One of this year's big stories remains the commencement of a huge number of tablet computers hoping to compete with the Apple iPad. One recent announcement looks very attractive: Hewlett-Packard will soon be announcing or showing the much awaited webOS tablet based on Palm Pre phone technology.
The Palm Pre and its innovative operating system or OS were huge hits when announced but quickly withered away due to various delays and missteps by the now defunct Palm. Many believe that the webOS operating system is perfect for tablets, and it does look attractive.
The main problem to address will be price. I believe that any real competition for the iPad has to combine excellent features with a low price point to succeed. For example the excellent Samsung Galaxy Tab reviewed here recently could be a sensation if priced around $200 or lower, but remains too expensive at its current various price points. The first company to combine power, portability and low price will win this fight. Until then the iPad will dominate.
n Near-field communication is a term that you will be hearing much more about this year. Generally it refers to a wireless system that works up close, around 4 inches currently.
Its main attraction is the possibility of using cell phones and other devices to make payments wirelessly at retailers. As you might imagine, this offers a large incentive for merchants as it would make paying for any item with a cell phone very simple.
There are already various versions of this technology being used and announced, as well as physical alternatives that use plug in devices to swipe credit cards. Mobile payment technology will be a hot trend from now on, and even Apple is rumored to be vitally interested in it. This technology combined with the outreach of the Apple iTunes sales machine could be huge.
n Facebook continues its march toward domination of much of our online life. I have introduced probably hundreds of friends and clients to the service as I feel it's essential in your online portfolio. Having said that, one issue I see coming up often for businesses is that they become too dependent upon Facebook for marketing and communicating with customers. This is a huge mistake.
Businesses must have a Facebook and Twitter presence in the current market, but Facebook in particular can be a heartbreaker. It is the strength of the service that makes it so hazardous, in fact. They have succeeded by moving quickly and taking huge risks, making significant changes in the service.
For this reason I always advise any business to build a strong e-mail list and operating site separate from but integrated with Facebook and Twitter. This is simple to do using APIs, what you might call digital hooks.
Facebook and Twitter integrate nicely with Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla and other popular blogging and site building tools. There are also "Open Graph" tools available to any site that make hooking into Facebook very simple. Twitter also makes this easy, although a bit different to implement.
* Finally, for all who like to share files and media in various ways, check out divShare. The first five gigabytes of storage is free, and it integrates nicely with Facebook and Twitter.
* I'd like to say a quick thanks for all the e-mails and comments I received on last week's article honoring local tech legend Sam Hill. Many readers also suggested possible subjects for future columns.
E-mail Donnie Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.