"Certainly, some of the latest additions to the industry pool of collaboration options — and yes, I’m talking about Slack here — are designed specifically to address this issue, as it becomes one of the largest — and most ironic — new obstacles to effective collaboration: Too many apps and channels for working, none of which share well with each other. Solutions like Slack make all the knowledge and content flowing through our many individual business applications, visible from one collaboration platform. And that’s certainly one major way to solve the problem. Certainly, approaches like OpenSocial have tried to tackle it in other ways, and now the W3C Social Web Working Group is looking at the issue as well. So perhaps we’ll still end up with an SMTP for collaboration, but we don’t have it yet."How Digital Collaboration is Fragmenting, and Why It’s a Major Opportunity - Enterprise Irregulars
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Excerpt from a timely collaboration market reality check
Sign of the times
"Livecoding.tv, a startup in Y Combinator’s current class, is launching today to help coders learn from their peers in real time.Livecoding.tv Is Twitch.tv For Coding | TechCrunch
The way Livecoding works is pretty simple. Developers stream live video of themselves coding, and users watching can ask questions or give feedback.
Since launching a beta in February, Livecoding has seen 40,000 people sign up across 162 countries. Users have streamed in a variety of spoken languages, including Portuguese, Russian, and German, as well as coding languages, including C#, Python, and PHP."
Final paragraph from an extensive Walt Mossberg review
"My first impression of Apple Music is that it’s the most full-featured streaming music app I’ve seen — and heard — and the first I’d consider paying for. But it may overwhelm some users, and I’ll need to live with it more before I can reach final conclusions."Apple Music: Walt Mossberg’s First Look | Re/code
tbd if there are other Bing-related deal dimensions
"Uber has acquired a series of mapping assets from Microsoft Bing as the alt-cab company works to build out its own mapping service.Uber buys mapping assets from Microsoft Bing | ZDNet
The assets include the cameras Microsoft used to collect mapping imagery data, a datacenter in Colorado, intellectual property and roughly 100 engineers who have worked primarily on Bing maps and image collection."
More focus refinement for Microsoft
"Under the agreement, AOL will take over management and sales of display, mobile and video advertising that appears on Xbox, Skype and other Microsoft products in the United States, Canada, Japan, Brazil and five European countries. The move takes Microsoft largely out of the display ad business while giving AOL access to some of the web’s most popular destinations.AOL in Deal With Microsoft to Take Over Display Ad Business - The New York Times
In turn, Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, will power search results and search advertising on AOL websites. The arrangement could lift Bing, long a second fiddle to Google, which is being displaced as the search engine of choice on AOL sites."
Monday, June 29, 2015
A question of consumer "quantifiable harm;" also see High-Profile Study Turns Up the Antitrust Heat on Google (BloombergBusiness)
"The research combines statistical testing with detailed legal and economic analysis to examine the ramifications of Google’s practice of promoting its own specialized search services, such as for local restaurants or doctors, at the expense of rivals like Yelp and TripAdvisor.Study Suggests Google Harms Consumers by Skewing Search Results - WSJ
It was sponsored by Yelp, which has filed a complaint with EU antitrust authorities over Google’s search practices. It was presented to EU regulators on Friday.
The study’s authors— Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Tim Wu of Columbia Law School—found that users were 45% more likely to click on results that were ranked purely by relevance, rather than as Google ranks them now, with its own services displayed prominently."
"Insurance companies have initially targeted fire prevention devices because fire claims are the largest category of homeowner insurance losses, accounting for about 30 percent of all losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a New York-based industry research group. Fire was responsible for $19 billion in property losses in the United States in 2013.Data from your home could cut insurance costs - Business - The Boston Globe
The smoke and carbon monoxide detectors will wirelessly transmit data about their status to Nest, which will inform Liberty Mutual each month whether the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have batteries, they are properly charged, the sensors are working, and the Wi-Fi connection is good.
Customers who participate in the program will receive at least 5 percent discounts on their home insurance. For a consumer paying the national average premium of $1,034 annually, the savings would be about $52."
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Final paragraph from an Om Malik Uber reality check
"The Parisian taxi drivers are partly protesting against economic regulations in cities where taxi drivers have to pay for expensive medallions while Uber drivers do not. But, in a larger sense, they’re actually protesting against our increased impatience. We don’t have time to wait for a cab, because someone around the corner is willing to do the same job more cheaply. Our phones make us more productive while we wait, and yet we don’t ever want to wait. As individuals, taxi drivers are stuck: their industry is controlled by outdated regulation and now they face ruthless free-market competition. Meanwhile, the habits and the expectations of their customers are changing—people are voting with their wallets and with their time. And that’s not something that protests in the streets, whether in Paris or Nottinghamshire, are likely to change."The Long History of the Fight Against Uber - The New Yorker
Friday, June 26, 2015
CEO Satya Nadella turns away from Windows Phone, Surface in new Microsoft mission - Puget Sound Business Journal
Lots of reading-between-the-lines speculation about Satya Nadella's Microsoft mission memo (GeekWire published the full companywide email)
"The biggest change from the previous mission statement Ballmer coined is that it doesn’t reference the “family of devices” the company used to like to talk about so much.CEO Satya Nadella turns away from Windows Phone, Surface in new Microsoft mission - Puget Sound Business Journal
Nadella did reference the company’s devices in his email, but only in passing right along with all sorts of other priorities, from gaming to diversity.
The change underscores a decreasing focus on Microsoft building its own new devices, such as the Windows Phone and Surface tablet, in lieu of building the services such as Office that run on every device."
Final paragraphs from a timely Android-versus-Windows reality check
"The big difference between Microsoft and Google is Microsoft still has to protect their legacy devices as well as try and move everything to their One Microsoft strategy. That is not easy to do. When it comes to mobile devices, their Windows mobile phones are a very distant third in the overall market of smartphones. As for IoT, iOS and Android clearly have an edge and momentum over Microsoft. Market projections from most research houses see Android basically dominating the market for mobile and IoT because it is device agnostic and is a free license for anyone that wants it.Is Android the New Windows? | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
From where I sit, it really does seem Android is the Windows of our day and Google is in a place to broaden their lead in mobile and IoT barring any serious missteps. Apple will be a worthy competitor and I don’t expect Microsoft to rest on their laurels and let Google dominate this space without a fight. However, Android’s lead in these two markets is quite huge and, if Google keeps moving in this direction and keeps their customers happy, I suspect Android, at least from a numbers viewpoint, will continue to be the dominant mobile and IoT system for many years to come."
Tangentially, see Microsoft Office apps arrive for free on Android smartphones (finally) (but not yet Sway) (CNET)
"Today we’re also excited to announce that Sway for iPad is now available, as is an updated version of Sway for iPhone. Building on your feedback, it is now easier than ever to add pictures, videos and text to your Sway. Previewing your creations is also quicker than before—simply switch between Edit and Preview at the top to see the polished and cohesive design taking shape as you create.Bringing Sway apps to more platforms and devices - Office Blogs
Sway for iPad is optimized for the larger screen. It allows you to create, view and share Sways in landscape and portrait mode and also includes a few additional capabilities, such as the Remix! button for quickly trying out different layouts and styles. Now is a perfect time to download or update Sway for iPhone and iPad from the App Store today!"
Also see Amazon wants the Echo to be your personal robot butler (The Washington Post)
"Days after making its smart speaker available to the masses, Amazon is opening Echo up to developers, too, with a new set of free tools called the "Alexa Skills Kit," named for the cloud-based voice service that controls the device.Amazon opens up the Echo smart speaker to third-party developers - CNET
The nation's largest online-based retailer, Amazon is hoping third parties craft new voice-powered capabilities for Echo, bringing new web services and gadgets under Alexa's control and making it a more valuable device in the home. The move comes as the current glut of connected home gadgets drive demand for a singular system capable of tying everything together with a simple interface."
