5 Things the Tech World's Watching This Week
Congressional testimony, a big bet on a small handset, faster wireless service, a cloud computing disruption, and two tech titans tying hands. No, it's not the plot for a Hollywood movie but rather the stuff that will dominate high-tech headlines in the coming days. Here's what to watch as the week unfolds.
1. Grilling Google (GOOG)
Former CEO and current Chairman and legislative liaison Eric Schmidt goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subpanel Wednesday to testify about the company's dominance of search markets. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Google for antitrust violations since earlier this year.
Witnesses that include Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman are expected to testify that Google has used its search dominance to unfairly aggregate data and fortify its own services (Places, for example) that would otherwise falter. Google had been including Yelp data from to beef up its own listings. News magazine The Hill reports that Yelp has since complained, forcing Google to pull the data and instead purchase restaurant reviewer Zagat.
Schmidt and his team of lobbyists must deflect this sort of inflammatory testimony if Google is to avoid facing the sort of all-out antitrust assault Microsoft (MSFT) endured from 1998 to 2001.
2. Verizon (VZ) revs up
The Big Red Carrier is trying to bring fast wireless to a wider audience with the launch of a new $99.99 handset called the Pantech Breakout. Available immediately, the device offers arguably the cheapest way to access new LTE networks that deliver data at speeds usually reserved for desktop users.
Like most new handsets, the Breakout's low sticker price is conditional on buyers agreeing to a two-year service plan. But that may not matter. New research from In-Stat predicts that smartphone usage among small-office and home-office workers will rise 44% from 2010 to 2015. The message? More of us want more data no matter where we are, and we'll need access to fast networks -- LTE, in other words -- to get it.
3. AT&T (T) also quietly guns it
The new Ma Bell -- the one that's still trying to marry Mr. T-Mobile -- casually announced last week that its LTE service would go live Sunday. Thus the week began with AT&T's brand of hyper-fast wireless heading to parts of Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
So far, the news is being obscured by reports that seven states have joined the Department of Justice in seeking to block AT&T and T-Mobile from merging. Attorneys general from California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington have joined the fight against the buyout bid, which AT&T has characterized as a needed stimulant for a U.S. economy that's struggling to create jobs.
4. Apple (AAPL) backs it up
The maintenance announcement was sent to a private developer forum and means only that users looking to restore their devices during the downtime (from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time) won't be able to use iCloud to do so. Call it a minor inconvenience with potentially major implications.
5. VMware (VMW) could get clouded out
Finally, Cisco (CSCO) now says it will support the new virtualization technology that Microsoft introduced at last week's BUILD conference. Why should you care? Virtualization allows one server to host lots of software, making the well-publicized concept "cloud computing" possible.
To this point, VMware has dominated the market. Microsoft entered the fray years ago but has yet to attract the most serious users of virtualization technology. Convincing Cisco to become a partner could change a few of these entrenched minds and deal a blow to VMware in the process.
And that's the week to come. What stocks are you following right now? Please weigh in using the comments box below. You can also click here to send Tim an email with your suggestions.
Motley Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Microsoft, and Apple, and has created a bull call spread position on Cisco. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of AT&T, VMware, Cisco, Microsoft, Apple, and Google, as well as creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft.