5 Big Things that Happened in Tech this Week

(Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)
(Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)

Google came out a winner this week in the tech world with its acquisition of a home tech company, while Netflix and Target suffered a few financial setbacks. Here’s what you need to know about the week in Tech:

1) Google to acquire Nest for $3.2 billion

Google is venturing into the home goods market with Nest. The tech company bought the startup for $3.2 billion in cash Monday. Nest is a design firm responsible for creating modern and stylish home products, including the Protect smoke alarm and the Nest learning thermostat (you can read more about Nest and CEO Tony Fadell here and here).

Fadell told USA TODAY’s Ed Baig that the move was “methodically planned” and talks began last summer. Fadell said Nest wanted to “partner with certain teams at Google for technology, for infrastructure for various things.”

2) Appeals court rules against FCC on net neutrality

An appeals court ruled against the FCC on Tuesday in a case that dealt with the way broadband providers treat Internet traffic.

The ruling: The U.S. Court of Appeals said the FCC can regulate how Web traffic is managed, but it can’t impose regulations on companies such as Verizon based on how they are classified by the FCC.

What does this mean? The Associated Press said this ruling “empowers leading Internet providers to decide which Internet services they will allow consumers to access over their networks.”

3) Netflix exposed as net neutrality rules gutted

The federal court’s decision on net neutrality might put Netflix in a tough spot.

The company may face an additional $75 million to $100 million in annual content delivery costs from Internet service providers for access to their customers with a Netflix subscription.

What does this mean for Netflix customers? Netflix may have to raise its subscription prices to make up for the price hike from the ISPs. BTIG Analyst Richard Greenfield told USA TODAY’s Alistair Barr it would be in the best interest of these ISPs to play fair with Netflix so the company doesn’t pull out entirely — Netflix accounts for a considerable amount of all data transfer on the Internet every day.

4) Retail industry security hacks may surge in 2014

Target gave millions of customers another post-holiday headache last week when it reported the extent of the hack on its website over the holidays. The company reported Friday that cyber-thieves stole the personal data and credit card data of at least 110 million customers.

Even worse news: there may be more cyber-attacks like this in the near future. Cyber-security experts told USA TODAY’s Alistair Barr and Laura Petrecca that thieves can make billions of dollars from a hack if they steal upward of 50 million user accounts on commerce sites.

There’s some hope that credit card data will be more secure. New credit card technology known as EMV, an encrypted chip that requires a personal identification number for credit card use, will be in 90%-95% of all credit cards within two years.

5) How will we watch TV in five years?

Are TVs going mobile, or are they going big with 4K TVs? A little bit of both. USA TODAY’s Ed Baig shared his predictions at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show on a panel with executives from Starz, Twitter and Verizon.

Some of the highlights:

• 4K TV: Baig said, “Some of you, perhaps most will own at least one big, beautiful 4K TV boasting four times the resolution of HDTV.”

• More mobile: Baig said, “You might also have the option of watching on a smart watch or wrist TV or some type of high-tech spectacles that will make Google Glass seem primitive.”

• Personalization: Starz TV strategist John Penney said, “Your personalized device — your phone or tablet — becomes the remote control for the cloud, delivering the content to you whether it’s in that big screen, through socially enabled discovery, or to the back of a car seat or an airplane.”

SOURCE: Julia Ryan

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