Monday, July 21, 2014

Riding the Juggernaut That Left Print Behind - NYTimes.com

Perhaps time to revisit The Information Diet

"Nothing can compete with the shimmering immediacy of now, and not just when seismic events take place, but in our everyday lives. We are sponges and we live in a world where the fire hose is always on.

But once a sponge is at capacity, new information can only replace old information. Last month, researchers at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand published a study that found that comprehension, concentration and retention all went off a cliff when information was taken in online. (Then again, there are those who say that we see everything and remember nothing because we don’t have to, that the web now serves as our memory.)"
Riding the Juggernaut That Left Print Behind - NYTimes.com

Talking the Cloud Business with Amazon CTO Werner Vogels | Re/code

A timely Hadoop reality check

"And Redshift also has the analytics piece. Does that mean it’s essentially AWS’s answer to Hadoop?

I find that is slightly disappearing, actually. If you look at MapReduce by itself or Hadoop by itself, it’s just a distributed execution engine. You still have to write your own analytics programs, which turns out to be rather bothersome for businesses. … Among our customers like Netflix, they’re making heavy use of Elastic MapReduce. It drives their realtime operations; it drives their recommendation engine, their business dashboards. But we see quite a few other companies moving away from MapReduce and toward Redshift because you don’t need to write any analytics code anymore."
Talking the Cloud Business with Amazon CTO Werner Vogels | Re/code

Friday, July 18, 2014

Introducing Kindle Unlimited: Unlimited Reading and Listening on Any Device—Just $9.99 a Month | Business Wire

Kindle Unlimited launched today

"Amazon.com today introduced Kindle Unlimited—a new subscription service which allows customers to freely read as much as they want from over 600,000 Kindle books, and listen as much as they want to thousands of Audible audiobooks, all for only $9.99 a month. Finding a great book is easy, and there are never any due dates—just look for the Kindle Unlimited logo on eligible titles and click “Read for Free.” Customers can choose from best sellers like The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and The Lord of the Rings, and with thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible, like The Handmaid’s Tale and Water for Elephants, the story can continue in the car or on the go. Kindle Unlimited subscribers also get the additional benefit of a complimentary three-month Audible membership, with access to the full selection of Audible titles. Kindle Unlimited is available starting today and is accessible from Kindle devices or with Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps. Start your free 30-day trial today at www.amazon.com/ku-freetrial."
Introducing Kindle Unlimited: Unlimited Reading and Listening on Any Device—Just $9.99 a Month | Business Wire

Sources: Hadapt acquired by Teradata, will lead to more employees in Boston | BetaBoston

Smart move, if the "sources" are accurate; Hadapt otherwise had the potential to become a significant Teradata competitor

"Sources report that Cambridge-based Hadapt has been acquired by Teradata.
Word from those close to the deal is that the acquisition involves a combination of cash and stock worth $50 million.

Teradata, a big data/business analytics company headquartered in Ohio, has offices in San Diego and Georgia. From what I hear, Hadapt will remain in the Boston area, its team will stay intact, and it will become a “Teradata company”; but, of course those details can change."
Sources: Hadapt acquired by Teradata, will lead to more employees in Boston | BetaBoston

Inside the Artificial Brain That’s Remaking the Google Empire | Enterprise | WIRED

A deep and widely-leveraged "Google Brain"

"In addition to the Google Maps work, there’s Android’s voice recognition software and Google+’s image search. But that’s just the beginning, according to Jeff Dean, one of primary thinkers behind the Brain project. He believes the Brain will help with the company’s search algorithms and boost Google Translate. “We now have probably 30 or 40 different teams at Google using our infrastructure,” says Dean. “Some in production ways, some are exploring it and comparing it to their existing systems, and generally getting pretty good results for a pretty broad set of problems.”
The project is part of a much larger shift towards a new form of artificial intelligence called “deep learning.” Facebook is exploring similar work, and so is Microsoft, IBM, and others. But it seems that Google has pushed this technology further—at least for the moment."
Inside the Artificial Brain That’s Remaking the Google Empire | Enterprise | WIRED

Microsoft Ending Its Short-Lived Tenure as Android Phone Maker | Re/code

Surprising only in that the Android-based Nokia X products weren't terminated sooner

"Among the details in Microsoft’s big layoff news was the fact that the company plans to pull back on Nokia’s brief foray into Android-based phones.

