Thursday, April 18, 2019

Apple’s Settlement With Qualcomm Starts the Clock on Its Own 5G Modem | Bloomberg

On a related note, see Apple, Qualcomm will bring you a 5G iPhone -- just not this year | CNET
""Apple will continue to build its internal expertise as a very long-term potential second vertically integrated source to Qualcomm," Matt Ramsay, an analyst at Cowen & Co., said. "But we do believe that Qualcomm’s 5G leadership has resulted in Qualcomm being the sole-source modem supplier for Apple’s 5G lineup over the next 5-plus years."

Still, Apple isn’t giving up on its goal to be self-sufficient when it comes to modems. While its legal battle with Qualcomm raged, Apple began work on its own component. It has teams dedicated to this in San Diego, Cupertino, California, and Munich, Germany.

There are a couple hundred Apple engineers working on modems in the UTC innovation hub of San Diego, people with knowledge of the matter said. This team will also integrate 5G modems from Qualcomm into future iPhones, and support Intel modems for the current models, said these people, asking not to be identified discussing private work. Apple plans to hire hundreds more for the initiative."
Apple’s Settlement With Qualcomm Starts the Clock on Its Own 5G Modem | Bloomberg

Why is Everybody Getting into Wireless Earbuds? | Tech.pinions

In other voice news, see Facebook confirms it’s working on an AI voice assistant for Portal and Oculus products | The Verge
"Ambient computing and voice-first are certainly big drivers for both Microsoft and Amazon. As computing power is spread out across devices and digital assistants are helping to bridge our experience across them, voice has grown in importance as an interface. Many consumers are, however, less comfortable shouting commands across a room or speaking to technology outside the “safety” of their own home. As voice moves into the office, the need and desire to be able to speak quietly to an assistant and hear it back is even more evident.

Wireless earbuds that can be worn comfortably throughout the day allow us to build a better relationship with our assistants and, even more so, build our reliance. Interestingly, I would argue, this is where AirPods have not been as successful as Apple might have hoped for but certainly, through no fault of their own but more due to some limitations Siri has."
Why is Everybody Getting into Wireless Earbuds? | Tech.pinions

Pinterest Prices I.P.O. at $19 a Share, for a $12.7 Billion Valuation | NYT

A big day for tech IPOs
"Among the current crop of I.P.O.s, investors have shown more excitement for Zoom, a video conferencing company that also priced its shares above expectations on Wednesday. Unlike its unicorn peers, Zoom is profitable, a fact that paid off with a ninefold increase from its last private market valuation. Zoom will sell shares at a valuation of about $9.2 billion, up from its $1 billion private market valuation.

When Pinterest started to talk to investors about its I.P.O., it set a conservative price range that valued it at below $12 billion, the private valuation it has had since 2015. The strategy may stave off a frenzied spike and immediate drop like Lyft’s."
Pinterest Prices I.P.O. at $19 a Share, for a $12.7 Billion Valuation | NYT

Bendgate 2.0: Samsung’s $2,000 foldable phone is already breaking | Ars Technica

"You're unboxing it wrong" (see Samsung speaks up about broken Galaxy Fold review units | Engadget)
"Samsung's futuristic Galaxy Fold is launching this month, and the device has already made its way to a select group of reviewers and influencers. During the run-up to the device's launch, there were concerns about the durability of the folding display, and now after just a few days with the public, the device is already experiencing problems. There are numerous reports of Samsung's $2,000 device breaking after a single day, sometimes due to poor durability, other times due to user error.

First up, we have a report from Dieter Bohn at The Verge, who had a piece of debris get under the Galaxy Fold display (possibly through the hinge?) and press up against the back of the display. In addition to causing an unsightly bump in the OLED panel, it eventually pressed against the display enough to break it, killing a few horizontal and vertical rows of pixels."
Bendgate 2.0: Samsung’s $2,000 foldable phone is already breaking | Ars Technica

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Big carmakers are placing vast bets on electric vehicles | Economist

From a timely EV reality check; also see Plummeting battery prices to make electric cars cheaper than gas cars in 3 years | ThinkProgress
"The most daring by a long way is vw. The German group’s heft—it produces 10m cars a year—affords it economies of scale only Toyota could hope to match. The €30bn vw plans to spend on developing evs over the next five years, plus €50bn to fit them with batteries, leaves all other carmakers in the dust. In March Herbert Diess, its chief executive, promised 70 new electric models by 2028, rather than 50 as previously pledged, and 22m evs delivered over the next ten years. The company is contemplating a huge investment in a “gigafactory” to supply its own batteries rather than depending on outside suppliers.

vw is already developing a dedicated platform and converting entire factories to ev production. The first, at Zwickau in Germany, will eventually turn out 330,000 cars a year for the vw brand as well as Audi and seat. Its medium-sized id hatchback, to be shipped next year, will cost around €30,000, similar to an equivalent diesel-powered Golf, and travel 400-600km (250-370 miles) on a single charge. On April 14th in Shanghai Mr Diess unveiled a sport-utility vehicle to compete with Tesla’s snazzy Model x in China from 2021. Once the range of evs reaches full production in 2022, vw believes, such models will start breaking even. By 2025, when it hopes one-quarter of its output will be electric, they should be as profitable as petrol cars."
 Big carmakers are placing vast bets on electric vehicles | Economist

Pinterest Doesn’t Want to Be Called a Social Media Company | Bloomberg

Pinterest and Zoom will test post-LYFT IPO market dynamics tomorrow
"Cordwell gave Pinterest its first bullish review last week with the equivalent of a buy rating. He set a 12-month price target of $23, implying the company may return as much as 53 percent if the IPO prices at the low end of its expected range, or $15.

Pinterest calls itself a “visual discovery” platform for people to get ideas for different aspects of their lives, whether that’s curating a wardrobe, planning a vacation or wedding, or furnishing a new home. In a video to investors, Silbermann illustrates why Pinterest is unique. He describes social media platforms as a way to document the past and entertain oneself; while Pinterest is a “utility” for future activities.

“Social media at its best makes you feel socially validated, while Pinterest at best makes you feel creative and empowered to act,” Silbermann says."
Pinterest Doesn’t Want to Be Called a Social Media Company | Bloomberg

Apple planning Luna Display-like desktop extension feature for macOS 10.15, codenamed ‘Sidecar’ | 9to5Mac

Looks like I may need to find and charge my Apple Pencil...
"Previously, Astro HQ came up with a solution, Luna Display, that allows Mac users to use their iPad as an external display. There are many solutions on the market for that, but Luna Display has become the top one given that it’s a hardware product leveraging the power of the GPU so the experience is as seamless as possible.

Now, Apple is working on making that seamless experience native to the Mac. According to people familiar with the development of macOS 10.15 – the next major version of Apple’s desktop OS – the new system will have a feature that allows users to send any window of any app to an external display. The external display can be an actual external display connected to the Mac or even an iPad.
[...]
Users with an iPad that supports Apple Pencil will also be able to draw with the Pencil on iPad when it’s being used as an external display for the Mac, effectively turning the iPad into a Wacom-like tablet. Engineers are also working on options that will allow windows to be easily snapped to one side of the screen, similar to a feature that already exists on Windows." 
Apple planning Luna Display-like desktop extension feature for macOS 10.15, codenamed ‘Sidecar’ | 9to5Mac

IBM stock slips after revenue shortfall | CNBC

I'm old enough to remember when IBM was a hardware company...
"IBM has changed its reporting structure for the first-quarter earnings report. The company no longer has a Technology Services & Cloud Platforms segment. Now it has Cloud & Cognitive Software and Global Technology Services business segments. The company’s consolidated results are unchanged.

IBM’s Global Technology Services segment, the biggest segment in the new reporting structure, produced revenue of $6.88 billion, down 7 percent year over year. It includes infrastructure and cloud services, along with technology support services.

The Cloud & Cognitive Software segment -- which contains cognitive applications, cloud and data platforms and transaction processing platforms -- came out to $5.04 billion in revenue, down 1.5 percent."
The new segment structure (from IBM's 1Q 2019 Earnings presentation [pdf]):
IBM stock slips after revenue shortfall | CNBC

As Netflix Contends With More Rivals, Hulu Stands Out | NYT

Check the full article for a detailed Netflix/Hulu comparison
"Amazon, AT&T, Apple and the Walt Disney Company have spent billions to create or bolster their own streaming networks to take on the giant in the field. Some, like Apple and Amazon, are meant to be aggregators — selling both original content and offering shows from channels like HBO — making them similar to traditional cable providers. Others, like AT&T and Disney, have positioned themselves as services that sell only their content — for now.

But Netflix remains the industry leader. The company has come a long way since its early days of mailing off DVDs in red envelopes. It added 7.8 million new customers through the end of March, according to the first-quarter report it issued on Tuesday, for a total of 148 million across the globe, with 60 million in the United States. Its subscriber growth has slowed, however, more in the United States than elsewhere, partly because of price increases and stiffening competition. The streaming service booked $344 million in profit on $4.5 billion in sales in the quarter ending in March.

