Microsoft appealed to the healthy sense of paranoia that dwells within us all when they released news about the upcoming Microsoft Vine yesterday. The Vine will be a news aggregation and communication device. It will collect all news reports going into an area and send you pertinent information when disaster strikes (or if your local team wins the Pennant).
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The Vine was first envisioned after Hurricane Katrina, as a durable and reliable way for families to stay in touch during disasters and avoid spending anxious hours without being able to contact loved ones. The Vine is able to send and receive from text messages and email. If you want, you can send out blanket updates to everyone on your contact list at once.
Of course, Microsoft isn't limiting the Vine to just being an emergency device. The best way to make sure people have something on their person at all times is to make carrying that thing become an indispensable part of their daily routine. The Vine will be capable of connecting to Facebook and Twitter, on top of everything else.
People are spending a lot more of their time these days thinking about what they would do in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. Despite the relative rarity of such events, the intense media scrutiny they receive keeps them at the forefront of many people's minds. Microsoft is brilliant to hook into this building collective paranoia we have and milk it for cash.
I have no doubts that the Vine will be an exceptionally capable device, but I foresee it morphing into a primarily social gadget almost immediately. The Vine is still in a very primitive beta form, and Microsoft knows that a gadget like this will sell better if they can give it as many everyday uses as possible. Still, if disaster does strike better communications certainly won't hurt anything.