Monday, April 27, 2015

Microsoft hints at impending write-off of Nokia acquisition that could total billions | Computerworld

A different kind of expectation-setting

"Microsoft currently carries $5.46 billion in "goodwill" from the Nokia acquisition on its books, as well as another $4.51 billion in intangible assets. The Redmond, Wash. company had attributed the Nokia goodwill to "increased synergies that are expected to be achieved from the integration of NDS [Nokia Corp.'s Devices and Services business]."

That value may now be greatly overstated, Microsoft acknowledged.

"The valuation of acquired assets and liabilities, including goodwill, resulting from the acquisition of NDS, is reflective of the enterprise value based on the long-term financial forecast for the Phone Hardware business," the firm said in last Thursday's 10-Q. "In this highly competitive and volatile market, it is possible that we may not realize our forecast.""
Microsoft hints at impending write-off of Nokia acquisition that could total billions | Computerworld

Apple Watch and Hands Free Computing | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

Insights after "approximately a month using the Apple Watch"

"For me at least, the hands-free freedom of the Apple Watch is one of the more compelling areas. It is one I think signifies the potential of all wearable screen-type devices. I can set my phone anywhere in the house, and not have the fear of missing out on something important that would compel me to keep it near me at all times. I can play tennis, work in the garden, cook, do the dishes, shave, drive, and a host of other things which require my hands not hold a smartphone and not miss what I have deemed is the important stuff. The value of curated wrist based notifications allow me to interact with the digital world, or maybe even better stated, allow the digital world to interact with me, without having to be captive to a screen in my hands. Of course, you still need to use your hands to operate the watch, but the interactions are designed to be short and quick."
Apple Watch and Hands Free Computing | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

The Sensor-Rich, Data-Scooping Future - NYTimes.com

Perhaps the "big data" meme is fading; it appears only in the article category and tag list, in this case

"G.E., Google and others expect that knowing and manipulating these patterns is the heart of a new era of global efficiency, centered on machines that learn and predict what is likely to happen next.

“The core thing Google is doing is machine learning,” Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, said at an industry event on Wednesday. Sensor-rich self-driving cars, connected thermostats or wearable computers, he said, are part of Google’s plan “to do things that are likely to be big in five to 10 years. It just seems like automation and artificial intelligence makes people more productive, and smarter.”"
The Sensor-Rich, Data-Scooping Future - NYTimes.com

Nest CEO Tony Fadell on the Future of the Internet - WSJ

Final paragraphs of an Internet forecast

"In many ways, the Internet of the future will feel different from the Internet we know today. Instead of seeking it out, we’ll be surrounded by it. And instead of extracting data from it, we’ll be fed a constant stream of curated, personalized information to help us solve problems and live better—and live better together.

The question will be whether we actually listen and use that information to make better choices. Some things never change."
Nest CEO Tony Fadell on the Future of the Internet - WSJ

Picking apart Google’s Project Fi - Business - The Boston Globe

Fee(Fi) => ho-hum?

"And Project Fi’s prices aren’t necessarily bargains. Google will charge $20 a month for unlimited talk and text messages. For data, the customer pays $10 per gigabyte; if he uses less, the user gets a prorated rebate applied to the next month’s bill.

The average US smartphone user uses about 1.8 gigabytes of data per month, and so would pay around $40 a month for Project Fi. For the same amount, Cricket Wireless provides 2.5 gigs of data and drops the price to $35 for automatic payment plans."
Picking apart Google’s Project Fi - Business - The Boston Globe

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Featured On Tim Cook’s Keynote – What It Takes | Monday Note

Check the full post for a peek behind the curtain

"At last October’s introduction of the new iPad Air, the creators of a clever iOS app named Replay were invited on stage. To get there, they went through a selection process that illustrates Apple’s perfectionism — and hidden application sophistication."
Featured On Tim Cook’s Keynote – What It Takes | Monday Note

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dropbox’s Collaborative Note-Taking Service, Dropbox Notes, Heads Into Beta Testing | TechCrunch

A cloud collaboration contender

"Essentially, Dropbox’s Notes service is a lot like what was previously offered by the Y Combinator startup HackPad, which had grown to be a well-liked app for taking quick notes at conferences, events, and in the classroom. As it has now become the basis for Notes, it’s clear that Dropbox is not aiming to compete directly with Microsoft Office by offering its own robust, online document creation service in the cloud, like Google did with Google Drive (Docs), but is instead focused on making it easier to create simple notes as a part of Dropbox user’s daily workflow.

The new addition will also make Dropbox more usable on mobile devices, where people need a way to jot down quick ideas."
Dropbox’s Collaborative Note-Taking Service, Dropbox Notes, Heads Into Beta Testing | TechCrunch

Defense Secretary Tries To Thaw Relations With Silicon Valley, Opens New ‘Defense Innovation Unit X’ | TechCrunch

Also see Pentagon Announces New Strategy for Cyberwarfare (NYT)

"He announced a new effort called “Defense Innovation Unit X,” which will be a point of partnership based in Silicon Valley and which will be staffed by a mix of active-duty and civilian personnel. They are expected to scout for new technologies and try to find ways for startups to work with the Department of Defense.

The move comes at a time when areas traditionally relegated to heavyweight defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing like satellite and drone development are being increasingly being handled by privately-held, venture-backed startups or by Google and Facebook, which are trying expand Internet access in the developing world."
Defense Secretary Tries To Thaw Relations With Silicon Valley, Opens New ‘Defense Innovation Unit X’ | TechCrunch

How Amazon’s Cloud Business Is Growing | Re/code

Another attempt at an apples-to-apples cloud comparison

"Compare that to IBM, for example, which likes to boast of its $7.7 billion cloud business (2014 revenues), but that includes its business of selling cloud-based applications or software-as-a-service, something Amazon doesn’t offer. The part of Big Blue’s cloud business that is most directly comparable to AWS is the “as a service” portion, which is made up mostly of its SoftLayer unit. It posted revenue of about $3.8 billion.

It’s a similar case for Microsoft, which today disclosed that its cloud business is on a run rate to deliver $6.3 billion in revenue this year, but that includes applications too, including Office 365 and Dynamics. The size of its infrastructure portion isn’t known.

Then there’s Google, which still reports its cloud operations in much the same way that Amazon used to: In an “other” category that includes everything that’s not advertising. That’s on a run rate to about $7 billion, but its impossible to know how much of that comes from the Google Cloud."
How Amazon’s Cloud Business Is Growing | Re/code

Amazon Swings to Small Loss While Revenue Jumps 15% - NYTimes.com

Yesterday was a big day for earnings announcements; also see At $17.3 Billion, Google’s Quarterly Revenue Rose 12 Percent and Microsoft Profits Slip Less Than Projected, With Revenue Up 6% (both NYT)

"Amazon resumed its money-losing ways in the first quarter, even though it sold a lot of things.

The retailer lost 12 cents a share for a net loss of $57 million, as revenue rose 15 percent — a little more steeply than expected, especially in light of the company’s size — to $22.72 billion.

Analysts had projected a loss of 13 cents a share on revenue of $22.39 billion, according to Thomson Financial. Last year, Amazon had a profit of 23 cents a share in the first quarter."
Amazon Swings to Small Loss While Revenue Jumps 15% - NYTimes.com

Once Comcast’s Deal Shifted to a Focus on Broadband, Its Ambitions Were Sunk - NYTimes.com

Preserving the existing oligopoly, for now...

"The government’s verdict on the merger and its stance on net neutrality were separate issues, but they were very much intertwined. At the end of the day, the government’s commitment to maintaining a free and open Internet did not square with the prospect of a single company controlling as much as 40 percent of the public’s access to it. All the more so given the accelerating shift in viewing habits, with increasing numbers of consumers choosing streaming services like Netflix over traditional TV. In this sense, it didn’t really matter if Comcast and Time Warner’s cable markets overlapped. The real issue was broadband.

“The simple way to think about the problem with the Comcast merger is that once they get that big, they’re pretty much too big to regulate,” said Marvin Ammori, a lawyer who helped lead the campaign for net neutrality."
Once Comcast’s Deal Shifted to a Focus on Broadband, Its Ambitions Were Sunk - NYTimes.com

With Amazon Atop the Cloud, Big Tech Rivals Are Giving Chase - NYTimes.com

Excerpt from a cloud market dynamics snapshot
"Microsoft ranks a distant No. 2 in cloud computing. It is hard to precisely compare the two businesses because of how Microsoft reports its cloud results. Microsoft said on Thursday that its annual revenue from its commercial cloud business would be $6.3 billion based on its recent performance, while Amazon said the comparable annual figure for AWS was $5.16 billion.

