"Its launch vehicle, the New Shepard, powered by a BE-3 engine, reached an altitude of 307,000 feet, where the space capsule separated to float gently back down to earth. The only failure on the day, per Bezos’ post, was that an attempt to land the launch the vehicle for reuse went wrong.Jeff Bezos has a rocket now, too - Quartz
Bezos and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have been in a legal battle over patents on rocket reusability, which would dramatically lower the cost of future launches. While SpaceX is further ahead of Blue Origin in testing reusability, it has yet to land a rocket from a working launch."
Thursday, April 30, 2015
A different kind of Amazon fire
Maybe the time is right for the approach attempted by the ill-fated Motorola Atrix; also see Windows 10 just beat Ubuntu to the smartphone-PC convergence punch (PCWorld)
"Everything basically looks like the full version of Windows 10, but the phone is powering everything. "What we're trying to show here today, is our unique vision for phones and enabling them to scale up to a full PC-like experience," said Joe Belfiore. Continuum for Phones won't be something you'll find on existing Windows Phone devices. Belfiore was quick to note that the feature will require new devices capable of driving this dual-screen feature. Microsoft plans to share more on that soon."Your Windows 10 phone can turn into a full PC | The Verge
This probably makes investors in Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR apprehensive; for an overview of Microsoft data* and other news from the first day of its BUILD conference, see New services for intelligent apps + tools and runtimes for any platform & every device (The Official Microsoft Blog)
"The idea behind Data Lake is — as the name implies — to give developers a single place to store all of their structured and semi-structured data in its native format without having to worry about storage and capacity limitations on individual files.Microsoft Announces Azure Data Lake, A Data Repository For Big Data Analytics | TechCrunch
Data Lake is compatible with the Hadoop File System, so it will play nicely with all of the standard Hadoop big data tools like Spark, Storm and Kafka, as well as services from Hortonworks, Cloudera and Microsoft’s own Azure HDInsight. Indeed, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for its data platform T.K. “Ranga” Rengarajan described this as an “important commitment to the Hadoop ecosystem” when I talked to him about today’s announcements earlier this week."
Amazon pays $20M-$50M for ClusterK, the startup that can run apps on AWS at 10% of the regular price | VentureBeat | Cloud | by Jordan Novet
"ClusterK devised a clever way to rely on Spot Instances — which let you name your price for slices of servers in Amazon Web Services (AWS) — to run applications for 1/10 of the cost of using Amazon’s far more popular on-demand instances.Amazon pays $20M-$50M for ClusterK, the startup that can run apps on AWS at 10% of the regular price | VentureBeat | Cloud | by Jordan Novet
Note that ClusterK isn’t a competitor to Amazon. It’s just helping customers use a cheaper AWS product in place of a more expensive one.
Amazon made the acquisition yesterday, paying $20-50 million, Marc Parrish, an investor in the startup, told VentureBeat in an interview."
Also see If Salesforce.com Is in Play, Here Are the Possible Suitors (Re/code) and Salesforce as takeover target: Here's a look at the potential buyers (ZDNet)
"Salesforce.com Inc., the software provider that has hired bankers to field takeover offers, would make sense as a partner for a buyer willing to spend a lot to become the leader in cloud computing.Salesforce Seen as Attractive, If Pricey, Target for Cloud Push - Bloomberg Business
Salesforce jumped 12 percent to close at $74.65 in New York on Wednesday, giving the company a market value of about $49 billion."
A big milestone for Jeremy Allaire's Circle Internet Financial
"Since first grabbing widespread attention in 2013, Bitcoin has been dented by criminal activity tied to the virtual currency and by flurries of speculative buying and selling. The price of one Bitcoin on Wednesday hovered around $225, far below the high above $1,200 that it hit in late 2013.
Even as public interest has waned, however, major financial institutions have been quietly but seriously examining the opportunities offered by the technology, and particularly the new financial network that hosts the Bitcoin digital tokens and allows them to be sent around the world securely, cheaply and almost instantly."Goldman and IDG Put $50 Million to Work in a Bitcoin Company - NYTimes.com
Not a bad start
"Twenty years ago today, somebody flipped a switch and opened the floodgates. On April 30, 1995, the last federally funded portion of the Internet shut down, turning it into a free-enterprise operation.20 years later, what’s next for the ’Net? - Business - The Boston Globe
It was just one major breakthrough of 1995, the year the Internet achieved lift-off. Amazon, eBay, craigslist, and Match.com all went live that year, while Microsoft rolled out its first Internet Explorer browser. In 1995, about 16 million people were online, less than half a percent of the human race. Just five years later, 5 percent of the world had logged on. Today, it’s 3 billion of us — 40 percent of the planet. Probably no other technology has caught on so fast, built so many new businesses, or demolished so many old ones."
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
I'm guessing there are some busy Apple, Google, and Oracle intellectual property lawyers this afternoon
"On the Android front, Microsoft is adding a layer to its Windows 10 Mobile operating system that will allow Android Open Source Project (AOSP) to run as a subsystem -- similar to the way that it traditionally ran POSIX as a subsystem in Windows. Android developers will be able to submit versions of their apps, written in Java or C++, to the Windows Store in he form of APKs and have those apps work on Windows Phone 10 devices. Android developers should be able to start submitting apps to the Windows 10 Store some time in the next few months.Here's how Microsoft hopes to get Android and iOS phone apps into its Windows 10 Store | ZDNet
"Some people might call this emulation," said Operating Systems Group President Terry Myerson, in an interview at Build. "But it's really about subsystems (although) there are aspects of emulation in here."
On the iOS side, Microsoft has developed an Objective-C compiler which will enable iOS developers to recompile their apps so they can work on Windows 10 Mobile devices. That compiler will be available to developers as of today, April 29."
Check the full post for some ways in which Dropbox is staying feature-competitive with Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive
"Whether you’re collaborating on a business proposal or putting together a vacation itinerary, working with multiple people can be difficult. It can involve lots of back and forth conversations, scattered across email threads and chat windows. And in the process, feedback can get lost and it can take ages to get everyone on the same page.Feedback made easy: Add comments on Dropbox files | Dropbox Blog
Today we’re simplifying that process. With comments, you can now have conversations around Dropbox files, both on the files you own and the files people share with you. This keeps your conversations organized in one place, and provides a way to gather feedback in just one step. Here are a few ways you can use commenting to make life easier:"
Sign of the times -- including many in the press/blogosphere leaving the context ambiguous (i.e., whether it was a custom iPad app that crashed or an iOS problem)
"American Airlines flights experienced significant delays this evening after pilots’ iPads—which the airline uses to distribute flight plans and other information to the crew—abruptly crashed. “Several dozen” flights were affected by the outage, according to a spokesperson for the airline.An iPad glitch grounded several dozen American Airlines planes - Quartz
“The pilot told us when they were getting ready to take off, the iPad screens went blank, both for the captain and copilot, so they didn’t have the flight plan,” Toni Jacaruso, a passenger on American flight #1654 from Dallas to Austin, told Quartz."
