The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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January 1, 2014

After a blah 2013, new year brings clearer images on future of technology

(Continued)

Amazon says it is planning to use drones to deliver some packages within 30 minutes of being ordered online.

But commercially produced drones will face a few more roadblocks before they take to the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that it selected six states to test unmanned aircraft system, but it's unclear when drones will have easy access to the nation's airspace.

Companies to watch:

Microsoft endured a tumultuous 2013, including the continued deterioration of the PC market and the retirement of longtime chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Now all eyes are on the company as it attempts to find its footing.

"Their successes are overwhelmed by their failures," said Rob Enderle, technology analyst for the Enderle Group. "They do need to simplify the company. They're fighting too many battles and they need to bring it back to something that can be managed."

Twitter, on the other hand, has the opposite problem — the social media company needs to grow, and grow quickly. Fresh off its 2013 market debut, the six-year-old company can boast that 18 percent of all Americans have an account on the service, according to data from the Pew Center for Internet and American Life.

And though Twitter must focus on aggressive growth to satisfy investors, it also has to be careful not to lose its scrappy start-up vibe, particularly as it faces competition from an ever-growing wave of new messaging services such as Snapchat, which lets users send private messages that erase themselves after 10 seconds.

Watch your back:

Cybercrime is expected to become even more common in 2014, posing a tricky challenge for tech companies and retailers encouraging consumers to share information online.

Most recently, hackers gained access to as many as 40 million credit and debit cards used by customers of Target during the height of the holiday shopping season, and analysts say that breach was only the tip of the iceberg.

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