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MacFive: Nov 9: Top News of the Week

MacFive™ — Top News Stories of the Week: For November 9 we look at everything from Plasmonic Lithography and Air Bearings to Apeer for the Mac to a new article by Roughly Drafted that expands the ideas of technology disruption, first brought to critical light by Clayton Christensen.

No. 1 – Three Types of Technology Disruption

Roughly Drafted dissects the three types of “disruption in technology” in this finely thought out piece here. Daniel Eran Dilger has written a very interesting article illustrates the differences between what he calls Conventional Disruption, Dropped Ball Disruption, and Fantasy Disruption

What distinguishes his article for me is the notion of the three types. This is compared of course to Clayton Christensen’s landmark book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.”  BusinessWEEK actually has the first chapter to Christensen’s book here. If you have read this book then you will find the Roughly Drafted article interesting to you. It adds another layer of thought to what Christensen so deftly defines. This is all very useful reading for people in technology and in technology investing. I highly recommend it. 

No. 2 – Apeer Comes to the Mac

For those in the business and enterprise space this might excite you. A hot new software product in the collaboration space is by a company called Apeer, Inc. This week they announced that they will unveil a Mac version at conference in Los Angeles. 

Apeer touts it has the world’s first “all-in-one group communication and collaboration” platform with Apeer Professional. A new and unique product Apeer enables synchronous and instant multi-user exchanges using multimedia and documents. All parties can simultaneously view photos, hear music, see videos in real time over the Internet, all in one window. To discuss things with each other Apeer supports built in voice and chat. You can read more about it here.

No. 3 – Apple’s Mac mini and AppleTV may just become one

Yes, this my hunch at least. ArsTechnica has a story telling Apple Mac mini fans to “just be patient.” But patient for what? It appears that an Apple executive tipped off that Apple has something afoot for the mini. Everyone knows of course that Apple’s hobby, AppleTV is still just a hobby but Jobs is being coy about that and has been since the start. Apple clearly has aspirations about the TV, movies and the iTunes Store. In fact, couldn’t it also be possible that PA Semi folks at Apple are working on a specialized chip for the future AppleTV? 

No. 4 – Whose the Real Father of the iPod?

Cringley has really outdone himself this time. In this illuminating read Robert X. Cringley of PBS has concocted a grand chess game strategy behind the departure of Tony Fadell and the hiring of IBM’s Mark Papermaster. 

Moreover, Cringley goes on to say that Jobs really wants Papermaster to head up the PA Semi folks for a secret line of scalable processors (main board cpu’s) that are “optimized for Snow Leopard and beyond.” But in order to throw off the judge he needed to put Papermaster in Tony’s position because heading up the iPod and iPhone division means putting Mark Papermaster into a consumer product line and that means nothing about what he is doing centers on the IT enterprise or the business of computers. Pretty neat, huh? 

And remember what I wrote last week about this. What does the Noncompete Agreement really say? There are three levels to the noncompete clauses. One centers on being a “significant competitor” to IBM. They aren’t even in the same business arenas. Two, a “major competitor” of the company. Same as one. No. And three, “engages in competition with business units or divisions of IBM.” 

This last one is the the catch. Apple’s PA Semi division does, will and can engage in direct competition with Big Blue’s semiconductor business. 

No. 5 – Of Luke Skywalker’s Speeder and the Future of Microchips

Okay, so we all know that in Star Wars there is a whole range of technology wonders that may or may not ever come to pass in our life here on Earth. Or anybody’s life here on Earth. The possibility of a real lightsaber is one of them — unfortunately. Boo…I always wanted one. 

Now researches at UC Berkley are blazing ahead with a new technique in focusing light rays in a process called “plasmonic lithography” and it promises to get those little patterns etched onto silicon-based chips reduced to even tinier scales, thus shrinking chips while etching more circuitry onto them. 

Plasmonic lithography converts light into waves called plasmons, a type of radiation that unfortunately doesn’t radiate very far. So, in order to get such tiny waves of light etched into silicon one must use a non-physical, non-mechanical cushion, thus the “air bearings” technique. Air bearings enable the suspension of the key lens to get within 20 nanometers above the surface of the chip during the etching process. So…remember thinking, “how does Luke’s speeder actually float about the surface of Tatooine?” 

Ah…perhaps it was air bearings?

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