Summer’s over and it’s back to business. The Microsoft announced late on Labor Day evening here in the US that it was buying Nokia’s phone handset division for 7.2 Billion dollars. The company even published a 30-page PDF of a PowerPoint presentation on its site that outlined the strategic rationale for the purchase. It’s very colorful, if you like PowerPoints. (Nokia, when not getting parts of itself bought by Microsoft, also just launched an embedded Internet-linked navigation and infotainment system called Here Auto.)
The IFA Berlin show is up and running this week, and bringing with it plenty of tech announcements. LG Electronics announced a 55-inch OLED television called the LG Gallery that looks like a painting in a frame — except with a 2.2 channel speaker system inside, with most Van Gogh reproductions don’t include. LG has also jumped back into the tablet race with its G Pad, an 8.3-inch Android tablet with an HD display.
Acer also had a few new products to announce, including a 24-inch all-in-one computer with a Nvidia Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip inside that’s running Android Jelly Bean 4.2 and a phone with a 6-inch screen called the Liquid S2. It runs on the 4G data networks and it can also shoot video in ultra high-definition 4K. Acer also has a 10.1-inch Iconia A3 Android tablet coming too. Samsung, Sony and several other companies all had IFA announcements as well this week.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear was also formally announced this week. While we’re checking our watches, Google recently completed the acquisition of smartwatch maker WIMM Labs. WIMM Labs put out its own smartwatch in 2011, but Google itself has not commented on any smartwatch plans of its own. (It did, however, rename the next version of Android after a candy bar.) Amazon, not to be left out of product news, released a new version of the Kindle Paperwhite.
Target is getting ready to introduce its own video-on-demand service called Target Ticket. Maybe you’ll be able to order up a Target Ticket flick on a PlayStation 4 console this fall, as Sony has confirmed its next generation game console will have voice command ability through the Eye camera peripheral.
Another government agency besides the National Security Agency has been tripping through the phone records of Americans. This time, the situation involves drug-fighting federal and local law enforcement officials from The Hemisphere Project using an AT&T database to check out call logs that go back to 1987.
Apple finally confirmed that it’s having a September 10th press event. Photos have been popping up around the Web purporting to show a batch of the lower-cost iPhone 5C models tucked into the same types of clear plastic boxes used by Apple to sell its iPod Touch and iPod Nano media players, so we’ll see if those were real or rumor-driving props designed to make the tech blogs hyperventilate.
Skype has just celebrated its 10th birthday. The little startup accounted for 167 billion minutes of international voice traffic in 2012, much to the traditional telephone companies’ dismay. And speaking of 10-year anniversaries, the Daily Telegraph newspaper over in London has named its “10 Most Annoying Social Media Features of the Past 10 Years.” Go poke yourself, Facebook.
Oh yeah, and CBS and Time Warner finally made up and restored order in the cable universe for several million subscribers. Stand down, Big Bang Theory fans.