“We plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows,” CEO Satya Nadella wrote in his memo announcing the job cuts. Despite the use of the word select, Microsoft clarified it doesn’t plan to make future Android-based Nokia X phones."
Microsoft Ending Its Short-Lived Tenure as Android Phone Maker | Re/code

IBM Earnings: Sales Sink Again for the Ninth-Straight Quarter - Businessweek

Another take on IBM's strategic priorities

"The company still managed to beat Wall Street’s expectations on its preferred financial measurement of adjusted earnings per share, as it usually does. Big Blue has sworn to hit an adjusted $20 per share annually by the end of next year, a plan officially known as Roadmap 2015 and which employees call Roadkill 2015. With falling sales, the imperative to keep delivering higher earnings has meant imposing deep cost cuts, racking up debt to pay for buybacks, selling business lines, cutting jobs, and devising tax-rate cleverness—all at a time when IBM should probably be throwing everything it has at the cloud."
IBM Earnings: Sales Sink Again for the Ninth-Straight Quarter - Businessweek

Snowden Says Drop Dropbox, Use SpiderOak - Digits - WSJ

More PR challenges for *Box

"In an interview with The Guardian published Thursday afternoon, the former National Security Agency contractor said Dropbox is “hostile to privacy” because it controls the encryption keys, making it capable of handing over user data stored on its servers to the government.

He also fixated on the startup’s hiring of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a board member, though it’s not clear she has any role in shaping the company’s privacy policy."
Snowden Says Drop Dropbox, Use SpiderOak - Digits - WSJ

IBM in Tug of War Between Legacy and the Leading Edge - NYTimes.com

From a snapshot of IBM's latest metamorphosis

"Steven Milunovich, an analyst at UBS, estimates that these businesses account for 21 percent of IBM’s revenue. But the new technologies, like cloud computing, also pose a threat to other parts of IBM. For example, software delivered remotely over the Internet as a cloud service can replace traditional business software on corporate desktops and in data centers. “There is sort of a tug of war going on inside IBM,” Mr. Milunovich said. “And the question is, can the company really grow in the new technologies and still keep a strong, steady business in the older technologies?”"
IBM in Tug of War Between Legacy and the Leading Edge - NYTimes.com

Google’s Quarterly Results Show Its Continuing Struggle With Mobile Advertising - NYTimes.com

Excerpt from a Google earnings reality check

"Despite Google’s continuing mobile dilemma, its advertising competitors are still small in its rearview mirror. Google accounted for nearly 32 percent of online global ad spending in 2013, according to estimates from eMarketer. Facebook is in second place, accounting for nearly 6 percent of 2013’s $120.05 billion online global advertising market. Mobile, however, is something that Facebook seems to have cracked. The social media giant accounted for almost 16 percent of mobile advertising dollars spent around the world last year, eMarketer estimates, up from 9 percent in 2012. Google dropped to a 41.5 percent share of the mobile ad market last year, down from 49.8 percent in 2012."
Google’s Quarterly Results Show Its Continuing Struggle With Mobile Advertising - NYTimes.com

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to Be a Better Online Reader : The New Yorker

Excerpt from a timely reading + comprehension reality check (consider yourself a relevant data point if you start to read the article, shrug tl;dr, and move to another page...)

"Wolf’s concerns go far beyond simple comprehension. She fears that as we turn to digital formats, we may see a negative effect on the process that she calls deep reading. Deep reading isn’t how we approach looking for news or information, or trying to get the gist of something. It’s the “sophisticated comprehension processes,” as Wolf calls it, that those young architects and doctors were missing. “Reading is a bridge to thought,” she says. “And it’s that process that I think is the real endangered aspect of reading. In the young, what happens to the formation of the complete reading circuitry? Will it be short-circuited and have less time to develop the deep-reading processes? And in already developed readers like you and me, will those processes atrophy?”"
How to Be a Better Online Reader : The New Yorker

Microsoft’s Largest-Ever Layoffs Coming Thursday With Former Nokia Hardest Hit | Re/code

A difficult day for Redmond (and Helsinki)

"Microsoft is preparing to announce its largest-ever layoffs on Thursday, with cuts coming from across the company, but with the former Nokia business being hardest hit, sources say.

The announcement is expected before the financial markets open on Thursday morning.

Numerically, the layoffs are expected to be the company’s biggest-ever job reduction, surpassing the 5,800 or so workers cut during the 2009 downturn, sources said. However, the layoffs to be announced Thursday are a combination of a strategic shift alluded to in last week’s memo by CEO Satya Nadella as well as delivering on the already promised $600 million in cost savings that the previous management had promised would come from the Nokia acquisition."
Microsoft’s Largest-Ever Layoffs Coming Thursday With Former Nokia Hardest Hit | Re/code

Could Penguin Beat Amazon at Book Subscriptions? - Businessweek

Where "unlimited" is supplier-defined; check the full article for speculation about how Amazon could be disintermediated by the subscription service shift

"Subscription services for digital media, such as movies and music, have become mainstream, making it more or less inevitable that book publishers would have to grapple with a similar model. Such startups as Oyster and Scribd offer these services already, but there has been a sense that the book market hadn’t yet heard from the big guns. Well, Amazon.com (AMZN) is about to take its shot.

The company is testing an e-book subscription service called Kindle Unlimited, according to pages on its site that were noticed by its users and the tech blog GigaOM. The service would cost $9.99 a month and give people unlimited access to about 600,000 titles as well as thousands of audiobooks. Amazon hasn’t responded to a request for comment."
Could Penguin Beat Amazon at Book Subscriptions? - Businessweek

IBM, Apple Want Consumer Apps Catered to Corporate - WSJ

From "A computer on every desk and in every home" to ">= two iOS devices per person"

"Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook says he does 80% of the work of running the world's most valuable company on an iPad.

"There's no reason why everyone shouldn't be like that," Mr. Cook said in an interview, explaining why Apple struck a partnership with International Business Machines Corp. to develop applications catered to big businesses, or enterprises. "Imagine enterprise apps being as simple as the consumer apps that we've all gotten used to. That's the way it should be.""
IBM, Apple Want Consumer Apps Catered to Corporate - WSJ

Apple Could Pay $400 Million in E-Books Price-Fixing Case - NYTimes.com

Or "it could pay nothing"

"Apple last month agreed to settle a class action brought by attorneys general in 33 states. They had sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from Apple, claiming it had colluded with book publishers to inflate e-book prices. The class action was certified after Apple lost an earlier antitrust suit brought by the Justice Department in 2012. The government had accused Apple of working with the publishers to raise prices of e-books so that they could break free from the uniform $9.99 pricing that Amazon had set for new e-book releases.

The amount Apple would actually have to pay in the class action depends on the outcome of Apple’s appeal in that antitrust suit. If Apple wins the appeal, it could pay nothing."
Apple Could Pay $400 Million in E-Books Price-Fixing Case - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In IBM and Apple's wake, what will team Android do? | ZDNet

Samsung and other companies potentially impacted by the Apple/IBM news might also wait to see if IBM can actually have an influence on enterprise iOS device sales, before getting deeper into co-opetition permutations. HP probably won't be able to resist the temptation to issue a reactive enterprise HP Android devices + services = solutions press release soon, however.

"Google and Samsung will likely be ringleaders and form some kind of alliance with Accenture. The problem is that it's unclear whether any enterprise vendor would want to create an exclusive Android deal given iOS and its standing in corporations.

Hewlett-Packard will also play along, but the integration and channel work will have to be a larger cast. Team Android will need Accenture and HP to push Android in the enterprise.

SAP, Salesforce and others will stay out of the fray. Oracle will hope Android loses enterprise standing---since the company believes Google's mobile platform is only a Java rip-off.

Lenovo is a total wild card and could aim to tighten relationships with both Microsoft and Google. After all, Lenovo is ultimately trying to upend Apple in emerging markets."
In IBM and Apple's wake, what will team Android do? | ZDNet

Amazon's Cloud Is One of the Fastest-Growing Software Businesses in History - Businessweek

Based on estimated cloud revenue of $5B this year, up 58% from last year; check the full article for more details and comparisons; also see Amazon Web Services Had 44 Price Cuts And You Can Expect More To Come (Business Insider)
"The growth of Amazon’s cloud business is unprecedented, at least when compared to other business software ventures. It’s grown faster after hitting the $1 billion revenue mark than Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce.com. You would need to turn to Google (GOOG)—which had the advantage of the vast consumer market—to find a business that grew faster."
Amazon's Cloud Is One of the Fastest-Growing Software Businesses in History - Businessweek

Apple, IBM in Deal to Create Apps, Sell Phones - WSJ

Still tbd when IBM will start selling Oracle Exadata boxes; perhaps it already does

"Enemies during the early personal-computer wars, Apple Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. said they will cooperate in the mobile era, striking an agreement to create simple-to-use business apps and sell iPhones and iPads to Big Blue's corporate customers.