Embrace, extend, and emulate? Also see Windows + Android? (Paul Thurrott)
"Myerson will also focus on what might become the biggest news of the day: Microsoft eyeing Android apps for Windows 10. While the software maker has been investigating many methods of bringing Android apps to Windows, it has found a solution. Myerson will unveil a series of ways Microsoft is making it easier for developers to bring their code to Windows universal apps from Android, iOS, or elsewhere. Part of that will include better tools for developers and new ways to closely map the functions of Android to Windows so it’s easier for developers to port their apps with small changes. It might not be the ideal solution, but it could be enough to convince Android developers to list their apps in the Windows Store without a lot of effort."What to expect from Microsoft's most important event of the year | The Verge
Notification competition expands
"Here are a few other ways Now cards from your apps can help you out:
Inside Search: New in the Google app: more Now cards from your Android apps
- Get breaking news about the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake from ABC News, Circa, or feedly
- Know when your pad thai is about to arrive with reminders from Eat24 that the food you ordered will soon be on your doorstep, or get inspired with the recipe of the day from Allrecipes
- Keep your fitness goals front and center with gentle nudges from Runkeeper, Jawbone, or Adidas
- And if you’re out to dinner, simply tap on a Now card to pay your bill with OpenTable"
"With the presidential race heating up, a torrent of politically charged commentary has flooded Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site, with some users deploying their “unfollow” buttons like a television remote to silence distasteful political views. Coupled with the algorithm now powering Facebook’s news feed, the unfollowing is creating a more homogenized political experience of like-minded users, resulting in the kind of polarization more often associated with MSNBC or Fox News. And it may ultimately deflate a central promise of the Internet: Instead of offering people a diverse marketplace of challenging ideas, the web is becoming just another self-perpetuating echo chamber."Casting Early Presidential Vote Through Facebook by Clicking ‘Unfollow’ - NYTimes.com
Earnings report obtained and published early on ... Twitter; also see Nasdaq Takes Blame for Twitter’s Earnings Leak (WSJ)
"“User growth doesn’t appear to be notably improving, and now monetization is failing to live up to expectations,” said Richard Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG Research. “That’s why the stock is selling off so hard. The question is, How much of this is Twitter’s own missteps versus how much of this is peers such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat eating into their advertising?”Twitter Earnings, Released Early, Disappoint Investors; Shares Plunge - NYTimes.com
Twitter said that 302 million people used its service at least once a month during the first quarter. That is up from 288 million in December and in line with recent trends. But the figure failed to impress investors, who have been eager to see results from recent changes Twitter has made to help newcomers better understand how to use its service."
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Check Introducing Video Calling in Messenger (Facebook Newsroom) for more details
"Facebook first introduced desktop video calling in partnership with Skype in 2011, but eventually built its own video call infrastructure. Bringing it to mobile could Messenger a serious competitor to iOS-only FaceTime, clunky Skype, and less-ubiquitous Google Hangouts.Facebook Messenger Launches Free VOIP Video Calls Over Cellular And Wi-Fi | TechCrunch
With 600 million Messenger users and 1.44 billion on Facebook, the new VOIP video feature has a massive built-in audience. Mark Zuckerberg said on last week’s Facebook earnings call that Messenger already accounts for 10% of global mobile VOIP calls. He believes free, high audio quality VOIP will displace traditional phone calling, and video calling could accelerate that.
Messenger has no plans to charge for audio or video calling. Instead, it knows more messaging drives lock in with Facebook’s News Feed where it makes tons of money from ads. Facebook Messenger’s Head Of Product Stan Chudnovsky who led the video calling feature tells me, “Whatever’s good for Messenger is good for Facebook as a company.”"
A big milestone for Apple Pay
"Best Buy has also started accepting Apple Pay as a payment method in its apps, Apple CEO Tim Cook first announced on an analysts call on Monday after the company issued its earnings report.Best Buy to Accept Apple Pay | Re/code
The partnership is a big one for Apple, because it’s the first with a member of MCX, a consortium of retailers and food chains that is building a payment app called CurrentC that is expected to be competitive with Apple Pay. A Best Buy spokeswoman said, “We remain invested in MCX,” but would not commit to accepting CurrentC when it launches to the public."
Perhaps ultimately a personal profile data quality challenge
"If Crystal is just the beginning of a new category of similar apps that rely on algorithms to tell people what to say and how to write, these technologies will not only have a troubling effect on privacy but also begin to strip the character and individuality from communication in favor of banal, machine-generated prose.Opinion: If predictive algorithms craft the best e-mails, we're all in big trouble - CSMonitor.com
Should future versions of profiling technology improve, it will be tempting to use them to save time, minimize mistakes, and feed our curiosity. But if the history of privacy problems has taught us anything, it's that there's more to the good life than efficiency, safety, and voyeurism."
Also see Amazon Expands Business-Sales Marketplace After Three Years (WSJ)
"The Web retailer unveiled Amazon Business on Tuesday, a new marketplace offering tractor parts, latex gloves, paper clips and millions of other products needed in factories, hospitals, schools and offices.Amazon Business Aims for $1 Trillion Corporate-Spending Market - Bloomberg Business
Amazon, which has amassed 278 million active shoppers, is now aiming for a chunk of the $1 trillion that U.S. companies spend annually in business-to-business purchases, a market where Costco Wholesale Corp., Staples Inc. and others have long been active. Amazon Business is likely to step up competition with rival marketplace EBay Inc., which will soon be fending for itself as a standalone company once it spins off faster-growing PayPal as part of a planned split."
Driving another huge quarter for Apple
"Jan Dawson, an independent technology analyst for Jackdaw Research, said Apple’s performance in China highlighted its advantages against other American technology companies.Apple’s Earnings Surge, as iPhone Sales Jump and China Business Rises - NYTimes.com
“It’s hugely important because it shows that Apple continues to be the only major U.S. tech company that is really succeeding in China, in contrast to Google, Microsoft and Amazon,” Mr. Dawson said."
Final paragraphs of a cybersecurity strategy summary
"It is essential that the laws of armed conflict that govern conventional warfare, which call for proportional response and reducing harm to civilians, are followed in any offensive cyberoperations. With so many government agencies involved in cybersecurity — the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, the F.B.I. and the Pentagon — the potential for turf fights and duplication is high.Preparing for Warfare in Cyberspace - NYTimes.com
The new strategy is the latest evidence that President Obama, having given up on Congress, is putting together his own response to the challenge. Since this is a global issue, still needed are international understandings about what constitutes cyberaggression and how governments should respond."
Monday, April 27, 2015
Microsoft hints at impending write-off of Nokia acquisition that could total billions | Computerworld
A different kind of expectation-setting
"Microsoft currently carries $5.46 billion in "goodwill" from the Nokia acquisition on its books, as well as another $4.51 billion in intangible assets. The Redmond, Wash. company had attributed the Nokia goodwill to "increased synergies that are expected to be achieved from the integration of NDS [Nokia Corp.'s Devices and Services business]."Microsoft hints at impending write-off of Nokia acquisition that could total billions | Computerworld
That value may now be greatly overstated, Microsoft acknowledged.
"The valuation of acquired assets and liabilities, including goodwill, resulting from the acquisition of NDS, is reflective of the enterprise value based on the long-term financial forecast for the Phone Hardware business," the firm said in last Thursday's 10-Q. "In this highly competitive and volatile market, it is possible that we may not realize our forecast.""
Insights after "approximately a month using the Apple Watch"
"For me at least, the hands-free freedom of the Apple Watch is one of the more compelling areas. It is one I think signifies the potential of all wearable screen-type devices. I can set my phone anywhere in the house, and not have the fear of missing out on something important that would compel me to keep it near me at all times. I can play tennis, work in the garden, cook, do the dishes, shave, drive, and a host of other things which require my hands not hold a smartphone and not miss what I have deemed is the important stuff. The value of curated wrist based notifications allow me to interact with the digital world, or maybe even better stated, allow the digital world to interact with me, without having to be captive to a screen in my hands. Of course, you still need to use your hands to operate the watch, but the interactions are designed to be short and quick."Apple Watch and Hands Free Computing | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
Perhaps the "big data" meme is fading; it appears only in the article category and tag list, in this case
"G.E., Google and others expect that knowing and manipulating these patterns is the heart of a new era of global efficiency, centered on machines that learn and predict what is likely to happen next.The Sensor-Rich, Data-Scooping Future - NYTimes.com
“The core thing Google is doing is machine learning,” Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, said at an industry event on Wednesday. Sensor-rich self-driving cars, connected thermostats or wearable computers, he said, are part of Google’s plan “to do things that are likely to be big in five to 10 years. It just seems like automation and artificial intelligence makes people more productive, and smarter.”"
Final paragraphs of an Internet forecast
"In many ways, the Internet of the future will feel different from the Internet we know today. Instead of seeking it out, we’ll be surrounded by it. And instead of extracting data from it, we’ll be fed a constant stream of curated, personalized information to help us solve problems and live better—and live better together.Nest CEO Tony Fadell on the Future of the Internet - WSJ
The question will be whether we actually listen and use that information to make better choices. Some things never change."
Fee(Fi) => ho-hum?
"And Project Fi’s prices aren’t necessarily bargains. Google will charge $20 a month for unlimited talk and text messages. For data, the customer pays $10 per gigabyte; if he uses less, the user gets a prorated rebate applied to the next month’s bill.Picking apart Google’s Project Fi - Business - The Boston Globe
The average US smartphone user uses about 1.8 gigabytes of data per month, and so would pay around $40 a month for Project Fi. For the same amount, Cricket Wireless provides 2.5 gigs of data and drops the price to $35 for automatic payment plans."
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Check the full post for a peek behind the curtain
"At last October’s introduction of the new iPad Air, the creators of a clever iOS app named Replay were invited on stage. To get there, they went through a selection process that illustrates Apple’s perfectionism — and hidden application sophistication."Featured On Tim Cook’s Keynote – What It Takes | Monday Note
Friday, April 24, 2015
A cloud collaboration contender
"Essentially, Dropbox’s Notes service is a lot like what was previously offered by the Y Combinator startup HackPad, which had grown to be a well-liked app for taking quick notes at conferences, events, and in the classroom. As it has now become the basis for Notes, it’s clear that Dropbox is not aiming to compete directly with Microsoft Office by offering its own robust, online document creation service in the cloud, like Google did with Google Drive (Docs), but is instead focused on making it easier to create simple notes as a part of Dropbox user’s daily workflow.Dropbox’s Collaborative Note-Taking Service, Dropbox Notes, Heads Into Beta Testing | TechCrunch
The new addition will also make Dropbox more usable on mobile devices, where people need a way to jot down quick ideas."
Defense Secretary Tries To Thaw Relations With Silicon Valley, Opens New ‘Defense Innovation Unit X’ | TechCrunch
Also see Pentagon Announces New Strategy for Cyberwarfare (NYT)
"He announced a new effort called “Defense Innovation Unit X,” which will be a point of partnership based in Silicon Valley and which will be staffed by a mix of active-duty and civilian personnel. They are expected to scout for new technologies and try to find ways for startups to work with the Department of Defense.Defense Secretary Tries To Thaw Relations With Silicon Valley, Opens New ‘Defense Innovation Unit X’ | TechCrunch
The move comes at a time when areas traditionally relegated to heavyweight defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing like satellite and drone development are being increasingly being handled by privately-held, venture-backed startups or by Google and Facebook, which are trying expand Internet access in the developing world."
Another attempt at an apples-to-apples cloud comparison
"Compare that to IBM, for example, which likes to boast of its $7.7 billion cloud business (2014 revenues), but that includes its business of selling cloud-based applications or software-as-a-service, something Amazon doesn’t offer. The part of Big Blue’s cloud business that is most directly comparable to AWS is the “as a service” portion, which is made up mostly of its SoftLayer unit. It posted revenue of about $3.8 billion.How Amazon’s Cloud Business Is Growing | Re/code
It’s a similar case for Microsoft, which today disclosed that its cloud business is on a run rate to deliver $6.3 billion in revenue this year, but that includes applications too, including Office 365 and Dynamics. The size of its infrastructure portion isn’t known.
Then there’s Google, which still reports its cloud operations in much the same way that Amazon used to: In an “other” category that includes everything that’s not advertising. That’s on a run rate to about $7 billion, but its impossible to know how much of that comes from the Google Cloud."
Yesterday was a big day for earnings announcements; also see At $17.3 Billion, Google’s Quarterly Revenue Rose 12 Percent and Microsoft Profits Slip Less Than Projected, With Revenue Up 6% (both NYT)
"Amazon resumed its money-losing ways in the first quarter, even though it sold a lot of things.Amazon Swings to Small Loss While Revenue Jumps 15% - NYTimes.com
The retailer lost 12 cents a share for a net loss of $57 million, as revenue rose 15 percent — a little more steeply than expected, especially in light of the company’s size — to $22.72 billion.
Analysts had projected a loss of 13 cents a share on revenue of $22.39 billion, according to Thomson Financial. Last year, Amazon had a profit of 23 cents a share in the first quarter."
Preserving the existing oligopoly, for now...
"The government’s verdict on the merger and its stance on net neutrality were separate issues, but they were very much intertwined. At the end of the day, the government’s commitment to maintaining a free and open Internet did not square with the prospect of a single company controlling as much as 40 percent of the public’s access to it. All the more so given the accelerating shift in viewing habits, with increasing numbers of consumers choosing streaming services like Netflix over traditional TV. In this sense, it didn’t really matter if Comcast and Time Warner’s cable markets overlapped. The real issue was broadband.Once Comcast’s Deal Shifted to a Focus on Broadband, Its Ambitions Were Sunk - NYTimes.com
“The simple way to think about the problem with the Comcast merger is that once they get that big, they’re pretty much too big to regulate,” said Marvin Ammori, a lawyer who helped lead the campaign for net neutrality."
Excerpt from a cloud market dynamics snapshot
"Microsoft ranks a distant No. 2 in cloud computing. It is hard to precisely compare the two businesses because of how Microsoft reports its cloud results. Microsoft said on Thursday that its annual revenue from its commercial cloud business would be $6.3 billion based on its recent performance, while Amazon said the comparable annual figure for AWS was $5.16 billion.With Amazon Atop the Cloud, Big Tech Rivals Are Giving Chase - NYTimes.com
Microsoft, though, also includes revenue from different online applications into that figure. Its revenue from a cloud business called Azure, which is more directly comparable to Amazon’s cloud services, was recently estimated by Deutsche Bank to be as little as one-tenth of that from AWS."
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Check the full post for some insightful Project Fi analysis
"An Apple-like level of control over this stack is appealing, because it allows the company to manage the experience its customers have to a far greater extent. Part of Google’s challenge is carriers embraced it in the early years precisely because they saw it as something that could be molded to fit their needs and they’ve largely used it in that way. Whether to fight off the iPhone, to offer lower-cost smartphones, or to push their own apps and services. All this goes against Google’s real mission for Android, which is to put in consumers’ hands a Google ecosystem, which takes us back to Sundar Pichai’s remarks. Android was created as an ecosystem, but it largely exists within OEM and carrier ecosystems and its appeal and effectiveness as an ecosystem is limited by their involvement. What Google Fi does for Google is to free it from these encumbrances and allow the user to have an all-Google experience on their smartphone. It’s interesting to put this in the context of the various efforts by companies to control elements of the smartphone stack:"Google Project Fi: an attempt to control the stack | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
Signs of the drone times
"DJI, the company that manufactured the drone that crashed at the White House, announced in March that its new geofencing software would make its devices inoperable within roughly 16 miles of the White House. The company said it was working to create similar no-fly zones for “sensitive institutions and national borders.”Airmail via Drones Is Vexing for Prisons - NYTimes.com
An organization called No Fly Zone has introduced a website where individuals, business owners and others who do not want drones overhead can enter their addresses into a database. Those addresses will be provided to drone manufacturers who have agreed to program their devices not to fly over those locations."
Excerpt from an overview of the latest Box plan to morph into a cloud platform
"“It’s hard to duplicate what AWS has, impossible. We’ll get beat on price all day, every day,” said Chris Yeh, the senior vice president for products at Box. “But Amazon also feels like it has a lot of complexities to work with. The things we do around content, like giving you ways to search for things, encrypt content with easy management, or make it possible for readers to view all kinds of things, is what gives us leverage.”Box Opens Tools for Developers, Suggesting the Future of Business Software - NYTimes.com
The developers that Box wants will also be, the company hopes, a means by which some yet-unknown great new software will be developed."
See Introducing Hello (Facebook Newsroom) for details
"The app can also be configured so it “automatically blocks calls from commonly blocked numbers,” according to the blog post. And users can treat the app like a phone book, searching for people and businesses on Facebook and calling them “with just one tap.”Facebook’s Hello Android App Adds Social Data to Incoming Calls - Digits - WSJ
Facebook is using its vast “social graph” of user information to become a part of actual phone use, rather than just part of a mobile browsing experience. In an example from the blog, the company says “if a friend tells you about a new restaurant in your neighborhood, you can use Hello to find their hours, make a reservation and get directions, all without leaving the app.”"
"The world’s largest social network reported on Wednesday that almost three-quarters of its advertising revenue and most of its 1.44 billion users came from cellphones and other mobile devices in the first quarter of the year.Facebook’s Growth Slows Slightly, but Mobile Shift Intensifies - NYTimes.com
And Facebook is beginning to make a similar transition from text to video, with its users already watching four billion videos a day, an average of four per person (although the view may be more like a glance, since Facebook considers three seconds long enough to count)."
Also see Google's New Wireless Service Should Make Verizon and AT&T Squirm (MIT Technology Review) and Google’s Wireless Service: What It Means for Consumers, Google and the Carriers (Re/code)
"But the founder of another wireless upstart thinks that’s just fine with Google. “They’re not trying to massively disrupt,” said Stephen Stokols, president of FreedomPop. Instead, he thinks it’s a replay of Google Fiber, the company’s superfast Internet service. It’s available in just a few cities, but Google Fiber’s popularity is goading major broadband companies to boost their network speeds, making Google’s online offerings more attractive.Cheap, simple cellular? Google answers the call - Business - The Boston Globe
FreedomPop offers features similar to Project Fi, such as phone calling over Wi-Fi networks and the right to roll over unused data bits. But Stokols thinks Google’s biggest innovation is a phone that can switch between multiple carriers."
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Also see OneNote for iPhone also gets Apple Watch enhancements (SuperSite for Windows)
"Microsoft has today updated the iOS version of Powerpoint to allow you to use your Apple Watch as a remote, to start presentations, navigate to the next slide and track your progress by viewing elapsed time, current slide number and total number of slides. The watch app currently only controls the iOS version of Powerpoint, not the OS X version."Now you can control your PowerPoint presentation with your Apple Watch | 9to5Mac
Excerpt from a Netflix/AWS synergy snapshot
"Last year, the company had revenues of $5.5 billion, up 25.8% from 2013. Profits were $267 million. Streaming delivered 88.9% of the business though it has only been in 2007 that Netflix’s business consisted entirely of shipping DVDs and Blu-rays.Netflix: A Lot More than “House of Cards” | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
But another place Netflix has by itself is as a huge and extremely clever, successful user of Amazon Web Services (AWS), to which it moved its operations in 2010. Any Netflix service a customer gets — from signing up to a subscription to making the service available on just about any device capable of displaying the content to watching a showing of “Orange Is the New Black” to data and streaming is handled on AWS."
A pivotal day for Box
"Box has a market value of $2.1 billion, down 38 percent just three months after its IPO. When Mossberg queried Levie about Box’s profitability issues, the CEO quickly parried, “It depends on your definition — but no, we’re not.” Then Levie wondered out loud if that comment shouldn’t be scrubbed from the record because the SEC might not like it.Aaron Levie: Box Will Help Customers Build, Won’t Stop Spending to Get New Ones | Re/code
On the eve of a two-hour keynote tomorrow announcing new platform services, Levie didn’t go into too much detail about Box’s new tools. But he explained his company wants to “help dramatically accelerate [its customers’] ability to build really great transformative software.”"
A big week for AWS
"On April 23, Amazon plans to disclose the numbers for its cloud business for the first time, in its quarterly earnings report. Analyst Karl Keirstead at Deutsche Bank estimates annual revenue of about $6 billion, about 10 times the revenue of its closest competitor in the public cloud market. Amazon’s cloud business may be the fastest-growing corporate technology business of all time and executives contend that it can grow to be bigger than the company’s $83 billion-per-year retail operation. The only thing standing in Amazon’s way are giants like Microsoft, Google, and the rest of a computing industry that, at long last, has woken up to seek revenge."How Amazon Swooped in to Own Cloud Services - Bloomberg Business
For the Google Nexus 6 only, initially
"Google Inc. is set to unveil its new U.S. wireless service as early as Wednesday, pushing the Internet giant further into telecom and injecting fresh uncertainty into a wireless industry already locked in a price war.Google Set to Unveil Wireless Service - WSJ
In a key development, the service is expected to allow customers to pay only for the amount of data they actually use each month, people familiar with the matter said—a move that could further push carriers to do away with lucrative “breakage.”"
Elsewhere in the article: "The first 'Machine' should be complete sometime before 2020"
"The Machine is designed to overcome these problems by scrapping the distinction between storage and memory. A single large store of memory based on HP’s memristors will both hold data and make it available for the processor. Combining memory and storage isn’t a new idea, but there hasn’t yet been a nonvolatile memory technology fast enough to make it practical, says Tsu-Jae King Liu, a professor who studies microelectronics at the University of California, Berkeley. Liu is an advisor to Crossbar, a startup working on a memristor-like memory technology known as resistive RAM. It and a handful of other companies are developing the technology as a direct replacement for flash memory in existing computer designs. HP is alone, however, in saying its devices are ready to change computers more radically."HP’s Audacious Idea for Reinventing Computers | MIT Technology Review
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
From a Jeff Dean profile
"As one of Google’s earliest engineers, Dean helped create the fundamental computing systems that underpin the company’s vast online empire, systems that span tens of thousands of machines. This work gave him celebrity-like status among Silicon Valley engineers—people recognize him as he walks through the Google cafeteria. Now, armed with those massively distributed systems and the ideas that drive them, he has returned to the world of neural networks. And this time, these artificial brains work remarkably well.Finally, Neural Networks that Actually Work | WIRED
Together with a team of other big-name researchers, Dean is building neural nets that can identify faces in photos, recognize spoken words, and even understand natural language. And many other tech companies—from Microsoft to Facebook to Twitter—are creating services with similar capabilities."
Microsoft Announces Azure Service Fabric, A New Framework For Building Highly Scalable Cloud Services | TechCrunch
"Microsoft today announced Azure Service Fabric, a new Azure service that aims to make it easier for developers at startups and ISVs to create highly scalable cloud applications.Microsoft Announces Azure Service Fabric, A New Framework For Building Highly Scalable Cloud Services | TechCrunch
The idea is to give developers the tools necessary to build cloud apps without ever having to worry about scaling and having to rearchitect their infrastructure to keep up with growth.
To do so, Service Fabric combines microservices with the company’s expertise in orchestrating and automating them across distributed systems. Service Fabric will also offer Visual Studio and command-line tooling and application lifecycle management support."
Mobilegeddon Checklist: How To Prepare For This Week's Google Mobile Friendly Update (Search Engine Land)
Check the full post for a detailed Q&A on Google's mobile-friendly update
"The Google Mobile Friendly Update launches tomorrow, a day that many including ourselves here at Search Engine Land are calling “Mobilegeddon.” We first learned of Google’s plan to release a new algorithm designed to reward mobile-friendly web pages back in February. It’s unprecedented for Google to pre-announce a big algorithmic change like this, but Google did so in order to give publishers ample time to make their web sites mobile friendly.Mobilegeddon Checklist: How To Prepare For This Week's Google Mobile Friendly Update
The mobile friendly update will potentially give a ranking boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results. Below you will find a list of common questions and concerns that have been answered over the past two-months around this algorithm."
Monday, April 20, 2015
An interesting DBMS market reality check
"Despite all the Big Data hype, a new survey of database deployments shows a traditional, structured relational database management system (RDBMS) still rules the corporate world.Survey: Structured RDBMS Data Still Reigns -- ADTmag
And it's not just a matter of a large established technology user base holding a dwindling lead while upstart Apache Hadoop and the NoSQL databases make market inroads. Instead, the new survey commissioned by Dell Software reveals the use of traditional structured data is growing even faster than unstructured data."
Excerpt from a wide-ranging Microsoft reality check
"Do you believe in the Windows 10 platform? “I think the design changes are going to be a hard pill to follow because they’re less distinct. But they’re vital. Some of my best friends are working on the redesign and they’re building a much stronger foundation for the long run even if it looks visually less arresting … Build is coming. So I suspect both visuals and docs will come a long way between now and release … But the next few years can be very kind to Microsoft. I’ve spoken to and worked with the people driving forward the evolution that 10 is just the first step of, and they’re great. It’s just going to take some time.”Ex-Microsoft Designer Explains the Move Away from Metro - Thurrott.com
So why not just kill Windows Phone? “Windows Phone is small, relatively speaking. But absolutely speaking it still sells a lot of units. And they can’t not have an OS. So it’d be nice if they had more market on mobile, but having zero just topples the whole strategy.”"
In other Nokia news, see What's at stake in the $16.6 billion Nokia-Alcatel-Lucent deal (Fortune)
"So it is surprising that Nokia is quietly plotting a return to the consumer mobile market.Nokia Plots 2016 Return to Phone Market | Re/code
As early as next year, the company aims to rejoin the phone market, two sources briefed on Nokia’s plans told Re/code. In addition, the company has a number of other ambitious technology projects, including some in the virtual reality arena, these sources said."
A pattern Elon Musk is expected to accelerate on April 30th
"Customers are increasingly asking about the batteries that he often puts in along with the solar panels, allowing them to store the power they generate during the day for use at night. It is more expensive, but it breaks consumer reliance on the utility’s network of power lines.Solar Power Battle Puts Hawaii at Forefront of Worldwide Changes - NYTimes.com
“I’ve actually taken people right off the grid,” he said, including a couple who got tired of waiting for Hawaiian Electric to approve their solar system and expressed no interest in returning to utility service. “The lumbering big utilities that are so used to taking three months to study this and then six months to do that — what they don’t understand is that things are moving at the speed of business. Like with digital photography — this is inevitable.”"
A sign of the cybersecurity times
"It’s a fact of life online: a network is only as strong as its weakest link. For many people, that weakest link is their children. They inadvertently download viruses. They work around security to visit sites their parents don’t want them to. They run up huge bills using their parents’ one-click ordering.Your Weakest Security Link? Your Children - WSJ
And, most frustrating of all, many of them are far ahead of their parents’ ability to keep them from making mischief—in fact, many of them act as the family’s de facto tech support."
A tumultuous TV transition time
"The emphasis on original content is an extension of Netflix’s long-term view that the Internet is replacing television, that apps are replacing channels and that screens are proliferating, Mr. Hastings said.Netflix Is Betting Its Future on Exclusive Programming - NYTimes.com
“We’ve had 80 years of linear TV, and it’s been amazing, and in its day the fax machine was amazing,” he said. “The next 20 years will be this transformation from linear TV to Internet TV.”"
A big week ahead for Box
"At a company conference this week, Box, which has so far focused on Internet data storage and collaboration technology, will explain how it plans to help other businesses build their own cloud services. The goal is to create a so-called ecosystem that ensures continued growth just as Microsoft did with PCs and Apple did with the iPhone.Box, Provider of Cloud-Computing Services, Faces Make-or-Break Moment - NYTimes.com
If the plan does not work, it is doubtful that Box will survive as an independent company, and Mr. Levie, for all those high hopes, will become a footnote, someone with a great idea who could not quite turn it into a lasting business."
More busy times ahead for Google's lawyers
"TripAdvisor officials declined to speak with the Globe but released a statement from chief executive Stephen Kaufer.Local travel firm aims to trip up Google - Business - The Boston Globe
“Google engages in preferencing and manipulates search results so that consumers see content that benefits Google, not the best content for consumers,” Kaufer said. “This practice harms consumers and competition, and must be ended.”
In a posting on its corporate blog, Google senior vice president Amit Singhal denied any wrongdoing. Singhal noted that while TripAdvisor said it has been harmed by Google’s tactics, it also “claims to be the Web’s largest travel brand and has nearly doubled its revenues in the last four years.”"
Friday, April 17, 2015
Interesting Android times
"Fresh off its $80 million funding round, Cyanogen, the aggressive startup building an Android alternative to Google, inked a pact with Microsoft. Cyanogen will distribute Microsoft’s software suite, including Office, Skype and Bing search. In return, Microsoft, which is among the tech titans considering financing Cyanogen, will tailor its native apps and services for the startup’s operating system. The tie-up comes on the heels of a European Union investigation into Android, launched on Wednesday, probing Google’s practice of bundling mobile apps and services."Microsoft and Cyanogen Form Mobile Integration Deal | Re/code
Tangentially, see Netflix Doesn’t Want to Kill HBO. It Wants to Kill TV (Re/code)
"What’s more interesting is that Verizon has been able to convince some programmers to let them carve up their bundles, which have been the foundation of their business models for years. Disney, for instance, usually insists that pay TV providers that sell ESPN also sell channels like the Disney Channel; Verizon’s deal lets subscribers get one without the other.Verizon Fios TV Package Offers Mix and Match Bundles | Re/code
That newfound flexibility is yet another sign — HBO Now’s launch this month was a big, blinking billboard of its own — that the TV Industrial Complex doesn’t think it’s nearly as powerful as it was just a couple of years ago. That sound you hear is Reed Hastings rubbing his hands together."
In search of relevance?
"The release includes 30,287 documents and 173,132 e-mails, sent from or received by more than 2,200 Sony Pictures e-mail addresses, according to a WikiLeaks statement Thursday. The material is searchable, giving legions of journalists and Sony competitors access to the information that was quickly taken down after it was first posted by hackers tied to North Korea.WikiLeaks Publishes Sony Documents - Bloomberg Business
“This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation,” said Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, known for its unauthorized publication of documents, including classified government communications, since its founding in 2006. “It is newsworthy and at the center of a geo-political conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”"
"The question the CEO said he asked himself was, “Does it make sense for this company where we are right now to take $160 million from people who are buying about 5.5% of the company?”Slack CEO Defends $2.8 Billion Valuation - Digits - WSJ
One potential downside of startups raising funds at lofty valuations is that it can hamper their ability to recruit workers, who may decide to join a company based on the potential for its equity to rise in value. But Butterfield said a higher valuation can also attract engineers and others who believe they are getting a piece of a substantial, growing company, Butterfield said."
Still searching for a sustainable relationship; also see FAQ: The New Yahoo-Microsoft Deal, Explained (Marketing Land)
"Marissa Mayer has finally gotten what she’s wanted ever since she left Google three years ago to run Yahoo: a chance to build a new experience for searching the web and mobile phones.With Eye on Mobile, Yahoo Revises Its Search Partnership With Microsoft - NYTimes.com
Yahoo and Microsoft announced on Thursday that they had amended their 10-year search partnership to allow Yahoo to deliver its own search results and ads for up to half the searches made by visitors to Yahoo sites and apps."
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Check the full post for more cloud market dynamics details
"Deutsche Bank estimates Amazon AWS revenues are approximately $6B, nearly ten times the size of Microsoft Azure today.Sizing Microsoft Azure And Amazon AWS Revenue
Microsoft Azure revenues for the current fiscal year are estimated to be between $500M and $700M and represents approximately 1 to 2% of total Microsoft revenues."
Final paragraphs from a detailed review
"I can't recommend the Surface 3 to everyone, but it's the first $499 Surface that I can recommend to someone. And that's more than I can say for the Surface 2 and RT. It's a machine that's capable of doing a lot -- within limits. And come the eventual Windows 10 upgrade, which will be freely available to all Windows 7 and 8 users later this year, it will only get better. Even if it's not for you, the Surface 3 shows that Microsoft's vision of a single device that can serve as both tablet and laptop isn't a mere pipe dream. The company is learning from its mistakes -- ahem, Windows RT -- and it's continually doubling down on what makes the Surface lineup great. The big problem for Microsoft? It still doesn't have a killer, must-buy Surface. And that leaves it open to being usurped."Surface 3 review: Finally, a cheap Surface you'd actually want
Third time was almost a charm; check the full post for video and more details
"SPACEX ONCE AGAIN successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with supplies for the International Space Station. The booster that launched the payload was then supposed to return, landing on a platform (at sea). Well, that didn’t go so well. The booster crashed on landing. Landing a rocket in this manner is clearly a difficult task. (Here is my previous explanation.) Maneuvering a tall rocket using the main thrusters would be like balancing a vertical broom on your hand and then moving this broom across the room and setting it down on the floor while still being upright. Try it. It’s not so easy—even for a computer."An Analysis of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Crash Landing | WIRED
More details on Kaspersky's ransomware removal tool
"CoinVault predecessors CryptoWall and CryptoLocker were often run by malware operators who received payment and never gave the infected user the chance to get their files back. Humans can be so cruel.Kaspersky Cracks CoinVault - TechSmash
If you or anyone you love, like, or tolerate becomes infected with CoinVault, you can head on over to noransom.kaspersky.com to begin the process of decryption. It’s basically digital Batman. You’re welcome."
Excerpt from a Moore's Law snapshot
"The end of the line is now a real concern as Intel undergoes the next phase of what once appeared to be a never-ending progression of chip miniaturization. As of the end of its fiscal first quarter, more than half of the chips it shipped were built on its new 14-nanometer manufacturing process, supplanting its older 22-nanometer technology, which is slowly being ramped down.Moore’s Law Turns 50, May Not See 60 | Re/code
For some perspective, a nanometer is a billionth of a meter. Printed on paper, the period at the end of this sentence would be about one million nanometers. An object of 14 nanometers in size is smaller than a typical virus cell, and about the equivalent to the thickness of the outer cell wall of a typical germ."
Interesting times in the Googleplex
"There are certainly legitimate applications of this that Google might have in mind. For example, making sure all of its self-driving cars can communicate with each other and be monitored from a central source seems like a (literal) no-brainer. Applying this task management system to other Google ventures, such as its robotics arm Boston Dynamics, the potential seems a little more worrisome. Hopefully we will not require the services of a skeptical Will Smith to combat Google robots in the future."Google has patented the ability to control a robot army - Quartz
"The main battle is now in Europe, where the two companies are fighting what could be called an away game, thousands of miles from their American headquarters. Policy makers are alarmed that Google’s European market share is roughly 90 percent in many countries, even greater than it is in America.Microsoft, Once an Antitrust Target, Is Now Google’s Regulatory Scold - NYTimes.com
“Microsoft is doing its best to create problems for Google,” said Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People’s Party, the center-right party that is the largest voting bloc in the European Parliament.
“It’s interesting. Ten years ago Microsoft was a big and strong company,” he added. “Now they are the underdog.”"
Final paragraphs from a Hiawatha Bray smartphone market reality check
"I could happily tote the new HTC phone around for the next two years. But I don’t think I will. With its superb build quality, first-rate camera, and the promise of Samsung Pay, the Galaxy S6 has leapfrogged my former favorite. For a committed Android user, it’s the one to choose.In smartphones, a battle for second-best - Business - The Boston Globe
And yet, I’ll keep on recommending iPhone 6, which does just about everything, and just about perfectly. Exciting though they may be, the Samsung-HTC wars are a fight for second place."
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Check the full post for a Microsoft iOS app list; also see Microsoft delivers iOS, Android versions of Delve (ZDNet) and Microsoft acquires mobile business intelligence leader Datazen (The Official Microsoft Blog)
"Just a few years ago, there was a sharp divide between fans of Microsoft and fans of the iPhone. But in this “mobile first, cloud first” world, it’s now possible to combine Apple’s iPhone hardware with Microsoft’s best-in-breed productivity apps and not feel terrible about yourself. Things really have changed, and for the better.Microsoft + iPhone - Thurrott.com
And if you are a Microsoft guy, there are good reasons to choose iPhone over Android … and even over Windows Phone. Microsoft mobile apps generally appear on iPhone before they do so elsewhere, and certain Microsoft mobile apps are only available on iPhone, at least for now. In several cases, you will see finished Microsoft apps appear on iPhone, whereas Android receives a rougher preview release instead. In many ways, iPhone—or iOS more generally—is the place to be if you’re interested in Microsoft’s mobile solutions."
I assume Apple Watch Camera Remote is okay, however...
"In a statement released on its website, the company said: "You are not permitted to make audio or audiovisual recordings of WWDC or take professional photographic or video equipment, or wearable recording devices into Moscone West or Yerba Buena Gardens. In addition, you may not use selfie sticks or similar monopods within Moscone West or Yerba Buena Gardens.""Apple bans selfie sticks from Worldwide Developers Conference 2015 - Business Today
Co-opetition, c2015; also see Apple Watch May Be Winning the Hype Battle, but Samsung's Galaxy S6 Is Off to a Strong Start
"Samsung Electronics Co. created a standalone team of about 200 employees working exclusively on screens for Apple Inc. products as the world’s biggest technology companies strengthen business ties, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.Samsung Is Creating a Team That Will Make Screens for Apple Devices Only - Bloomberg Business
The team at Samsung Display Co., which provides screens for iPads and MacBooks, helps develop products and is only allowed to share information about Apple business within the group, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details aren’t public. The team formed April 1 and also helps with sales, the people said."
Perhaps a very long case; also see Here Is Google’s Internal Response to the Imminent EU Charges (Memo) (Re/code)
"Google told employees Tuesday it has a “very strong case” against expected charges by European regulators that it violated antitrust law by favoring its own services in search results.Google Says It Has ‘Very Strong Case’ in European Antitrust Battle - Digits - WSJ
In an internal memo, Google warned employees to expect formal charges Wednesday from the European Commission over the way it displays and ranks certain search results, particularly for shopping. It also said the regulator will open a formal investigation into its Android mobile operating system on Wednesday."
A different type of home security
"A new type of Internet security product is designed to stand guard over the whole smart home full of gadgets. Rather than counting on antivirus on every device, they scan all the activity in your house for signs of trouble. If you click on a malicious link, or your thermostat starts sending a thousand emails per hour, your sentry will hoist a red flag.Does Your Whole Home Need Antivirus Now? - WSJ
These products are in their infancy, and their promise outweighs their present effectiveness. But they offer a glimpse of how home network security is going to change for all of us. And while they develop, there are steps you can take with existing home routers and security software to stay safe."
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
"Several days after HP seemed to announce that it was going to stop offering public cloud services, the company is now stating that it will continue to offer its OpenStack-powered Helion public cloud. In a blog posting, HP's SVP of Helion Product Management Bill Hilf now states that "a quote of mine in the media was interpreted as HP is exiting the public cloud, which is not the case." When asked for clarification, HP public relations simply replied, "Bill's quote was interpreted as HP is exiting the public cloud, which is not the case. HP's commitment to its cloud strategy remains unchanged since our launch of HP Helion nearly one year ago.""HP: We're not leaving the public cloud | ZDNet
I'd happily settle for a version of iTunes Match that works consistently...
"Overall, the Music interface Apple has previewed with the first developer beta of iOS 8.4 is promising. Its similarity to iTunes on the Mac will make it familiar to many users. There are still some areas in which Apple needs to improve it, however, and that’s to be expected with a beta. Some of the buttons are awkwardly small, while the iTunes Radio interface is cluttered and unintuitive. Nevertheless, I’m a fan of the overall design direction Apple has taken the Music app and I think, especially when coupled with a streaming music service, it will be unmatched by its rivals."Hands-on: Apple’s all-new Music app in iOS 8.4 | 9to5Mac
Kaspersky and INTERPOL Say Blockchain is Vulnerable | Inside Bitcoins | Bitcoin news | Price | Bitcoin Conferences
Cybercurrency insecurities? In other Kaspersky news, see Kaspersky releases decryption tool that unlocks ransomware (Engadget)
"Kaspersky Labs and INTERPOL have presented research in which they show how blockchain-based cryptocurrencies can potentially be abused with arbitrary data that can be disseminated through its public decentralized databases."Kaspersky and INTERPOL Say Blockchain is Vulnerable | Inside Bitcoins | Bitcoin news | Price | Bitcoin Conferences
Excerpt from a Ray Ozzie team productivity perspective; also see Talko v2: Messaging, calling and conferencing — all in one (Medium)
"You’ve almost certainly heard of Slack. For many teams (including ours!), it’s almost completely displaced email. You’ve likely also used or read about tools such as Quip and Dropbox’s Composer. The important aspect of these tools isn’t so much how they’re redefining the document per se, but rather that they’re centered from birth on team communications directly in the context of your work.The Messaging Shockwave — Tap the Mic — Medium
And then there’s Talko, my company’s app for team communications designed from the outset for our increasingly mobile lives and work styles. It’s simply an amazing tool.
It takes immense work to make something that “just works”, simply, pleasantly, and effectively. I am incredibly proud of the team building Talko and am thankful for our early-adopter customers who have given us invaluable feedback."
Notification curation and other tips
"Apple wants the Watch to make you more present in the moment and to free you from the supposed tyranny of your iPhone, but what the Watch does is bring another screen into your life with all the associated tapping, beeping, and peek-sneaking. Here are a few crucial dos and don'ts to keep you from being that guy."How Not to Be a Jerk While Wearing the Apple Watch - Bloomberg Business
Monday, April 13, 2015
"Less than a year after its unveiling, Apple's Swift programming language has not only received widespread acceptance but has also become one of software developers' favorite tools, data from a recent survey shows."Apple's Swift takes crown of most-loved language among developers
A stark PC market dynamics reality check
"We are getting signals from vendors and supply chain that 2015 is off to a rocky start. The rebound of 2014 was largely driven by an IT refresh bump that appears to be short lived. We are anticipating the launch of Windows 10, which, at the very least, may help the PC industry by getting IT to migrate off Windows XP and Windows 7. Windows 8 did not advance the cause so the hope lies on Windows 10. The problem is IT will not start any serious upgrading in 2015 with Win 10. Only IT early adopters will make a move, largely for testing, which means we can’t count on IT to help boost any PC sales this year. This is one reason we are looking at a few quarters with greater than 5% declines."Hard Truths for the PC Industry | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
LinkedIn Raises Its Game In Social Media With Elevate, An App To Suggest And Share Stories | TechCrunch
More deeply linked
"LinkedIn, the social platform with 350 million users where people network for business deals, new jobs, news, and soon to learn a thing or two, is now tapping another business area: social media management.LinkedIn Raises Its Game In Social Media With Elevate, An App To Suggest And Share Stories | TechCrunch
Today, the company is taking the wraps off Elevate, a paid mobile and desktop app that suggests articles to its users — based on algorithms from its news recommendation services Pulse and Newsle, as well as “human curation” — and then lets users schedule and share those links across LinkedIn and Twitter, with the aim to add more networks like Facebook over time."
Lead paragraphs from a mobile video market snapshot
"Mobile video is definitely having a moment.The Mobile Video Moment Has Finally Arrived | Re/code
Consider: It’s helping people feeling connected to each while broadcasting on new live apps, it’s enabling instant virtual appointments with plumbers and nurses thousands of miles away, and it’s even enabling a guy in South Carolina to drastically shift the path of justice by exposing a cop in the act of murder.
And it’s all happening right now, all the time."
At your service
"Some of the biggest names in e-commerce, along with a growing pool of start-ups, are vying for a chunk of the fragmented, quotidian, heretofore entirely local market of electricians, plumbers, dog walkers and other manual labor, known broadly as home services.Amazon, Google and More Are Drawn to Home Services Market - NYTimes.com
The work may be mundane but the money and stakes are huge. Angie’s List, the 20-year-old subscription service that offers reviews of local service providers to members, estimates the home services industry is $400 billion. Others put it at more than $800 billion."
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Hybrid as a transitional function of data center depreciation
"The ideal goal for AWS is for every single function supported by enterprise data centers today to be offered by Amazon as a service delivered out of its data centers. In that vision, the role of hybrid is simply to smooth the transition and let customers’ existing infrastructure investments reach their natural end of life. “Most large organizations have existing IT investments that haven’t yet fulfilled their life,” he [Stephen Orban, head of enterprise strategy at Amazon Web Services] said.Amazon Wants to Replace the Enterprise Data Center | Data Center Knowledge
Why? According to Orban, AWS can provide those functions cheaper and faster, leaving enterprise IT teams with more free time and resources to add value to the organizations they support."
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Behold "the Great Cannon"
"China’s new Internet weapon, the report says, is similar to one developed and used by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, a system outlined in classified documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, the former United States intelligence contractor. The American system, according to the documents, which were published by The Intercept, can deploy a system of programs that can intercept web traffic on a mass scale and redirect it to a site of their choosing. The N.S.A. and its partners appear to use the programs for targeted surveillance, whereas China appears to use the Great Cannon for an aggressive form of censorship.China Is Said to Use Powerful New Weapon to Censor Internet - NYTimes.com
The similarities of the programs may put American officials on awkward footing, the researchers argue in their report. “This precedent will make it difficult for Western governments to credibly complain about others utilizing similar techniques,” they write."
No lines at the Salem, NH Apple store last night -- I was able to explore the new MacBook and try a couple Apple Watch models. I left the store impressed but empty-handed; I'll wait for >= 1.1 versions of both device types (in part, for the MacBook, because I am still happy with my > 3-year-old MacBook Air).
"By Friday morning at New York’s Fifth Avenue store, customers could try on a watch without an appointment, waiting no more than 10 minutes for the opportunity.Muted Debut for Apple Watch With Sparse Crowds in Europe and Asia - Bloomberg Business
“I was sort of surprised that there are not more people in the store,” said Kishin Manglani, 24, a software engineer who builds iPhone apps. “I would say this is actually fewer than normal.” He speculated that may be because of the price and because consumers can’t leave the store with the watch."
Full report is here
"Though such sites as Instagram and Snapchat increasingly appeal to teens, Facebook is still a "dominant force," Pew said Thursday. Among the more than 1,000 teens surveyed, 71 percent said they use Facebook, while 41 percent said Facebook is the site they use the most frequently over all other social networks. Instagram and Snapchat scored as the second and third most frequently used sites, respectively.Facebook still cool among teens, says survey - CNET
Retaining and even building the teenage audience is critical to Facebook to attract advertising dollars, both in the present and especially in the future. Meanwhile, Facebook's role in the life of the typical teen has been repeatedly called into question in recent years."
Friday, April 10, 2015
Looking like a good day for Apple so far...
"Whether due to high demand or low supply, all models of Apple Watch have now almost entirely sold out with many slipping delivery date estimates in mere minutes of preorders opening. In the US, the 38 mm Stainless Steel Case with Black Classic Buckle is the only model still on offer with a ‘April 24th – May 8th’ shipping date.Almost all Apple Watch models sold out, AppleCare+ pricing revealed | 9to5Mac
AppleCare+ pricing is now also visible on store.apple.com. AppleCare+ costs $49 for Apple Watch Sport, $69 for Apple Watch and $1500 for Apple Watch Edition. Interestingly, Apple is also offering a ‘combo purchase’ where you can buy AppleCare+ for both your iPhone and your Watch at a bundled price of $100 more. The bundle prices don’t offer any saving over buying both devices (if you can ignore the negligible $1 difference), so they seem to be offered as a convenience purchase only."