Microsoft, though, also includes revenue from different online applications into that figure. Its revenue from a cloud business called Azure, which is more directly comparable to Amazon’s cloud services, was recently estimated by Deutsche Bank to be as little as one-tenth of that from AWS."
With Amazon Atop the Cloud, Big Tech Rivals Are Giving Chase - NYTimes.com

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Google Project Fi: an attempt to control the stack | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

Check the full post for some insightful Project Fi analysis

"An Apple-like level of control over this stack is appealing, because it allows the company to manage the experience its customers have to a far greater extent. Part of Google’s challenge is carriers embraced it in the early years precisely because they saw it as something that could be molded to fit their needs and they’ve largely used it in that way. Whether to fight off the iPhone, to offer lower-cost smartphones, or to push their own apps and services. All this goes against Google’s real mission for Android, which is to put in consumers’ hands a Google ecosystem, which takes us back to Sundar Pichai’s remarks. Android was created as an ecosystem, but it largely exists within OEM and carrier ecosystems and its appeal and effectiveness as an ecosystem is limited by their involvement. What Google Fi does for Google is to free it from these encumbrances and allow the user to have an all-Google experience on their smartphone. It’s interesting to put this in the context of the various efforts by companies to control elements of the smartphone stack:"
Google Project Fi: an attempt to control the stack | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

Airmail via Drones Is Vexing for Prisons - NYTimes.com

Signs of the drone times

"DJI, the company that manufactured the drone that crashed at the White House, announced in March that its new geofencing software would make its devices inoperable within roughly 16 miles of the White House. The company said it was working to create similar no-fly zones for “sensitive institutions and national borders.”

An organization called No Fly Zone has introduced a website where individuals, business owners and others who do not want drones overhead can enter their addresses into a database. Those addresses will be provided to drone manufacturers who have agreed to program their devices not to fly over those locations."
Airmail via Drones Is Vexing for Prisons - NYTimes.com

Box Opens Tools for Developers, Suggesting the Future of Business Software - NYTimes.com

Excerpt from an overview of the latest Box plan to morph into a cloud platform

"“It’s hard to duplicate what AWS has, impossible. We’ll get beat on price all day, every day,” said Chris Yeh, the senior vice president for products at Box. “But Amazon also feels like it has a lot of complexities to work with. The things we do around content, like giving you ways to search for things, encrypt content with easy management, or make it possible for readers to view all kinds of things, is what gives us leverage.”

The developers that Box wants will also be, the company hopes, a means by which some yet-unknown great new software will be developed."
Box Opens Tools for Developers, Suggesting the Future of Business Software - NYTimes.com

Facebook’s Hello Android App Adds Social Data to Incoming Calls - Digits - WSJ

See Introducing Hello (Facebook Newsroom) for details

"The app can also be configured so it “automatically blocks calls from commonly blocked numbers,” according to the blog post. And users can treat the app like a phone book, searching for people and businesses on Facebook and calling them “with just one tap.”

Facebook is using its vast “social graph” of user information to become a part of actual phone use, rather than just part of a mobile browsing experience. In an example from the blog, the company says “if a friend tells you about a new restaurant in your neighborhood, you can use Hello to find their hours, make a reservation and get directions, all without leaving the app.”"
Facebook’s Hello Android App Adds Social Data to Incoming Calls - Digits - WSJ

Facebook’s Growth Slows Slightly, but Mobile Shift Intensifies - NYTimes.com

Upwardly mobile

"The world’s largest social network reported on Wednesday that almost three-quarters of its advertising revenue and most of its 1.44 billion users came from cellphones and other mobile devices in the first quarter of the year.

And Facebook is beginning to make a similar transition from text to video, with its users already watching four billion videos a day, an average of four per person (although the view may be more like a glance, since Facebook considers three seconds long enough to count)."
Facebook’s Growth Slows Slightly, but Mobile Shift Intensifies - NYTimes.com

Cheap, simple cellular? Google answers the call - Business - The Boston Globe

Also see Google's New Wireless Service Should Make Verizon and AT&T Squirm (MIT Technology Review) and Google’s Wireless Service: What It Means for Consumers, Google and the Carriers (Re/code)
"But the founder of another wireless upstart thinks that’s just fine with Google. “They’re not trying to massively disrupt,” said Stephen Stokols, president of FreedomPop. Instead, he thinks it’s a replay of Google Fiber, the company’s superfast Internet service. It’s available in just a few cities, but Google Fiber’s popularity is goading major broadband companies to boost their network speeds, making Google’s online offerings more attractive.

