"Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday unveiled its next Windows operating system, Windows 10, and gave a first look at an early technical preview for the PC available Oct. 1. The announcement highlighted advancements designed for business, including an updated user experience and enhanced security and management capabilities. The company also introduced the Windows Insider Program, kicking off its largest-ever open collaborative development effort to change the way Windows is built and delivered to best meet the needs of customers. Program participants will receive the technical preview of Windows 10 and a steady stream of builds through the development cycle to use and give feedback on."Microsoft unveils the future of Windows
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
The next one will go to 11. The related press (e.g., Microsoft unveils 'spiritual successor' to Windows 7 by going to 10, Computerworld) seems to be more about the name than any new features.
In other creative financing news, see Vista Equity to Buy Tibco Software for $4.3 Billion (Re/code)
"While a split from eBay could help with a lot of this, big questions still remain. If PayPal is going to keep its spot as the backbone of eBay’s marketplace, the two companies are going to have to ink an arm’s length agreement that works for both. PayPal may have to pay for this privilege like other companies do to get its payments buttons on e-commerce sites. It’s not clear how expensive that deal will be, but the relationship is an important one. EBay’s marketplace is responsible for more than 30 percent of PayPal’s revenue and more than 50 percent of its profits, as eBay was happy to point out when it was battling activist investor Carl Icahn earlier this year.What the eBay Split Means for PayPal | Re/code
The move could also make PayPal a takeover target, with Google often brought up as a possible buyer. It may now get its chance."
I haven't checked Emergent on the latest Mac rumors yet...
"The Retina iMac will mark Apple’s first foray into Retina desktop computers. Apple first launched the Retina display with the iPhone 4 in 2010, expanded it to the iPad in early 2012, and brought the screen to the Mac with Retina MacBook Pros in late-2012. As for the resolution of the new Retina iMac, OS X Yosemite betas include references to 6400 x 3600, 5760×3240, and 4096×2304 resolution screens. Apple has been rumored to be working on a 5K iMac display for launch later this year, so perhaps that’s the direction Apple will take, and a recently introduced DisplayPort standard update could make this a reality."Retina iMacs with OS X Yosemite in late testing within Apple, could launch soon | 9to5Mac
Hewlett-Packard reveals HP Stream series of skinny laptops and tablets | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Dean Takahashi
Later in the article: "The 11.6-inch laptop sells for $200, while the 13.3-inch model sells for $230. The HP Stream 7 tablet is $100, and the HP Stream 8 will be $150." In other HP news, see HP Launches First Moonshot Servers With ARM Chips (Re/code)
"Targeted for the holidays, the new Windows machines are meant for people who combine work and play in a single machine. The HP Stream series includes two new laptop computers and two tablets.Hewlett-Packard reveals HP Stream series of skinny laptops and tablets | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Dean Takahashi
The devices offer free cloud storage and free 4G connectivity on selected models. They also come with the option of 1 terabyte of storage in Microsoft OneDrive for a year, as well as access to Office 365 Personal edition for a year."
Also see How to Stop a Rumor Online (Before the Rumor Becomes a Lie) (The Atlantic)
"What if there were a place where reporting was aggregated with an eye towards confirmation and debunking? What is there were a place you could go to confirm or debunk claims in news stories?What if instead of having to read article after article, keep an eye on social media, and monitor Google Alerts, there were one place where you could see the current state of reporting about a given claim and track its veracity?Emergent.info.blog — Welcome to Emergent
Emergent is an attempt to offer that service. As noted on our About page, it’s part of a research project I’m pursuing as a fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. That research is the driving force behind Emergent’s creation, and is the source of its data."
tbd if the Google alumni club member CEOs of Yahoo and AOL can find a mutually acceptable deal, however
"There are legitimate reasons for Yahoo to consider buying AOL, though, ones related to how their operations have diverged over the past several years. While Yahoo has struggled to keep up with new advertising trends, AOL has invested in them aggressively; in August, AOL said that its advertising revenue had risen twenty per cent in its most recent quarter, thanks in part to programmatic ads. “We want to be at the center of the mechanization of the global advertising business,” Armstrong said. Smith, of Starboard, appears to want Yahoo to have access to the better ad technologies that AOL is using, and he also said that a combined company could cut costs by getting rid of overlap."Does a Yahoo–AOL Merger Make Sense? - The New Yorker
A new chapter for Facebook/Google competition
"Why should I care about Atlas?5 Questions About Facebook’s New Ad-Targeting Program - WSJ
Consumers likely won’t notice much change, except the ads they see on the Internet or smartphone app may appear more tailored to them. The new Atlas system doesn’t mean Facebook is tracking users more than previously – it already was tracking the websites its users visit.
Atlas competes directly with Google’s DoubleClick, the industry leader. Facebook’s re-launch of Atlas could push Google to show its tracking ability is just as good as Facebook’s."
Final paragraph of a timely privacy reality check
"If the public reaction to Snowden and Operation Prism killed political momentum to expand government power, it also pushed companies such as Apple to develop stronger encryption security in the first place. Assurances that the legal system alone is sufficient to protect privacy seem less credible than they have in the past, and Silicon Valley doesn’t want its reputation to suffer by appearing not to stand up for its users. If government officials are unhappy about this latest turn of events, they have only themselves to blame."Government Spies Can Blame Themselves for Apple's Spy-Proof iPhone - Businessweek
Monday, September 29, 2014
"... the push of a button;" "without having to touch a line of code" -- I'm guessing there was a lot of skepticism about these assertions during last night's Oracle OpenWorld opening keynote, at least among experienced Oracle customers
""We had no choice," he said, adding that it was "all because of a promise we made to customers 30 years ago."Oracle pushes its database further into the cloud
Ellison explained that IT architectures have gone through four major generations: mainframe/minicomputers, client-server, thin-clients, and now the cloud. During each of those transitions, Ellison said that Oracle customers wanted to move their databases to the new infrastructure with little disturbance. That, he said, is what Oracle did from the beginning of its existence, and what it will continue to do as customers migrate to the cloud.
"That's what people expect us to do -- what we've been doing for the past 30 years -- to upgrade everything without having to touch a line of code," he said."
An open source inconvenient truth
"For Robert Graham, the CEO of consultancy Errata Security, Shellshock gives lie to a major tenant of open-source software: that open-source code permits “many eyes” to view and then fix bugs more quickly than proprietary software, where the code is kept out of view from most of the world. It’s an idea known as Linus’s Law. “If many eyes had been looking at bash over the past 25 years, these bugs would’ve been found a long time ago,” Graham wrote on his blog last week.The Internet Is Broken, and Shellshock Is Just the Start of Our Woes | WIRED
Linus Torvalds—the guy that Linus’s Law is named after and the guy who created the Linux operating system—says that the idea still stands. But the fallacy is the idea that all open-source projects have many eyes. “[T]here’s a lot of code that doesn’t actually get very many eyes at all,” he says. “And a lot of open-source projects don’t actually have all that many developers involved, even when they are fairly core.”"
Excerpt from an overview of the relaunch of Atlas, which Microsoft sold to Facebook last year; also see With New Ad Platform, Facebook Opens Gates to Its Vault of User Data (NYT)
"What’s that? You’re worried about people using your Facebook data to serve you ads? Facebook says you shouldn’t worry, because your identity will remain anonymous to advertisers and publishers — they’ll just know some basic facts about you. But really, if you’re worried about this kind of thing you shouldn’t be on Facebook. Actually, the whole Web is probably a no-go zone for you. Sorry."Facebook Launches Atlas Ad Platform for Web, Mobile, Apps | Re/code
Perhaps an ominous leading indicator
"The smugglers’ experience represents the new reality for Apple in China. Four years ago, the iPhone 4 was a status symbol, with the black market booming before the product was officially introduced. Today, the iPhone is simply one option among many, as local companies like Xiaomi and Meizu Technology rival Apple in terms of coolness while charging less than half the price."A Glum Sign for Apple in China, as Smuggled iPhones Go Begging - NYTimes.com
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Final paragraphs of a Jean-Louis Gassée Blackberry reality check
"The company isn’t in danger of a sudden financial death: Chen has more than $3B in cash at his disposal and the company burns about $35M of it every quarter. Blackberry’s current stock price says the company is worth about $5B, $2B more than its cash position. Therefore, Chen’s endgame is to sell the company, either whole or, more likely, in parts (IP portfolio, QNX OS…) for more than $2B net of cash.BlackBerry: The Endgame | Monday Note
Wall Street knows this, corporate customers know this, carriers looking at selling Passports and some services know this. And potential body parts buyers know this as well… and wait.
