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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Top 10 tech trends for 2006

Once again, it's time for the Mercury News annual look into a crystal ball for technology trends in 2006. Never mind that the smartest people in tech wouldn't dare make serious predictions about what innovations will catch fire next year. We make a humble try anyway.

Video -- in the form of your favorite TV dramas or Hollywood hit movies -- will come to the big screen in your living room and to the small screen on your cell phone. Whenever you want it. No need to mess around with time-shifting TV devices or mail-order flicks.

Video comes to blogs to begat vlogs. For anybody who's getting tired of reading all those wordy blogs (short for Weblogs) posted on the Internet on every conceivable niche topic, video comes to the rescue. If a picture is worth a thousand words, video might be worth even more. Now anyone can subscribe to vlogs and have the latest installments automatically delivered to the computer desktop (and transferred to a portable player, such as the video iPod).

Meanwhile, Internet phone calls will become more common now that major Web companies Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are making it easier to call from your desktop computer.

For those of us who occasionally depart the virtual world for the real one, defending ourselves from all kinds of biological threats -- real or potential -- becomes a growth industry in 2006. Biotech companies step up to fight what could be the biggest threat of all, from nature itself -- bird flu. Other companies work to find a better, faster way to make vaccines for the wintertime flu that kills many thousands every year.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Yahoo! plans to shoot Skype with Messenger

Internet media giant Yahoo! has fired the first salvo in a pricing war with Skype with plans to introduce a new internet voice service within days.

Yahoo! is releasing an upgrade to its popular Messenger text, voice and video communications software with the addition of a feature that's familiar to Skype's 68million worldwide users.

"Phone out" will let people make calls from computers to regular telephones while "Phone in" will let computer users receive telephone calls. The service mirror's Skype's equivalent service, named "Skype in" and "Skype out."

Yahoo! said it would undercut Skype's pricing plans for the telephone services, charging just 1¢per minute to people calling the US from countries such as Russia. It will charge 2¢ a minute to call 30 other countries, including Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea.

A Yahoo! spokeswoman said it would make the Yahoo! Messenger service available in 180countries, with downloads available from, although as of late on Friday the site was yet to go live.

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