depends on separate areas of the brain being able to fire in unison. The neuroscience could lead to new treatments for schizophrenia and ADHD.

· Nate Ralph got his product-reviewing hands on the upcoming Sims 3 port to the iPhone, and it looks pretty good. He wishes it had more interaction with the PC version, though.


· Harry McCracken wants to know if we should go ahead and expect Google's Wave to emerge as bloatware.

· Who knew that big hair is verboten in video games? And who knew that this would be a serious problem for video companies hoping to turn famous humans into onscreen characters?

WHAT'S NEXT? Security, as written in the czars...

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