5 Things The Tech World's Watching This Week
Tablets, a new digital tollbooth, a traveling e-tailer, a smartphone tie-up, and a would-be titan toppler -- sounds like the plot for a Hollywood action movie, or, at the very least, the stuff that will dominate high-tech headlines in the coming days. Here's what to watch as the week unfolds.
1. Microsoft (MSFT) opens Windows
Tuesday morning, Microsoft will kick off its BUILD Windows developer conference, which should serve as the first public unveiling of Windows 8. The keynote begins at 9 a.m. PT.
The debut is important for a couple of reasons. First, it'll give users and investors alike some insight into how Microsoft plans to keep Apple (AAPL) at bay in the PC market. The Mac maker is one of the few American computer suppliers to enjoy growth in this lousy economy.
Second, the unveiling should give users a closer look at the first Windows tablets. Samsung is rumored to be Microsoft's preferred hardware partner for the initial run of Windows 8 tabs. Can the pair succeed? Odds are long against, given Apple's success at wooing developers to the iOS platform, while Google (GOOG) struggles to get key suppliers to commit to Honeycomb -- its own tab operating system.
2. New York Times Co. (NYT) starts charging a toll
Newspapers have yet to cash in on the promise of digital, but that won't stop New York Times Co. from trying as hard as it can. This week the company's New England staple, The Boston Globe, unveiled plans to begin charging $3.99 a week for online access. (The site will remain open until Sept. 30.)
The move separates the Globe from Boston.com, an all-purpose site for local information and deals. How the two will share the some 6.2 million unique visitors who currently make their way to Boston.com is unknown, but Globe editor Martin Baron told PC Magazine that BostonGlobe.com will differentiate itself by focusing entirely on reporting.
What isn't changing is the incentive model. Just as New York Times Co. gives free digital access to print subscribers, so, too, will the Globe.
3. Amazon.com (AMZN) speaks Spanish
Will the eurozone's financial troubles translate into weakening consumer demand for luxuries such as books and music? We'll know more soon. Citing Spanish newspapers El Pais and El Mundo, PaidContent.org says e-tailer Amazon will make its way to the Iberian Peninsula on Thursday, with Spaniards getting their own Kindle app by the end of the year.
The sites report that Amazon will begin by offering physical goods only -- DVDs and electronics as well as books, for example. Longer term, PaidContent reports that Amazon is aiming for a substantial share of the Spanish e-book market.
Cracking the code may prove difficult. The top Spanish publishers have already formed their own distribution group. Amazon would merely offer an alternative, though the Kindle could prove advantageous as the company tries to establish a foothold.
4. Sprint Nextel's (S) Leaky Email
This isn't the first leak about the new iPhone. Last week, Bloomberg cited sources that said essentially the same thing. The message? Whatever leverage telcos had in grabbing new subscribers has been eaten by Apple. Simultaneous network launches for popular handsets is about to become the New Normal.
5. Goldman Sachs (GS) Grants an Audience
Finally, this week marks the annual DEMO Fall conference, in which start-ups pitch to an audience of heavy hitters, including big-name entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Why pay attention? DEMO is well known for introducing tech rebels with a penchant for shaking up markets. LogMeIn and Fusion-io are among the now-public enterprises to have debuted at DEMO.
Which will be the next big winner is anyone's guess, but Angelsoft could be worth watching. The company is building a worldwide network of Angel investors -- i.e., rich individuals who make small bets on private companies -- and in the process is threatening to disrupt the way early- and late-stage tech business get funded. If successful, the model could mean fewer commissions for the likes of Goldman. (The banker stands to reap a windfall from brokering tens of millions in investment capital for Facebook and others.)
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 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 Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of AT&T, Google, Apple, Amazon.com, and Microsoft and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple.