Sun showed its manners last week: It threw a party for Java's 10th birthday, then went out of its way to get along with its guests. It even let one, SeeBeyond, have nearly $400 million. But while Sun spent some time looking back, the look ahead raises the most interesting questions. What will the next big customer-data rip-off look like, and could it be sporting white ear buds? Will WiMax take off for broadband wireless or will lesser-known competitors move in? Is India's government prepared to
Sprint: Not All Bets On WiMax
Sprint Corp. and Motorola Inc. are working together to test wireless broadband services using WiMax. But Sprint pointedly noted it hasn't necessarily selected WiMax as its future wireless broadband technology.
Sprint is eyeing wireless multimedia services and mobile WiMax services for the tests, which will be in labs and outdoor environments. Sprint is "investigating multiple technologies in support of future wireless interactive multimedia services," chief technology officer Oliver Valente said in a statement.
Nextel Communications Inc., which is merging with Sprint, also said last week it will test a rival technology to WiMax, UMTS TDD, in the Washington, D.C., area. Nextel previously tried Flash-OFDM technology in North Carolina.
India Guards Its Golden Goose
Responding to what he called a "media sting operation," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired meetings with government and IT-industry execs last week to consider whether India needs changes in existing laws to protect data and fight cybercrime. The shakeup comes after an undercover reporter at a British newspaper allegedly bought personal data on 1,000 British customers from a call-center employee.
Singh asked the Department of Information Technology and Nasscom, the country's IT-industry organization, to suggest any changes needed to make sure "any breach of secrecy, any illegal transfer of commercial or other privileged information, and any other form of cyber crime is made a punishable [offense]," according to a statement. India exported $17 billion in software and IT services and is expected to grow 30% in the coming year, Nasscom estimates. But with countries worldwide vying for that business, Singh and fellow politicians can't afford to ignore the issue.
Congress' Healthier Approach
It's often noted what a laggard the health-care industry is in using IT. Less-often noted: The government, which has a huge stake in saving money and lives through better use of IT, hasn't been effective in urging it forward. Lawmakers have recently become eager to change that.
Last week, two pairs of U.S. senators--Mike Enzi, R-Wy., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Max Baucus, D-Mt.--proposed bills to spur IT's use. The Enzi-Kennedy bill includes a provision to create a public-private entity to develop national data standards. The bill also would ensure that privacy and security are central to these standards and require that all federal IT purchases conform to the standards. In addition, it would provide grants for health-care providers to deploy health IT systems, and let states offer low-interest loans for health-care providers to buy and deploy IT systems. The bill also would let hospitals give health-care IT systems to doctors, something they're reluctant to do today for fear of anti-kickback laws.
The Grassley-Baucus bill focuses on perhaps the feds' most-influential force, the Medicare program. The bill proposes tax incentives and higher Medicare reimbursements for hospitals and providers who deploy IT to reduce costs and improve patient care.
--Marianne Kolbasuk Mcgee
Find That Podcast
So you wonder whether any podcasts are offering raves or flames of your company's latest product. How do you find out? Blinkx, a startup search company trying to build a name with its video capability, last week added the ability to search podcasts and video blogs. The company uses voice-recognition software to search multimedia files, delivering what it says are more accurate results than the major portals, such as Google, Microsoft's MSN, and Yahoo.
Blinkx's site focuses on TV video, which it searches and shows through partnerships with content providers, such as CNN and Fox News. In order to gain access to content not available for free over the Web, Blinkx, like other video search engines, has to negotiate agreements with the content providers. In the case of podcasts, which are audio programs created by individuals, or video blogs, the multimedia version of Weblogs, they're found by Blinkx's Web crawlers, founder Suranga Chandratillake says.
Blinkx started searching the new forms of media because of the surge in this kind of content and demand from people using its service, Chandratillake says. Podcasts make up 95% of this kind of content and video blogs 5%. Blinkx tracks 20,000 podcasts over the Web, representing 500 hours of audio content a day. "We're the biggest podcast repository in the world," he says.
Blinkx won't lack for company, however. America Online, Google, MSN, and Yahoo are moving fast into multimedia search, with AOL last week debuting voice-recognition search on its free Web portal.
5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.