Five tales from the New Normal – 17th February

Mobile devices powering past PCs - and making us more productive. Messaging apps fetching big money. A European secure data warehouse. These are all the New Normal

Five stories showing you different sides of the New Normal, and the world we’re all living in.

Messaging apps are officially big business. With voice messaging startup Viber going to Rakuten for $900m, the value inherent in being the go-to place for messaging communications is becoming clear:

“Today, to survive, I think you have to have a messaging app, because that is where consumers are active,” said [Hiroshi] Mikitani [CEO of Rakuten], who noted that founder and CEO Talmon Marco and other key execs have a long-term commitment to stay.

Europe strikes back. Concerns over US monitoring of internet data have grown so strong that European leaders – including Germany’s Angela Merkel – are backing plans to create European data networks, secure from prying American eyes…

German companies like Deutsche Telekom have already aired the possibility of creating such networks as a way to allay public fears about data sent over the Internet being scanned and collected by the National Security Agency when it passes through servers in the United States or those belonging to American companies.

Microsoft and Apple neck and neck. The number of devices sold running Microsoft and Apple OSes last year are pretty much equal. Who would have imagined that a decade ago? The post stirred some controversy:

The comments to this post were passionate but not all that productive. It’s a pretty simply point: mobile is the next computing platform and it’s a lot bigger than PCs in unit sales, so even the smaller player can overtake the total PC business. It really didn’t occur to me that anyone would disagree with this

Need to get work done? Get out of the office. Your desk at work is a terrible place to get work done:

The anonymity the coffee shop creates is also a draw. The constant buzz of activity generates a productivity-inducing energy, but since the activity has nothing to do with your own work and you aren’t concerned someone is going to come up to you and ask you to do something or pull you into a meeting, you’re better able to feed off that energy and get work done.

Just as well our tech makes that really, really easy now, isn’t it?

Feeling like it’s too late to be an entrepreneur? Don’t give up – scientists have their biggest breakthroughs in their late 30s – and it comes even later for the artistic:

There’s evidence from the humanities, though, that genius doesn’t decline with age at all. Over 40% of both Robert Frost’s and William Carlos Williams’ best poems were written after the poets turned 50. Paul Cézanne’s highest-priced paintings were made the year he died.

Image by Nathan Siemers and used under a Creative Commons licence.