It’s not going to be pretty."
After Apple Inc. dodged the iPhone 6 Plus BendGate bullet, detractors wounded by ricochet [AppleInsider]
Final paragraph from a timely iPhone reality check
"We are now at the eighth annual launch of a new iPhone. Each one has been targeted by a similar campaign of fear mongering launched by Apple critics, promoted by competitors and advanced by a media publicists working to create unfavorable buzz. There is a clear pattern of failure in their efforts."After Apple Inc. dodged the iPhone 6 Plus BendGate bullet, detractors wounded by ricochet
Saturday, September 27, 2014
The Yahoo Directory -- Once The Internet's Most Important Search Engine -- Is To Close [SearchEngineLand]
In other back-to-the-future Yahoo news, see Activist investor buys stake in Yahoo, urges AOL merger (Reuters)
"While the directory has really been dead for over a decade, it’s still sad to see the final nail in the coffin. Old-time marketing vets will fondly recall the secret “(yahoo)” code that you could use to get Yahoo to process your listings faster.The Yahoo Directory -- Once The Internet's Most Important Search Engine -- Is To Close
It was started by Jerry Yang himself, shared to a small digital marketing email list and kept to an amazingly small group of people. I can recall seeing the code directly on the list. That’s how I learned. But for others, they received it from someone else.
Getting that code was like a badge of honor, that you’d proved yourself trustworthy enough not to spam Yahoo with junk, as none of the marketers who had it wanted to ruin what was a good thing.
RIP, Yahoo Directory."
This post was published by a Postgres-focused ISV, and it'll be interesting to see the response from the MongoDB community, but the future may be looking increasingly (extended/multi-metamodel) relational...
"With the newest version, PostgreSQL has ushered in a new era of developer flexibility exceeding the freedom they discovered with NoSQL-only solutions. The use of niche solutions, like MongoDB, increased because developers needed freedom from the structured data model required by relational databases. They needed to move quickly and work with new data types. They choose powerful but limited solutions that addressed immediate needs, that let them make changes without having to wait for a DBA.Postgres Outperforms MongoDB and Ushers in New Developer Reality
However, many organizations have discovered that successful applications often require structure down the road, as data becomes more valuable across the organization.
Postgres gives developers broad new powers to start out unstructured, and then when the need arises, combine unstructured and structured data using the same database engine and within an ACID-compliant environment.
The code shows Postgres has the capability, and now our performance comparisons demonstrate Postgres can handle the loads."
Next week will mark a major Microsoft milestone, with the unveiling of what many people will simply think of as "Not Windows 8"
""Microsoft is changing from a company that was Windows-centric to one that is services-centric," said Silver at Gartner. "It has to be that way. Windows revenue is likely going to decline, and Microsoft's task is to replace that Windows revenue with revenue from services on all sorts of platforms."Microsoft offers first look at new Windows - and gives it a name
The challenge is to come up with killer apps and services users can't live without.
"Microsoft built their business on being very good at delivering what people needed in the moment, for example Excel in the 1990s," said Johnson at Forrester. "That's what Microsoft has to get back to, innovating and creating things that people find indispensable.""
"On Friday, Thom Yorke, Radiohead’s lead singer, tried another unusual approach by releasing his solo album, “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes,” through BitTorrent, a technology for transferring large files over the Internet. The data “bundle” that included the album cost $6, and in a statement, Mr. Yorke described the move as a test of a new way for artists to release their work online.Radiohead Artist Releases Album via BitTorrent - NYTimes.com
“If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of Internet commerce back to the people who are creating the work,” Mr. Yorke wrote in a note also signed by his longtime producer and collaborator, Nigel Godrich."
Signs of the security/privacy times
"At Apple and Google, company executives say the United States government brought these changes on itself. The revelations by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden not only killed recent efforts to expand the law, but also made nations around the world suspicious that every piece of American hardware and software — from phones to servers made by Cisco Systems — have “back doors” for American intelligence and law enforcement.Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Locks Out N.S.A. - NYTimes.com
Surviving in the global marketplace — especially in places like China, Brazil and Germany — depends on convincing consumers that their data is secure."
Hopeful leading indicators
"Therein lies the overlap in the Venn diagrams of Pope Francis and Jack White. Sporting a haircut that made him look like a goth version of Clara Bow, the former White Stripes rocker appeared on “Conan” this past June, where he and the host went on a lengthy diatribe about the ubiquitous glowing screens that mar so many public performances.A Defining Question in an iPhone Age: Live for the Moment or Record It? - NYTimes.com
“I’ve had the experience when I go out and perform in front of people where all I see is a sea of iPads,” Conan O’Brien said with exasperation. “You can’t even see their faces.”
Mr. Black agreed, adding that he was forced to instruct the audience on his most recent tour to put down their devices and “just enjoy this with our eyes and our ears.” Far from being irked, he said, audiences actually applauded. (Acts like the Eagles, Prince and She & Him have recently gone the same route.)"
Also see Inside Apple’s Secret Testing Labs (Where iPhones Are Bent All Day Long) (Re/code)
"Two days ago, the Internet erupted with photos of bent iPhone 6s, and a very-viral video of a guy creasing an iPhone 6 Plus with his bare hands. It seemed like a serious concern, yet everything about the uproar was highly unscientific. We don’t like unscientific, so we promised then that we would use our lab equipment to find out just how delicate the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus really are. We also promised to run the same tests on comparable smart phones. We’ve done that now, and our tests show that both iPhones seem tougher than the Internet fracas implies."iPhone 6 And 6 Plus Bend Test - Consumer Reports News
Friday, September 26, 2014
Final paragraph of an excerpt from Isaacson's soon-to-be-published The Innovators
"Shortly before she died in 2011, Jean Jennings Bartik reflected proudly on the fact that all the programmers who created the first general-purpose computer were women: “Despite our coming of age in an era when women’s career opportunities were generally quite confined, we helped initiate the era of the computer.” It happened because a lot of women back then had studied math, and their skills were in demand. There was also an irony involved: The boys with their toys thought that assembling the hardware was the most important task, and thus a man’s job. “American science and engineering was even more sexist than it is today,” Jennings said. “If the ENIAC’s administrators had known how crucial programming would be to the functioning of the electronic computer and how complex it would prove to be, they might have been more hesitant to give such an important role to women.”"Walter Isaacson on the women of ENIAC
Apparently enough of a concern to cause Apple's stock to drop ~4% yesterday
"The update also “includes improvements and bug fixes originally in iOS 8.0.1. We apologize for inconveniencing the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users who were impacted by the bug in iOS 8.0.1.”Apple Releases iOS 8.0.2 Update Promising Fix - Personal Tech News - WSJ
On Wednesday, the company was forced to pull the 8.0.1 update after 60 minutes of availability, because of user reports that it was disrupting cellular network connections and Touch ID fingerprint scanning on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. An Apple spokeswoman said that fewer than 40,000 devices were affected by the bug."
Perhaps some bending of the truth in the press/blogosphere on this topic
"Apple Inc. on Thursday defended against reports that its largest iPhone bends easily in people's pockets, saying warping is "extremely rare" through normal use.Apple Rebuts Complaints of Bending iPhones - WSJ
Since going on sale Friday, Apple said only nine customers have contacted the company about a bent iPhone 6 Plus—the larger and more expensive of its two new iPhones. Apple said both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus passed a series of tests meant to check the products' strength and durability through everyday use."
A time for big decisions (and/or dividends) at Yahoo
"“The type of advertising that Yahoo relies on is fundamentally challenged,” said Jon Miller, a former chief executive of AOL who now invests in technology and media companies. “But buying something like Pinterest could give them at shot at the next turn of the wheel. They need to make some bet on the future of monetization.”Yahoo Faces Moment of Decision, Again - NYTimes.com
When asked, Silicon Valley executives toss out a litany of other possibilities: BuzzFeed; the freewheeling discussion forum Reddit; and the online audio distributor SoundCloud."
Yikes; also see Google and Amazon Respond to Shellshock Security Flaw (WSJ)
"The bug, named “Shellshock,” drew comparisons to the Heartbleed bug that was discovered in a crucial piece of software last spring.Security Experts Expect ‘Shellshock’ Software Bug in Bash to Be Significant - NYTimes.com
But Shellshock could be a bigger threat. While Heartbleed could be used to do things like steal passwords from a server, Shellshock can be used to take over the entire machine. And Heartbleed went unnoticed for two years and affected an estimated 500,000 machines, but Shellshock was not discovered for 22 years."
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Part of a disconcerting pattern
""The overall climate in China against Western enterprises has been quite negative and that's one of the major reasons," said the person, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.Adobe to shut China R&D as sour business climate bites | Reuters
The closure of Adobe's China R&D arm is also affected by rampant software piracy in the country, as well as the company's shift toward a cloud-based software-as-a-service business model and away from one-off boxed sales of software and licenses, the person familiar with the situation said."
Not an entirely great week for Apple (or its iPhone 6 customers)
"Like a lot of people, I have a bent iPhone 6 Plus. It’s almost imperceptible, but it’s there: a slight warp right at the buttons on the side. Put the phone screen down on a table, and it wobbles. I haven’t purposefully bent it and I don’t recall sitting on it (but I probably have). So why is this one bending? I have a theory: It might have something to do with it being both very thin and very big and made of aluminum. The Samsung Galaxy Note3 is big, but it’s also 4 mm thicker than the iPhone 6 Plus and doesn’t have an aluminum back that, when bent, stays bent. You don’t hear about big Android phones bending because they are either too thick, or made out of plastic. That’s my theory, anyway."The WIRED iPhone 6 Plus Review: Too Big to Fail, But Not to Bend | WIRED
File under "Future collectors' item"; also see A Phone Only a BlackBerry User Will Love (Re/code)
"BlackBerry has made a bold, clear commitment to what it calls “mobile pros” and the idea of “working wide.” It’s often good to see conviction and solid execution behind it. There’s a lot of that going on with the Passport. But I doubt there’s enough special sizzle with the product to get people en masse to give BlackBerry another chance."BlackBerry Passport Review: A Phone for Those Who Work All the Time - Businessweek
Tangentially, see Apple Pulls iOS 8 Software Update After iPhone Problems
"No more tedious memorization or typing. Imagine if and when the fingerprint sensor makes it way into not just Apple’s iPads, but also its laptops. While it doesn’t look like the password will go away anytime soon, memorizing and typing it in could soon become a thing of the past.With Apple's iOS 8, Your Fingerprint Can Become the Master Password - NYTimes.com
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Likely a lively debate ahead in this context
"Assange, the notorious document leaker, is coming out with a book this week titled "When Google Met WikiLeaks." The book recalls an encounter when Assange met Schmidt in 2011. In the book, Assange aims to show that Google is tied to the US government when it comes to the openness of the Internet. In other news interviews, Assange has also said Google is basically a privatized National Security Agency.Google's Schmidt says Assange detainment is 'luxury lodgings' - CNET
Schmidt adamantly denied Assange's allegations in the ABC interview Tuesday.
"Julian is very paranoid about things. Google never collaborated with the NSA and in fact, we've fought very hard against what they did," Schmidt said. "We have taken all of our data, all of our exchanges, and we fully encrypted them so no one can get them, especially the government.""
All the news that's fit to extract?
"“On the whole this is one of the best technical tools we have,” said Richard T. Griffiths, senior editorial director at CNN. “Besides our local affiliates, it is probably our best source of story leads, and you live or die by your leads.”Tool Called Dataminr Hunts for News in the Din of Twitter - NYTimes.com
Dataminr was started in 2009 as an information-discovery tool for Wall Street traders and money managers looking to gain an investment edge as well as for public sector institutions. But the company has broadened its services as news organizations look for ways to analyze the vast amounts of information on social media like Twitter and YouTube for the next big thing, whether it be news or a hot new band."
In other climate-related news
"Saying that people on the wrong side of the climate change debate were “making the world a much worse place,” Schmidt told Rehm he’d concluded “we should not be aligned with such people—they’re just, they’re just literally lying.” In a statement, ALEC Chief Executive Officer Lisa Nelson said: “It is unfortunate to learn Google has ended its membership … as a result of public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free-market policy perspectives for climate change denial.”"Google Cuts Ties With ALEC Over Climate Change 'Lying' - Businessweek
Tizen trajectory tbd
"Samsung has, for a long time, struggled to introduce a smartphone running on the Tizen operating system, a platform that it has been developing to compete with the likes of Google’s Android. A vast majority of Samsung’s smartphones currently operate on the Android platform.Samsung Drains Software Power from Mobile - Digits - WSJ
“It sounds like (Samsung) doesn’t plan on going big with Tizen on its smartphones,” said Song Myung-sup, an analyst with HI Investment & Securities in Seoul. “The move will likely help resolve convergence issues that arise when connecting network devices like TVs and wearables with smartphones, but this shows less determination on Tizen smartphones,” Song said."
"Technology companies are at the forefront of this week’s announcements, in part because their own employees have been demanding action on climate issues.Companies Are Taking the Baton in Climate Change Efforts - NYTimes.com
Apple, which has won plaudits from environmental groups for supporting renewable power in the United States, said that it would start focusing on emissions at its suppliers, which are mainly located abroad and account for some 70 percent of the greenhouse gases that come from production and use of the company’s products.
“We’re really turning our attention now to the supply chain in a major way,” Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said on Monday at the United Nations."
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
From a Talko profile by Steven Levy
"Basically, Ozzie has tried to build telephony as if it was being invented from scratch, assuming the Internet and mobile phones as basic building blocks. His focus, in keeping with a life-long devotion to using communication to facilitate productivity, is providing tools to make workgroups more effective. But he believes that the innovations he’s unveiling in his product —which launches today on iPhone — can enrich everyone’s life.Brave New Phone Call — Medium
“What we’re trying to do,” says Ozzie, “is reinvent the call.”"
Excerpt from an Oracle snapshot; tangentially, see Aging Tech Giants Look to Deals to Help Bolster Revenue (NYT)
"Which raises the question, if the company is on the eve of a new battle, why did Mr. Ellison step down? Or for that matter, did the succession change anything at Oracle? Mr. Hurd was elusive.Hurd: Oracle Takes On Microsoft in the Cloud - NYTimes.com
“It’s a team,” he said, and Ms. Catz, along with the two men, “have different skills.” The title changes, particularly Mr. Ellison’s, were “momentous in many ways, Larry Ellison is in many ways a Steve Jobs. That said, we don’t want to be on the history channel. We want to be on the news channel.”"
Also see Welcome to Talko! (Ray Ozzie's intro post on Medium) and Ta-da! Talko, Ray Ozzie’s newest creation, is finally here and guess what? It’s about communication (Gigaom)
"After two and a half years, former Microsoft chief architect Ray Ozzie and his team are finally ready to reveal what they’ve been working on. Called Talko, their new mobile app is designed to change the way consumers and enterprises collaborate with each other through a mix of live and asynchronous voice communications.Ray Ozzie’s New Venture Talko Launches An App For Collaborative Voice Communications | TechCrunch
While there are any number of new messaging apps that have emerged to make it easier to share via text while sharing images and videos, Talko is taking the decidedly retro approach of bringing back voice communications. But in doing so, the app hopes to give users tools that will help them and their teams keep better track of what’s been discussed and decided, whether that happened during a live call or added to the discussion later."
Monday, September 22, 2014
Interesting times for Yahoo shareholders
"Yahoo! (YHOO) is having a heck of a day. The company just sold a chunk of Alibaba (BABA) stock as part of that company’s initial public offering that was worth a cool $9 billion—as much as Yahoo has made in revenue over the last two years. At the same time, the value of Yahoo’s remaining Alibaba stock climbed to about $37 billion (the company owns about 401 million shares). But Yahoo’s own stock lost 3.5 percent of its value, or $1.5 billion in total market cap, dropping the company to an overall valuation of $40.4 billion."Yahoo Is Both Winner and Loser in Alibaba's IPO - Businessweek
Dell, Cisco, and Oracle are also on the potential merger partner list; also see EMC Said to Have Held Merger Talks With HP (NYT)
"A merger of H-P and EMC, based in Hopkinton, Mass., would create a powerhouse provider of gear that companies use to manage data. It would shake up the roughly $2 trillion-a-year business market for hardware, software, and technology services, given what significant players both companies are in the industry.EMC Weighs Merger, Other Options - WSJ
EMC is made up of three businesses: EMC Information Infrastructure, its traditional center of gravity, which dominates the data-storage-systems business; VMware Inc., a pioneer in virtualization, a technology that substitutes physical computer servers and other forms of hardware with software; and software-development company Pivotal. VMware, which trades publicly, is now EMC's crown jewel, and has a market capitalization of $40 billion, accounting for most of its parent company's value. EMC owns a roughly 80% stake in VMware."
"In the meantime, Google’s business continues to erode. Its share of the Chinese search engine market fell to 10.9 percent in the second quarter of this year, as the stepped-up blocking began to take effect — compared with one-third in 2009, when it still had servers there.China Clamps Down on Web, Pinching Companies Like Google - NYTimes.com
Google’s problems extend far beyond search. Its application store, called Google Play, is only partly accessible in China.
That has led to the rise of a number of locally run application stores, which analysts say will sometimes market pirated copies of software or charge extra to promote a new application. Companies are often forced to create versions of their apps for China that are slightly different from the versions distributed to the rest of the world on Google’s app store."
Excerpt from a Pinterest profile
"While Facebook and Twitter are much larger companies and capture more attention in the executive suites of old media brands, Pinterest has become a powerful force in driving web traffic. Started in 2010 by Ben Silbermann, a Google alumnus, and Evan Sharp, who trained as an architect, Pinterest is a visually rich site that lets its members upload their favorite fashion photographs, recipes and decorating tips that they then can share with other users. The company, based in San Francisco, has grown to more than 400 employees, and earlier this year it raised $200 million in a new fund-raising round that valued it at $5 billion."Publications See Pinterest as Key Ally - NYTimes.com
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Excerpt from an Alibaba overview
"Because its business is Web-based, Alibaba is often described, in shorthand, as the Amazon or eBay of China, but that’s not quite right. When Amazon and eBay were founded, in the mid-nineties, the middle class in the U.S. was already well-formed, with plenty of other retailers, including Walmart, catering to it; all Amazon and eBay did was to bring commerce to the Internet. But Alibaba emerged in China at the same time that its middle class was starting to grow rapidly—in that sense, it’s more like Walmart, whose rise coincided with the rise of the middle class in the U.S."The Great Walmart of China - The New Yorker
Time for some security policy/system remodeling at Home Depot
"In recent years, Home Depot relied on outdated software to protect its network and scanned systems that handled customer information irregularly, those people said. Some members of its security team left as managers dismissed their concerns. Others wondered how Home Depot met industry standards for protecting customer data. One went so far as to warn friends to use cash, rather than credit cards, at the company’s stores.Ex-Employees Say Home Depot Left Data Vulnerable - NYTimes.com
Then, in 2012, Home Depot hired a computer engineer to help oversee security at its 2,200 stores. But this year, as hacks struck other retailers, that engineer was sentenced to four years in prison for deliberately disabling computers at the company where he previously worked."
Saturday, September 20, 2014
"It’s true that, among Silicon Valley companies that sell devices, Apple is in an unusual position. Google, whose Android operating system is the main rival to iPhones, makes most of its revenue from selling advertising, and it does scan your e-mail to sell relevant ads. Amazon, which unveiled the Fire Phone smartphone in June, gets its revenue largely through e-commerce. That influences the design of their products. (One of the features Amazon proudly displayed when it launched its Fire Phone was a tool that let people order from Amazon by taking pictures of items.) “From the privacy perspective, advertising-based business models are the ones that cause the greatest concern — digging into user activity to try to find some commercial value to be sold to someone else,” Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research center, told me. “Tim Cook is trying to put a little bit of distance between himself and their main competitor, which is Google.”"Can Apple Protect Our Privacy With the iPhone 6?
Interesting e-commerce times -- Alibaba (quoting from earlier in the article) "... now accounts for 80 percent of online sales in China"
"At its closing share price on Friday, Alibaba has a market value of $231 billion, exceeding the combined market capitalizations of Amazon and eBay, the two leading U.S. e-commerce companies.Alibaba Surges 38 Percent in Market Debut | Re/code
Alibaba is valued at 39 times its estimated earnings per share for its current fiscal year, which ends in March. That is right in line with Facebook’s valuation of 39 times forward earnings but nowhere near the lofty valuation of Amazon’s multiple of 264, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data.
The future path of Alibaba’s shares is truly uncharted territory."
That compensation level probably limits the number of potentially interesting (outside Oracle) CEO roles...
"The situation was similar for Catz, who is the highest-paid female executive in the world. Like Hurd, she made about $43.6 million in combined salary and stock-based compensation last year, and nearly $52 million the year before that. In 2012, she was given options to buy five million Oracle shares at a strike price of $29.72, vesting over four years, according to Oracle’s proxy. She too has been approached for jobs outside of Oracle, sources say, but like Hurd, declined to engage in any talks.Oracle’s Management Shift Was Designed to Retain New CEOs | Re/code
And while the terms of their compensation as CEOs hasn’t yet been disclosed, both will certainly see increases."
September 20, 1954 -- John Backus later became a pioneering advocate for functional programming; he died in 2007
"First FORTRAN Program RunsComputer History Museum | Exhibits | This Day in History: September 20
The first successful FORTRAN program runs. FORTRAN, which is an acronym for "FORmula TRANslator," was invented at IBM by a group led by John Backus. FORTRAN's purpose was to simplify the programming process by allowing the programmer ("coder") to use simple algebra-like expressions when writing software. It also took over the task of keeping track of where instructions were kept in memory--a very laborious and error-prone procedure when undertaken by humans. FORTRAN is still in use today in scientific and engineering applications, making it one of the oldest programming languages still in use (COBOL is another). Backus was named a Computer History Museum Fellow in 1997."
Friday, September 19, 2014
Excerpt from a thoughtful review of What If?
"Munroe’s absurd “what if”s combine these elements to maximum effect. For one, the question format helps to inspire interest, because questions are by nature uncertain—they inherently create an information gap. And hypothetical questions, in particular, are designed to be novel and incongruous, creating juxtapositions that don’t exist in the real world. Where a normal, expected, and unsurprising question lacks the power to draw us in—How much energy does it take to light a dozen light bulbs?—the absurd hypothetical makes us want to read further. The “what if”s also happen to be salient, both because they describe fundamental aspects of nature and our environment and because the cartoons capture the eye and the mind simultaneously. They even satisfy Loewenstein and Golman’s requirement for epiphany: while reading a specific narrative scenario, you learn about broader physics concepts that can satisfy other information gaps."How Long Does It Take to Get to Tatooine? - The New Yorker
(When a TIME blog post quotes a TIME article, it's probably safe to assume the referenced article is behind its paywall...)
"As an article in the new issue of TIME reveals, Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr believe so strongly that artists should be compensated for their work that they have embarked on a secret project with Apple to try to make that happen, no easy task when free-to-access music is everywhere (no) thanks to piracy and legitimate websites such as YouTube. Bono tells TIME he hopes that a new digital music format in the works will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music—whole albums as well as individual tracks. The point isn’t just to help U2 but less well known artists and others in the industry who can’t make money, as U2 does, from live performance. “Songwriters aren’t touring people,” says Bono. “Cole Porter wouldn’t have sold T-shirts. Cole Porter wasn’t coming to a stadium near you.”"Exclusive: U2 and Apple Have Another Surprise for You | TIME
Check the full article for some early "Office 16" preview details. Maybe Microsoft will get around to finally resync'ing Office for Mac in this cycle as well, or perhaps it's just waiting for iOS emulation in Mac OS, hoping people will use Office for iPad apps instead...
"Microsoft is busy preparing a "Windows Technical Preview" for later this month, but the software maker is also privately testing an "Office Technical Preview" for the next version of its popular Office suite. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Office plans tell The Verge that the company has been distributing copies of a future version of Office to partners and testers recently, providing an early look at new features."Microsoft's next version of Office includes a Clippy-like helper and a very dark theme | The Verge
Perhaps just a holding pattern until Marc Benioff can be enticed to return (tangentially, he tweeted, as quoted in SFGate's Larry Ellison's exit as Oracle CEO signals Silicon Valley shift yesterday, "There always has been, & always will be, one ceo at Oracle" -- the full tweet was "There always has been, & always will be, one ceo at Oracle. 'All sw & hw engineering functions will continue to report to @larryellison.'")...
"Larry Ellison loves a good game. Even in stepping down as chief executive officer on Thursday, Oracle’s (ORCL) co-founder has created another opportunity to compete. How else to explain the Faustian pact he’s struck with successors Mark Hurd and Safra Catz? The new CEOs, both of whom were previously presidents, now find themselves in the unenviable position of being forced to share the top job."Oracle After Larry Ellison: Co-CEOs Sow Confusion, Discontent - Businessweek
I'm guessing not all publishers are thrilled about this
"So here’s one of those pleasant surprises: Both Apple and Amazon are going to let their customers share stuff they’ve bought from their digital storefronts with family members. Just like you can in real life.Apple, Amazon Offer Family Sharing For Digital Media | Re/code
In what is likely not a coincidence, both companies are using similar terms to describe their programs, and both are coming out around the same time. Apple calls its plan “Family Sharing,” and it’s available to people who are using its new iOS 8 software that rolled out today. Amazon calls its plan “Family Library,” and it will be available at the end of October, along with a new set of hardware and software updates the company just announced."
My all-time favorite (not in the WSJ article; see this 2007 Charles Fitzgerald blog post for historical context), in response to a question about CA buying legacy DBMS vendors: "Every ecosystem needs a scavenger." On a related note, see SAP Buys Concur Technologies for $8.3 Billion (NYT).
"Alpha CEO, tech visionary, philanthropist, America’s Cup champion, owner of his own Hawaiian island — Larry Ellison is a singular personality. He is also among the best sources in Silicon Valley for head-turning quotes.Larry Ellison Has a Long List of Memorable Quotes - Digits - WSJ
“I don’t know what I’ll do when I retire,” the billionaire Oracle founder once said. “I just love competing as opposed to just going out and watching the sunset.” Ellison stepped down as CEO on Thursday, but he remains chairman of the board and Oracle’s tech chief. That leaves more time for Ellison to generate more wit and wisdom."
I saw "About 36 hours remaining" when I tried to upgrade to iOS 8 on my iPad Wednesday night, but I have a hunch that was more of a Verizon issue than an Apple CDN problem
"The roll-out of Apple’s new mobile-operating system Wednesday was the first time the company used its proprietary data distribution infrastructure, also called a content-delivery network, for such a large-scale deployment.Apple Relied on Its Own Network for Part of the iOS 8 Upgrade - Digits - WSJ
And it was a massive challenge at that. At one point, iOS 8 downloads chewed up more than 3 terabits of bandwidth each second, according to data from Internet researcher DeepField. A terabit is a massive amount of data to carry in a second—enough to hold more than 25 high-definition movies."
Check the full article for a chart of IPO day/current market value comparisons; also see One Of The Smartest VCs Of All Time Has An Ominous Warning For The Tech Industry (Business Insider)
"In its early years, the Internet revolution spawned companies that helped people gain access to the nascent technology. Then came an e-commerce boom in companies selling a wide range of products. The latest stage has been companies that create virtual communities and entertainment, as well as established Internet players in China."From Netscape to Alibaba - NYTimes.com
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Excerpt from a Terry Gilliam interview; also see What's It All About? (review in The New Yorker) and Work, Love and Therapy, in So Many Bytes (NYT)
"You've done surveillance dystopias before, though. What's different about today's version?Terry Gilliam on His Epic New Dystopian Film The Zero Theorem | WIRED
Initially, Mancom, where Qohen works, was much more like the Ministry in Brazil. But I wanted to make a point that this body isn't governmental. That's something quite different now—corporations dominate, and the political side is almost secondary. The funny thing is, the film was supposed to be set in the near future—how near I didn't know. But by the time most of my “futuristic ideas” had been filmed, they were already in the past."
End of an era
"His departure, announced on Thursday, is one of the last exits of the tech industry’s first generation of celebrity executives, who took computers from the back offices of a few big institutions and into the mainstream of everyday life.Larry Ellison Stepping Down as Chief of Oracle - NYTimes.com
Mr. Ellison, who turned 70 last month, said he was leaving as a normal part of succession planning.
Mr. Ellison will become executive chairman, and will continue to work on Oracle’s technology, the company said in a statement announcing the move."
Another move to complement rather than directly compete with AWS
"Networking giant Cisco Systems said today it will acquire Metacloud, a privately held startup focused on selling private cloud computing services to companies.Cisco to Acquire Private Cloud Vendor Metacloud | Re/code
Cisco says Metacloud fits with its larger vision to build what it calls a “network of clouds.” It said in March it would spend $1 billion on an initiative it calls Intercloud. That plan calls for Cisco to deliver cloud services through a network of third parties rather than build a distinct service to compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services or IBM SoftLayer."
Excerpt from an extensive Tim Cook profile
"Collaboration may be a virtue, but Cook insists it’s more of a strategic imperative. Aligning thousands of employees is crucial now that “the lines between hardware, software, and services are blurred or are disappearing,” he says. “The only way you can pull this off is when everyone is working together well. And not just working together well but almost blending together so that you can’t tell where people are working anymore, because they are so focused on a great experience that they are not taking functional views of things.”"Tim Cook Interview: The iPhone 6, the Apple Watch, and Being Nice - Businessweek
It'll be interesting to see Google's response in this context
"Here's the key part of the letter:Tim Cook Privacy Letter - Business Insider
'A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.
Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.'"
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Competing for the not-an-iPad tablet market segment
"Take the updated Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 tablet. It now includes a powerful 2.5 GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm and comes with the WPS Office app, essentially a way to create and edit documents from the tablet. The app is integrated with Amazon’s Cloud Drive, which will back up documents on Amazon’s servers. Amazon has also built a Fire Keyboard, which connects wirelessly to the HDX 8.9 tablet via Bluetooth.Amazon Refreshes Its Kindle Line - NYTimes.com
The aim here, it seems, is to go after the segment of the market that wants to use a tablet as a workstation, instead of toting around a laptop. In other words, it’s the same audience that Microsoft has tried to court with its Surface tablet."
tbd if this is a Rackspace negotiating tactic
"The moves bring an end to what had been a drawn-out process in which numerous companies were suggested as possible suitors. IBM, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and CenturyLink were all rumored to have been in the running at one time or another. All of them save CenturyLink had taken themselves out of contention with public statements or by simply ignoring the deal chatter. And CenturyLink had rather long odds against getting a $7 billion deal for Rackspace done on favorable financing terms."Rackspace No Longer for Sale, Names New CEO | Re/code
A clear choice
"I don’t doubt that over time, there could be some breakthroughs with sapphire and new coating processes that could make it possible to use on a smartphone. However, from the research I did, it does not appear that it could happen anytime soon. Plus, sapphire’s less flexible and more brittle nature suggests, as least to me, that using it in large-screen smartphones would still be difficult — even if it was possible to coat it in a way to keep the screen from splintering. I now at least understand why Apple didn’t use it in the new iPhones — and the more I study this, it seems that it could be problematic for Apple to use sapphire outside of its smartwatch line anytime in the near future."Why Apple Didn’t Use Sapphire iPhone Screens | TIME
Final paragraph of a Walt Mossberg review
"The iPhone 6 is a great upgrade for current iPhone owners, or for anyone, really. It manages to provide a much larger display in a phone that’s still small enough to handle easily. It’s my recommendation for the best smartphone you can buy."iPhone 6 Review | Re/code
From another detailed iPhone 6 review (the press embargo ended last night)
"With the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple has proven that not only can it make a bigger phone, but it can make a bigger phone better than anyone else in the marketplace. Between the slick software, killer hardware, and deep integration into Apple’s amazing ecosystem, the iPhone is back in the spotlight."iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Review: Which One Should You Get? - Businessweek
Mixed-blessing praise for Apple in this article and Review and Video: With New iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, It’s What’s Inside That Counts (NYT); iOS 8 is so good that ... perhaps you don't yet need a new iPhone
"It turns out iPhone 4S, 5, 5S and 5C owners will end up with a basically new phone when they upgrade to iOS 8, a free download available on Wednesday. I've been testing the new software on older iPhones and the new handsets and I can say it isn't the size of the screen but what's on it that is pushing the iPhone ahead."Apple iOS 8 Review: A New Phone Without Buying One - WSJ
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
After Apple Pay cold shoulder, PayPal hits back with 'money should be safer than selfies' ad | ZDNet
"The ads PayPal paid for this week suggest the company is taking the threat of Apple Pay seriously and not being complacent about its own dominance in online payments.After Apple Pay cold shoulder, PayPal hits back with 'money should be safer than selfies' ad | ZDNet
There may be another reason behind PayPal's ire: Apple has given the cold shoulder to both PayPal and its payments platform subsidiary Braintree. Neither firm appears on Apple's list of "highly recommended" payment gateways for Apple Pay, which include rivals such as Stripe, but also authorize.Net, Chase Paymentech, Cybersource, First Data, and TSYS."
I have a hunch Threshold will not follow a business-as-usual Windows dev/test/release cycle; e.g., I wouldn't be surprised to see it released for new PCs within the next month or two
"Microsoft is planning an event in San Francisco later this month to show off its early work on the next version of Windows, code-named Threshold.Microsoft Will Offer Early Look at Next Windows on Sept. 30 | Re/code
The Sept. 30 event, which will be led by Windows executives Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore, will talk about where Microsoft is investing and show off some of the features of the new operating system. The company also has early code it will make available, according to sources, but the test code is intended mainly for developers and businesses to begin their preparations."
Not a great month for Samsung, so far... Also see One sixth of the ENTIRE PLANET will buy a new smartphone this year (The Register)
"Looking just at smartphones, Samsung remains the country’s top brand for now. But that lead is already shrinking, and the new Android phones will make Samsung’s position even shakier. Google, working with Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek and Indian mobile brands Micromax, Karbonn, and Spice, will now be pushing smartphones that cost as little as 6,399 rupees (about $105). Google has already been promoting the Android One’s potential to transform lives worldwide: “One will change the way we think. One will start a movement.“Google's Cheap Phones Mean More India Trouble for Samsung - Businessweek
To make matters worse for Samsung, Google isn’t the only company bringing more competition to India. The Android One phones will be going up against even cheaper new phones from Mozilla, which last month unveiled Firefox smartphones costing as little as 1,999 rupees. “Firefox OS smartphones in the ultra-low-cost category will redefine the entry-level smartphone and create strong momentum in Asia,” Mozilla President Li Gong said in a statement last month."
More interesting times ahead for traditional ISVs; also see Facebook launches an open source organization and releases new routing tech (GigaOM)
"Members of TODO, which stands for “talk openly, develop openly,” include [Facebook and] Google and Walmart’s online operations, along with GitHub, the primary repository for working on open-source projects, and Khan Academy, a nonprofit online educational organization. Other members are Twitter, Box, Dropbox, Stripe and Square.An Alliance of Major Players to Guide Open-Source Software - NYTimes.com
Since the group was announced, over 30 other companies have added themselves to the TODO list, including The New York Times, according to a company spokesman."
"One person who will not stick around to see what changes lie in store for the game, however, is Minecraft’s creator, Markus Persson. Mr. Persson — better known by his gamer tag Notch — wrote in an unusually candid blog post exactly why he would leave Mojang after the closing of the deal, which is expected late this year.Microsoft Says It Will Pay $2.5 Billion for Company That Created Minecraft - NYTimes.com
Rather than engage in fist-bumping or writing a missive to users about how selling his baby will only expand Minecraft’s horizons, Mr. Persson sounded as if he were having a large tumor excised from his body. He described the pressures of being the figurehead of such a big and influential game as too much for him to bear."
Free training, pre-sales -- sometimes a fine line
"Although “there’s been an incredible amount of progress in terms of the agency ecosystem’s embracing of digital platforms and products, the ask for the industry is, How do we get digital more embedded as a way we think about campaign development?” Mr. Boone said. “Digital acumen still can be thought of, used as, an add-on. We want to make it a starting point.”Google Lends a Helping Hand to Madison Ave. on Digital Proficiency - NYTimes.com
The decision by Google to offer the Squared program reflects that while digital advertising may have come a long way, baby, to quote another vintage campaign, digital specialists like Google could certainly benefit further if Madison Avenue became more skilled at — and comfortable with — the likes of social media, search engine optimization and web video series."
Monday, September 15, 2014
Probably not a happy development for Samsung and other current Android hardware ecosystem leaders
"What’s most notable about the Android One program is the degree to which Google is flexing its muscles — retaining control over the exact operating-system image that gets loaded on the device, as well as when that software is updated.Android One is Launching in India, But it’s A Big Deal For Everyone | Re/code
Google is also shifting the balance of power by partnering with smaller chipmakers and lesser-known phone makers. In India, for example, Google is working with regional brands like Micromax and Karbonn, rather than the large global brands."
Excerpt from a timely Apple reality check
"This is a company that took on a dominant Microsoft, made a huge dent in the computing world, then nearly collapsed. Still, Mr. Jobs stormed back through sheer force of will, revived the company and created new categories of products as well as a business juggernaut. That he was kind of a jerk and his run at Apple ended prematurely in the process only makes it more cinematic. No one wants to think that his version of Yankee innovation died with him. Apple’s core skill is not innovation but refinement. The company didn’t make the first smartphone, just the best one. Many tablets were tried, but only Apple’s opened up a category. Several smartwatches are on the market, but Apple is the one that people beyond geeks are paying attention to."The Magic in Apple’s Devices? The Heart - NYTimes.com
Check the full post for highlights and clips
"Cook talks about how he thinks TV is stuck in the 70s, why Apple bought Beats, how its partnership with IBM is going to help the company sell more iPhones and iPads, why having bigger phones doesn't mean Apple's copying Samsung, his thoughts on Amazon's new smartphone, and how Apple's working on products that no one knows about yet. "Watch Tim Cook Interview With Charlie Rose - Business Insider
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Excerpt from a Jean-Louis Gassée Apple Watch perspective
"Stepping back a little, when I see the team of watch industry execs, design luminaries, and fashion experts Apple has brought on board, I have a hard time believing that Apple is going to stop at watches. At the very least, will Mssrs. Ive and Newson bring livelier, more varied designs to the iPhone? And what does Tim Cook mean when he slyly alludes to products that “haven’t even been rumored yet…”?Apple Watch Is And Isn't... | Monday Note
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — we’re still barely past the demo. We’ll have to wait for the actual product to come to the wrists of real users. Only then will we have the Apple Watch make-or-break moment: Word-of-mouth from non-experts."
