IT is urbanizing, McDonald’s gets it, but Woonsocket doesn’t (yet)

My favorite UK TV producer once had to sell his house in Wimbledon and move to an apartment in Central London just to get his two adult sons to finally leave home. Now something similar seems to be happening in American IT. Some people are calling it age discrimination. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but the strategy is clear: IT is urbanizing — moving to city centers where the labor force is perceived as being younger and more agile.

The poster child for this tactic is McDonald’s, based for 47 years in Oak Brook, Illinois, but just this summer moved to a new Intergalactic HQ downtown in […]

Can Amazon’s Echo Dot Make a Good SIDS Alarm?

It was 15 years ago this week that my son Chase Cringely died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at age 74 days. I wrote about it at the time and there was a great outpouring of support from readers. Back then, before the advent of social media, parents didn’t get a chance to grieve in print the way Mary Alyce and I did. We shed a light on SIDS and, for a couple years, even led to some progress in combating the condition, which still kills about 4,000 American babies each year.

When you lose a child, especially one who dies in your lap, as Chase did with me, […]

Amazon bookstores: It’s the drones, stupid

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 10.52.27 PM Remember the motto of the Clinton Presidential campaign back in 1992: “It’s the economy, stupid!” That election was about the economy and Clinton won as a result. Well Amazon.com this week let slip its plan to open 300-400 bookstores in U.S. cities, sending Wall Street analysts into a tizzy because bookstores look to them like a lousy business even for the world’s biggest bookseller. But this isn’t about selling books. This Amazon plan — if it happens at all — is about creating bases from which to fly delivery drones.

Delivery drones are to me a stupid idea except in certain rare circumstances like flying prescriptions to people living […]

The Cringely boys Kickstart Mineserver™, a $99 Minecraft server

When my three sons, ages 13, 11, and 9 decided to do a summer business together I thought it could be almost anything. After all, they’ve visited three dozen tech startups with me in our RV and they’ve been surrounded by technology entrepreneurs their entire lives. What business would it be?

I just never expected a $99 Minecraft server.

It’s brilliant, really. Minecraft is hugely popular but the Minecraft hardware market is almost nonexistent. It’s not that nobody thought to do such a server but that it’s a business idea most entrepreneurs would see as not having legs. It will scale, sure, but will it endure? In a few months someone — no doubt someone in Asia — will copy the idea, […]

Google’s OnHub router may save WiFi from itself

OnHubGoogle this week introduced its first WiFi router and my initial reaction was “Why?” WiFi access points and home routers tend to be low-margin commodity products that could only hurt financial results for the search giant. What made it worth the pain on Wall Street, then, for Google to introduce this gizmo? And then I realized it is Google’s best hope to save the Internet… and itself.

WiFi is everywhere and it generally sucks. WiFi has become the go-to method of networking homes and even businesses. I remember product introductions in New York back in the 80s and 90s when we were told over and over again that it cost $100 per […]