FreedomPop offers features similar to Project Fi, such as phone calling over Wi-Fi networks and the right to roll over unused data bits. But Stokols thinks Google’s biggest innovation is a phone that can switch between multiple carriers."
Cheap, simple cellular? Google answers the call - Business - The Boston Globe

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Now you can control your PowerPoint presentation with your Apple Watch | 9to5Mac

Also see OneNote for iPhone also gets Apple Watch enhancements (SuperSite for Windows)

"Microsoft has today updated the iOS version of Powerpoint to allow you to use your Apple Watch as a remote, to start presentations, navigate to the next slide and track your progress by viewing elapsed time, current slide number and total number of slides. The watch app currently only controls the iOS version of Powerpoint, not the OS X version."
Now you can control your PowerPoint presentation with your Apple Watch | 9to5Mac

Netflix: A Lot More than “House of Cards” | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

Excerpt from a Netflix/AWS synergy snapshot

"Last year, the company had revenues of $5.5 billion, up 25.8% from 2013. Profits were $267 million. Streaming delivered 88.9% of the business though it has only been in 2007 that Netflix’s business consisted entirely of shipping DVDs and Blu-rays.
But another place Netflix has by itself is as a huge and extremely clever, successful user of Amazon Web Services (AWS), to which it moved its operations in 2010. Any Netflix service a customer gets — from signing up to a subscription to making the service available on just about any device capable of displaying the content to watching a showing of “Orange Is the New Black” to data and streaming is handled on AWS."
Netflix: A Lot More than “House of Cards” | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

Aaron Levie: Box Will Help Customers Build, Won’t Stop Spending to Get New Ones | Re/code

A pivotal day for Box

"Box has a market value of $2.1 billion, down 38 percent just three months after its IPO. When Mossberg queried Levie about Box’s profitability issues, the CEO quickly parried, “It depends on your definition — but no, we’re not.” Then Levie wondered out loud if that comment shouldn’t be scrubbed from the record because the SEC might not like it.

On the eve of a two-hour keynote tomorrow announcing new platform services, Levie didn’t go into too much detail about Box’s new tools. But he explained his company wants to “help dramatically accelerate [its customers’] ability to build really great transformative software.”"
Aaron Levie: Box Will Help Customers Build, Won’t Stop Spending to Get New Ones | Re/code

How Amazon Swooped in to Own Cloud Services - Bloomberg Business

A big week for AWS

"On April 23, Amazon plans to disclose the numbers for its cloud business for the first time, in its quarterly earnings report. Analyst Karl Keirstead at Deutsche Bank estimates annual revenue of about $6 billion, about 10 times the revenue of its closest competitor in the public cloud market. Amazon’s cloud business may be the fastest-growing corporate technology business of all time and executives contend that it can grow to be bigger than the company’s $83 billion-per-year retail operation. The only thing standing in Amazon’s way are giants like Microsoft, Google, and the rest of a computing industry that, at long last, has woken up to seek revenge."
How Amazon Swooped in to Own Cloud Services - Bloomberg Business

Google Set to Unveil Wireless Service - WSJ

For the Google Nexus 6 only, initially

"Google Inc. is set to unveil its new U.S. wireless service as early as Wednesday, pushing the Internet giant further into telecom and injecting fresh uncertainty into a wireless industry already locked in a price war.

In a key development, the service is expected to allow customers to pay only for the amount of data they actually use each month, people familiar with the matter said—a move that could further push carriers to do away with lucrative “breakage.”"
Google Set to Unveil Wireless Service - WSJ

HP’s Audacious Idea for Reinventing Computers | MIT Technology Review

Elsewhere in the article: "The first 'Machine' should be complete sometime before 2020"

"The Machine is designed to overcome these problems by scrapping the distinction between storage and memory. A single large store of memory based on HP’s memristors will both hold data and make it available for the processor. Combining memory and storage isn’t a new idea, but there hasn’t yet been a nonvolatile memory technology fast enough to make it practical, says Tsu-Jae King Liu, a professor who studies microelectronics at the University of California, Berkeley. Liu is an advisor to Crossbar, a startup working on a memristor-like memory technology known as resistive RAM. It and a handful of other companies are developing the technology as a direct replacement for flash memory in existing computer designs. HP is alone, however, in saying its devices are ready to change computers more radically."
HP’s Audacious Idea for Reinventing Computers | MIT Technology Review