For the moment, though, Netflix is soundly beating its streaming rivals — in subscribers, viewing time and library of content. But one is closer than the others: Hulu."
As Netflix Contends With More Rivals, Hulu Stands Out | NYT

Technology Apple and Qualcomm have settled their epic lawsuit over chip patents | Washington Post

A dark day for intellectual property-focused law firms worldwide...
"Qualcomm is still facing headwinds, including from Apple, which opened an office in San Diego in an effort to hire wireless-industry talent and develop its own modem chip. The wireless industry is competitive, and if Qualcomm can’t stay at the forefront of the technology, it could lose its edge.

Tuesday’s settlement is the culmination of a case that began in January 2017, when Apple alleged that the chipmaker and wireless pioneer had a stranglehold on the market for wireless modem chips that, until recently, were used in the iPhone. Apple contends that Qualcomm leveraged its position to overcharge for its patent licenses.
Rather than bend to Apple’s demands, Qualcomm countersued. Then Apple sued back. There were more than 80 lawsuits between the two companies in Asia, Europe and the United States."
 Technology Apple and Qualcomm have settled their epic lawsuit over chip patents | Washington Post

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Apple Podcasts: An Infoslob Perspective

I published another conceptual data model post -- exploring Apple's powerful but not-always-intuitive Podcasts app

Apple Podcasts: An Infoslob Perspective | Infoslob

Notes and Domino Return to Their Roots | CMSWire

Not dead yet (but note the author bio: "Stefan Pfeiffer is working in Marketing for IBM in Germany")
"The upcoming version 11 promises to make Domino even stronger as a low code or even no code environment. The continuous support of JavaScript for future-proof Domino applications is only one sign of this change. In Domino v11, HCL plans to further develop its JavaScript programming model. Other important enhancements include the possibility to run Domino applications on Android or iOS devices, which opens up use cases that leverage the still unique replication features of the platform, allowing developers to work with data without being connected to the network.

IBM and in turn HCL have committed to detach themselves from the heavyweight Eclipse framework. As mentioned, we've already seen the first prototypes of the Notes App that run on iPad, iPhone and Android. A "lightweight" client is in the making. Meanwhile, Notes applications can also run in the browser due to streamlining. All this has the goal of freeing Domino and Notes from the nimbus of outdated software and pointing the way to a modern future. "Domino was the first no-SQL database and it is better than ever today," HCL vice president and general manager, collaborative workflow patterns Richard Jefts is quoted as saying."
Notes and Domino Return to Their Roots | CMSWire

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quits Facebook, calls social media a ‘public health risk’ | Washington Post

Later in the article: "Ocasio-Cortez, who writes all of her own tweets and Instagram posts, said she’s trying to limit her consumption of social media to the workweek."
"In an interview Sunday with the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” the New York Democrat said she stopped using her Facebook account and was scaling back on all social media, which she described as a “public health risk” because it can lead to “increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism.”

Ocasio-Cortez, 29, who burst onto the national stage after defeating a high-ranking incumbent, said her departure from Facebook was a “big deal” because the platform had been crucial to her campaign. She still has accounts on the site, she said, and according to the company’s ad library, her official Facebook account has dozens of active advertisements sponsored by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress. Among the ads are calls to support her signature Green New Deal, and fundraising pleas to support progressive legislation and to counteract a super PAC aligned against her."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quits Facebook, calls social media a ‘public health risk’ | Washington Post

AT&T may have just signaled the end of Hulu as you know it today | The Verge

On a related note, see Disney and the Future of TV | Stratechery
"Hulu might look very different a year from now. AT&T has sold its roughly 10 percent stake in Hulu back to the streaming service today for $1.43 billion dollars, making it that much more likely that Hulu will become a Disney-centric service in the future.

Just last year, Hulu was still divided evenly between Disney, Fox, and Comcast — each owning a 30 percent cut of the company — alongside AT&T’s roughly 10 percent stake. But Disney gained a controlling interest in Hulu when it bought Fox, and the AT&T sale means Disney now owns a staggering 66 percent of the service, with Comcast owning the remaining 33 percent."
AT&T may have just signaled the end of Hulu as you know it today | The Verge

SpaceX loses the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket due to choppy seas | The Verge

Make that a bit less than 92% reusable...
"SpaceX successfully landed the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket on a drone ship last week, but the vehicle accidentally fell into the ocean while in transit to the Florida coast. The company blamed the loss on choppy seas.

“Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX’s recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral,” SpaceX said in a statement to The Verge. “As conditions worsened with eight to ten foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright. While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence. We do not expect future missions to be impacted.”"
SpaceX loses the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket due to choppy seas | The Verge

The World’s Biggest Electric Vehicle Company Looks Nothing Like Tesla | Bloomberg

Transform different
"Even for a nation of superlatives, China has adopted EVs at a stunning pace. Thanks to generous government subsidies and municipal regulations that make owning an internal combustion vehicle in many cities inconvenient, expensive, or both, China accounts for more than half the world’s purchases of electric cars. More EVs were sold in Shanghai last year than in Germany, France, or the U.K.; the city of Hangzhou, smallish by Chinese standards, had higher sales than all of Japan. Virtually all of Shenzhen’s 20,000 taxis are electric BYDs, compared with fewer than 20 of any make in New York. More than 500,000 electric buses ply Chinese roads, compared with fewer than 1,000 in the U.S.

Eager to beat back city smog and support a growing industry, the Chinese government has said it intends to eliminate fossil fuel-powered vehicles by an as-yet-unspecified date, probably about 2040. Given the scale of the market, China’s demands stand to shape 21st century carmaking every bit as much as the American consumer’s shaped the 20th—giving it pole position in the transportation industry and all the strategic advantages that entails."
The World’s Biggest Electric Vehicle Company Looks Nothing Like Tesla | Bloomberg

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police | NYT

On a related note, see We’re Not Going to Take It Anymore | NYT (Kara Swisher revisits Scott "“You have zero privacy anyway,” he said. “Get over it!” McNealy)
"The technique illustrates a phenomenon privacy advocates have long referred to as the “if you build it, they will come” principle — anytime a technology company creates a system that could be used in surveillance, law enforcement inevitably comes knocking. Sensorvault, according to Google employees, includes detailed location records involving at least hundreds of millions of devices worldwide and dating back nearly a decade.

The new orders, sometimes called “geofence” warrants, specify an area and a time period, and Google gathers information from Sensorvault about the devices that were there. It labels them with anonymous ID numbers, and detectives look at locations and movement patterns to see if any appear relevant to the crime. Once they narrow the field to a few devices they think belong to suspects or witnesses, Google reveals the users’ names and other information."
Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police | NYT

Apple reportedly spending $500 million to fund development of 100+ games for its Apple Arcade subscription service | 9to5Mac

Playing for keeps
"Who knew, Apple has deep pockets? The company is reportedly spending billions of dollars a year on Apple TV+ original content, will pay about $480 million for the Texture acquisition which ultimately became News+, and is reportedly also spending several million dollars per game in Apple Arcade.

The Financial Times says the company is spending ‘several million dollars each’ on more than 100 games, putting Apple Arcade’s budget in excess of $500 million dollars. At its March event, Apple announced that Arcade would launch in the fall but did not announce pricing.

The report also says that Apple is offering an ‘extra incentive’ to a developer if their game remains exclusive to Apple Arcade."
Apple reportedly spending $500 million to fund development of 100+ games for its Apple Arcade subscription service | 9to5Mac

One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority | NYT

Later in the article: "The practice makes China a pioneer in applying next-generation technology to watch its people, potentially ushering in a new era of automated racism."
"The Chinese government has drawn wide international condemnation for its harsh crackdown on ethnic Muslims in its western region, including holding as many as a million of them in detention camps.

Now, documents and interviews show that the authorities are also using a vast, secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs, a largely Muslim minority. It is the first known example of a government intentionally using artificial intelligence for racial profiling, experts said."
One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority | NYT

Friday, April 12, 2019

SpaceX Recovered $6 Million Fairings So Falcon Heavy Will Be 92% Reusable | Nextbigfuture

Later in the article: "Reusing three engines and a fairing would be $96 million out of $103.5 million."
"Elon Musk tweeted that both SpaceX Falcon Heavy payload fairings were recovered for the first time. They will be reused on the Starlink satellite launch mission.

The two side boosters and the center core were landed and will be reused.

This means that SpaceX will be able to reuse 92% of this Falcon Heavy launch. Only the roughly $7.5 million second stage will not be reused."
SpaceX Recovered $6 Million Fairings So Falcon Heavy Will Be 92% Reusable | Nextbigfuture

Julian Assange Might Have Already Won | Politico

Somehow I suspect Trump's enablers are not in a rush to have Julian Assange testify, e.g., about 2016 Wikileaks activities
"But if you look at the indictment, on a very narrow charge of computer hacking conspiracy, it’s evident that the government stayed well clear of the dangerous notion of prosecuting a publisher for publishing. And, if anything, Assange might get exactly the fight he’s looking for, served up to him by the government he purports to loathe.

