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The Roundup June 4 Higher Tech Edition

When you swim in red oceans . . .

If a single hit product can save a company that has fallen on hard times, then Palm’s Pre smartphone, which goes on sale at midnight Friday in the US, probably has as good a shot as any.

The device has earned favourable early reviews. But catching up with Apple – not to mention other groups crowding into the smartphone market such as Google, Nokia and Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry – from a standing start is a tall order

(“Palm hopes rest on success of iPhone rival,” Financial Times, June 3) So, let me get this straight. Palm has spent the last few years watching its market share erode to better and later entries like the Blackberry. To turn the company around, they’re . . . taking on the Apple iPhone? By selling an iPhone like phone? With hardly any applications ready to go? By exclusively bundling it with the distant third of American wireless phone networks? What executive signed on off on this? I wouldn’t call this a Hail Mary pass, more like a Pray To All The Saints And Their Relics fumble.

There’s programming bugs. Computer viruses. Email worms. Now, Microsoft Bing has a . . . “porn glitch.”

Bing went live in the US this weekend, and bloggers and Internet safety experts discovered that one of its “features” needed only a few clicks for anyone, of any age, to view explicit pornographic videos without even leaving the search engine. . . .

The tool may become a liability because users can have easy access to porn videos on Bing, and not have to log on to one of the porno websites.

(“Porn glitch in Microsoft Bing,” India Times, June 2) And there’s absolutely nothing the marketing geniuses could have thought of that would more assuredly inspire rapid adoption of the Bing search engine than an undiscovered porn glitch giving overjoyed Web surfers from 8 to 80 unrestricted access to pay-for-porn sites without having to log in or spend a dime. A “glitch,” you say?

Just in case you thought you’d get a break on outsourcing tech work during a recession . . .

But outsourcing experts say the price decreases aren’t necessarily a direct result of the recession, nor are they happening industry-wide. In some cases, prices aren’t falling at all; customers are just paying for fewer or lower quality services. . . .

smaller tier two and three firms as well as Indian outsourcing vendors have been more aggressive on price “because they need to do so to keep the business, and they have little to compete on beyond price.” He notes that offshore vendors have the flexibility to give up some margin and still remain profitable.

Thus, prices for offshore application development projects or testing are the most likely to have dipped over the last year.

(“Outsourcing Prices: Why the Recession Isn’t Really Driving Them Down,” CIO, June 2) Since small businesses and shoestring entrepreneurs are more likely to do business with the second and third tier offshore providers, the good news is that offshoring prices really are coming down in the tech world. But not much. On the whole, they are competing on price by becoming more efficient. Which, if you’ve ever had to deal with these firms (I have, in spades), they suffer from grievous inefficiency.

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