Last Week's 5 Biggest Technology Storylines
From Facebook's initial rollout of its redesigned timeline to Samsung's launch of the new Galaxy S4, this was a big week in tech. Here's what you need to know.
A music-discovery service from Twitter?
A visit to We Are Hunted's website delivers disappointing news to fans of the music-discovery service, with a message reading, "We Are Hunted is not available at the moment." Coincidentally, hours before the message appeared, CNET reported that Twitter had acquired the music-discovery service with plans to release its own standalone music app, to be called Twitter Music.
CNET's unnamed insider asserts that the service could launch as early as the end of this month. The report says Twitter Music will suggest "artists and songs to listen to based on a variety of signals, and is personalized based on which accounts a user follows on Twitter. Songs are streamed to the app via Soundcloud."
If rumors are true, Pandora's competitive landscape is about to heat up. Beyond Twitter, Google and Apple are both reported to be working on their own music-subscription services as well.
There's more to Facebook's new timeline than a "cleaner look."
While a cleaner layout may be the defining feature behind the way Facebook is promoting its new timeline, investors can be thankful that there is more to the redesign than that. Available to a select few users on a random basis, the new timeline allows for greater customizability for users in the way their profile page is displayed and the type of content they want to browse in the news feed.
For instance, users can now differentiate between books they've read versus books they want to read, as well as movies they've watched and movies they want to watch.
"The new design is all about making content richer and more immersive," Facebook's Julie Zhuo, director of product design, said to investors on March 7. Greater engagement and customizability, of course, is excellent for Facebook advertisers; with more detailed information from members and a more captive audience, advertisers can provide more targeted, relevant, and effective campaigns. The new timeline, therefore, looks like yet another point on the scoreboard for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he continues to build out Facebook's competitive position.
Netflix deepens its integration with Facebook
Also revealed in the March 13 press release from Facebook was Netflix's deeper integration with the social-media company: "If you're a movie buff, you can add your favorites to your movies section or use apps like Flixster and Netflix to share what you're watching," the press release stated.
The statement was short and sweet, but it has huge implications for Netflix.
After a court ruling last December, Netflix had been prevented from sharing users' viewing data. But after a long legal battle, users can now link their accounts to Facebook and share their viewing data with their friends. This move brings Netflix a significant step closer to Facebook's more than 1 billion members.
Samsung unveils the Galaxy S4 to an unimpressed crowd
The unveiling of Samsung's Galaxy S4 smartphone with a 5-inch display didn't come with any significant surprises this week. The new phone is nothing more than an incremental upgrade and a slightly larger display.
"You say you want a revolution? Too bad, because this Galaxy smartphone update is just that ... an update," said Engadget's Joseph Volpe. But product launches with nothing more than incremental upgrades are nothing new, of course. Apple pulled it off successfully with the both the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4S. But will Samsung be able to do the same? Apple investors don't seem to feel threatened. Apple's stock rallied more than 2.5% in the trading day following Samsung's highly anticipated launch.
Fellow Fool Evan Niu believes that the reason "Apple investors are feeling confident today is that the Galaxy S4 may not be able to live up to the hype." Furthermore, he continued, "that's the downside of an overt attempt to artificially drive anticipation, since it can potentially lead to feelings of disappointment."
Will Apple increase its dividend this week?
As the one-year anniversary of Apple's dividend approaches on March 19, speculation continued to heat up last weak regarding the company's plans for its cash hoard. It was over a month ago when Apple released a statement acknowledging that "Apple's management team and Board of Directors have been in active discussions about returning additional cash to shareholders."
Until Apple announces its plans, we can only guess about what Apple might actually do. Warren Buffett thinks Apple should buy back more shares, and I agree. But what do you think Apple should do? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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The article Last Week's 5 Biggest Technology Storylines originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Daniel Sparks has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple, Facebook, and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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