The deal underscores Apple's push to expand the reach of the iPhone and iPad into the business world—beyond their traditional base among consumers. IBM, meanwhile, is hoping Apple's simplicity and popularity will help stem eight consecutive quarters of year-over-year revenue declines, as it moves more of its business software onto the mobile devices used by employees."
Apple, IBM in Deal to Create Apps, Sell Phones - WSJ

What Amazon’s Zocalo Means for Box and Dropbox | MIT Technology Review

Excerpt from another *Box snapshot; meanwhile Box announces news with AvePoint, to help companies leverage "traditional" SharePoint and Microsoft, for Office 365 integration; apparently the Box "Fire all weapons!" command was issued

"Even louder alarm bells may be ringing at Dropbox’s arch competitor, Box. Whereas Dropbox built its business serving consumers and only recently shifted to businesses, Box has been focused on the enterprise market virtually since it was founded in 2005 (see “The Continuous Productivity of Aaron Levie”). It boasts blue-chip customers including General Electric, Procter & Gamble, and Schneider Electric, but it faces blistering competition from EMC Syncplicity and Citrix ShareFile, as well as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and a host of others. The last thing it needs is another deep-pocketed rival gunning for the Fortune 500.

“It feels immediately threatening to see Amazon enter our business,” admits Chris Yeh, Box’s senior vice president of product and platform. “But there’s more nuance than appears on the surface. There’s nothing easy about this business.”"
What Amazon’s Zocalo Means for Box and Dropbox | MIT Technology Review

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

IBM, Apple forge enterprise app pact: Watson, meet iPad | ZDNet

Likely to be at least as successful as the earlier Apple/IBM partnerships in Kaleida and Taligent...

"IBM and Apple said they have forged an enterprise pact where the two companies will collaborate on exclusive industry-specific applications built on iOS. The deal makes sense on many fronts. First, industry specific apps will lock down Apple's iOS market share in the enterprise. Apple's iOS' market share vs. Android in the enterprise is the inverse of the consumer space. IBM gets to package iOS apps, embed its analytics tools and then use its services and channel to sprinkle the apps into corporations."
IBM, Apple forge enterprise app pact: Watson, meet iPad | ZDNet:

Apple's new coding language heralds Swift changes (Wired UK)

Also see Apple's Swift climbs quickly in language popularity (Infoworld)

"Part of Swift's edge is that it's built for the average programmer. It's designed for coding even the simplest of mobile apps, and with a rather clever tool Apple calls "Playgrounds," it offers an unusually effective way of teaching yourself to code. But the larger point here is that such an enormous number of programmers have an immediate reason to use Swift. Today, hundreds of thousands of developers build apps for iPhones and iPads using a language called Objective-C, and due to the immense popularity of Apple's consumer gadgets, these coders will keep building such apps. But Swift is a significant improvement over Objective-C -- in many respects -- and this means the already enormous community of iPhone and iPad developers are sure to embrace the new language in the months to come."
Apple's new coding language heralds Swift changes (Wired UK)

Oracle Big Data SQL: One Fast Query, All Your Data (The Data Warehouse Insider)

Excerpt from an introduction to Oracle's Big Data SQL technology

"In the days before data was officially Big, Oracle faced a similar challenge when optimizing Exadata, our then-new database appliance.  Since many databases are connected to shared storage, at some point database scan operations can become bound on the network between the storage and the database, or on the shared storage system itself.  The solution the group proposed was remarkably similar to much of the ethos that infuses MapReduce and Apache Spark: move the work to the data and minimize data movement.

The effect is striking: minimizing data movement by an order of magnitude often yields performance increases of an order of magnitude.

Big Data SQL takes a play from both the Exadata and Hadoop books to optimize performance: it moves work to the data and radically minimizes data movement.  It does this via something we call Smart Scan for Hadoop."
Oracle Big Data SQL: One Fast Query, All Your Data (The Data Warehouse Insider)

Microsoft launches a price assault on Chromebooks | The Verge

HP is also planning to ship 7" and 8" Windows tablets for $99 later in 2014; check the full article for more details

"Microsoft is aiming straight for Google’s Chromebooks this holiday season. At the company’s partner conference today, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner revealed that HP is planning to release a $199 laptop running Windows for the holidays. Turner didn’t provide specifications for HP’s "Stream" device, but he did detail $249 laptop options from Acer and Toshiba. Acer’s low-cost laptop will ship with a 15.6-inch screen and a 2.16GHz Intel Celeron processor, and Toshiba’s includes a 11.6-inch display. It appears that Intel’s Celeron chips will help Microsoft’s PC partners push out cheaper devices in the race to the bottom."
Microsoft launches a price assault on Chromebooks | The Verge

When Selfies Turn Dangerous - ABC News

Probably just another iPhone 6 display beta test

"Spanish police are reportedly searching for a man who appeared to slow down to snap a "selfie" during the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

Video shows the unnamed man sprinting ahead of the beasts while holding his phone inches above his head on Friday. Taking photos inside the run is prohibited. The narcissistic daredevil faces fines up to around $4,000, according to the Guardian."
When Selfies Turn Dangerous - ABC News