Also see Two Rival Self-Driving Cars Have Close Call in California (Re/code, although the Google car involved in the near-accident was not a "funky two-seater" model) and No, 2 self-driving cars didn’t have a “close call” on Silicon Valley streets (Ars Technica)
"Last month, Google announced that its homemade autonomous vehicles — funky two-seaters, built to move with a touch of a button, sans steering wheels and brake pedals — would be arriving on public roads “this summer,” joining its fleet of self-driving Lexus SUVs.Google’s Self-Driving ‘Koala’ Cars Now Out in the Wild | Re/code
“This summer” is now."
See Building "add a link" (Engineering at Facebook) for more details; also see Publishers Prepare to Ramp Up News Distribution on Facebook’s Instant Articles in Coming Days (WSJ)
"Facebook is calling the new product “add a link” and while it may seem small, there are two important but subtle elements to the update. The first is that Facebook is finally starting to flex its muscle a bit when it comes to search. Facebook has a ton of information about its users and the things they share and talk about — a company blog post claims its archive includes more than a trillion posts. Helping people find all that info has never been one of Facebook’s strengths, and this is another step toward shoring up that ability. [...]
The potentially more important element is that “add a link” helps keep people in the Facebook app. If you don’t need to go out and hunt down a link outside of Facebook, you may be more willing to stay and share. It’s one of the same reasons Facebook is now willing to host content from publishers like the New York Times and BuzzFeed. The longer you stay within the app and the more you share, the better it is for Facebook’s business."Facebook Makes It Easier to Share Links Without Ever Leaving Facebook | Re/code
Presumably for more than zero-gravity Minecraft experiments
"Microsoft is riding a wave of buzz for HoloLens, its upcoming (but no one knows when or at what price) augmented reality headgear. Now NASA is sending HoloLens into orbit.Microsoft HoloLens Bound for Space - Digits - WSJ
Microsoft and NASA, both of which could use a little whiz bang, announced Thursday a project called Sidekick, that will pair HoloLens with astronauts on board the International Space Station. The headgear is intended to “provide virtual aid to astronauts working off the Earth, for the Earth,” NASA says. Two HoloLens devices are slated to blast off in a few days in a resupply payload bound for the space station."
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Multi-level initial public offerings...
"Barry Diller’s media conglomerate on Thursday unveiled long-awaited plans to pursue an initial public offering of the division, known for dating sites Match.com and OkCupid as well as dating app Tinder.IAC/InterActive Plans IPO of Matchmaking Business - WSJ
The plans come as the company looks to capitalize on the growing popularity of online matchmaking ahead of a potential contract change with Google Inc. that could affect its search business."
Broadband Speeds Are Improving in Many Places. Too Bad It Took Google to Make It Happen. | MIT Technology Review
The article title -- The Wait-for-Google-to-Do-It Strategy -- could be generalized; in multiple domains, there appears to be an implicit wait-for-Google-and/or-Elon-Musk-to-do-it strategy
"The unnerving thing is that so much of the present and future of broadband has come down to the whims of a single company, and a company that, in many ways, doesn’t look or act much like most American firms. If Google didn’t have such a dominant position in search and online advertising, giving it the resources to make big investments without any requirement of immediate return, Google Fiber wouldn’t have happened. And if Google’s leadership weren’t willing to make big long-term investments in projects outside the core business, or if the company didn’t have a dual-share structure that preserved its founders’ power and somewhat insulated its executives from Wall Street pressure, gigabit connections would more than likely be a fantasy in the United States today. As Levin puts it, “We got fortunate that a company with a real long-term view came into this market.” It might be good to design technology policy so that next time around, we don’t need to get so lucky."Broadband Speeds Are Improving in Many Places. Too Bad It Took Google to Make It Happen. | MIT Technology Review
Lead paragraphs from a FIT CEO interview
"San Francisco-based Fitbit had a healthy stock market debut last Thursday, and the wearable-tech maker is currently valued at around $7.6 billion.Post-IPO, Fitbit CEO Says He “Thinks Differently” About Apple | Re/code
But even for a company that has become synonymous with activity-tracking gadgets and claims 85 percent market share, there’s so much competition out there that it’s difficult to say whether Fitbit can continue its growth trajectory, or whether it will go the way of the 1990’s pedometer."
Data-driven competitive dynamics
"Seed Scientific formerly served clients including Audi, Unilever, the United Nations, and importantly, Apple’s Beats Music. But with the acquisition, Spotify confirms to me it will exclusively get the startup’s services, pulling the data rug out from under Apple. [...]Spotify Buys Beats’ Analytics Provider Seed Scientific | TechCrunch
Seed Scientific’s founder and CEO Adam Bly will lead the unit. He’ll surely work closely with The Echo Nest, the massive music personalization data provider that also counted Beats as a client before it was acquired by Spotify last year."
Google has quietly launched a GitHub competitor, Cloud Source Repositories | VentureBeat | Dev | by Jordan Novet
"It won’t be easy for Google to quickly steal business from source code repository hosting companies like GitHub and Atlassian (with Bitbucket). And sure enough, Google is taking a gradual approach with the new service: It can serve as a “remote” for Git repositories sitting elsewhere on the Internet or locally.Google has quietly launched a GitHub competitor, Cloud Source Repositories | VentureBeat | Dev | by Jordan Novet
Still, over time the new tool could help Google become more of an all-in-one destination for building and deploying applications. That’s important as Google challenges public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services, which introduced its own Git repository a similar service, CodeCommit, in November at the re:Invent conference. Microsoft, with its growing Azure cloud, also plays a part in this discussion; the company’s Visual Studio Online service offers unlimited repositories."
"While there is considerable irony in taking over a coal-burning plant and promoting alternative power, there are pragmatic reasons Google would want to put this data center, its seventh in the United States, in such a facility. These are typically large and solid structures, clearly with good power lines, but also access to lots of water, which Google uses for cooling its computers. The Alabama plant is next to a reservoir on the Tennessee River. There are also rail lines into the facility, which makes it likely Google can access buried conduits along the tracks to run fiber-optic cable.Google to Open New Data Center in Alabama - The New York Times
In Finland, Google rehabilitated a paper mill, and uses seawater for cooling. Salt water is corrosive for standard metal pipes, of course, so Google created a singular cooling system using plastic pipes."
Final paragraphs from a Dropbox snapshot
"Box, which went public in January, is something of a cautionary tale for Houston and Woodside. Its total 2014 revenue was about 60 percent of Dropbox’s, according to IDC, but its market value is now only one-fifth of Dropbox’s private valuation, suggesting that the office cloud market may not grow fast enough to bridge the gap between investor fantasy and reality.Dropbox Is Struggling and Competitors Are Catching Up - Bloomberg Business
Like Box, “Dropbox has been around a long time now,” and it’s past due to figure out a business model, says Ben Thompson, an analyst at consultant Stratechery. Still, Houston remains cautiously optimistic—after all, Dropbox’s revenue grew more than 50 percent last year. “We’re kind of in the phase where, like, we’ve put our pick in the ground, and all this oil is coming up, and we’ve got to get it together here,” he says."
A stark Windows Phone reality check
"In 2014, just 3% of the smartphones shipped worldwide ran on Windows while 81% on Google’s Android and 15% on Apple’s iOS, according to research firm Gartner.
Things in India, though, have looked brighter. Microsoft held a 4.5% share of smartphone shipments to India in the first three months of 2015, up from 3.6% from the quarter before, according to Counterpoint Research.Microsoft Bets Big on India, Hoping to Contend in Global Smartphone Wars at Last - Digits - WSJ
To cement and augment this growth by investing more in India, Microsoft in India is rebranding around 9,000 Nokia stores across India into Microsoft stores. They will sell other Microsoft products, such as Xbox, its gaming console, in addition to mobile phones."
From a snarky but net-positive review
"And if you’re anything like me, after a week with the Echo, you may feel the device begin to change how you think about home tech. It will not seem far-fetched to expect that one day soon, you’ll have an all-knowing, all-seeing talking assistant to control your lights, thermostat, entertainment system and just about anything else at home. In Alexa, Amazon has created the perfect interface to control your home; if it adds some more intelligence, it would be quite handy."Amazon Echo, a.k.a. Alexa, Is a Personal Aide in Need of Schooling - The New York Times
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
I was going to add "Blue Box," but then discovered IBM already bought a company called Blue Box earlier this month.
"In an interview, Box CEO Aaron Levie said the two companies have been working on the collaboration for more than six months and that they plan to jointly develop a set of blended products and services that will allow customers of IBM’s SoftLayer cloud services and applications to take advantage of Box’s APIs in their web applications and services. “We think the pairing of our two platforms will be incredibly important for the industry” Levie said.Box and IBM to Team Up On Cloud Offerings | Re/code
“We have a lot of large customers who are also big IBM customers, and we’ve always tried to play nice together, but we’ve never been fully aligned,” Levie said. “There are banks and health care companies who are using Box for secure file sharing and content management who will turn to IBM for deeper understanding of that data from analytics. We’re now going to be able to plug directly into those capabilities.”"
Later in the article: "Facebook’s stock closed at a record high of $87.88 on Tuesday, in part because of investor excitement over new advertising products on Facebook and Instagram that company executives discussed at a conference in Cannes, France."
"On Tuesday, Instagram began tapping into the 70 million photos and videos posted daily to its service to put its 300 million users in the middle of current events, including Taylor Swift’s latest concert and the memorials to the victims of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shootings.Instagram to Offer Millions of Current Events Photos - The New York Times
Despite Twitter’s reputation for dominating such live events, Mr. Systrom contends that his rival’s emphasis on text means it does not do a good job of helping people find out what is happening and feel part of it."
Launching a week before Apple Music; also see Google Is Competing With Itself With New Music Service (BloombergBusiness)
"Tuesday, Google launched a free, ad-supported version of the service, with more limited capabilities. Users can’t pick any song they want. Instead, the service offers curated digital radio stations organized by genre, mood, decade or activity. Users can also search a favorite artist, album or song and the service will stream a digital “station” of related music, Google said in a blog.Google Dangles Free Music-Streaming Service To Lure Paid Subscribers - Digits - WSJ
The service is available on the Web Tuesday; Android and Apple iOS apps will appear later this week.
The new service competes most directly with Pandora, which offers a similar “lean-back” digital radio service. Pandora shares fell 1.4% to $16.52 in afternoon trading following Google’s announcement, leaving them down more than 40% in the past year."
From a HomeKit reality check
"Apple is trying to do something very hard—and very important—with HomeKit. The smart home is personal tech’s Wild West, and Apple wants the iPhone to play sheriff. Google, Samsung, Amazon and many others also want to run our smart homes, but arguably none of them have Apple’s sway to make a zillion other brands adopt a common set of privacy, security and programming standards. Setting up a smart home today is hellish, and could use a good dose of Apple simplicity.
Maybe Apple still can pull that off, but this first public showing is uncharacteristically crude. Yes, Apple has done the work of creating a common language for home devices—already, competing products light up together because of HomeKit. But for now, Siri is still in the dark. Did Apple bite off more than it can chew? My bet is that simplifying the smart home is so complicated, it’s still years away."Apple HomeKit Review: Siri’s New Smart Home Already Needs Renovation - WSJ
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Article summary (from an email update):
"The singer seems to have given voice to a mass cultural delusion that mistakes Apple’s design innovations for evidence of higher ideals."Taylor Swift and Apple Both Win - The New Yorker
Check this Verge article for a snapshot of competitive offerings from Facebook and Twitter
"That’s why we’ve created the News Lab, a new effort at Google to empower innovation at the intersection of technology and media. Our mission is to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to help build the future of media. And we’re tackling this in three ways: though ensuring our tools are made available to journalists around the world (and that newsrooms know how to use them); by getting helpful Google data sets in the hands of journalists everywhere; and through programs designed to build on some of the biggest opportunities that exist in the media industry today."Official Google Blog: Introducing the News Lab
Facebook can recognise you in photos even if you're not looking - tech - 22 June 2015 - New Scientist
Perhaps time to check your Facebook photos privacy settings
"The research team pulled almost 40,000 public photos from Flickr - some of people with their full face clearly visible, and others where they were turned away - and ran them through a sophisticated neural network.Facebook can recognise you in photos even if you're not looking - tech - 22 June 2015 - New Scientist
The final algorithm was able to recognise individual people's identities with 83 per cent accuracy. It was presented earlier this month at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Boston, Massachusetts.
An algorithm like this could one day help power photo apps like Facebook's Moments, released last week."
Check this Oracle press release for more details
"Oracle founder and Executive Chairman Larry Ellison said Monday his database company is expanding its cloud-computing offerings, bringing Oracle into more direct competition with Amazon.Oracle Extends Cloud Offerings, Takes Aim at Amazon | Re/code
“We’re prepared to compete with Amazon.com on price,” said Ellison in a webcast presentation, after announcing that Oracle would offer online storage and capability for customers to run their applications entirely in Oracle’s cloud."
Monday, June 22, 2015
"What Google is doing here is essentially reversing image recognition, and telling its computers to use the images they already know to augment new images. As Singularity Hub (via Engadget) explains: “Where the software was allowed to ‘free associate’ and then forced into feedback loops to reinforce these associations — it found images and patterns (often mash-ups of things it had already seen) where none existed previously.”"Google Creates “Inception” Art With Artificial Neural Networks | Re/code
Friday, June 19, 2015
Final paragraph from a timely Fit-ness check
"Palm came of age before anyone had heard the terms “cloud” or “social network”—too early to learn from Facebook or Instagram. But companies like GoPro and Fitbit, whose appeal has as much to do with the material they help store and share as with the devices themselves, might have the best chance at staying in business if they think of themselves not as hardware companies but as providers of services that let people manage and share their content. Fitbit has already announced its own version of a smartwatch—the Fitbit Surge, which sells for two hundred and fifty dollars and includes call and text notifications and music controls. Competing directly with Apple on hardware isn’t a bad move; after all, the success of the Apple Watch is far from guaranteed. Fitbit might want to focus, too, on the health information it stores and lets users share with one another. It may not be able to become a Facebook for health stats, but as Palm’s experience showed, one thing the world doesn’t need—not for long, at least—is a company that does only one thing."Will Fitbit Go the Way of the Palm Pilot? - The New Yorker
Some useful new iOS OneNote features, but Mac OneNote is still a disappointing subset of Windows OneNote, as Office 2016 nears completion (e.g., inability to open multiple windows and no new/unread activity indicators in shared notebooks)
"The enhanced list feature hasn’t appeared on other platforms yet, including on Microsoft’s own Windows Phone app for OneNote. The move is another sign of Microsoft’s cross-platform shift with OneNote and Office, and it’s particularly interesting because the iOS app has traditionally played catch-up with features available on Windows.Microsoft OneNote's new to-do list feature debuts on iOS first | PCWorld
Speaking of catch-up, OneNote users on the iPhone and iPad will finally be able to read equations saved in notes. iPad users will also be able to edit those equations, which will help teachers, students and professionals who rely on complex equations. The iPad app was also updated with support for lined and graph paper, something that hadn’t yet made an appearance on iOS."
Final paragraphs from a Microsoft Dynamics reality check; also see How Microsoft's latest reorg will affect Dynamics CRM and ERP (ZDNet)
"I think it’s more likely that Microsoft would look to sell off some or all of its legacy ERP portfolio to a ‘friendly’ competitor — one that’s committed to the Microsoft stack. This would remove a source of conflict with other partners while sustaining market presence for its platform.Will Microsoft buy into Dynamics or sell it off? - diginomica
So perhaps the newly struck alliance with Unit4 is a prelude to a sell-off of some of Microsoft’s ERP assets to Unit4’s private equity owners. Or perhaps Sage, which also runs its ERP products on a Microsoft stack, will be the ultimate home of one or more of the Dynamics ERP products.
This is wholly speculative on my part. I may have this completely wrong. But I would not be surprised if we learn in the weeks or months to come that Microsoft is finally unwinding some of its ERP acquisitions as it refocuses on a platform strategy in which a ragbag of historic, legacy client-server acquisitions no longer have a place."
A tumultuous Twitter transition time
"In short, this effort puts a stake through the idea that Twitter is a social network. It’s not. It never should have tried to be. It’s not about people, jokes, and #brands. It’s about information, about news and pictures and stories.Twitter Is Killing Twitter to Save Twitter | WIRED
The big question for Twitter is whether it can actually pull this off. It’s been trying to do this kind of curation forever. There’s Trending Topics, the now-dead Discover tab, and the new Recaps feature that shows you what you missed since you last opened the app. These features have always been off to the side, though, or buried on some third tab."
Tangentially, Microsoft Brings More of Its Lumia Smartphones to the U.S. (Re/code)
"As Re/code reported in April, the company has no plans to resurrect the manufacturing and sales apparatus it sold to Microsoft. Instead, the company hopes to use its design know-how and remaining brand cachet and let another company do that heavy lifting. Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri confirmed those plans in an interview with German business magazine, Manager Magazin.Nokia Evaluating Hardware Partners for 2016 Reentry Into Phone Business | Re/code
“We will look for suitable partners,” Rajeev Suri said in the interview, according to Reuters. “Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license.”"
A healthy start
"The shares opened at $30.40 on Thursday morning, up 52 percent from the I.P.O. price of $20. They closed up 48.4 percent, or $9.68, at $29.68.Fitbit Shares Surge 48 Percent in Market Debut - The New York Times
The company, which sells popular wearable fitness-tracking devices like the Fitbit Surge bracelet, raised the price above its previous range of $17 to $19 a share and increased the size of the deal to 36.6 million shares from 34.5 million.
The company raised $732 million for itself and its selling stockholders. The I.P.O. price valued Fitbit at $4.1 billion."
Thursday, June 18, 2015
An increasingly cloudy future for Oracle
"On a conference call CEO Mark Hurd and CTO Larry Ellison sounded aggressive notes around Oracle’s still-new cloud business. Hurd predicted that in the 2016 fiscal year, Oracle will be the “largest enterprise cloud company by revenue,” eclipsing rivals Salesforce and Workday.Oracle Falls on Q4 Earnings Miss, Blames Currency Effects Again | Re/code
Ellison claimed that in the quarter just ended, Oracle’s $426 million in combined sales of software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service amounted to a record for cloud software sold by any company in a single quarter. He also said it’s “possible but not likely” that Oracle could sell twice the level of cloud software to new customers as Salesforce in the coming year. He also said that Oracle expects to grow its SaaS and PaaS business by 60 percent in the coming year “unaided by acquisitions.”"
On a related note, see Andreessen Horowitz: Why we're not in the next tech bubble (Fortune)
"The company, which sells popular wearable fitness-tracking devices like the Fitbit Surge bracelet, priced its initial public offering at $20 a share on Wednesday, a dollar above its already heightened price range of $17 to $19 a share.Fitbit Prices I.P.O. at $20 a Share, Above Top of Its Range - The New York Times
At that level, the company will raise $732 million for itself and its selling stockholders after increasing the number of shares to be sold to 36.6 million from 34.5 million. The price values Fitbit at $4.1 billion.
The shares will begin trading on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FIT."
Final paragraphs from a Nest update
"Fadell said Nest is seeing double- and triple-digit percent increases in sales for all its devices, but added that it will take time to educate customers on the benefits of connected home devices. That’s part of the reason why Nest sold itself to Google, which has the patience and money to stick with the sector over the long term, he added.Google’s Nest Updates Products After ‘Grueling’ Year - Digits - WSJ
Nest has partnerships with utilities which distribute free or lower-priced Nest thermostats and share any energy savings with customers.
Wednesday, the company unveiled partnerships with home insurers Liberty Mutual and American Family to distribute Protect smoke detectors for free to their customers. The insurers give consumers up to 5% off their annual homeowners-insurance premiums, if the devices are installed, working properly and connected to Wi-Fi."
Perhaps a $100M net neutrality warning shot
"By slowing the speed of service without disclosing it to consumers, the agency said, AT&T violated a 2010 rule that required greater openness to customers. It is the first time the F.C.C. has accused a company of violating that rule, and the fine is the largest ever proposed by the agency.F.C.C. to Fine AT&T for Slowing Data Speeds of Some Customers - The New York Times
Wednesday’s announcement also raises new questions about whether the agency will take a more aggressive stance toward wireless and landline Internet service providers after even stricter disclosure requirements took effect last Friday. The new requirements are part of the F.C.C. rules approved in February that regulate broadband Internet service more like a utility."
Perhaps Nokia would be willing to buy its former mobile device business back, at a steep discount
"The announcement included a number of senior departures, as well as a reorganization of existing executives, but the most telling of these changes is, perhaps, the departure of Stephen Elop, Nokia’s ex-CEO. After Microsoft acquired Nokia’s handset business for more than $7 billion in 2013, Elop became head of Microsoft’s devices unit, a move that led to speculation he would shore up the company’s ailing effort to make its own smartphone—and possibly succeed Steve Ballmer as CEO. Neither of those things happened, and his exit from the company seems to be as strong a sign as any that Microsoft is—at least in spirit—seceding from a crowded smartphone market that has become increasingly difficult to penetrate."Microsoft Finally Gets That It Won't Win the Smartphone War | WIRED
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Final paragraph from a stark security reality check; p.s. don't assume the U.S. government is the only organization running systems "... over 20 years old and written in COBOL"
"Given the scope and duration of the data breaches, it may be impossible for the US government to get a handle on the exact extent of the damage done just by the latest attack on OPM's systems. If anything is clear, it is that the aging infrastructure of many civilian agencies in Washington magnify the problems the government faces in securing its networks, and OPM's data breach may just be the biggest one that the government knows about to date."Encryption “would not have helped” at OPM, says DHS official | Ars Technica
Managing HoloLens expectations
"There are a lot of [Kinect] parallels to HoloLens. Even though the gaming applications are at the front of everyone’s mind this week, the device comes from a different division of the company. It is not clear whether Microsoft sees this as a tool for primarily gamers or professionals, or whether it could convincingly develop it to be both things at the same time. Microsoft hasn’t released a software developers kit that would allow people to make independent apps for the HoloLens. The company does say it is working with some partners, but isn’t giving any details.HoloLens Is Awesome, but Microsoft Has a Long Way to Go - Bloomberg Business
For now, caution is the word with the device. “We’re trying to be a little bit conservative about HoloLens just because it is a very new platform and we’re still exploring it,” says Shannon Loftis, Microsoft’s general manager for global games publishing. “We obviously don’t want to over-promise. I don’t think we’ll under-deliver.” "
Catching up with Linus Torvalds
"It’s weird that a person who can come off as a real grouch has managed to be such a supremely effective dictator. Linux was once 10,000 lines of code and required part-time tending. It’s now 19 million lines of code, and changing it involves a complex hierarchy. In an average year, more than 3,000 people will offer at least one change for the heart of Linux, known as the kernel. The change could be as simple as fixing a spelling error or something more complex, such as code for a specialized supercomputing operation. There are around 700 “maintainers,” who first gather and peruse those changes and move them on to 130 “subsystem maintainers,” who discuss the software on mailing lists. Greg Kroah-Hartman, who is Torvalds’s right-hand man, can receive upwards of 1,000 e-mails a day from Linux developers debating the merits of the various tweaks. After all this discussion is done and the code is tested and perfected, Torvalds is finally notified that someone would like to make a change to Linux."The Creator of Linux on the Future Without Him - Bloomberg Business
Reminding the market that AWS and Azure aren't the only options
"Google is wielding a new weapon against Amazon and Microsoft for cloud computing customers: itself.Google Is Its Own Secret Weapon in the Cloud - NYTimes.com
Google is talking more openly about companies that use its cloud business, and revealing more about its computing resources, perhaps the largest on the planet. These include disclosures about Google’s ultrafast fiber network, its big data resources, and the computers and software it has built for itself."
Sign of the times; also see My Time With the Architect of the Astros’ ‘Ground Control’ Database (BloombergBusiness)
"Law enforcement officials believe the hacking was executed by vengeful front-office employees for the Cardinals hoping to wreak havoc on the work of Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager, who had been a successful and polarizing executive with the Cardinals until 2011.St. Louis Cardinals Are Said to Have Breached Rival’s Database - The New York Times
The attack would represent the first known case of corporate espionage in which a professional sports team hacked the network of another team. Illegal intrusions into companies’ networks have become commonplace, but they are generally conducted by hackers operating in foreign countries, like Russia and China, who steal large amounts of data or trade secrets for military equipment and electronics."
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Excerpt from a timely Apple/Google privacy reality check by Om Malik
"The battle between Google and Apple has shifted from devices, operating systems, and apps to a new, amorphous idea called “contextual computing.” We have become data-spewing factories, and the only way to make sense of it all is through context. Google’s approach to context is using billions of data points in its cloud and matching them to our personal usage of the Google-powered Web; Apple’s approach is to string together personal streams of data on devices, without trying to own any of it. If Google is taking an Internet approach to personal context, then Apple’s way is like an intranet.Apple and Google Battle over Personalization and Privacy - The New Yorker
From the surface, Google’s approach seems superior. Understanding context is all about data, and the company is collecting a lot more of it. Apple has your phone; Google has access to almost everything. Google’s approach might lack humanness, but the company will make up for that with accuracy and convenience. Apple’s approach will appeal to those for whom privacy is important. For now, that argument will resonate in parts of the United States and in most of Europe, while the rest of the planet will opt for a cheaper, more convenient, and, in the end, smarter system from Google."
A noteworthy transition
"On Monday, Evernote CEO Phil Libin told the The Information that the company is looking to replace him with a “professional CEO” and “may be close to something.” The change would mark a major upheaval for the eight year old company, which has been led by Libin since soon after its founding.Evernote is looking for a new CEO - Fortune
The job will ultimately go to “someone who is going to be better than me at it,” Libin said, later adding, “I’m a product person.” Libin joined Evernote as its CEO in 2007. The company has recently hired its first CFO and promoted then-vice president of worldwide operations Linda Kozlowski to COO earlier this month."
An indirect benefit, I assume, of schema.org
"Mapping apps make it easy to get from Point A to Point B — but that doesn't make a bit of difference if Point B is closed down for the night.Google Maps now warns if a store will close before you arrive
The same thought finally occurred to someone over at Google, because Google Maps now tells users if they're driving to a place that will be closed when they arrive."
For more on Facebook Moments, see Introducing Moments: A Private Way to Share Photos With Friends (Facebook Newsroom) and Under the hood: Building Moments (Facebook Engineering Blog)
"The debate on facial recognition is only likely to grow bigger in coming years as it becomes more ubiquitous. Facebook, for example, has long used facial recognition technology on its site, and just announced a new companion mobile app called "Moments" that scans a phone's camera roll to ease photo sharing. Microsoft says it is building facial-recognition and fingerprint-identification technology into Windows 10, the new computer operating system coming this summer.Push for Facial Recognition Privacy Standards Hits Roadblock - ABC News
The biggest concern, however, among privacy groups is use of the technology by retailers, including casinos, to target and profile people. One company, FaceFirst, announced last year that its system is capable of processing more than 1 million facial matches per second per server, making it ideal for these customers. So long as a company has an existing photo of "persons of interest," from shoplifters to "your best customers," retail staff can be sent an email or text alerting them of that person's arrival."
"Enterprise data hub" > MapReduce; also see Use Cases for Apache Spark (Silicon Valley Data Science)
"Does that mean old Hadoop is dead, and with it companies like Cloudera and Hortonworks? Not so fast – they may have been planning for this day.Companies Move On From Big Data Technology Hadoop - NYTimes.com
“We’re already the largest distributor of Spark in the world, including Databricks,” said Mike Olson, chief strategy officer at Cloudera. “If MapReduce becomes less important in how people do big data, and it will, we will be there.” Cloudera, he said, has “reset in a smart way, ahead of the others,” by focusing on tools and services for other kinds of analysis besides Hadoop."
Earlier in the article: "Inside the room, the demo was met with vocal and widespread applause—though not quite as much as Microsoft's announcement that it would make the Xbox One backward compatible so users can play older games." Also see Xbox One to Get ‘Backward Compatibility,’ Microsoft Says at E3 (NYT) and Microsoft’s Minecraft + HoloLens Looks Great, but That’s Not How It Will Really Look (Re/Code)
"Microsoft says it'll reveal more about the HoloLens version of Minecraft at its Minecon event in London, which starts July 4. The company says Minecraft has more than 100 million registered players in 238 countries and is the best-selling PC game of all time. Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella told the New York Times in April that HoloLens was one of the big reasons the company ponied up $2.5 billion to acquire Minecraft creator Mojang. Now the rest of the world knows why Nadella was so psyched."Minecraft HoloLens Game Demo at E3 ‘Just Stole the Show’ - Bloomberg Business
Monday, June 15, 2015
More advertising-driven options for Waze
"To land Schwarzenegger, Waze formed a partnership with Paramount Studios that could give it a leg up in the battle against competitors such as Google Maps and Navigon. Waze has skyrocketed in growth from 15 million users in 2012 to its current 50 million.Exclusive: Arnold Schwarzenegger voices Waze as the Terminator
To Schwarzenegger, being the voice of a phone navigation app is tinged with irony.
"In 1984, when we did (the first) Terminator, we talked about the world being run by machines. It was science fiction then," Schwarzenegger, 67, told USA TODAY. "Now you have machines telling you where to drive.""
Excerpt from a Googleplex++ perspective
"It’s less clear how tech giants are served by campuses that tune out the outside world. When organized monasticism took root with the Buddhists, in the fourth century B.C., it was the result not of religious insularity but of secular wealth. To shelter nomadic monks was thought to be admirable, so those with faith and money sought to institutionalize the practice. Twenty-five hundred years later, perhaps not too much has changed. To the extent that Google has done its business on the premises of enlightenment (“Universally accessible and useful”) and virtue (“Don’t be evil”), its research for the future shares a questing optimism—and a reverent isolationism—with the studious faiths of the past."Google’s Monastic Vision for the Future of Work - The New Yorker
Facebook Open Compute Project: A history of the project that ate the hardware market - Business Insider
From an OCP market snapshot
"Since it launched in 2011, OCP has:Facebook Open Compute Project: A history of the project that ate the hardware market - Business Insider
- Saved Facebook $2 billion.
- Cut Fidelity Investments' data center electric bill by 20%.
- Nabbed Microsoft as a board member, meaning Microsoft is using OCP hardware in its huge data centers and contributing back to the designs.
- Ditto for Apple.
- Created better careers for hardware designers, who can now collaborate instead of being forbidden to share trade secrets.
- Launched an ecosystem of products and startups.
- Created a more than $1 billion business for at least one Chinese manufacturer.
- Put networking giant Cisco on notice.
- Convinced HP to stop fighting the movement and join it."
From an online shopping market dynamics reality check
"Within the last 11 months, all four of these massive digital platforms have announced plans to either test or introduce some version of a “Buy” button, salivating over the chance to turn their social networks and discovery platforms into shopping malls as well. A new battleground for the consumer Web has come into sight and these players are coming for your wallet.Why ‘Buy’ Buttons Will Pose Big Challenges for Google, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter | Re/code
But for the ones like Twitter and Facebook that have been conducting public tests for some time, progress is hard to find. And for Google and Pinterest, there are significant hurdles that will stand in the way of their goal of convincing searchers and Pinners to become buyers next."
Does VR with a front-facing camera = optional (app-based) AR? Also see Dueling Realities (The Atlantic), which notes "Vannevar Bush’s prediction, half a century later, rings true: “The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it.”"
"Ed Fries, the former Microsoft executive who led the creation of the Xbox, thinks the HoloLens could offers Microsoft a way to gain ground on Playstation. “Maybe AR will really win in a big way over VR because people want to see while they wear this thing on their heads,” he says. “That’s a potential wild card.” Sony is planning to use next week’s E3 conference in Los Angeles to discuss its own plans for virtual reality; Xbox hasn’t confirmed whether it will show off the HoloLens at the show.Microsoft and Oculus Are Ganging Up on Playstation - Bloomberg Business
Merel of Digi-Capital thinks augmented reality could end up being a more important technology than virtual reality because it is inherently more portable than a headset that completely blocks your natural vision. His company forecasts that augmented reality could be a $120 billion industry by 2020, with VR topping out at $30 billion and being more tightly focused on gaming and 3D entertainment. "
Google: not playing games with video game broadcasting
"Watching online videos of other people playing videogames such as Minecraft has quickly grown from a niche to attract hundreds of millions of viewers and big advertising dollars. YouTube has long hosted such videos, but Twitch grew more quickly by allowing gamers to easily live-stream their game play and provide commentary.Google Targets Twitch with New YouTube Gaming App and Site - Digits - WSJ
Last year, Twitch became the fourth-largest source of U.S. Internet traffic, after Netflix, Google and Apple, according to network researcher DeepField. Twitch averaged 100 million viewers a month world-wide at the end of 2014, more than double the number it attracted a year earlier. Amazon acquired Twitch in August for about $970 million."
Sparking more interest in big data; also see IBM to Invest ‘Hundreds of Millions’ in Free Data Technology (BloombergBusiness) and IBM Invests to Help Open-Source Big Data Software — and Itself (NYT)
"“Spark replacing MapReduce is like a car replacing a bicycle,” said Christopher Nguyen, chief executive of Adatao Inc., which offers a software platform for data-driven decision making that includes both programs. That is, each has its uses, but one is many times faster than the other in many situations.Newer Software Aims to Crunch Hadoop’s Numbers - WSJ
Like Hadoop, Spark is freely available under an open-source license, creating a challenge for businesses that aim to commercialize it. Databricks on Monday expects to offer widely a Web-based service that enables companies to take advantage of Spark’s number-crunching power without having to install or maintain the software in their own facilities. The company has made a point of trying to corner Spark engineering expertise in hope of making it a natural choice for the software’s growing user base, a common strategy for companies based on open-source software. It says it has 150 trial customers and 60 paying customers."
A VR reality check
"More than a half-dozen virtual reality developers at Valve are crammed into a room, and they often have their headsets on at the same time, playing games on their own. “Rule No. 1 is if someone has a headset on and you don’t, it’s your fault if you get punched,” said Mr. Faliszek.Virtual Reality Headsets Raise Very Real Concerns - NYTimes.com
Mobile virtual reality involves other hazards. There are headsets already on the market that cradle smartphones in front of peoples’ eyes, using lenses and the screens on the devices to create 3-D images."
Friday, June 12, 2015
On a related note, see Union: Hackers have personnel data on every federal employee (AP)
"It is the first case the United States has brought against the perpetrators of alleged state-sponsored cyber-espionage, and it has revealed computer-security holes that companies rarely acknowledge in public. Although the attackers apparently routed their activities through innocent people’s computers and made other efforts to mask themselves, prosecutors traced the intrusions to a 12-story building in Shanghai and outed individual intelligence agents. There is little chance that arrests will be made, since the United States has no extradition agreements with China, but the U.S. government apparently hopes that naming actual agents—and demonstrating that tracing attacks is possible—will embarrass China and put other nations on notice, inhibiting future economic espionage."Cyber-Espionage Case Reveals the Shabby State of Online Security | MIT Technology Review
From a stark Jive reality check
"So where market performance falls, acquisition interest increases as potential suitors look to the chance of making a quick buck. A recent report by analyst firm RealStory looked at the chances of a Jive takeover. RealStory looked at both Jive in isolation (what does Jive’s tanking mean for current, and future, Jive customers) and the market in general (is Jive the “canary in the coalmine” that indicates a systemic problem in the enterprise collaboration software market?).As Jive Continues To Plummet, Is A Takeover In The Cards?
The report not only looks at the market implications, but takes a look at potential suitors for Jive. RealStory applied its Suitorbility analysis to come up with a quadrant assessing motivation to acquire with the likely impact on customers. The bottom line being that RealStory believes OpenText or Oracle are the most attracted to Jive while customers would do best from a Tibco or SAP deal. It’s a perfect example of a disconnect between vendor M&A appetite and what is the right thing for the customers. RealStory notes that existing Jive customers are largely satisfied with the product, and a takeover wouldn’t serve their needs well."
Oracle Database: not a unicorn favorite
"A Bloomberg survey of 20 startups valued at more than $1 billion supports the trend. The survey, which included companies such as Cloudflare Inc. and Pinterest Inc., found they placed open-source technologies at the heart of their businesses, with the exception of DocuSign, which had built around Microsoft’s SQL Server.Oracle Sales Erode as Startups Embrace Souped-Up Free Software - Bloomberg Business
None of the companies surveyed indicated they had a large Oracle database deployment for their main services, though many used bits of Oracle software to run aspects of their organizations. Uber Technologies Inc., the car service, has committed heavily to Oracle via a worldwide rollout of the company’s E-Business Suite software, but job listings and presentations by Uber employees indicate it relies on a customized version of the free MySQL for its software."
From an Apple + privacy reality check
"These bold assurances about privacy weren’t a first for Apple. But their prominence at its big annual event escalated a recent campaign to emphasize that the tech giant stands for privacy — and that, by implication, Google does not. At the same time, Apple’s case for privacy isn’t airtight.Walt Mossberg: Apple’s Latest Product is Privacy | Re/code
In effect, privacy itself is now a key product — and a key marketing point — for Apple, as much as the Apple Watch or the skinny new MacBook. (I can’t help but wonder whether we’ll one day see Apple privacy ads during the Super Bowl, complete with the company’s typical gorgeous images and earnest executives speaking against a glow-y white background.)"
Later in the article, referencing the new Touch controllers: "Ending its presentation with talk of prototypes is fitting for Oculus given that, so far, that’s all the company has made. In fact, Oculus’s consumer launch might be one of the longest, slowest product launches in tech history."
"When Rift goes on sale, it will have an Xbox One controller in the box, and will rely on Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One consoles to feed it games. Microsoft benefits from adding a virtual-reality component to the Xbox because Sony is set to launch its own Project Morpheus headset next year. However, Microsoft is also working on its own augmented-reality technology, called HoloLens, that is intended to be used in gaming, among other applications."Oculus Unveils Rift Headset and Prototype Touch Hand Controls - Personal Tech News - WSJ
1Q 2016, price tbd; a "clear path" with few precise delivery details
"At an event in San Francisco, Facebook executives discussed the goggles, called Oculus Rift. While the device is initially designed to be tethered to a high-end gaming computer, Facebook said the product would in time employ microphones for communication, voice recognition software to recognize computing commands and laser-based high-speed wireless data transfers.Facebook Offers a Glimpse of Virtual Reality Goggles - NYTimes.com
“This is a teleportation device,” said Michael Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technical officer. “What people are missing is that we have a clear path of research and development.”"
Summarizing my take on the Twitter news coverage this morning: for sale
"After replacing much of Twitter’s top management team last year, Dick Costolo told members of the company’s board that he wanted them to replace him as chief executive, too.Twitter’s C.E.O., Dick Costolo, Is Set to Exit, Feeling Heat of Criticism - NYTimes.com
On Thursday, they did just that, announcing that Mr. Costolo will step down July 1 and appointing Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and former chief, as interim chief executive while they look for a permanent successor."
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Bloomberg Businessweek Releases The Code Issue Special Multi-platform Package on Demystifying Code | Bloomberg L.P.
Including an issue cover written in Python
"Bloomberg Businessweek today released The Code Issue, a special double issue containing a single essay by writer and programmer Paul Ford. Recognizing that the world now belongs to people who code, and those who don’t understand it will be left behind, the issue is devoted to demystifying code and the culture of the people who make it. Ford’s 38,000-word essay “What Is Code?” lives cross-platform in print, on the Bloomberg Business website, mobile, Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Radio, and at the upcoming Bloomberg Technology Conference: Code and the Corner Office."Bloomberg Businessweek Releases The Code Issue Special Multi-platform Package on Demystifying Code | Bloomberg L.P.
"Facebook wants its ads to sell you stuff directly so you never have to click away to another app or site. Until now, Facebook was testing a Buy Button that does that with just a few selected test merchants, but now its opening it up to more retailers on Shopify‘s ecommerce platform.Facebook Challenges Pinterest With News Feed Buy Button For Shopify Merchants | TechCrunch
That’s a big step towards the Buy Button becoming available to everyone, which could boost sale conversion rates for sellers, speed up purchasing for shopping, and keep Facebook’s users bouncing around inside its walled garden. The Buy Button could also help Facebook compete for ecommerce ad dollars with Pinterest, which just launched its own Buyable Pins that also allows in-line transactions, and Google, which plans to offer something similar within its ads."
A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads » Nieman Journalism Lab
Excerpt from analysis of iOS 9 ad-blocking implications; tangentially, see Apple is Back in Content (Tech.pinions)
"An Apple realist might argue that its great rival Google makes more than 90 percent of its revenue from online advertising — a growing share of that on mobile, and a large share of that on iPhone. Indeed, Google alone makes about half of all global mobile advertising revenue. So anything that cuts back on mobile advertising revenue is primarily hurting its rival. (Google has been less friendly to adblockers than its “open” positioning would suggest.)A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads » Nieman Journalism Lab
Also see Tipping Point in Transit (NYT)
"Ride-hailing and alternative taxi services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have been joined by a raft of newcomers. Split, a ride-booking service, and Bridj, a “pop-up” microbus system, both started recently in the District of Columbia. And smartphone apps like RideScout, Urban Engines and Citymapper try to make it possible to blend disparate transportation systems.Options for Simplifying the Commute - NYTimes.com
“The ubiquity of smartphones is creating new transportation ecosystems that can scale,” said Steve Raney, a transportation planner at Cities21, a consultancy based here. “When it arrives, a two-car suburban family can sell one of them and rely on a smartphone for travel, and an urban millennial will never have to buy a car.”"
Check the article link below for overviews of a couple free utilities
"A clean desktop, apps that launch almost instantly, a roomy drive for your files. Sure, that brand spanking new Mac laptop feels and performs great, but just wait a couple of months.How to Speed Up Your Slow Mac - Personal Tech News - WSJ
Without a little tender love and care, your Mac can start to feel slow and rusty. Although, it doesn’t have to. Here are three things I just did to make my 1.5-year-old MacBook Air run like new."
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
"Kaspersky says the attackers became entrenched in its networks some time last year. For what purpose? To siphon intelligence about nation-state attacks the company is investigating—a case of the watchers watching the watchers who are watching them. They also wanted to learn how Kaspersky’s detection software works so they could devise ways to avoid getting caught. Too late, however: Kaspersky found them recently while testing a new product designed to uncover exactly the kind of attack the intruders had launched."Kaspersky Finds New Nation-State Attack—In Its Own Network | WIRED
OneNote (and Windows 10, and Skype for Business, and ...) inside; also see The Untold Story of Microsoft's Surface Hub (Fast Company)
"Microsoft's Surface range of touchscreen computers is getting a whole lot bigger. Literally. The Surface Hub is an all-in-one system built for bringing OneNote, Skype for Business, Office, and Universal Windows Apps into the conference room, making it a single integrated device for workplace communication and collaboration.Microsoft takes on the conference room with Surface’s 84-inch, $20,000 sibling | Ars Technica
Surface Hub was first shown off in January, though rather overshadowed by the simultaneous reveal of Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality headset. It's nonetheless an impressive piece of hardware—or rather, two different impressive pieces of hardware—in its own right. Surface Hubs are giant touchscreen PCs designed to go into conference rooms and other collaborative workspaces. They're built around using OneNote for digital whiteboarding and include dual 1080p cameras for video conferencing using the built-in Skype for Business (formerly Lync)."
Final paragraphs from a Steven Levy Apple Music review
"Apple Music is well thought out, loaded with muscle, and may well make it easy to modulate the crushing tyranny of choice that comes with 30 million available tracks. But in the Internet Age — where a premium comes from discovering the obscure gem — it’s probably impossible for any company to dominate at the level that Apple hopes for. And that’s fine.Apple: The Day the Music Streamed — Cuepoint — Medium
Still, my ten bucks a month may well go from Spotify to Apple — because Apple Music will undoubtedly integrate much better with the 12,000 songs I have on iTunes. And by the way… how does it work with Sonos?"
Sign of the times
"KFC is targeting younger consumers by teaming up with navigational application Waze to lend the voice of brand mascot Colonel Harland Sanders, who will provide turn-by-turn GPS directions and point out nearby restaurants.KFC's The Colonel directs Waze users to nearby restaurants - Mobile Commerce Daily - Applications
From now through August 16, users of the Waze app may opt in to use The Colonel’s familiar voice for navigation directions by visiting the app settings and altering voice language. KFC is following in the foot steps of brands such as Domino’s by using a mascot to communicate with consumers and provide convenience while driving."
[WATCH] Google's Amazing Location-Aware Search Finds Answers About Nearby Places (Search Engine Land)
On a related note, see The Future of Computers Is the Mind of a Toddler (BloombergBusiness)
"How tall is that tower in front of you? What’s the name of a river you’re near? What time does a store you’re looking at close? Google’s new “location-aware” search can answer questions like these, even if you yourself don’t know the exact name of something you’re near.[WATCH] Google's Amazing Location-Aware Search Finds Answers About Nearby Places
Google demonstrated the feature at our SMX Paris search marketing event yesterday. It’s relatively new, having been released several weeks ago both for Android and for those using the Google Search App on iOS. But Google never made a formal announcement about it, so few have known you can do this type of searching, until now."
Tangentially, see Microsoft forced to kill off Facebook integration in Windows and Windows Phone (The Verge)
"Only two companies have apps with over 1 billion Google Play downloads, and the other is Google. Today Facebook proved just how big a business replacing SMS can be, as its leader David Marcus announced Messenger has now been downloaded over 1 billion times on Android. It joins Facebook and WhatsApp, and Google’s Gmail, YouTube, Search, and Maps in this very exclusive club.Facebook Messenger On Android Hits 1…Billion…Downloads | TechCrunch
Messenger’s strategy of layering modern mobile sharing features over a speedy texting app has paid off, and it looks like Facebook’s just getting started. With VOIP, video calling, stickers, voice clips, peer-to-peer payments, location, and a whole platform of third-party content creation apps, Messenger wants to own every way you communicate. And it partially is for well over 600 million users."
