Posts Tagged ‘tech’

Google’s Chromecast: Fancy Name and Slick Package for Something Everyone Saw at CES

July 24, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If you were paying attention at CES—which, clearly, no one was—you saw guys at the Samsung booth showing off their new DLNA-enabled devices. That alphabet-soup acronym—digital living network alliance, if you care—was created by a third-party nonprofit developer to support device-to-device communication, much like BlueTooth. The resulting protocol was available for everyone, freeing it up from the shackles of proprietary tech management and enabling multiple tech manufacturers to play nice together. Today, Google held a press conference to announce that it had a new dongle for your TV, called Chromecast , that would upgrade it to do what every Samsung TV will do later this year; namely include wireless network connectivity with other local devices. There's also a Web component, but we've seen that before, too, on the Sonos , a Web-ready speaker that plays songs from your Amazon and iTunes libraries using your smartphone as a controller. This, of course, is a time-honored tradition in the tech world—Apple's iPad mini was hailed as a gigantic breakthrough by people who had apparently never seen an Android tablet before. It's also something Google loves to do: its Android OS has gotten plenty of props for its stability and reliability—that's because it's built around a Linux kernel. Linux is famously the most stable operating system out there and, like DLNA, the product of a nonprofit developer. To be fair, the portability of the Chromecast dongle is certainly a plus, since it will upgrade your current TV to do things your next TV will have inside the casing. It is, basically, a bridge device. It's also interesting that the company is pushing Netflix compatibility —these sorts of things always work more smoothly when folks are making an effort from both sides to ensure ease of use, but it's surprising that Netflix would get behind a device that appears to allow users to carry their subscriptions around in their pockets from place to place. Presumably, if one of your pals has Netflix on his Android phone, all six of you can watch the latest episodes of "Arrested Development" on your non-Netflix buddy's plasma screen. The move is being played up as a shot across the bow at Apple's AirPlay, but really, expect everybody, Apple, Android, or otherwise unaffiliated, to have something inside their devices that does exactly this in the next few months. UPDATE: Here's Google's video for the Chromecast (which, by the way, has to be plugged in, so there will be a cord dangling from it that you don't see in the footage below, per Buzzfeed ).

Read More

HTC Hoping to Make Another Big Impression With One Mini

July 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

For HTC, a company that has struggled to keep up in the competitive smartphone market, the launch of its One handset was a biggie. But for its next product launch, the company is going small — literally. Today, the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer introduced the HTC One Mini, a scaled down and more affordable version of its flagship device. Launching in August or September, the One Mini keeps to the same design aesthetics as the HTC One — aluminum chassis and dual speakers — but features a smaller 4.3-inch 720p HD touchscreen and a 1.4GHz dual-core processor. (The One has a 4.7-inch 1080p HD touchscreen and a 1.7GHz quad-core processor.) It also lacks the infrared feature that allows you to use the smartphone as a remote control, and has a smaller battery than the original HTC One. These modifications aside, the One Mini keeps many of the same features as its bigger brother, including HTC’s Ultrapixel camera technology and software and BlinkFeed, an interface that lets you view all your social network updates and news right on your home page

Read More

Tech Companies Want Warrants for User Data Access

July 15, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and more than 50 other tech companies and industry organizations have come out in favor of a bill that would require government agencies to obtain a warrant to ask for access to electronic communications records or personal content stored in the cloud. Image copyright Nataly Bannykh They’ve responded to the Securities and Exchange Commission request for an exception to the proposed law because it doesn’t have the authority to ask for warrants. The companies said in a letter distributed in the U.S. Senate on Friday that they’d prefer that government agencies go directly to the people and companies they are investigating rather than to Internet service providers. As is already required for real-time electronic wiretapping, they’d like to see probable cause before government agencies can pull older online records.

Read More

Yahoo Acquires Xobni for Upward of $30 Million (Like ATD Said, Part 2)

July 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Yahoo said it has bought Xobni, as AllThingsD had previously reported it was planning to do. According to numerous sources close to the company, Yahoo paid $30 million to $40 million for the maker of address book apps and plugins. It is the second purchase this week by the Silicon Valley Internet giant of once-promising startups that have struggled to grow and could use a big boost. As ATD had also previously said it would, Yahoo bought Apple iPhone video app maker Qwiki earlier this week for about $50 million. In a blog post titled “Oohay,” which included a trying-hard-to-be-adorkable photo of the Xobni staff with Yahoo-branded stuff, the company said, “Did you ever meet someone who truly ‘gets’ you? That’s how we feel about Yahoo!.” Interestingly (and perhaps oddly), Qwiki’s acquisition announcement also had a romantic relationship meme, with big hearts. (By the by, Oohay is Yahoo spelled backward, keeping with the forced fun theme, while Xobni is inbox spelled backward. Apropos of nothing, Arak is Kara spelled backward.) Xobni said that support for its products would not be shuttered for one year , although “new purchases of premium products are no longer being accepted.” It also noted that it had moved its San Francisco staff to Yahoo’s Sunnyvale HQ. Obviously, the price Yahoo paid is below the more than $40 million raised by the startup from a variety of venture capitalists, including First Round Capital, Baseline Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Launched in 2008, Xobni received its initial round of funding in 2006 from Y Combinator.

Read More

Tech Spending Will Reach $3.7 Trillion in 2013, Gartner Predicts

July 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s not often in this racket we call the news business that we get to talk about trillions of dollars, that is unless you spend a lot of time writing about the federal budget and the national debt. But this is one of those times. The research firm Gartner said today that in its latest survey of global spending on technology, that companies, consumers and governments will spend a combined $3.7 trillion. The news is that this amounts to a two percent increase over spending levels seen in 2012. The bad news is that the predicted rate of growth is slower than what the firm predicted only a few months ago. Last month Gartner said it expected spending to grow by 4.1 percent, but trimmed that by half in its latest estimates based largely on fluctuations in the strength of the US dollar versus other global currencies. On what’s called a “constant currency” basis, when those effects are discounted, the growth rate comes out to 3.5 percent, Gartner says, which amounts to a much smaller decline in the rate of growth. Now that we’ve handled that bit of housekeeping, you’re probably eager to know where that growth is coming from. There’s a good news/bad news picture there too. The bad news is that spending on devices — which Gartner defines as anything that’s considered a personal device be it a PC, mobile phone or tablet — is expected to grow less than before.

Read More

News Startup Circa Taps Reuters Social Media Head For Editor in Chief

May 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Circa, a mobile-focused news startup, announced on Tuesday that it has named Anthony De Rosa as its new editor in chief. De Rosa has been Thomson Reuters’ social media editor for the past two years, aiming to grow the company’s social presence with his very active Twitter and Facebook presence. Previous to this, De Rosa also worked on a number of media-related partnership programs inside of Thomson Reuters, and also spent time building out SB Nation’s social presence via Tumblr. Circa, like a number of mobile news-focused apps in the tech space recently, aims to bring breaking stories to consumers on smartphones who want to read news quickly, on the fly. According to Circa co-founder Matt Galligan, De Rosa as EiC will begin to focus on expanding the number of breaking news verticals Circa will cover, and the company plans a number of new product releases over the rest of 2013.

Read More

Interview: The Summer of Larry (Ellison) Is About to Sail Into Port Via America’s Cup

