'Strange New World': Tech Picks of the Week

Please pardon any typos you guys find in this week's "SNW" as our fingers are just now thawing out after spending Tuesday on the Mall in D.C. Sure, the new president has been dominating the news cycle this week but there are a few nuggets of tech news out there. Apple actually had a great year, Sprint's got a cheap wireless plan and Yahoo is getting back into Internet TV. Here, now, are our picks of the week.

Apple: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Apple's CEO, guru and founder Steve Jobs announced recently that he would be stepping down to concentrate on getting healthy. He said he has a hormone disorder but he previously had issues with pancreatic cancer and there is no telling if that has returned as well. We all wish Steve the best of luck and hope he gets back to work soon. But coming on the heals of this bad news is some really good news from Apple: The Cupertino-based company reported a record quarterly profit of $1.61 billion on record revenue of $10.17 billion. Apple reported a profit of $1.58 billion on revenue of $9.6 billion during the same period a year ago. It sold a record 22,727,000 iPods during the quarter, up 3 percent from last year this time, and it also sold about 4.3 million iPhones, 88 percent more than last year at this time. This number is somewhat skewed because the iPhone was only available in three countries at this time last year.

Sprint to Introduce an Ultra-Cheap Unlimited Calling and Data Plan

Sprint Nextel's Boost Mobile group started selling a $50-a-month wireless plan this week that includes unlimited calling, wireless Web, walkie talkie and text messaging. Now, before you guys get all crazy here, this is a different network than Sprint's main wireless network; this is Sprint's pre-paid/ pay-as-you-go walkie talkie network, sort of like its Triple A franchise.

It also will probably be limited to a few basic, standard issue phones, so don't head to the Sprint store expecting a $50-per-month smart phone. Still, this is a pretty good deal for people who really don't need a full-feature phone and just need a cheap handset for basic communication. The effects of this news have already been felt on Wall Street as Sprint's main competitors in this business -- Leap Wireless and MetroPCS -- have watched their stock prices tumble since this news broke.

Yahoo TV?

Yahoo has made some interesting moves in the non-PC platform of the television recently, offering a free, simple-to-use and clever iPhone-like interface that resides on a TV.

The service connects to widgets that offer services like stock, news and weather information, connections to Flickr and eBay, as well as Netflix movie streaming and on-demand shows from major broadcasters, cable networks and YouTube.

Yeah, yeah, we know, interactive TV has been done but Yahoo is trying a different approach here. Instead of bundling everything in one package, users can organize widgets "a la carte," sort of like the apps on an iPhone and they can download new ones offered by Yahoo or third parties.

Unlike some interactive television platforms out there, the service is not tied to a set-top box or a PC. Instead, the software resides in the television. It's being offered right now from Samsung and Vizio with others on the way. All you need is an Internet connection to the TV and you're good to go.

Comments