If the case plays out as expected, he’ll first get a platform in Britain to argue to a worldwide audience that it’s all a political setup. And if he loses that round, and the case does come back to the United States, he might well get the government to serve him up, by law, the kind of massive document haul he loves.

Given the broad constellation of charges prosecutors have contemplated throwing at Assange, including the Espionage Act, Wednesday’s indictment is very weak tea. Unless prosecutors charge Assange with bigger crimes—something Reuters reports the Justice Department may do—the former fugitive could succeed in using British extradition proceedings to avoid U.S. prosecution."
Julian Assange Might Have Already Won | Politico

P&G Puts Ad Platforms Like Facebook, Google on Notice | Bloomberg

Later in the article: "Pritchard also brought up a key point of friction in the industry. He wants the ad platforms to use a standardized way of identifying individual consumers, so that advertisers can track people as they move across the internet and make sure they’re not repeatedly hitting a consumer with the same ad."
"In a speech at an industry conference Thursday, P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard blasted the digital media industry for lack of transparency, fraud, privacy breaches and a proliferation of violent and harmful content placed next to ads. He said his company, which spends billions of dollars on marketing products from paper towels to shampoo every year, would move its money to services that can guarantee effectiveness, are completely free of offensive content and are more willing to share consumer data with advertisers.

“We’ve been tolerant for too long,” Pritchard said in prepared remarks. “It’s not acceptable to have brands showing up where Opioids are being offered, where illegal drugs are promoted, where abhorrent behavior is present or where violence is seen. The apologies are heartfelt and appreciated, but that’s not good enough.”"
P&G Puts Ad Platforms Like Facebook, Google on Notice | Bloomberg

Disney’s new Netflix-killer will have a ton of movies and TV shows for $7 a month | Recode

Later in the article: "Oh, and one more thing: Disney+ will also feature shows and movies that previously belonged to 21st Century Fox, which Disney mostly absorbed this year. That means the service will also be the place to watch The Simpsons, for starters."
"Disney has been talking about its plan to create its own Netflix since the summer of 2017, but it’s been short on crucial details.

Now we have them: Disney+ will launch in the US on November 12, for $7 a month. It will have a very large library of old Disney movies and TV shows — crucially, including titles from its Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars catalog — along with new movies and series made exclusively for the streaming service. It won’t have any ads. And it will allow subscribers to download all of that stuff, and watch it offline, whenever they want.

For comparison: A standard Netflix subscription now costs $13 a month."
Disney’s new Netflix-killer will have a ton of movies and TV shows for $7 a month | Recode

Gartner and IDC agree: Global PC shipments fell to exactly 58.5 million in Q1 2019 | VentureBeat

So, are you reading this on an iPhone or an iPad?...
"The PC market is still in decline, according to research firms Gartner and IDC. That’s nothing new for the duo to agree on, but coincidentally they also (for the first time?) estimated the exact same number of PC shipments: 58.5 million in Q1 2019. Gartner and IDC also both found PC shipments were down globally year-over-year. So far, 2019 looks like more of the same.

After six years of quarterly PC shipment declines, 2018 brought a positive Q2, a flat Q3 … and then a negative Q4.

Gartner and IDC analysts have pointed to CPU shortages as contributing to this past quarter’s decline. But that just seems to be an excuse for reality: The PC simply isn’t as in-demand as it once was."
Gartner and IDC agree: Global PC shipments fell to exactly 58.5 million in Q1 2019 | VentureBeat

Uber, Losing $1.8 Billion a Year, Reveals I.P.O. Filing | NYT

Also see What Exactly Is Uber’s ‘Core Platform Contribution Margin’? | NYT
"The offering, which could value Uber at around $100 billion, is expected to reverberate through global financial markets and to solidify the company’s position as one of the most consequential technology firms of the past decade. The share sale would be the biggest since the Alibaba Group of China began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, and would peg Uber’s value at more than four times that of United Airlines’ parent and double that of FedEx.

But the prospectus renewed questions about how sustainable Uber’s business actually is. The company said in the filing that it lost $1.8 billion in 2018, excluding certain transactions, on revenue of $11.3 billion. And the prospectus also showed that its rocket-ship trajectory for revenue growth was beginning to slow."
Meanwhile...
Uber, Losing $1.8 Billion a Year, Reveals I.P.O. Filing | NYT