"On Wednesday, during its second-quarter earnings call with investors, Glu Mobile, the company that developed the game, said the game generated $1.6 million in revenue during its first five days on the market, in late June. And the hot sales have continued. The game is now the fifth highest-grossing game on Apple’s App Store. The company said it expected tens of millions of people around the world to download the game on their iPhone or Android phones, even through the game is available only in English."Kim Kardashian, an Unlikely Mobile Video Game Hit - NYTimes.com
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Check Stephen Colbert's perspective on this meme-of-the-week
Advancing Facebook's mission to "give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected"; see Introducing the Internet.org App (Facebook newsroom) for more details
"Facebook’s newest mobile app doesn’t compete with other apps, like Snapchat. It competes with being offline.Facebook Offers App With Free Access in Zambia - Digits - WSJ
The social network said Thursday it had launched an Internet.org app in Zambia to provide free access to Facebook and other online services to people who might otherwise have no Internet access. The app is a partnership with India’s Bharti Airtel, and available only to Bharti subscribers in Zambia."
A sign of the social surveillance times; tangentially, see To keep growth going, Twitter wants to be everywhere — and a little more intimate (BetaBoston)
"Poptip, a two-year-old company that analyzes data from Twitter, is being acquired by Palantir Technologies Inc., one of the most valuable and secretive privately-held startups in Silicon Valley, Poptip announced in a company blog post Tuesday afternoon. The acquisition price has not been disclosed.Palantir Acquires Social Analytics Specialist Poptip - Digits - WSJ
The acquisition by Palantir, which specializes in large-scale data mining for the FBI, the CIA, and Wall Street firms, reflects the growing value of Twitter’s data as an indicator of social trends. Palantir is known sniffing out money trails, but the acquisition suggests that it’s seeking better ways to understand unstructured data (such as the language in a Twitter post) and to boost its profile among a more mainstream sort of potential clients."
Excerpt from a speech recognition software state-of-the-art reality check
"After all, similar software has been around for quite a while now, and you can get plenty of it for free. A simple version of speech recognition is built into Microsoft Windows software and Mac OS X. If you use the Chrome browser from Google Inc., you can do Google searches with your voice instead of a keyboard. Just say “OK, Google” and ask your question. (Microphone not included.) But speech controls for personal computers have been popular mainly with people with disabilities or specialized technical users such as doctors dictating the results of medical tests. And despite its excellence, Dragon NaturallySpeaking isn’t likely to change this."Speech recognition’s not my type - Business - The Boston Globe
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Deeply nested Facebook/Twitter competition
"Twitter has acquired Madbits, a deep-learning-based computer vision startup founded by proteges of Facebook AI director Yann LeCun. It’s the latest in a spate of deep learning and computer vision acquisitions that also includes Google, Yahoo, Dropbox and Pinterest. [...]Twitter acquires deep learning startup Madbits — Tech News and Analysis
Details of the acquisition weren’t announced, but one can assume Madbits was able to demand a not-insignificant amount of money. Deep learning is such a hot technology, and good talent is so rare, that Microsoft Research director Peter Lee told Businessweek, “Last year, the cost of a top, world-class deep learning expert was about the same as a top NFL quarterback prospect.” Earlier this year, Google paid $400 million for another deep learning startup called DeepMind."
Excerpt from an Amazon post on its Hachette negotiation
"Keep in mind that books don't just compete against books. Books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.Amazon.com: Customer Discussions: Update re: Amazon/Hachette Business Interruption
So, at $9.99, the total pie is bigger - how does Amazon propose to share that revenue pie? We believe 35% should go to the author, 35% to the publisher and 30% to Amazon. Is 30% reasonable? Yes. In fact, the 30% share of total revenue is what Hachette forced us to take in 2010 when they illegally colluded with their competitors to raise e-book prices. We had no problem with the 30% -- we did have a big problem with the price increases."
Twitter's strategy: like Facebook, but without the profits
"It’s also willing to tinker with the core of what makes Twitter Twitter: its strict reverse-chronological organization. Right now, every user’s timeline consists of every tweet (plus or minus replies, depending on one’s toggle setting) by every user he or she follows. Asked whether Twitter would consider a version of timeline that uses an algorithm, a la Facebook’s Newsfeed, to determine which tweets get promoted and which get suppressed, Costolo said, “It’s fair to say we’re not ruling out any changes in product in service to bridging the gap between signing up for the service and receiving immediate value.”Twitter Reveals Its Master Plan For Growing As Big As Facebook
In other words, to overtake Facebook, Twitter is even willing to become Facebook."
Oracle goes north to participate in Seattle's cloudy future; still tbd if its strategic focus will be to compete with and/or complement AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud (e.g., directly support Oracle apps on Amazon, Google, and Microsoft IaaS)
"Amazon, of course, is based in Seattle, and has the headquarters of Amazon Web Services there. Across Lake Washington, Microsoft’s cloud business, Azure, is a centerpiece of chief executive Satya Nadella’s plans to spur Microsoft’s growth. Google has also located its cloud business in Seattle, and Century Link [sic -- CenturyLink] increased its cloud presence there when it purchased Tier 3 last year.Seattle Takes Oracle's Cloud - NYTimes.com
These businesses, for Seattle the result of a combination of luck (Amazon and Microsoft were already there) and cooperation with local universities to build skills in areas like distributed computing, are for the most part about infrastructure, the management of lots of computer servers and networks. What Oracle is doing is more about building up the next level: software applications in the cloud."
Also see The New Bazaar: Online Shopping Catches On in India With Buyers and Global Investors (NYT)
"Amazon.com Inc. said Wednesday that it will invest $2 billion to expand in India as competition for customers heats up in the fast-growing, South Asian e-commerce market.Amazon to Invest $2 Billion in India - WSJ
"We see huge potential in the Indian economy and for the growth of e-commerce in India," Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon said in a statement.
Investors have been pouring money into India's online retail market as e-commerce seems to at last be taking off in the country. Brokerage Nomura expects online retailing in India to grow 11-fold to $23 billion in the next four years."
tbd if the World Cup Twitter traffic bump will last longer than the average U.S. resident's interest in soccer
"The World Cup illustrated Twitter’s greatest strength and its biggest weakness: As with the cable news networks, its traffic is dependent on surges of public interest around real-time events. Twitter said its users sent more than 672 million tweets during the entire tournament — more than during any other event in its history. But the company’s chief financial officer, Anthony Noto, attributed the drop in usage by Americans during the quarter to the lack of galvanizing events like the Super Bowl that occurred in the first quarter."World Cup Gave Twitter a Big Burst in Traffic - NYTimes.com
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Part of a wave of new smartphone challengers, especially to Samsung; also see, e.g., OnePlus One review: a $300 smartphone has never looked so good (Engadget)
"But will enough people notice? Smartphone headlines are dominated by Apple and Samsung, and few customers in the United States think of LG as a maker of high-end phones.LG’s Snappy G3 Phone Is Poised to Test Rivals - NYTimes.com
They should. Last year’s LG G2 was a good phone that got people’s attention, and the LG G3 could make the company a serious challenger. It features the same top-of-the-line processor found in the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One (M8), its top Android competitors, and it does not skimp on any specifications."
(location, location, location) * (data, data, data)
"What’s remarkable about both sites is how little they’ve actually changed the selling and buying of homes. That’s mostly by design. Both were founded nearly a decade ago with a healthy respect for the intractability of the real estate market, with its unique dual-agent process (one representing the buyer, and one the seller) and with its multiple listing services (MLS), which has a stranglehold on home listings.Zillow-Trulia Merger: Will It Change How We Buy and Sell Real Estate - Businessweek
Zillow founder Rich Barton had helped destroy the travel agent business with his previous company, Expedia, but he understood that the real estate market was unique: Buyers and sellers liked getting professional advice on such a large transaction. Instead of trying to revolutionize real estate in one stroke, as local Seattle company Redfin was attempting at the time, Barton set out to change it from within, slowly building an audience by unlocking new kinds of information for buyers and sellers."
Read and listen (to podcasts) different
"Apple acquired BookLamp, a reading recommendation app, with its standard response last week confirming the deal by saying it “occasionally buys smaller technology companies but doesn’t discuss its plans.”Apple Looks to More Content Acquisitions - Digits - WSJ
BookLamp scans the text of books and recommends to readers books that they may enjoy based on factors such as genre and pacing. TechCrunch, which reported the acquisition, said Apple paid between $10 million and $15 million for the Idaho-based start-up.
Separately, Apple will acquire Concept.io Inc. and discontinue the startup’s mobile streaming-content app Swell, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal. The purchase price for the two-year-old startup was around $30 million, the person said."
A snapshot of a rapidly evolving and relentlessly competitive market domain
"The increased competition gave Amazon the impetus for series of ‘race to the bottom’ price cuts, the main factor behind AWS’s slower revenue growth last quarter, Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak said Thursday.CIOs Benefit as Amazon Faces Rivals in the Cloud - Digits - WSJ
The price cuts hitting the cloud market, combined with new services from rivals, benefit CIOs who say they need more control and customization over their cloud services. Chico’s FAS CIO Eric Singleton said the retailer is shifting to Contegix from Amazon Web Services because the startup will allow the retailer to pick and choose its servers and storage, enabling the software to perform at an optimum level.
Nonetheless, AWS is growing and working well for many CIOs."
A stark reality check on "how websites work"
"“If you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site,” Christian Rudder, president of OKCupid, wrote on the company’s blog. “That’s how websites work.” [...] The test also illustrates how easy it is for a website to manipulate users without their knowing. The small number of users who received changed compatibility scores, some to 90 percent from 30 percent, were not told about the change before the experiment began. After the test ended, OKCupid sent emails revealing the true compatibility scores."OKCupid Publishes Findings of User Experiments - NYTimes.com
Placing some very big bets
"China is still one of the largest and most promising markets for United States tech companies, as well as home to the factories that make devices as varied as iPhones and Xboxes. But tensions between the United States and China have escalated over spying concerns by both sides. And in recent months Chinese authorities have increased their scrutiny of foreign tech companies.With Microsoft in Sights, China Starts to Squeeze U.S. Tech Companies - NYTimes.com
At the same time, they appear to be stepping up their use of laws to help bolster the fortunes of native technology companies."
Monday, July 28, 2014
Amazon's credit card reader is expected to launch in a couple weeks; see Amazon’s Ambition in Physical Retail May Go Way Beyond Payments (January 2014, Re/code) for related speculation
"But an Amazon card reader is not too big a stretch, given that e-commerce giant just this week launched a mobile wallet app. Amazon Wallet, however, is still pretty barebones -- for now it's just a place to store select gift and loyalty cards.Amazon reportedly taking on Square with credit card reader - CNET
9to5 Mac points to reports over the past year from various sources suggesting Amazon is moving into mobile card reading. And Amazon has long been eyeing PayPal's digital payments crown -- something clearly signaled by the introduction last year of "Login and Pay with Amazon.""
The future-collectors'-item value of Tizen devices is going up
"The South Korean company had planned to start selling the phone, the Samsung Z, in Russia this quarter. But Samsung indicated that more time is needed to expand Tizen’s following of app developers and apps.Samsung postpones launch of Tizen smartphone - The Washington Post
In a brief statement, Samsung said the postponement is to further enhance the Tizen “ecosystem,” which encompasses developers, consumers and devices using the mobile OS.
The delay is a blow to Samsung’s push to reduce reliance on Google’s Android operating system, which powers Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets."
Evidently the tablets-are-dead meme lasted less than a week
"But if not Samsung then which companies are taking up the slack? The big gainer in tablets is Lenovo according to the IDC data.Surprisingly iPad's Drop In Sales Is Not Samsung's Gain, Welcome To Tablet Transformation
Lenovo continued to climb the rankings ladder, surpassing ASUS and moving into the third spot in the tablet market, shipping 2.4 million units and grabbing 4.9% markets share. The top 5 was rounded out by ASUS and Acer, with 4.6% and 2.0% share, respectively.
But IDC also make the point that their “other” category is also growing. There are more vendors in the market and more are gaining traction. This section covers 37% of the market overall, which indicates a new phase in market dynamics."
Friday, July 25, 2014
An iPad reality check: according to this Fortune article, the iPad is now a $30B/year business for Apple
"They aren't as essential to many users as smartphones, nor are they as portable. They don't handle many work chores as well as laptop or desktop PCs. And while many people watch videos or read articles on a tablet, it isn't quite a must-have device for many consumers.Are Tablets the Odd Man Out as Phones Grow and Laptops Shrink? - WSJ
In most cases now, tablets are "not a necessity but a want," said Ben Thompson, who writes the technology analysis blog Stratechery."
The big data big money is still flowing
"That funding round will grow to $150 million and will bring Hortonworks’ total capital raised to $248 million. When it was announced in March, the round was said to value Hortonworks at north of $1 billion and viewed as a possible step toward an IPO in 2015. At the time, Hortonworks CEO Rob Bearden told me that the round “could have been bigger, but frankly we don’t need it.”HP Makes $50 Million Strategic Investment in Hortonworks | Re/code
The deal also brings the total of investments in Hadoop companies this year to nearly $1.2 billion: Chip giant Intel led a $900 million round in Cloudera in March, and last month MapR landed $110 million in a round led by Google Capital."
From a snapshot of another long-term Google investment
"Dr. Conrad joined Google X—the company's research arm—in March 2013, and he has built a team of about 70-to-100 experts from fields including physiology, biochemistry, optics, imaging and molecular biology.Google's New Moonshot Project: the Human Body - WSJ
Other mass medical and genomics studies exist. But Baseline will amass a much larger and broader set of new data. The hope is that this will help researchers detect killers such as heart disease and cancer far earlier, pushing medicine more toward prevention rather than the treatment of illness."
Perhaps no longer business-as-usual for Amazon -- or perhaps its stock will recover within a few trading days
"The company, which is embroiled in a very public conflict with the publisher Hachette, announced second-quarter losses nearly double what Wall Street predicted. It also warned that the third quarter would be worse. Much worse.Amazon’s Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell - NYTimes.com
That was enough to make the stock plummet in after-hours trading. Shares quickly fell 10 percent, shaving more than $15 billion in value from the high-flying retailer."
A long-term investment
"Next stop: Boston. A team from Google will demo Glass on Saturday at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts. The event is free open to the public, with demonstrations held throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ridilla, for example, plans to bring several friends to show them what Glass can do.Google Glass Road Show coming to Boston - Business - The Boston Globe
Glass is still in the prototype phase, and Google remains cagey about the details of an eventual public release. But the Glass Road Show is clearly part of a strategy to inject the device into the mainstream."
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Sign of the times
"For a time on Thursday, a company based on sharing "likes" and photos was worth more than storied computer pioneer IBM.Facebook stock soars, as company briefly passes IBM in market value - San Jose Mercury News
A surge in mobile ad sales sent Facebook's shares rocketing to new heights Thursday, driving its stock market value temporarily higher than IBM's and lifting the social network to the rank of third-most-valuable company in Silicon Valley, behind Apple and Google."
A timely reality check
"One day, it will do a lot of things, from telling your Nest Thermostat (also made by Google) to turn up the heat because you are on your way home to reminding your television to record a baseball game. It offers a glimpse of a smartwatch future — useful and integrated with your entire digital life.LG's Smartwatch Shows Android Wear Operating System Has a Long Way to Go - NYTimes.com
But that’s the rosy future and this, sadly, is the half-baked now. Although Android Wear is simple and familiar for Android users to operate, its overall incompleteness make it a must-have only for the truly enthusiastic tech fan."
Final paragraph from a detailed Fire Phone review; also see Amazon Fire phone merely lukewarm (Boston Globe) and Amazon Fire Phone Review: Full of Gimmicks, Lacking Basics (WSJ)
"Amazon’s consumption-first approach works on tablets, for watching and reading and shopping. But tablets are for fun. Smartphones are for work, for life. They’re not toys, they’re tools. Amazon doesn’t understand that, and the Fire Phone doesn’t reflect it. Amazon’s first smartphone is a series of interesting ideas in a package that is somehow much less than the sum of its parts."Amazon Fire Phone review | The Verge
Check the full article for Mary Jo Foley's take on the "one Windows" strategy
""We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes," Nadella told press and analysts listening to the call.What 'one Windows' really means (and doesn't) | ZDNet
Wow! One Windows OS running on phone, tablet, PC and gaming console?
Not exactly. Later in the call, Nadella attempted to clarify his remarks, but not in time to stop the breathless headlines.
Here's what "one Windows" really means:"
Confirming Teradata's latest acqhire deals
"On July 16th, Teradata acquired assets of Revelytix, a leader in information management products for big data with unique metadata management technology and deep expertise in integrating information across the enterprise. On July 17th, Teradata acquired assets of Hadapt, including experienced big data technologists and intellectual property.Teradata Acquisitions Accelerate Big Data Innovation
“We welcome Revelytix and Hadapt employees to Teradata and we look forward to their contributions in helping Teradata Labs accelerate delivery of big data solutions for our customers,” said Scott Gnau, president, Teradata Labs. “The addition of the key assets of these companies underscores Teradata’s commitment to continued innovation and customer value, extends our big data portfolio, and enhances the Teradata® Unified Data Architecture™.”"
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
From an open source market dynamics reality check
"“We talk about doing good and doing well,” said Dries Buytaert, the creator of Drupal, an open source content management system for websites, and chief technology officer of Acquia. The company gives away the Drupal code and sells things, like site search or ways to run the code in Amazon Web Services, that people pay for.Open Source and the Challenge of Making Money - NYTimes.com
“All the open source companies have learned that this is what you have to do,” he said.
Which raises the question of whether it makes sense to build free stuff at all."
Lots to like, for Facebook investors
"Mobile devices accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s revenue, which mostly comes from ads shown on the Facebook website and apps. Facebook, based in Menlo Park, Calif., recently announced a new network that allows advertisers to target Facebook users when they are using other apps, and it acquired LiveRail, a video ad service, in order to expand its ability to sell lucrative video ads that would run non-Facebook apps. The results sent Facebook shares up 4 percent in after-hours trading to more than $74, a new high."Facebook’s Profit Soars Past Expectations, Fueled by Mobile Ads - NYTimes.com
I'm guessing Microsoft won't try the one-model-fits-all user experience approach again, however
"He explained, "In the past we had multiple teams working on different versions of Windows. Now we have one team with a common architecture. This allows us to scale, create Universal Windows Apps."Nadella Merges Windows Phone, Windows - Business Insider
This is a major departure from Apple's style and from Microsoft's previous approach."
Lots of positive signals in Microsoft's latest quarterly report
"But there was better news for Microsoft’s cloud business. Annual sales from its commercial cloud business would be $4.4 billion if it sustained its June sales levels for a full year. The company doubled its cloud revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30.Microsoft’s Profits Slide on Mobile, but Its Cloud Flourishes - NYTimes.com
For the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, Microsoft reported net income of $4.61 billion, or 55 cents a share, down from $4.97 billion, or 59 cents a share, in the period a year ago.
The company said revenue jumped to $23.38 billion from $19.9 billion in the period a year earlier."
iPhone and Mac momentum > iPad market expectation miss
"Revenue was $37.43 billion, up from $35.32 billion in the quarter a year ago. Wall Street analysts had expected revenue of $37.93 billion, according to a survey of analysts by Thomson Reuters. Healthy sales of Macs also helped fuel the growth, the company said. Apple reported selling 4.4 million Macs, up from 3.8 million in the same quarter last year, beating analysts’ expectations of about 3.9 million."Apple Reports $7.7 Billion Profit on Strong iPhone Sales - NYTimes.com
Tim Cook, quoted earlier in the article: “IPad sales met our expectations, but we realize they didn’t meet many of yours”
"The overall tablet market has been shaky, and many people think it’s because smartphones with more powerful processors and bigger, better screens make them seem less necessary. Whenever Apple does release its new iPhones, they will likely be both bigger and more powerful than the iPhone 5S. That’s likely to be good news for Apple as it tries to claw market share back from Samsung. It could also be bad news for the iPad, as it tries to sell iPads to people with big phones in their pockets. But Apple has never been shy of cannibalizing its own products, so the iPad’s loss could be the company’s gain."The iPad Continues to Struggle, and a New iPhone Could Make It Worse - Businessweek
A net-positive Amazon Fire Phone review
"Amazon’s focus on the Fire Phone’s flashier side is unfortunate, because when I dug beneath the gimmicks, I found something better than 3-D heroics. The Fire Phone is uncommonly friendly and easy to use. As a bare-bones smartphone, it should prove especially attractive to people who find themselves overwhelmed by today’s crop of do-it-all superphones. When you forget about its whiz-bang marketing, the Fire begins to stand out as something much more interesting: a phone for the rest of us."Review: Amazon’s Fire Phone - NYTimes.com
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Curious that some of the press on this topic refers to VMware as a potential future EMC spin-off and to Pivotal (a joint venture between EMC and VMware) as past-tense spun-out
"According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Elliott Management has acquired more than $1 billion worth of EMC stock—worth about 2 percent of the company—and wants EMC to sell off its 80 percent stake in VMware, which it acquired in 2004 and has since been running as an independent subsidiary.EMC Investor to Urge Storage Vendor to Spin Off VMware
Elliott officials have contacted EMC Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci over the past week and plan to meet with him to voice their concerns that the EMC-VMware relationship is not helping either company reach its potential, according to the news report. The present arrangement has hindered EMC's stock, and spinning off VMware would bolster the stock, the investors will argue."
Final paragraph from a Cisco reality check by Charles Fitzgerald; maybe John Chambers will be IBM's next CEO...
"Now you may say “but lets look at Chambers’ full tenure”, as he assumed the big boy chair five years before Ballmer. And you’re welcome to do that, even in our what have you done for me lately culture, but the record is uglier than that of the much derided Microsoft (I won’t even start digging up all those acquisitions everyone has rightly forgotten about). Will Chambers declare victory and head for the exits before the future pain becomes more evident at Cisco, or will he overstay his welcome until the hounds of Wall Street start baying for his head? Stay tuned. And then we can have a discussion about whether Cisco’s next CEO should be a product guy or another sales guy…"Ballmer vs. Chambers: A Corporate Cage Match | Platformonomics
Apple granted comprehensive 'iTime' smartwatch patent with in-strap circuitry, arm gesture support [appleinsider.com]
Timely; see the full article for patent details
"In one of the clearest signs that Apple is — and has been — working on a smartwatch device, the Cupertino company was on Tuesday granted a patent for a wrist-worn wearable with augmented strap capabilities, support for arm and wrist gestures, advanced proximity-sensing circuitry and much more."Apple granted comprehensive 'iTime' smartwatch patent with in-strap circuitry, arm gesture support
Final paragraph from a timely big data reality check
"Stimulated by all the talk from consultants and sellers of data-crunching software about the transformative potential of big data, managers may have been misled into hoping it will give them massive, instant, Holy Grail solutions. But such discoveries are rare; and if they do exist, they have probably been made already. The reality is that big data produces lots of small advances—and that is good enough."Schumpeter: Little things that mean a lot | The Economist
Likely a positive leading indicator for Apple's quarterly results release this afternoon
"The Cupertino, Calif., company is asking suppliers to manufacture between 70 million and 80 million units combined of two large-screen iPhones with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays by Dec. 30, according to people familiar with the matter. Its forecast for what is commonly called the iPhone 6 is significantly larger than the initial order last year of between 50 million and 60 million versions of the iPhone 5S and 5C—which had a display measuring 4-inches diagonally, these people said. Both of the coming models are expected to feature metal cases similar to the iPhone 5S and likely come in multiple colors, these people said."Apple Suppliers Gear Up for Large-Screen iPhones - WSJ
Big delivery ambitions taking flight
"There’s been a lot of debate about how serious Amazon is with its much touted (and very not-a-real-thing-currently) Prime Air drone-delivery program, considering the Federal Aviation Administration has specifically banned drones for commercial purposes. Add one on the serious side of the score card: the company has recruited former MIT professor Paul Viola to be its vice president of science for Prime Air."Amazon taps former MIT professor to helm Prime Air, its planned drone delivery program | BetaBoston
Save and spend (see, e.g., Facebook Explains Why It Wants to Be a Retail Store [Wired]) on Facebook
"While Save doesn’t cache content behind links like Pocket or Instapaper, it should give all Facebook users a quick way to stockpile links and content they find so they don’t have to interrupt their News Feed reading flow. As it rolls out over the next few days, Save could let people browse the feed in shorter bursts without worrying about forgetting things they don’t have time to explore right away."Facebook Launches Save, A Read-It-Later List For Links, Places, And Media Pages | TechCrunch
Monday, July 21, 2014
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.Riding the Juggernaut That Left Print Behind - NYTimes.com
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.)"
A timely Hadoop reality check
"And Redshift also has the analytics piece. Does that mean it’s essentially AWS’s answer to Hadoop?Talking the Cloud Business with Amazon CTO Werner Vogels | Re/code
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."
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
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.Sources: Hadapt acquired by Teradata, will lead to more employees in Boston | BetaBoston
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."
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.”Inside the Artificial Brain That’s Remaking the Google Empire | Enterprise | WIRED
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."
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.Microsoft Ending Its Short-Lived Tenure as Android Phone Maker | Re/code
“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."
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
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.Snowden Says Drop Dropbox, Use SpiderOak - Digits - WSJ
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
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
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
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.Microsoft’s Largest-Ever Layoffs Coming Thursday With Former Nokia Hardest Hit | Re/code
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."
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.Could Penguin Beat Amazon at Book Subscriptions? - Businessweek
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."
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.IBM, Apple Want Consumer Apps Catered to Corporate - WSJ
"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.""
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.Apple Could Pay $400 Million in E-Books Price-Fixing Case - NYTimes.com
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."
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
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.In IBM and Apple's wake, what will team Android do? | ZDNet
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."
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
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.Apple, IBM in Deal to Create Apps, Sell Phones - WSJ
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."
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.What Amazon’s Zocalo Means for Box and Dropbox | MIT Technology Review
“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.”"
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
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:
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)
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.Oracle Big Data SQL: One Fast Query, All Your Data (The Data Warehouse Insider)
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."
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
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.When Selfies Turn Dangerous - ABC News
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."
Monday, July 14, 2014
Another take on the CYNK roller coaster and its potential implications
"As we all know from both social media and the stock market, however, humans are stubbornly prone to cognitive biases and emotion-driven rationalisations that lead to bad choices, like buying shares of Cynk. The advantage of using computers as an aid to decision-making is their ability not to hear any of that noise -- noise that introducing social media and other unstructured data as new variables into, say, high-frequency trading systems could cause to increase. Paradoxically, the more Wall Street's machines become like humans, the more prone they may be to making the same kinds of mistakes humans do. The next tech bubble might not be driven by human stupidity or greed; it might be created by the tech itself."Social network with no members gets $6bn valuation (Wired UK)
Lead paragraph of a timely DBMS market dynamics reality check by Curt Monash
"As part of my series on the keys to and likelihood of success, I outlined some examples from the DBMS industry. The list turned out too long for a single post, so I split it up by millennia. The part on 20th Century DBMS success and failure went up Friday; in this one I’ll cover more recent events, organized in line with the original overview post. Categories addressed will include analytic RDBMS (including data warehouse appliances), NoSQL/non-SQL short-request DBMS, MySQL, PostgreSQL, NewSQL and Hadoop."21st Century DBMS success and failure | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services
Check the full article for a round-up of data collector/broker modus operandi
"Here's the short version: Everyone in advertising is buying exhaustive records of your purchases—all your purchases—and comparing them to your viewing habits so that they know which ads you saw and whether or not they changed your behavior.This Is How Your Financial Data Is Being Used to Serve You Ads | Adweek
If you feel like this is kind of invasive, that probably means you understand me so far."
So perhaps Tour de France selfie-suicide proof after all
"After multiple torture tests, a purported sapphire front cover rumored to be bound for Apple's 4.7-inch "iPhone 6" has finally been broken, but getting there took a car weighing 1.6 tons. "Video shows rumored 'iPhone 6' sapphire front panel destroyed by car
Final paragraphs from a stark Samsung snapshot
"Apple, too, makes most of its profit from selling hardware, but it does not share Samsung’s problems, Mr. Bajarin said. To stand out and keep customers loyal, Apple offers operating systems and Internet services that run only on Apple hardware.Samsung Considers Its Counterattack as Rivals Erode Cellphone Profit - NYTimes.com
A Samsung customer, by contrast, can always switch to an Android phone made by another company, log in to Google services and have basically the same phone. And if you can buy some other Android phone more cheaply than a Samsung device, why not?
“That’s really the difficult part for them,” Mr. Bajarin said. “Their customers are actually Google’s, they’re not necessarily theirs.”"
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Jean-Louis Gassée reviews and restates Satya Nadella's recent memo (check the full post for Gassée's ~200-word version of Nadella's 3,100-word memo)
"Satya Nadella’s latest message to the troops – and to the world – is disquieting. It lacks focus, specifics, and, if not soon sharpened, his words will worry employees, developers, customers, and even shareholders."Microsoft’s New CEO Needs An Editor | Monday Note
Friday, July 11, 2014
Lots of press/blogosphere speculation about what the 3,100-word essay may be signaling; changes will be unveiled >= 7/22 (upon Microsoft's next earnings release)
"The crux of Mr. Nadella’s essay was an extended description of Microsoft’s mission. Clarifying, rather than drastically redefining, the company’s “unique core,” Mr. Nadella said Microsoft was “the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world.”Satya Nadella Says Changes Are Coming to Microsoft - NYTimes.com
“We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more,” he wrote."
App claims to be a new tool in the eternal quest for a city parking space - Business - The Boston Globe
Perhaps next: an app for paying to reserve a bathroom stall at Faneuil Hall
"Haystack, launched in Baltimore in May, is expanding to Boston this week with what its 24-year-old founder calls a convenient solution to one of urban living’s great frustrations. Instead of circling the block, praying for a parking space to open up, a Haystack user would receive an electronic notification that someone else in the network is about to leave a nearby spot, and could call dibs for a few bucks.App claims to be a new tool in the eternal quest for a city parking space - Business - The Boston Globe
“We’re allowing neighbors to help each other out. That’s what this is built on,” said Eric Meyer, the young entrepreneur behind Haystack."
Perhaps CYNK => cynic?
"The financial world is obsessed this morning with Cynk Technology (CYNK), a “company” that traded for a few pennies for most of its existence before suddenly exploding more than 25,000 percent, giving it a market value of more than $5 billion. Cynk supposedly operates a social network—but one that would appear to have no members, no revenue, no assets, etc., and its public filings reveal a hilariously inept business plan and dubious personnel."Cynk Is a Joke, Not Proof of a Bubble - Businessweek
Check here for more Zocalo details
"This will narrow the prospects for startups – particularly Box's. Following its delayed IPO and latest funding round, the company looks exposed. Has Aaron Levie's execs and VC backers anticipated Amazon's move?Amazon Zocalo rocks Box, socks DropBox, clocks Google Docs • The Register
Ironically, Dropbox was sitting upon the Amazon S3 storage cloud for several years, and it looks as though the Bezos behemoth has taken a shine to what one of its customers has been doing – a rather Microsoft-ish approach from the olden days."
Thursday, July 10, 2014
How Google, Apple and Amazon try to own in-store shoppers - Mobile Marketer - Software and technology
A succinct in-store strategy summary
"“All three companies have very different approaches,” Razorfish’s Mr. Goldberg said. “Amazon is primarily adversarial with the rest of retail; they simply hope to win market and wallet share from their competitors.How Google, Apple and Amazon try to own in-store shoppers - Mobile Marketer - Software and technology
“Google has clearly tried to position themselves as a partner to retailers, offering services like Shopping Express that they hope retailers will use,” he said.
“Apple primarily invents retail solutions they want to use in their own stores, and then makes them available to the rest of the market to help drive more hardware sales.”"
Lead paragraphs from a timely Hiawatha Bray reality check
"There’s a lot of money in the software business, but hardly any of it came from me.Paying the price for free software - Business - The Boston Globe
I paid $99 last year for a subscription to Microsoft Corp.’s Office 365 suite, and spent a buck or two on some smartphone apps. But the great majority of my PC, phone and tablet apps haven’t cost me a cent.
Like nearly everyone else, I rely on software downloaded at no charge. Yet for unwary users, a lot of free software can end up costing quite a bit more than they’d expect."
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Walt Mossberg reflects on how the PC is becoming a mobile device accessory
"But just in the past month, it has become clear that a serious effort has begun to merge the smartphone and the PC, or at least, to bring some of the more familiar features of the surging smartphone to the tanking PC. We are seeing the start of what I expect to be a long-term trend to make PCs look and act more like smartphones, and to bring to the PC some of the functions of the phone.How Apple and Google are merging the PC with the smartphone. | Re/code
It’s essentially the reverse of the old “Pocket PC” idea."
Nate Silver reflects on a big FiveThirtyEight prediction miss
"Statistical models can fail at the extreme tails of a probability distribution. There often isn’t enough historical data to distinguish a 1-in-400 from a 1-in-4,000 from a 1-in-40,000 probability. (This is some of the basis of Nassim Taleb’s book “The Black Swan.”)The Most Shocking Result in World Cup History | FiveThirtyEight
We can, however, at least confirm that the match was an extreme outlier from the standpoint of past World Cup matches. There have been 833 matches played since the World Cup began in 1930. Based on the scoreline, this was the most unlikely result."
Likely to make many politicians very anxious
"Promise Tracker has already generated interest from other countries and the MIT team plans to create a web and mobile app system that cities around the world can customize according to their needs.Making sure politicians make good on campaign promises? There's an app for that - Jul. 9, 2014
"Our goal is not to criticize the government, but rather provide residents and politicians with the proper tools to understand the local context, make informed decisions, and transform their cities into better spaces for all," said Leo Burd, a São Paulo native and consultant for MIT on the Promise Tracker project. "
Also tbd if the iPhone 6 can withstand being run over after a Tour de France selfie
"First, I'd be interested to see how a sapphire screen stands up to some extreme cold. OK, so my keys wont scratch it in my pocket, but what if I'm in Antarctica climbing the ridge that NASA recently identified as the coldest place on Earth? While there, I've probably foolishly put my ice axe in the same backpack compartment as my iPhone 6 and they've been getting jostled around together in there all day. When the time comes to take a very important selfie at the end of my quest, hopefully my screen won't be scratched."iPhone 6 leaks show a device begging for extreme torture-testing - CNET
Lots left to learn
"This presents an odd conundrum. In the forty years since PLATO, educational technologists have made progress in teaching parts of the curriculum that can be most easily reduced to routines, but we have made very little progress in expanding the range of what these programs can do. During those same forty years, in nearly every other sector of society, computers have reduced the necessity of performing tasks that can be reduced to a routine. Computers, therefore, are best at assessing human performance in the sorts of tasks in which humans have already been replaced by computers."Will Computers Ever Replace Teachers? : The New Yorker
Signs of the times
"“I felt like age shouldn’t hold me back as long as I can code,” said Anderson, now 15 and a soon-to-be sophomore at Flintridge Preparatory School in La Cañada, California, who taught himself several programming languages and built apps based on online tutorials.Silicon Valley's Talent Grab Spawns High-School Interns - Bloomberg
In the push for candidates, summer interns are getting treated better, too. It’s become standard for engineering interns to snag free housing, transportation and salaries of more than $6,000 a month, according to job-search site Glassdoor Inc. That compares with the $4,280 average monthly income for U.S. households in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of the top 10 companies paying the most for interns, all are technology companies except for Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Glassdoor said in February."
Yet another *Box bummer
"He said Google wants to encourage businesses to move more of their computing to the cloud. “We want to make sure potential customers are not worried about cost as a barrier to entry,” Rimer said.With Google Offer, Cloud Storage Gets Closer to Free - Digits - WSJ
Cloud storage companies Box and Dropbox also offer free storage plans, but these typically focus on individual users and have storage limits that range from a few gigabytes to 100 gigabytes.
“There are free offers out there for gigabytes of storage, but terabytes is where it starts to get interesting for companies,” said Rimer."
A different kind of Hachette job
"Amazon has proposed giving Hachette’s authors all the revenue from their e-book sales on Amazon as the parties continue to negotiate a new contract. Hachette’s response on Tuesday was to suggest that the retailer was trying to make it commit suicide.Amazon Angles to Attract Hachette's Authors to Its Side - NYTimes.com
“We call baloney,” the retailer fired back.
It is rare to see billion-dollar conglomerates engage in this sort of invective. Amazon, in particular, was famous until very recently for saying as little as possible in the media. But as the dispute has dragged on, it is trying a new tactic."
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Big traffic data
"Rio is the first city in the world to collect real-time data both from drivers who use the Waze navigation app and pedestrians who use the public-transportation app Moovit, giving it an unprecedented view on thousands of moving points across the sprawling city. Rio is also talking to the popular cycling app Strava to start monitoring how cyclists are moving around the city too.Why Google's Waze Is Helping Local Governments Track Users
All three apps are popular, consumer services which, in the last few months, have found a new way to make their crowdsourced data useful to someone other than advertisers. While consumers use Waze and Moovit to get around, both companies are flipping the use case and turning those millions of users into a network of sensors that municipalities can tap into for a better view on traffic and hazards. Local governments can also use these apps as a channel to send alerts."
Email innovation != oxymoron
"But the larger goal with Inbox is not just to offer a suite of developer tools, but to create a new email standard. That means, Grinich says, the company has to provide the fundamental infrastructure as an open source package.MIT And Dropbox Alums Launch Inbox, A Next-Generation Email Platform | TechCrunch
“The sync engine is available for free on GitHub, and we welcome discussion and pull requests,” he says. Currently the open source sync engine works with Gmail and Yahoo mail, with plans to expand soon to all IMAP providers. Meanwhile, enterprise users on Microsoft Exchange can request access to the Inbox Developer program, which supports ActiveSync, and is now in private beta."
The good news for Microsoft: Windows PC sales are declining more slowly, and may show a slight increase in 2015; the bad news: Microsoft continues to struggle in tablets and smartphones
"After the first iPad shipped in 2010, tablets were increasingly adopted as alternative computing devices to PCs. Gartner is projecting tablet shipments to increase to 256 million this year, up from 207 million last year. Tablet shipments will reach 321 million in 2015, overtaking PCs, Gartner said.Microsoft's Windows to aid PC market revival in 2015 | PCWorld
Tablets will get cheaper and more functional, Atwal said, adding that these trends will continue to drive adoption in the coming years.
Worldwide mobile phone shipments will be 1.86 billion units this year, rising by 3.1 percent compared to the previous year, Gartner said. The worldwide growth will continue in 2015, with shipments totaling 1.95 billion units."
At least nine lives; tbd how many remain
"The company also confirmed an earlier Wall Street Journal report that it raised $150 million in new funding from TPG and Coatue Management. The funding will let Box put off its IPO for the time being, likely to come after Labor Day but by the end of this year, a person familiar with the matter said.Box’s Loss Widens In 1Q, But There’s a Promising Sign on Costs - Digits - WSJ
Without raising the private financing, Box could have run out of cash in or before 2015. The had a negative operating cash flow in the first quarter of $23.5 million, roughly in line with the $91.8 million in negative operating cash flow from last year. At the end of April, Box had $79.3 million in cash."
Monday, July 07, 2014
Final paragraph from a timely smartphone market dynamics reality check
"Amazon has a bigger problem. Most obviously, more and more of what it means to be ‘Android’ will come from the closed Google services that aren't part of AOSP and that it doesn’t have access to. If Amazon wants to free-ride on the Android app ecosystem, it will need to spend more and more time replicating the Google Android APIs that the apps it wants are using, or the apps just won’t work - presuming that Amazon even has the sorts of search-led assets to do that. But more fundamentally, AOSP is being pulled along by Google’s aims, and will change in radical and unexpected ways. This isn’t like building on Linux - it could be more like taking a fork of DOS just before Windows 3.1 came out. Are we quite sure (to speculate wildly for rhetorical effect) that we won’t be running Android apps in a sandbox on our ChromeOS phones in 5 years? Where would that leave Amazon’s fork? AOSP is not necessarily a neutral, transparent platform for Amazon to build on. "The next phase of smartphones — Benedict Evans
Keynes probably would have agreed; check here for the full interview transcript
"Page: I totally believe we should be living in a time of abundance, like the Peter Diamandis book. If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy: housing, security, opportunity for your kids. I mean, anthropologists have identified these things. It’s not that hard for us to provide those things. The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small. I’m guessing less than 1 percent at the moment. So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true."Google CEO Larry Page Says Future Workforce Is Part Time | Re/code
Sign of the times; also see Social Media’s Vampires: They Text by Night (NYT)
"The Board of Education in the Japanese city of Kasuga says junior high school students should stop using smartphones after 10 p.m.City Educators to Teens: No Smartphones After 10 P.M. - Digits - WSJ
Working with local schools and parent-teacher associations, the board is encouraging students to turn their phones over to adult supervision between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., although no penalties have been set for violators."
From a snapshot of European Web users' priorities
"Google now has an 85 percent market share for search in the region’s five largest economies, including Britain, France and Germany, compared with less than 80 percent in 2009, according to the research company comScore. Google’s share of the American market stands at roughly 65 percent.Principles Are No Match for Europe’s Love of U.S. Web Titans - NYTimes.com
Facebook — the target of several government investigations for its tax practices in Europe — also has more than doubled its number of European users, to over 150 million, in the last five years, and the social network’s European user numbers now outpace American figures, according to the social media research company eMarketer."
Amazon and Google expand the scope of their relentless competition to include your groceries
"The service gives Google a crack at the $600 billion grocery market. Also at stake is a large piece of the $3.5 billion in so-called direct-response digital ads that research firm eMarketer expects consumer package goods companies and electronics brands to spend in the U.S. in 2014. This category of ads, which includes search ads, is meant to influence online shoppers to perform specific tasks, such as signing up for email newsletters or making an online purchase.Inside Google Shopping Express’ Big Plan to Race Amazon to Your Door | Re/code
“Google can’t give up on product search and this is another pathway to closing the loop for advertisers,” said Keith Anderson, a vice president at the consulting firm RetailNet Group. “They failed on the payments side in stores, but if they can use expedited delivery as a way to get it then they’ll keep on being willing to spend.”"
Friday, July 04, 2014
Final paragraph from another useful Facebook reality check
"If there is a somehow unethical use of emotions surrounding this experiment, it is the framing of fear used by the media to sell the story. Certainly, the media framed the story around ethics and fear for a reason: they know from their own click data that fear sells. Indeed, it is ironic that the media’s gut reaction to a study about emotional contagion was to flood news sources with negative emotions."Refriending Facebook | MIT Technology Review
Sign of the times
"With Robin’s software, when employees walk into a room, their smartphones alert a wireless transmitter using Bluetooth LE. They can then share certain predefined information with colleagues, which might be different for, say, a conference room than for a kitchen. When someone walks into a meeting, for instance, everyone else at the table could automatically have access to the person’s name, Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile, and perhaps a shared presentation on Dropbox. The system currently works with iBeacons, wireless network sensors developed by Apple to alert iOS devices when they’re in particular locations, and a few other Bluetooth LE devices."Rooms Use Wireless Beacons to React to People | MIT Technology Review
Final paragraph from a thoughtful Facebook reality check
"One potential usage, which has already been tested on a social network, is to mine large sets of posts for signs of mental illness or depression. At this year’s Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference, a team from Microsoft discussed a study in which they had been using posts on Twitter to predict the risk of postpartum depression in pregnant women and new mothers. In that case, Berkman pointed out, the benefits likely outweigh the risks. While the cost of a false positive—telling someone that she is at greater risk of depression when she’s not—is high, the cost of missing the signs of mental illness is potentially even bigger. Microsoft’s research, in his mind, is an example of a good use of social networks for research. “Let’s let the data tell us something we can’t normally tell,” Berkman said, “and that you may not even know about yourself.”"Did Facebook Hurt People's Feelings? : The New Yorker
Thursday, July 03, 2014
Check the article link below for registration links and more details
"Microsoft may have released a basic Office app for Android phones almost a year ago, but the company is now building a suite designed specifically for Android tablets. The upcoming release, expected later this year, will join Microsoft’s Office for iPad version as the second major tablet-focused push for the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the company is currently preparing a private beta test for the Office Android tablet version, and is accepting participants through a special pre-release program. Companies and individuals can register their interest in testing pre-release versions of Office over at Microsoft’s SharePoint site."Microsoft seeks Office for Android testers as it readies tablet version | The Verge
A new Tesla accessory
"But the 10 kw models are just the beginning. It won’t be long before Kamen has a smaller version ready for commercialization. He’s already been running a 2.5 kw Beacon at his New Hampshire home for four years.Segway Inventor Dean Kamen Thinks His New Stirling Engine Will Get You Off The Grid For Under $10K
Why not offer the smaller version first? “A 2-kilowatt machine would make one-fifth the power, but wouldn’t cost just one-fifth the money,” says Kamen. That’s why he and NRG will be relying on high-tech early adopters, such as Tesla owners, to buy the first run.
As for cost? Kamen thinks that the 10 kw versions can be manufactured and installed for roughly $10,000 or about $1 per watt. That, however, wouldn’t cover development costs, overhead, or profit margin."
From an overview of the Facebook research team that's getting a lot of social scrutiny this week
"A spokesman said Facebook is considering additional changes.Facebook Experiments Had Few Limits - WSJ
Since its creation in 2007, Facebook's Data Science group has run hundreds of tests. One published study deconstructed how families communicate, another delved into the causes of loneliness. One test looked at how social behaviors spread through networks. In 2010, the group measured how "political mobilization messages" sent to 61 million people caused people in social networks to vote in the 2010 congressional elections.
Many of Facebook's data scientists hold doctoral degrees from major universities in fields including computer science, artificial intelligence and computational biology. Some worked in academic research before joining Facebook."
Refining expectations about what's socially acceptable
"But there’s another benefit in encouraging research on Facebook: It is only by understanding the power of social media that we can begin to defend against its worst potential abuses. Facebook’s latest study proved it can influence people’s emotional states; aren’t you glad you know that? Critics who have long argued that Facebook is too powerful and that it needs to be regulated or monitored can now point to Facebook’s own study as evidence.A Bright Side to Facebook’s Experiments on Its Users - NYTimes.com
It is problematic that Facebook roped users into the study without their express consent. The company has apologized, and now says it will look at ways to improve its guidelines for conducting research. “After the feedback from this study, we are taking a very hard look at this process,” said Jonathan Thaw, a Facebook spokesman."
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Final paragraphs of a timely social media + data science reality check
"We need to be more critical of the production of data science, especially in commercial settings. The firms that use our data have asymmetric power over us. We do them a favor unquestioningly accepting their claims to the prestige, expertise, and authority of science as well.Data Science: What the Facebook Controversy is Really About - Sara M. Watson - The Atlantic
Ultimately, society’s greatest concerns with science and technology are ethical: Do we accept or reject the means by which knowledge is produced and the ends to which it is applied? It’s a question we ask of nuclear physics, genetic modification—and one we should ask of data science."