Google Wants Your Cell Phone

The Dougster is on vacation this week, so look for his Redmond Report to return next Monday.

Google's attempt to purchase the wireless spectrum and set preconditions on the use of that spectrum has touched off speculation on where the company plans to go with this strategy.

Google claims to have set aside $4.3 billion for the upcoming spectrum auction. Some think that Google will come out with its own cell phone in an attempt to one-up Apple's iPhone. But because of its preconditions -- which require that networks be open to all -- it seems more likely that the company is planning on selling mobile services.

What do you think? gPhone or search-on-the-go? Send me your analysis at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

What's Old Is New Again
Amazon.com may be reviving the grocery-delivery business model again, more than five years after the demise of the likes of Webvan and Peapod. Amazon is testing the delivery of perishable groceries to customers in a Seattle suburb as part of a pilot program.

The business models of eight years ago failed largely due to the costs of stocking and delivering groceries. In addition, sales didn't grow as fast as expected, as it appeared that many people would rather shop for themselves.

Amazon has been delivering non-perishable goods in the Seattle area over the last year. The company expects to expand the perishable delivery program to the same area in the future.

I prefer seeing my fruits and vegetables before purchase, and like to check the expiration dates on other perishables. What about you? Shoot me your order at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Is Your E-Passport Vulnerable?
Anyone who applied for a passport since the middle of last year likely received a document with an embedded RFID chip containing personal information. The purpose of the chip is to enable passport readers to capture and use that information without a passport scan. The U.S. passports use a stored digital copy of the passport itself as a biometric identification.

Recently, however, computer security expert Lukas Grunwald copied and manipulated the content of an RFID passport, then used the hacked e-passport to crash the RFID reader.

While Grunwald used a German passport in his tests, the technologies are similar enough for some to claim that the U.S. e-passport will have the same issues.

I purposely renewed my own passport shortly before the first e-passports came out, even though I had another year to run. Do you trust the e-passport? Let me know at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: What Are the Most Influential Tech Products?
Last week, Lafe reported on CompTIA's recent survey of the most influential technology products of the last 25 years. At the top of the list? Internet Explorer. Here are some of your own nominations:

What about our friends at Apple? Remember them? They are the ones who got us out of the "beige boxes." They are also the ones who were first to use USB and FireWire, and let's not forget the fact that they introduced us to the desktop that we love so dearly. I remember the days of DOS and Windows 3x. If it weren't for the folks at Cupertino, we wouldn't have the Recycle Bin or be able to "drag and drop" anything. The Mac computers and OS have shaped the way we all compute.

The networker in me also celebrates the auto-negotiate hub/switch, as well as Cisco, whose products have created so much work for all of us.
-Robert

Surely, the Opera Mini -- the Java-based cell phone browser which lets my own basic Nokia 6610 and my wife's only slightly less basic Motorola RAZR browse the Web -- deserves to be on that list. It's a tiny miracle of software design!
-Fred

Comments? Questions? Criticisms? Let us have 'em! Post your thoughts below or send an e-mail to pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.

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