"The plan calls for launching a constellation of 4,000 small and cheap satellites that would beam high-speed Internet signals to all parts of the globe, including its most remote regions. Musk has said the effort “would be like rebuilding the Internet in space.”SpaceX founder files with government to provide Internet service from space - The Washington Post
If successful, the attempt could transform SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., from a pure rocket company into a massive high-speed-Internet provider that would take on major companies in the developed world but also make first-time customers out of the billions of people who are currently not online."
tbd what percentage of Spotify's latest round will be allocated to legal fees
"While Apple was preparing a splashy introduction for a new service that would stream music over the Internet for a fee, the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut were quietly investigating the Silicon Valley giant’s negotiations with music companies in search of potential antitrust violations.Apple Music and Labels Investigated in 2 States - NYTimes.com
The attorneys general wanted to know whether Apple pressured the music labels — or whether the labels conspired with Apple and one another — to withdraw support for popular “freemium” services offered by companies like Spotify in favor of Apple’s paid music subscriptions."
"Spotify is now valued at more than double Pandora Media P -3.05%, which has a current market capitalization of about $3.5 billion. Both companies operate at a loss, as they share a large portion of revenue with music label partners.Spotify Raises $526 Million Amid Battle With Apple - Digits - WSJ
Part of the new funding may be used to fuel Spotify’s push into new forms of media. At an event last month in New York, the company announced a plan to add videos and podcasts from partners including ESPN, NBC, Conde Nast, and Comedy Central."
Some IPO regrets; also see Jack Ma Insists Alibaba Doesn’t Want to Take on Amazon and eBay in U.S. (Re/code) and Is Jack Ma running for US president? (Quartz)
"But the Chinese Internet billionaire lamented the baggage that demanding shareholders added when his company listed in the U.S. He also criticized the influence of independent directors in American corporate culture, complaining that some board members often end up acting like lawyers only interested in second-guessing their colleagues.In ‘Another Life,’ Jack Ma Says He’d Forgo Alibaba’s IPO - Digits - WSJ
Asked why the company listed on in New York in the first place, Ma was blunt.
“We were rejected by Hong Kong,” he said."
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
Check this Facebook page for more details
"Six months after its initial trial run, Facebook's Place Tips program is finally expanding nationwide. Place Tips employs Bluetooth beacons to push FB posts and photos about a business to shoppers' phones while they're in the store. So if you're standing in line at, say Wetzel's Pretzels in the mall. If that pretzel stand has a Place Tips beacon, it will push information (and potentially coupons) to your phone automatically -- you as the customer simply have to open you Facebook app to access them."Facebook's Place Tips goes national, retailers get free beacons
Farhad Manjoo's WWDC keynote closing thoughts
"We didn’t see anything surprising at W.W.D.C., and not much innovative, either. Pretty much every feature Apple showed off for its computers and phones can be found on competing devices. And I’m still dumbfounded by the music service — it looks like a mess of services and interfaces crammed into a single screen, though perhaps just the demo, and not the product, was to blame.Apple W.W.D.C. 2015: iOS 9, Apple Pay and Other Announcements - NYTimes.com
Still, even if little of it was new, there were some pretty useful features on display here. I’m most interested in the predictive assistant on iOS 9. I’d love for my iPhone to anticipate my needs and suggest information to me when it would be most useful. If Apple can pull off such a system, it would make up for the iPhone’s only real shortcoming against Google’s Android. We’ll have to wait till the fall, when the new OS is released, to see how well it does."
Compete different; also see Apple shows off new ‘Move to iOS’ app to make it easier to switch from Android (9to5Google)
"Android's extraordinary scale and reach is reaffirmed by Apple's news today. Just like Windows on the desktop, Android commands too big a presence in the mobile realm to be ignored. As much as Apple would prefer to constrain its software and services to augmenting only its own devices, it is now pragmatically accepting that it has to play ball on Google's court as well. There's too much competition in the streaming music space for Apple to limit its chances of success to only iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Apple Music is on Windows because it has to be, and the same is now true of Android."Apple proves that Android is the new Windows | The Verge
Flipboard's CEO on Apple News
"The app resembles Flipboard, a popular app that pulls content from users' social media accounts, and presents it as a sleek digital publication of its own, allowing people to read the links they'd see on Twitter in a kind of digital magazine. Flipboard Inc. CEO Mike McCue says the startup's app is different from Apple's because of its focus on social networks and sharing with friends. He says he isn't worried about the competition. "We've had Google ship a supposed Flipboard killer; we've had Facebook do that with Facebook Paper; we've seen Yahoo do that, and now Apple," McCue said in an interview during Apple's WWDC event."Here’s Everything Apple Announced at Its Developers Conference - Bloomberg Business
Probably about time for Twitter or Google to acquire Flipboard; also see For news organizations, this was the most important set of Apple announcements in years (NiemanLab)
"The Apple initiative comes on the heels of Facebook’s launch last month of a news partnership called Instant Articles in which publishers ranging from NBC News to National Geographic post their stories directly onto Facebook’s newsfeed, rather than linking readers back to their own sites. Earlier this year, the messaging app Snapchat launched Snapchat Discover, which allows publishers to create special content designed to appeal to the platform’s mostly younger users.Apple’s ‘News’ App Is Latest Sign of Distribution Shift for Publishers - CMO Today - WSJ
Such efforts have sparked debate in the media world about whether the power of individual publisher-branded websites and apps is beginning to fade as digital outlets become stronger avenues to distribute content, especially to young Web users that do their reading on smartphones. In partnering with outside parties, publishers tap into huge audiences, but also inherently relinquish some control."
Monday, June 08, 2015
Final paragraphs from a Steven Levy Google I/O recap
"“It’s kind of, like, not the usual Google Now. It’s not even the usual Google Search,” says Chennapragada of Google Now On Tap. “This is saying, look, how do you break Google out of the search box? Why can’t you take Google with you? Because you are spending time in all of these apps, why can’t you just put the power of Google to work for you when you need it and then forget it when you don’t need it?”How Google Is Taking Search Outside the Box — Backchannel — Medium
Liberated from the search box, Google wants to be your constant companion, ready with a search result whenever you ask and even when you don’t. You know that phone you’re holding in your hand? It’s actually a search field. That is Google’s view of input and output in the second decade of the 21st century. As easy as breathing."
Security hacking for fun and profit
"Now the duo, Michiel Prins and Jobert Abma, are among the four co-founders of a San Francisco tech start-up that aims to become a mediator between companies with cybersecurity issues and hackers like them who are looking to solve problems rather than cause them. They hope their outfit, called HackerOne, can persuade other hackers to responsibly report security flaws, rather than exploit them, and connect those “white hats” with companies willing to pay a bounty for their finds.HackerOne Connects Hackers With Companies, and Hopes for a Win-Win - NYTimes.com
In the last year, the start-up has persuaded some of the biggest names in tech — including Yahoo, Square and Twitter — and companies you might never expect, like banks and oil companies, to work with their service. They have also convinced venture capitalists that, with billions more devices moving online and flaws inevitable in each, HackerOne has the potential to be very lucrative. HackerOne gets a 20 percent commission on top of each bounty paid through its service."
"Graduates of computer coding schools will more than double this year, a signal of heightened interest in high-paid technology jobs.Coding Boot Camp Enrollment Soars as Students Seek Tech Jobs - Bloomberg Business
More than 16,000 students will graduate from programming boot camps, up from 6,740 in 2014, according to data from Course Report, a website that allows students to rate the schools. The intensive training programs teach students how to create websites and mobile apps in two to six months and cost as much as $21,000."
An AI reality check from Google DeepMind; also see Get Ready for the Rise of the Machines (BloombergBusiness)
"“Whether it’s Terminator coming to blow us up or mad scientists looking to create quite perverted women robots, this narrative has somehow managed to dominate the entire landscape, which we find really quite remarkable,” said Mustafa Suleyman, the head of applied AI at Google DeepMind, the London-based AI company he co-founded and which Google bought last year for about $400 million.Google on Artificial-Intelligence Panic: Get a Grip - Digits - WSJ
“The narrative has shifted from ‘Isn’t it terrible that AI has been such a failure?’ to ‘Isn’t it terrible that AI has been such a success?’ ” he said."