2012 predictions: Tech vacations and slower Facebook growth


Mashable has made seven predictions for social media in 2012. While predictions can be about as accurate as throwing darts or drawing straws, one of Mashable’s predictions is a safe bet. The list of predictions is here.

I agree that Facebook’s explosive growth in terms of new members will flatten in 2012, but the amount each user spends on the site will grow. Just about everyone except my parents has joined Facebook (and I don’t see my parents joining anytime soon).

Now I’m going to ignore what I just said about predictions being hard to make and issue one of my own: People will start to take time off from the digital and virtual realms in 2012. I’ve started to see stories being published urging people to turn off their digital devices for a while or to log off of social media sites like Facebook. Mashable reports that the Caribbean nation St. Vincent and the Grenadines is challenging visitors to leave their gadgets at home as part of a “digital-detox vacation package.” Participants of the low-tech vacation will receive a guidebook telling how to function on a vacation without technology.

I think many people are getting worn out from the constant barrage of social media and texting that’s made possible from smart phones they have with them even when they’re not in front of a computer screen. That’s in addition to mobile phones making it impossible for many employees to leave work at the office.

Ericsson ConsumerLab recently released results from a survey of 2,000 American teens ages 13 to 17. The results showed teens still prefer meeting face-to-face versus texting and checking statuses on Facebook. Teens said they would miss face-to-face communication the most if it were taken away. Texting came second.

While I believe that more people will take time off from Facebook and other digital distractions this year, I will not be one of them. I am one of the statistics who relies on mobile phones, emails, Facebook and more to stay in touch with relatives and friends, and to earn a living (not to mention maintaining my blogs). If you take a digital vacation, I hope you will check out my blog once you return!

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When a Kindle is not a Kindle – Reading books on another device


My last several blogs have focused on the Kindle e-book reader – but that tablet is not the platform for partaking of the Kindle experience. Amazon.com currently offers several versions of a Kindle app for mobile phones and other devices: the iPhone; Windows personal computers; Mac computers; some models of the Blackberry; the iPad; Android phones; and the Windows Phone 7 operating system. (Click here to view the various Kindle apps and system requirements.)

I have only recently downloaded the Windows PC app; it is the only device I own that supports one of the apps. My Blackberry Curve is not one of the Curve models that are compatible with the Kindle app. I have begun reading “Aesop’s Fables.”

My impressions so far of the Windows PC app: “Page turning” is as easy as using a mouse’s scroll button or hitting forward and back arrows. Additional convenient features include a “Home” button to return to the main menu, the ability to make notes about the material, the ability to change font size and brightness and the ability to read the text in one or two columns. You can navigate easily to your notes or to highlighted sections you have marked in the text. The computer screen makes for a larger reading area than the Kindle tablet. However, this app cannot duplicate the Kindle tablet’s e-ink technology that makes electronic reading similar to reading a printed book (computer screens are back-lit, which can lead to eye strain).

Regardless of which Kindle format you use, Kindle customers have one huge advantage: Amazon.com makes your e-book available for repeated download on multiple devices. So if you lose your Kindle tablet, once you buy a new tablet you can simply re-download your e-books at no additional charge. I have downloaded a couple of the titles from my Kindle tablet to my computer Kindle app. This customer service feature provides a peace of mind for anyone who worries about purchasing a lot of electronic books only to lose the reader.  This feature helps you deal with data storage limitations too, since you can delete titles you have read to clear up room on the device; you can always download the title again in the future if you wish to read it again.

Check soon for the next Kindle blog: Further observations on the Kindle tablet

Is Apple all that?


This report by Douglas A. McIntyre with 24/7 Wall St makes a case for Apple (AAPL) as the second-most valuable corporation in America, after Exxon Mobil, in terms of market value.

Apple posted record revenue of $20.34 billion in the third quarter of 2009. Revenue was up 66 percent from the same quarter a year ago. The total value of Exxon Mobil’s shares creates a market cap of $362 billion, while Apple’s is $284 billion. That’s ahead of such giants as Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer.

McIntyre cites analysts, who point to Apple’s rapid growth, which he says is unmatched by any other major American corporation. With hot-selling iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, the analysts may be right.

 

But I can’t help thinking of the changing taste of consumers. Exxon deals with oil, perhaps the world’s most valuable commodity, while Wal-Mart of course sells such a large diversity of products and has a reputation of selling for less. Apple has done well to move beyond simply selling computers. Yes, Apple’s products are fashionable. But they are only into one segment of the economy: consumer electronics. Changing consumer preferences or bad publicity (such as the iPhone antenna problem) or the eventual loss of magnate Steve Jobs could upset the Apple cart. So I would urge caution when looking at Apple as an investment. What goes up can — and often will — go down.

 

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