May 25, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Larry and David Ellison at “The Wind Gods” premiere A few weeks ago, Larry Ellison threw a party in San Francisco for the premiere of “The Wind Gods: 33rd America’s Cup,” a documentary that also called attention to a whole lot of high-tech sailing set to take place starting in July in the San Francisco Bay. But that 34th America’s Cup has been under some level of scrutiny of late, ever since an accident the day after the screening that resulted in the drowning death of a member of the Artemis Racing team, after its boat dramatically capsized in the San Francisco Bay. That possibility of danger is abundantly clear in “The Wind Gods,” which was produced by Ellison’s son and successful movie producer, David Ellison. (His production company –Skydance — is also behind the new “Star Trek Into Darkness” blockbuster.) This documentary certainly isn’t a 3-D spectacular, but it is a pretty dramatic paean to how the tech mogul’s sailing team, BMW-Oracle, after a decade of failed attempts, finally snatched America’s Cup in 2010 in Valencia, Spain back from the Swiss team Alinghi and its leader Ernesto Bertarelli, a former Ellison friend. Emphasis on former , according to “The Wind Gods,” narrated in basso-profondo tones by actor Jeremy Irons and in the construct of the underdog — in this unlikely case, Ellison — against the villainous snob from Europe. This despite the huge advantage BMW-Oracle had via its USA-17 trimaran, with its breathtakingly massive, fabulously computerized rigid-wing sail, for which price was apparently no object. “Someone once asked me if it’s worth $100 million to win the America’s Cup,” said Ellison in the documentary. “It’s certainly not worth $100 million to lose the America’s Cup.” Ellison was full of bon mots like this in “The Wind Gods” and also at the event, held at the new America’s Cup pavilion on the Bay and chock full of the Oracle team members — such as skipper James Spithill — as well as the enormous silver cup itself that now has a new carbon-fiber base similar to the materials the boats are made of. “The biggest lie told in professional sports is, We’re just going out there to have fun,” he said in a panel discussion after the film was shown. “There’s one team that wins the championship — all the rest don’t.” And Ellison later noted about being on the fast-moving boats in cold weather: “It’s very much like driving a car from Chicago to New York with the top down in January.” After the panel, I did an interview with Ellison about the upcoming defense by Oracle Team USA, an effort that has been seen quite a bit of controversy over the dangers of the new boats in the upcoming race, called AC72s, which are 131 feet high, 46 feet across and 72 feet long. Even before the accidents — there was a first capsizing by Oracle before the Artemis’ — the cutting-edge design has led to a series of worries about the success of this 162-year-old race and if a major lessening of the size and scope is needed now. Even Russell Coutts, the legendary sailing champion who is CEO of Oracle’s effort, said as much in an article in Wired magazine titled, “The Boat That Could Sink America’s Cup.” “No matter who wins,” Coutts said to Wired, “they are definitely going to make changes: make the boat smaller, bring the team budgets down, stuff like that.” Due to the high costs, though, there will only be the three teams that will compete in the Louis Vuitton Cup — also known as the America’s Cup Defender Series — that starts July 4, rather than more than a dozen that are more typical. Oracle Team USA does not compete in this part of the series. It will face the winner in the finals, which will take place from September 7 to 21. Ellison is certainly not sanguine about the issues raised by the hyped-up boats and the extreme pushing of the edge, which in truth have been a reality since America’s Cup’s very beginnings. But the unusual, perhaps never-to-be-seen-again, nature of the boat design is part of the reason for the film about the 2010 race, he said. “It was important to document it, because that trimaran, that thing , 23 stories high, we knew it was never likely to sail again,” he said about the USA-17, which is now in a shed in San Francisco.

Read More

In Media, Big Data Is Booming but Big Results Are Lacking

May 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The New York Times named 2012 the crossover year for Big Data : As a term and as a concept, Big Data broke through from the tech circle and into mainstream consciousness. (So much so that even Dilbert’s boss was talking about it .) We’ve seen huge advances in our ability to generate, collect and store an explosion of data points: 90 percent of the world’s data has been accumulated in the last two years alone . We’re generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, and every serious company is dutifully logging and contextualizing every impression, every click and every purchase with excruciating detail. That said, shockingly little happens to the information once it has been stowed in the database. A good friend gave voice to this dirty little industry secret the other day: “Nobody wants to use the data.” He’s remarkably spot-on. Even though almost every CEO says their companies are becoming data-driven, the fact is that most high-level decisions are still being made from bullet points, not data points. What the data revolution brought us was systems for collecting data — but collecting is the easy part. And even more importantly, it’s the safe part. The Real Problem: Data Phobia The trouble with data is that it asks as many questions as it answers. Your engagement is down, bounce rate is up, search traffic is up — why is that, and what can we do to make it higher, lower and higher? Data almost never hands you the answers or insights directly; it just illuminates the issue. And it illuminates a whole bunch of them at once, so it’s up to you to figure out what the priorities are. If this problem is an “opportunity in disguise,” most executives seem quickly scared off by the masquerade. In truth, Big Data raises the bar for how smart you have to be as an executive. The easy answer — leaving the analytics to the analytics department — relieves you of the responsibility of figuring it all out, as though it’s unknowable to anyone without a degree in data science. But it also relieves you of the answers