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Final paragraphs from an excerpt of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters (to be published 9/16)
"Perfect equilibrium may describe the void that is most of the universe. It may even characterize many businesses. But every new creation takes place far from equilibrium. In the real world outside economic theory, every business is successful exactly to the extent that it does something others cannot. Monopoly is therefore not a pathology or an exception. Monopoly is the condition of every successful business.Peter Thiel: Competition Is for Losers - WSJ
Tolstoy famously opens "Anna Karenina" by observing: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Business is the opposite. All happy companies are different: Each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: They failed to escape competition."
From the intro paragraphs of an interesting interview/book summary
"Having founded a conservative/libertarian newspaper while a Stanford undergraduate, he earned a law degree from that school, and then quit his career to co-found PayPal, a payments company that set out to undermine government-issued currency. When that didn’t pan out, he sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.A Conversation With Peter Thiel - NYTimes.com
He also co-founded Palantir, a data analysis company that struggled for years and is now valued at more than $9 billion. He was one of the earliest outside investors in Facebook, and now manages a global hedge fund and a venture capital fund."
tbd if/when/how Microsoft and IBM will respond
"Google would like to make more money selling data storage on other services on its Google Cloud Platform, and it’s going after it the old-fashioned Internet way: Give stuff away and make it up on volume.Google to Give Start-Ups $100,000 in Cloud Computing Credits - NYTimes.com
On Friday, Google is set to announce a new program in which it will offer start-up companies a $100,000 credit on its Google Cloud Platform, according to a post on the company’s Google Cloud Platform blog. The effort is the company’s latest effort to take on Amazon Web Services, the leader in so-called cloud services that encompass a range of back-end computing functions."
Friday, September 12, 2014
"The non-functional online store is the third glitch in a row to plague the launch of iPhone 6. At the launch event, the livestream failed for 25 minutes, leaving viewers staring at a fuzzy test-card and listening to commentary in Chinese. Then Apple delayed the iPhone 6 launch in China after failing to get regulatory approval on time (or, as conspiracy theorists would have it, the company wanted to punish its wireless carrier partners for leaking pictures of the new phones on their web sites prior to the launch).Apple Store Crashes As iPhone 6 Goes On Sale - Business Insider
Of course, one might equally argue that the crashing web site illustrates the huge demand for the new phones — and is thus a good sign for Apple (and yet another piece of good publicity for Apple)."
See the full post for more Apple Watch feature details
"It all comes down to sensors. The sensors on the Apple Watch will know if a device is being worn on a wrist and when it is taken off. If you take the Apple Watch off, it will lock itself and can't be used for payments unless a code is entered into the watch. Additionally, taking the watch off and putting it on again will mean you need to enter in a security code.The Apple Watch Knows When It's On or Off Your Wrist
We're sure Apple will figure out a way to make this entry process as seamless as possible — as to not be annoying — but it's good to know the watch can tell when it is on a wrist or just sitting on a desk or charging pod."
"... even if it kills" refers to existing HP product lines
"If HP wants to show determination to change with this deal, Mr. Mickos is a particularly telling executive to put in charge of the cloud business.HP Is Committed to the Cloud, Even if It Kills - NYTimes.com
He previously sold MySQL, an open source database company, to Sun Microsystems for $1 billion in 2008. Besides making enough money personally to be able to pick where (and if) he works, Mr. Mickos got an up-close view of a company that couldn’t change with the times. Sun was purchased by Oracle for $7.4 billion in 2009.
He is also on the board of Nokia, which last year was forced to sell its once-mighty phone business to Microsoft."
A snapshot from the looming payment ecosystem battle
"Even so, the partnership with Apple is much more attractive than an initiative being led by some of the biggest retailers, known as the Merchant Customer Exchange, that appears to be looking to replace the card networks altogether. That concern was brought to the fore on Thursday when two of the biggest supporters of the Merchant Customer Exchange, Walmart and Best Buy, announced that they would not accept Apple Pay.Banks Did It Apple's Way in Payments by Mobile - NYTimes.com
And upstart projects like Bitcoin are looking to bypass the current financial system. Earlier this year, JPMorgan’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, told investors that the companies in Silicon Valley “all want to eat our lunch.”"
"And it essentially punted on the question of the “killer app” for smartwatches — the feature that will make them indispensable in people’s lives. Instead, wisely, Apple turned that job over to its developers, with the WatchKit development platform.Apple's Smart Smartwatch Play: Let Developers Find the Killer App - NYTimes.com
As it arguably did with the iPad before it and maybe even the smartphone and personal computer before that, Apple did the hard work of building a device with a well-considered and usable interface, and then handed developers that workable canvas on which to draw."
Thursday, September 11, 2014
A healthy debate
"But Apple has such enormous sway with consumers, particularly younger ones, that it could help overcome the biggest obstacle to a mobile transformation in health: culture. People just aren't in the habit of thinking about their health in this way, let alone using a mobile device to track it. But that could change with the Apple Watch, which requires an accompanying iPhone, just because the latter is so ubiquitous. If more people start using it, that would create a lot more interest among developers, including those affiliated with hospitals or physician practices, to build new apps and integrate them into their practices. And so a virtuous cycle would begin."Apple Watch and HealthKit Could Help Spur Mobile Medical Revolution | New Republic
From a timely gaming market dynamics reality check
"On the surface, Facebook’s purchase of Oculus for $2 billion, Amazon’s purchase of Twitch for $1.1 billion and Microsoft’s likely deal to buy Minecraft maker Mojang for $2.5 billion would seem to have little in common. One is a virtual reality technology company, the second is a video-streaming media platform and the third is just a really, really popular game.From Oculus to Twitch to Minecraft, Why Gamers Are in Hot Demand | Re/code
But common to Oculus, Twitch and Mojang is an audience — more specifically, a trend-bucking subset of that ethereally defined group, “gamers,” who tend to be young and, more importantly, are harder to reach through traditional media like TV, or even Facebook. These companies’ products are totally different from one another, but they’re attractive to acquirers because their consumers think and act differently from other groups."
Later in the article: "Google X became interested in Lift Labs because the startup is developing 'real technology to solve a real problem,' Pathak said."
"Google has not been just an Internet company for awhile. The search giant is pursuing a host of projects that combine hardware and software, including self-driving cars, delivery drones and Internet-connected thermostats.Google’s Hardware Shift Takes a Medical Turn - Digits - WSJ
This hardware push took a medical turn Wednesday with Google’s acquisition of Lift Labs, a startup that makes a tremor-canceling gadget to help people with Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor perform everyday tasks like eating. No price was disclosed."
A rare profitable and growing collaboration tools vendor
"Atlassian continues to grow quickly as it defies the conventions of most young business-software companies.Atlassian’s Sales Rise 44% to $215 Million - Digits - WSJ
The Australian maker of online collaboration software tools announced at its annual conference on Wednesday that sales rose 44% to $215 million for the fiscal year ended June 30. That growth marks an acceleration from the year prior when sales rose 35% to $149 million. The company also has about 40,000 organizations who use Atlassian products, up from 35,000 in April."
