Welcome to “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.
This week we cover Comcast and Netflix’s historical deal, highlights from the Mobile World Congress, and the craziness at bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox.
Netflix pays Comcast for Faster Content Delivery
In what is a milestone in the history of the Internet, Comcast announced that Netflix will pay the cable provider to ensure its content gets delivered more smoothly. Netflix will pay to be connected directly to Comcast’s network, bypassing third-party middlemen that slow down content delivery.
This deal is sure to rekindle the debate on net neutrality, where all content providers have equal access to consumers. Comcast claims that Netflix won’t receive preferential treatment, and that these deals are common arrangements between internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon and third-party companies that route web traffic through their pipes.
A major ramification is that only the largest content providers will be able to pay to deliver their content at acceptable speeds, and content startups, like Netflix once was, won’t be able to compete.
Regardless, consumers are going to lose.
Mobile World Congress Highlights
Nokia introduces first Android phones
Microsoft who? Windows Phone what? Nokia, whose mobile division was purchased by Microsoft in 2013, confusingly launched a family of Android phones this week.
Samsung launches Galaxy S5
The new phone has an improved camera, a fingerprint scanner, a built-in heart rate monitor, and is water- and dust-resistant.
Mozilla promises $25 smartphones
At the Mobile World Congress, Mozilla announced seven smartphones with prices that start at only $25 and leverage its Firefox operating system.
WhatsApp to add voice services
After being acquired for $16 billion, WhatsApp is working on new ways to screw cell phone carriers even more by adding voice services to its over-the-top messaging service.
Mt. Gox Gets Hacked and Goes Offline
What was once the most heralded and largest bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox has gone offline after being hacked and losing around $350 million worth of the virtual currency.
Security issues have plagued the company for months and hackers have been slowly extracting bitcoin from the exchange. This kept Mt. Gox from paying out cash for users’ bitcoins, and the company ceased honoring withdrawals earlier this month. But no one knew it would be this bad.
The Mt. Gox scandal is one story in a line of bad news for bitcoin (read about Charlie Shrem’s money laundering here and the Silk Road drug debacle here) as it attempts to become a legitimate form of currency. The world of bitcoin as we know it may never be the same, and regulators are sure to give bitcoin fans a big “I told you so.”
What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.