Microsoft, Facebook, Skype Round out Must Know News

Memorial Day has indeed ushered in a big week for tech news, starting with an EU antitrust review of Facebook’s WhatsApp acquisition which has been approved in the US. According to the Wall Street Journal:

The social-network company has approached the European Commission, the EU’s central antitrust authority, to ask it to review the blockbuster deal, people familiar with the matter said. The commission has informed national competition authorities of the request, one of the people said. The move, which may lead to an official investigation at EU level, could enable Facebook to avoid potentially burdensome antitrust probes in multiple EU countries.

As the article points out, European carriers have a lot of concerns about this acquisition as they effectively become dumb pipes only if Facebook controls the text, social and voice communications. The article points out that Europe seems to be on an anti-American tech company tear as of late with the recent ruling regarding the right to be forgotten – this time targeting Google and forcing them to remove links that users don’t want to be found. I’ve mentioned this before as well with regards to France – it seems Europe is not all too happy with the US tech world.

Facebook unbundles

Speaking of Facebook, one author at MIT Technology Review points out it is becoming like Google+ meaning it is being unbundled and in-part will function as a digital-identity service, texting service, etc. The idea here is to track users even more heavily in order to better target them for relevant advertising.

Moving to Microsoft, the company is working with Facebook on submarine cable across the Pacific and eventually elsewhere. It seems they are ten-years late in copying Google but the reason to own your own network seems to have grown in a world where cloud is more important than apps.

The robots are taking over warehouses and translation

In other news, Amazon will be ramping its uses of robots by a factor of ten while Skype announced Translator which can auto-translate live voice in various languages and more.

If there is a theme here it is disruption and domination. Google may have just disrupted LanguageLine Solutions, a service I wrote about last year. Moreover, Amazon’s use of proprietary robots as a result of the Kiva Systems purchase means domination in the warehouse as their costs will be lower than others when fulfilling orders.

One last thought is Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 got another poor “laptop replacement” review today. Still, I ordered one as an Ultrabook replacement and will let you know if it is worth keeping. It is Redmond’s answer to the “post-PC device era” and it remains to be seen how well it is received in the market. My initial reaction was positive. We’ll see if it lives up to expectations.

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