5 Tech Observations to Start Your Day, Oct 16

As I'm writing this blog, I'm starting to realize there's no way it will be posted by 9:01 a.m. eastern. Alas, I was up late last night working on a few items -- hence my late start today. But that's why we named the company After Nines Inc. -- so that our team doesn't have to rise early after burning the midnight oil. Now, onto our top five technology observations, news nuggets, rumors, gossip and chatter for Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.

Actually, today's list involves 11 nuggets. Here you go:

11. Apple Announcements: Yes, today is the next Apple product reveal day. Most eyes are focused on iPad and Mac enhancements. But I'm far more interested in Apple HomeKit and Apple Pay -- which transforms your iPhone into a digital wallet that eliminates the need for credit cards during in-store purchases. Indeed, Apple Pay may go live on Oct. 20, according to some leakage involving Panera Bread. For more details, watch Tech News Today with Mike Elgan today. (I co-anchor that Netcast on Tuesdays.)

10. Beacons and Apple Pay: Speaking of Apple Pay, what if the payment technology worked with in-store beacons that track your movements? For instance, you could wander the PC aisle in Best Buy. The beacons will recognize your location and send you the most appropriate special offer to trigger a PC purchase. Then, you pay with Apple Pay. The beacon sees the Apple Pay transaction, and now sends your smartphone a fresh round of additional offers -- perhaps for cloud applications or security products that work with your PC. Some of this technology is in place. More is coming. But stores like Best Buy have no plans -- at least not yet -- to embrace Apple Pay.

9. Keep Checking Back: I've decided to post this blog before it's even done. Check back a few times to see additional bullets before. When I post a teaser for our newsletter at the bottom of this blog, you'll know this entry is finally complete.

8. 401K Pain: Have you checked your retirement accounts in recent weeks? Chances are the balance is heading in the wrong direction amid recent Wall Street turbulence. Check in with your financial advisor and ask about tax harvesting strategies, particularly for near-term accounts. Sure, everybody knows about tax harvesting but a lot of us haven't done it in recent years because the market has been climbing...

7. IoT Reality Check: Venture capitalists will invest more than $1.6 billion this year in the Internet of Things (IoT), according to Cisco Systems. I agree: IoT is a hot topic of conversation. But I'm a bit skeptical of that $1.6 billion figure. Is the IoT market simply about managing IP endpoints? Does it include wearable computing like smart watches? And what about home appliances that get IP addresses? Is that all lumped into the Cisco estimate, too? My point is this: Don't get preoccupied with a market's predicted size or anticipated growth rate. Instead, simply figure out if you have a unique opportunity to cash in.

6. The U.S. Wage Debate Continues: Most small businesses already pay above minimum wage, and most are in favor of increasing minimum wage, according to a study from The Hartford. Of course, wages and compensation remains a hot-button across America, as the middle class allegedly loses ground to the top 1 percent earners year after year. The situation heated up even more when a Wells Fargo employee sent his CEO an email requesting a $10,000 raise -- for him and 300,000 other employees. My general take on the situation: Big companies should be sharing more of their profits with rank-and-file employees -- perhaps through annual bonuses rather than salary increases, just to keep expenses in check during down years.

5. Cloud Management: Ericsson is buying Sentilla to boost its cloud management and analytics capabilities. As part of the deal, Ericsson is throwing around terms like software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV). Ericsson is hoping to promote the management tools into the telco vertical. Then again, so is just about every other cloud software management company on the planet.

4. OpenStack Irony: Meanwhile, cloud startups focused on OpenStack keep getting acquired. The latest example involves EMC buying Cloudscaling, which apparently will be announced Oct. 28. The 9:01 blog has mentioned OpenStack-related buyouts multiple times -- including Cisco's deal for Metacloud (Sept. 23, item 1). It's sort of ironic: Rackspace helped to pioneer the OpenStack market, but the cloud provider hasn't been able to sell itself to potential suitors this year.

3. Taking Flight: IT entrepreneur Chris Chase, CEO of Directive, posted this drone video to YouTube. Pretty awesome, eh?

2. Ya had to Be A Big Shot, Did Ya?: Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, has admitted that he was too quick to announce plans for his now-postponed Initial Public Offering (IPO), according to The Independent. In the article, Levie insists Box can still be profitable. Perhaps he's right, but can you think of a more competitive market -- file sync and sharing? -- that's filled with so many giants giving away services?

1. More After Nines Moves: I'm speaking with a Chief Marketing Officer later today. She previously helped to pioneer the IP phone market. And she keeps launching new companies. Who is she -- and what tips will she share with IT entrepreneurs? We'll share more clues from her -- and numerous CEOs -- in the weeks ahead.

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