Final paragraphs from a Microsoft/Minecraft scenario perspective
"The rising popularity of Minecraft brought great wealth for Mr. Persson, but unwanted pressures too. In June, Mojang faced an outcry from members of the Minecraft community after it changed its policies related to people who run Minecraft servers for profit. Mr. Persson said on Twitter that he was fed up with the criticism.In Minecraft, Tech Giants Like Microsoft See More Than Fun - NYTimes.com
“Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life?” he wrote. “Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.”"
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Perhaps a few more Apple headlines yet to come this week
"The appearance of Path founder Dave Morin in the front row of Tuesday's iPhone 6 launch event has added credibility to a Pando report that says Apple is about to acquire the struggling social network. Morin tweeted a selfie of him and Dr Dre, who has occupied the front row slot at previous events. Dre's Beats Entertainment was Apple's last acquisition."REPORT: Apple Will Acquire Path, The Struggling Social Network - Business Insider
Excerpt from an Apple Pay reality check (although I suspect "thousands of pockets" might be a bit conservative)
"The difference is not just that Apple offers the service on a new phone that will quickly wind up in thousands of pockets. It’s not just that, with 800 million credit cards on file with its existing iTunes store, it can so easily activate the service for so many people. It’s also that these advantages—together with the company’s general clout—have allowed Apple to convince so many big name merchants to accept the service from day one.How Apple Pay Will Destroy the Online-Offline Shopping Divide | Enterprise | WIRED
“You need so many points of acceptance to make mobile payments work, and Apple has made that happen, striking partnerships with top national brands across a variety of categories that will give consumers plenty of opportunity to use the service,” says Carrington, who tracks the mobile payments market for Forrester. “That’s what’s distinctly different.”"
"Chronic disease accounts for three-fourths of U.S. health-care costs, and it’s largely driven by smoking, diet, and physical activity, all behaviors people can modify. The question is whether an Apple Watch or any gadget can actually goad people into moving—or simply provide a way for those already motivated to work out to measure it more precisely. We don’t know yet. Most Americans are overweight or obese, and it’s going to take much more than a buzzing wristwatch to dent our weight problems.Apple Watch, HealthKit, and Tim Cook's Health-Care Strategy - Businessweek
But at the margin, for some people, the Apple Watch might help. If not, at least you can still send goofy emoji to your friends."
A different kind of productivity and platform value proposition
"Buying Minecraft would make a lot of sense for Microsoft. For one, the company has billions upon billions of dollars in overseas cash that it wants to spend and few targets worth buying. In Minecraft, Microsoft would get a game that has taken over the lives of children around the world and brings in about $100 million a year in profit. It’s a huge hit on the Xbox as well as mobile devices and the PC and would provide Microsoft with a massive, growing audience. In these respects, the story is in some ways similar to Microsoft’s purchase of Skype in 2011. (Beware, Europe; none of your popular services are safe.)"Making Sense of Microsoft's $2 Billion Bid for Minecraft - Businessweek
Check the link below for a handy future-collectors'-item feature/function comparison chart
Apple Watch Compared to Motorola, Samsung, LG Smart Watches - Businessweek
Apple Watch Compared to Motorola, Samsung, LG Smart Watches - Businessweek
Check the full article for a useful rumor/reality review on the Apple news
"Apple delivered three big, expected pieces of news during its two-hour event: larger-screen iPhones, a watch and a mobile-payments system. But there were intriguing and even surprising details. Here are some key takeaways beyond the big headlines:"Beyond the Major Apple Headlines, 11 Things You Need to Know - Digits - WSJ
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Definitely a good day in Cupertino...
"But more important is that Apple, under Mr. Cook, is operating at a scale it never achieved under Mr. Jobs. It is creating more new hardware and software, and tying all of its products together more seamlessly than most of its rivals. In responding to customer demand to offer bigger phones, and in granting outside developers deeper access to its mobile operating system, Mr. Cook has also signaled a slightly more open philosophy at Apple. The firm is not as ideologically rigid about how people use its products as it once was."Apple Is Back, Better Than Ever - NYTimes.com
Also see As Jawbone Opens API for Up Health Tracker, It Is Also Seeking $100 Million in Additional Funding (re/code)
"Jawbone also took a jab at smartwatches offered by the likes of Motorola, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics, saying, “In a world where some wearable devices barely last a day, we’ve always been proud of the week-long battery life of UP24.”Jawbone doubles battery life, makes fun of smartwatches | PCWorld
That’s a message Jawbone needs to hammer home if the company wants to remain relevant in the wearables segment, which will get a lot more competitive with Apple’s expected entry. Smartwatches have screens that lets them offer more functionality than wristbands. Their drawbacks are a higher price, bulkier size and the need to charge them every day."
It's going to be an interesting day in Cupertino
"Extending a decade-long connection with Apple, U2 will play a significant part in Apple’s event, which will be held at a performing arts center in Cupertino, Calif., the company’s home base, according to three people briefed on its plans. In addition to performing, the band will reveal an integration with Apple’s products that is connected to its next album, which is expected to come out by the end of the year, according to these people, who spoke anonymously because the band’s appearance — and its deal with Apple — is supposed to be a surprise."U2 Said to Play Role at Apple Event - NYTimes.com
Tangentially, see The Internet of Things Is Getting Its Own Wireless Networks (Businessweek) and Nancy Pelosi urges FCC to reclassify broadband as a utility (The Verge)
"Well more than half of the online activity produced by smartphone users happens over Wi-Fi, according to newly released data from Adobe Systems (ADBE). Although the report just came out on Monday, Adobe’s research found that Wi-Fi had already surpassed Web browsing via cellular networks by early 2013. The data come from more than 10,000 websites.Wi-Fi Should Scare the Hell Out of Verizon and AT&T - Businessweek
AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) have spent years building towers and hoarding expensive wireless spectrum for their LTE (long-term evolution) networks under the assumption that they could charge more once their customers became accustomed to watching Netflix (NFLX) on their phones. The carriers have gradually tightened the ropes on how much data customers can use without forking over extra money each month."
Lots of Twitter "experimenting" lately; e.g., also see Twitter CFO hints at big changes to how your timeline works (Engadget)
"The test comes as competition in the world of mobile e-commerce intensifies. Apple is expected to unveil a new phone-based payment system on Tuesday as part of its latest update to the iPhone. And Facebook, Twitter’s biggest rival, began testing a “buy” button on its service in July. Social networks, including Pinterest, a sort of visual wish book, see e-commerce as a potentially huge moneymaker. All of them are experimenting with ways to make it easier to buy directly from their sites, but so far none have introduced purchase technology on a wide scale."Twitter Begins Testing a ‘Buy’ Button for Instant Purchases by Its Users - NYTimes.com
Perhaps Home Depot will start accepting payments via Apple's new devices sometime soon... Also see Security Breaches Trigger Retail’s Big Players to Call for Major Tech Changes (WSJ)
"Home Depot confirmed on Monday that hackers had broken into its in-store payments systems, in what could be the largest known breach of a retail company’s computer network.Home Depot Data Breach Could Be the Largest Yet - NYTimes.com
The retailer said the exact number of customers affected was still not clear. But a person briefed on the investigation said the total number of credit card numbers stolen at Home Depot could top 60 million. By comparison, the breach last year at Target, the largest known attack to date, affected 40 million cardholders."
Monday, September 08, 2014
Probably should have launched at that price; see this Amazon page for more details (tbd if the rumored ~35K people who already bought one will receive a refund); also see Dropping the price of the Amazon Fire Phone to 99 cents doesn’t go far enough
"Following a lackluster debut for its new flagship smartphone, Amazon this morning announced that it is dropping the price of the Fire Phone to 99 cents with a two year wireless contract on AT&T.Amazon drops Fire Phone to 99 cents after lackluster debut - GeekWire
Amazon has also dropped the price of the Fire Phone by $200 without a contract, from $649 to $449."