The great trend this year is Everything 2.0. What does this mean? Lots of online interactive applications, aka "apps", and the hits just keep on coming. What's amazing is that most of these apps are free, at least for the basic versions - there are usually "better" and "best" versions with enhanced features for a monthly charge. These apps do things for which ten years ago we would've shelled out hundreds of dollars for a software program in a box.
For example, yesterday brought an article from PC World announcing that both Microsoft (with Office Live Workspace beta) and Adobe (by purchasing Buzzword) are moving into what they call the "online office productivity" market.
Last week, there was an article in Computerworld called "five free apps we couldn't live without" and it included one of my favorite apps, Zoho Creator. This is an application that does lots of cool things but here's what I love most about it: you can take an Excel spreadsheet and abracadabra turn it into a database in a few seconds! All you have to do is copy everything in the Excel spreadsheet, paste it into a box on Zoho, click the button, and in seconds you have a database that you can add records to and manipulate easily. And it's so much nicer than an Excel spreadsheet. Highly recommend trying it.
One bit of bad news though - eBay is having problems with Skype. When they bought Skype a couple of years ago there was a lot of hype but I guess it hasn't done very well. Which is too bad because it can be a really great communication service - especially for talking to people in other countries. But apparently the business model isn't working: "The Skype service has been tremendously popular as a free service. But at some point, free doesn't work anymore. It's not a management problem. It's a business model issue."