A possible new tagline for AWS: you're soaking in it
"The company said Thursday that MicroStrategy, Software AG, Tibco and Onshape will deliver their software-as-a-service offerings on the AWS platform. Vendors including Infor, Informatica and Splunk are some of the other software vendors using AWS.AWS lands more enterprise software vendors building on its cloud | ZDNet
AWS' real end game is to land more enterprise customers even indirectly. If enough software providers build on AWS infrastructure you could be a customer and not even know it."
First and last paragraphs of an 8-out-of-10-score review
"I don’t know just who Apple’s newest laptop is for. Rich people who fly coach? People with one laptop who want a second, gold one? Maybe. But I do know two things about the new MacBook: This is what the future of laptops looks like, and I want one very badly.Review: Apple MacBook | WIRED
Much like that first Air, the new MacBook is for the future. It’s a vision of our next computer, the one we’ll buy when our Airs or ThinkPads can’t keep up anymore. The MacBook is a work in progress: The processor and the battery will improve, and the price will drop. It won’t take long. The future’s getting here faster than you think."
A logical learning leap for LinkedIn
"Teaching isn’t traditionally viewed as a high-paying career choice. But building software for teaching? That appears to be a little more lucrative.Three Reasons LinkedIn Acquired Lynda.com | Re/code
At least it was today, when LinkedIn announced the $1.5 billion acquisition of online education company Lynda.com. It’s the online business network’s largest acquisition ever by a wide margin. The company paid around $175 million for Bizo last summer, the closest LinkedIn’s ever been to a billion-dollar acquisition until now.
Lynda.com provides video courses to paying subscribers hoping to learn online, with tutorials on a wide range of business subjects from Web design to 3-D animation. It’s one of a number of companies working in this space, including well-known startups like Coursera and Codecademy that were both founded in the past five years."
Check here for more Amazon Machine Learning details
"The Amazon Machine Learning service is designed to give developers without machine learning background the tools to build smart, data-driven applications that can not only analyze what’s happening in real time or what happened in the past, but also predict what’s going to happen in the future (and that’s what’s most interesting here).AWS Wants To Put Machine Learning In Reach Of Any Developer | TechCrunch
Companies like Netflix have been using AWS tools to undertake machine learning tasks for some time, but as Jassy said, “it’s hard work”, and AWS wanted to create a service specifically suited to machine learning without requiring specific expertise."
Final paragraphs of a new MacBook review highlighting all of the potential downsides ... that probably won't prevent it from becoming a bestseller; tangentially, see Sales of PCs Fall, Again, on Weak Demand (NYT)
"It’s nearly impossible not to be seduced by this MacBook’s beauty, its dazzling screen and perfect trackpad. But don’t give in. Like the original MacBook Air, introduced in 2008, there are too many key compromises—in battery life, speed and port access—for the early-adopter price.Apple MacBook Review: The Laptop of the Future Isn’t Ready for the Present - WSJ
I expect the new MacBook to follow the same path as the Air. Over the next few years, it will improve, and become an affordable, indispensable tool for life in the future. But here, now, in the present day, there are more practical slim, everyday laptop choices. The MacBook Air is the best option all around, the MacBook Pro Retina 13 is a great step up, and PC users can do no better than Dell’s latest XPS 13."
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Check the full post for a stark Twitter reality check
"Those are the two key reasons these rumors keep surfacing, and why activist investors are watching Twitter closely for any opportunity to attack. There is no question the company is indeed vulnerable and, despite a solid financial showing in Q1, Costolo seems destined to be a permanent fixture on the investor hot seat.Get Used to More Twitter Takeover Rumors | Re/code
As one source told Re/code’s Kara Swisher in January: “Dick has nine lives, but he might be on his eighth at this point.”
So, it begs the question: Why is Twitter such a persistent target of investor rumor-mongering? Here are a few things to consider when discussing the possibility of a Twitter takeover:"
Microsoft Announces Nano Server for Modern Apps and Cloud - Windows Server Blog - Site Home - TechNet Blogs
Also see Microsoft Unveils New Container Technologies for the Next Generation Cloud (Microsoft Azure blog)
"Nano Server will allow customers to install just the components they require and nothing more. The initial results are promising. Based on the current builds, compared to Server, Nano Server has:Microsoft Announces Nano Server for Modern Apps and Cloud - Windows Server Blog - Site Home - TechNet Blogs
To achieve these benefits, we removed the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components. There is no local logon or Remote Desktop support. All management is performed remotely via WMI and PowerShell. We are also adding Windows Server Roles and Features using Features on Demand and DISM. We are improving remote manageability via PowerShell with Desired State Configuration as well as remote file transfer, remote script authoring and remote debugging. We are working on a set of new Web-based management tools to replace local inbox management tools."
- 93 percent lower VHD size
- 92 percent fewer critical bulletins
- 80 percent fewer reboots
Launching into a crowded market with ~infinite expectations
"To date, Domo has raised a total of $450 million, or almost a quarter of that big valuation. Online computing may be cheaper, but building this kind of software, and a sales team to go with it, clearly isn’t.Reviewing Your Corporate Life in Real Time - NYTimes.com
Mr. James said Domo had some analytic capabilities and would be adding more. The effects of the software are already being seen in his early beta customers, he said, like a media company that is changing its content in real time to meet changing tastes, or a retailer that can develop graphic representations of employee theft."
The Internet of things with proprietary interfaces; tangentially, see With Meld, Another Step Toward the Internet of Tasty Things (NYT)
"But the race to develop such “smart” homes has been complicated by competing goals from hardware makers, as well as challenges like inconsistent Internet service.Amazon Hints at Smart Home Future Through Echo Device - Digits - WSJ
The Echo’s new features rely on power outlets from Belkin’s WeMo unit and Hue light bulbs from Philips, both of which can connect to a home’s Wi-Fi network. Amazon said three WeMo products, including a light switch, would work with the Echo, as well as five different Philips light bulbs. The Seattle-based company didn’t say whether it would enable other companies’ devices to work in tandem with the Echo."
Probably about time to ramp up the "HTML5 isn't dead after all" meme
"Facebook went old school Wednesday, by launching a desktop version of its Messenger mobile app.Facebook Goes Old School, Opens Messenger to the Web - Digits - WSJ
Through the website messenger.com, users will be able to carry on conversations without the distraction of status updates and advertisements on Facebook’s main website. The conversations can be continued on a user’s smartphone through the standalone Messenger mobile app, which has about 600 million users. Users can also choose to get desktop notifications whenever they get a message."
Smartphones that actually work well as phones -- what a concept...
"After years of talking about it, the major cellphone carriers are introducing a technology called HD Voice that will bring traditional telephone calls into the 21st century.
If you’re using compatible phones on a compatible network, you can already hear the difference. And someday soon, we all will.
HD Voice answers a question that’s nagged at me for years: Why do phone calls sound so bad?"Surprise! Cell calls that sound superb - Business - The Boston Globe
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
An ardent defense of Windows RT, followed, inevitably, by a lively discussion thread, but I doubt any of this will be solace to Surface (non-Pro, < 3) customers who now have dead-end devices
"The long and short of what is happening with Windows RT is pretty darn simple:
Windows RT: Did it really die? Absolutely not and here's why
- Microsoft (Surface and Surface 2) and Nokia (Lumia) branded ARM-based tablets will NOT be getting a formal update to Windows 10. They will be entitled to limited subset upgrades of Windows 10 functionality, but will not be given Windows 10 as we know it.
- Windows RT as its own SKU, or brand, of Windows will be going away (naturally).
- Windows RT's combined direct spiritual successors are the Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 IoT SKU lines, which work on devices under 8" in size and DO feature ARM processors.
- Windows 10 Mobile devices will not have access to "desktop" mode, and as such, lack of any proper x86 app support."