smart-toysIs It Really a Good Idea to Buy 'Smart' Toys for Children?

Sure, the idea of buying a child's toy that's connected to the Internet seems like a reasonably good idea. But is it really?

"Toys with an online connection are at their core just another IoT device, often replete with the same ills and vulnerabilities. Plus, they have the added horror of occasionally pointing a microphone or camera at your child," writes Brian Barrett of Wired.

Barrett notes that Internet-connected toys and games can be converted into botnets or virtual armies of "zombie machines used by hackers to launch denial-of service-attacks against websites, servers, or other pieces of internet infrastructure." 

Maybe this would be a good year to stick with old-fashioned toys that blink, spin, bounce or fly - without reaching out into cyberspace.

apple quarterlyGet Ready for a Wider Choice of Smartphones

If you're tired of seeing everyone basically using the same bunch of smartphones, here's some good news: Two of China's largest smartphone providers, Huawei and Xiaomi, are apparently planning to sell their phones in the United States. The Chinese companies are reportedly talking with Verizon and AT&T about deals for marketing their smartphones in the U.S. next year.

"While Huawei and Xiaomi have been able to rank in the top five smartphone vendors globally without breaking into the U.S. market, the newfound ability to tap into the world's third-largest smartphone market will help the Chinese vendors expand their global shares further," writes Rayna Hollander of Business Insider.

aws_article_011Amazon Digs Deeper in the Cloud Economy with SSO

Jeff Bezos has already disrupted the world of retail. Now he's got his sights set on enterprise cloud computing. 

When AWS launched its Single Sign-On (SSO) service, one of its goals was simply to create another good reason for choosing AWS over other cloud services. "The (SSO) service centralizes the management of multiple AWS accounts, as well as additional third-party applications tethered to those accounts," writes Trevor Jones of TechTarget.  

While there's nothing wrong with Amazon's move, it effectively raises switching costs for companies that consider moving to another cloud provider. That's a smart business tactic, and it definitely fits nicely into the Amazon playbook.

From my perspective, this is a clear signal that Bezos is thinking strategically about the cloud. If I were calling the shots at Google, Microsoft or IBM, I'd be trying to figure out his next move - and trying to stay one step ahead.