Writing a weekly column on tech is actually pretty easy, considering the huge amount of material out there to cover. Almost too much, which is why I occasionally need to sum up a bunch of recent developments in a patchwork column like this one.
LCD prices to drop
The good news is that Sharp, LG and Chunghwa Picture Tubes pled guilty to fixing prices on LCD panels from 2001 to 2006, and agreed to pay US $585 million in fines for violating anti-trust laws. The bad news is that if you shelled out for an LCD TV or monitor, that money will not be coming back to you, the consumer who paid Sharp, LG, and Chunghwa too much for LCD panels. Companies affected include Apple, Dell and Motorola.
The consolation is that prices have come down and are continuing to drop, which means your next purchase should be a lot more reasonable. Consumers can also take heart that somebody out there — in this case the U.S. Department of Justice — is watching tech companies to keep things honest.
Classmates.com is going to court
Before MySpace and Facebook there was Classmates.com. Everyone I know signed up, hoping to be able to get back in touch with friends from high school and university, but certain services were only available for an annual fee. Most people didn’t pay. In my entire graduating class of 200 people, I think just three people shelled out for the premium account.
I was tempted, but in the end decided I wasn’t getting much for my money other than contact information that I could probably get if I sent out a few chain e-mails to classmates I’m still in touch with. I can’t seem to un-register, and get a monthly e-mail letting me know that more classmates have joined, and also that those classmates are looking for me. I took it all with a grain of salt, and trashed those e-mails — their pitch was no more convincing than all the people trying to send me pharmaceuticals and degrees to the University of Phoenix.
Anthony Michaels was different. He took the Classmates pitch literally, and shelled out $15 believing that his classmates were actually trying to reach him. When he found out it was a lie, he sued to try and force Classmates.com to return millions of dollars in subscription fees.
It will likely take years to resolve this if Classmates decides to go to court. Classmates.com is one of the largest advertisers on the Internet and is claiming 40 million registered users — if it goes down, it will probably take other sites with it.