Read More

CBSi Shows Off Programming Extensions, Diverse Portfolio at NewFront

May 1, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Easily the best moment in the CBS Interactive NewFront on Tuesday evening came at the beginning of the presentation, when Les Moonves offered pre-taped advice to both CBSi president Jim Lanzone and the rest of the NewFront audience. After an acronym-filled lecture by Lanzone, Moonves scolded him sharply: "I just fell asleep in alphabet soup!" he said. "If you want the NewFronts to be anything like the upfronts, you've got to be more entertaining than that." Moonves was scathing on the perceived hype around the digital events, too: "This is not the real upfront," he said to laughs from the audience. "These are dramatically different budgets." Criticism from above aside, Lanzone's presentation had some fun moments, notably a video of an overweight guy and a beautiful woman who fall in love, representing CBS' ostensible marriage of quantity and quality. That said, CBSi had its work cut out for it: the division has a huge portfolio of assets that have little to do with each other—everything from review aggregator Metacritic to tech news site CNET to its big announcement of the evening: upcoming spinoff webisodes for CBS broadcast shows Person of Interest and Elementary . Person of Interest: Animated has an anime-influenced style and looks a lot (from the sizzle reel shown at the event) like the animated sections from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1. Elementary's spinoff, Baker Street Irregulars, will star the crew of homeless informants who work with Jonny Lee Miller's consulting detective in the parent show on CBS. CNET will begin showing video series about gadgets, including Next Big Thing, which will tour the tech industry's big events, and CNET Appliances, which will feature video reviews of durable goods from fridges to coffee makers. CBSi property GameSpot, too, will have several series coming up; CNET's biggest announcement seemed to be that it will have a Spanish-language edition coming this fall. CBS made good use of its venue: the Hudson Theater hosted a special performance of the network's Life on Letterman franchise, with French band Phoenix playing a 45-minute set for buyers and fans allowed in to the music hall after the presentation was over. Buyers were wined and dined afterward at the nearby Bryant Park Grill.

Read More

Q&A: Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell on Innovation, the “Next Steve Jobs” and Why Mobile Games Are “Over”

March 26, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If you live in Silicon Valley or any other tech-savvy area, there are three words you may have heard a lot in the past year and a half: Who is the “next Steve Jobs?” Nolan Bushnell, Atari co-founder and one-time employer of both Jobs and Steve Wozniak shortly before the two started Apple, doesn’t have any specific names to answer that question. But what he does have is a new book, out today, to aid in the search: “ Finding the Next Steve Jobs — How to Find, Hire, Keep and Nurture Creative Talent .” And Bushnell should know about the importance of recognizing that talent — during Atari’s heyday, he turned down the opportunity to own one-third of Jobs’s and Wozniak’s nascent company. By 1980, he writes in the book, “I was beginning to think it might turn out to be a mistake.” “Finding the Next Steve Jobs” is being released by Net Minds , a print/ebook hybrid publishing startup led by former Yahoo exec Tim Sanders. Bushnell said it uses Jobs as a metaphor for the creative iconoclasts who clash with corporate culture and can’t get hired. He sat down with AllThingsD to explain further. AllThingsD: Just how close were you to Steve after his brief involvement with Atari? Nolan Bushnell: We’d talk on the phone infrequently, but he’d come up to [my house in] Woodside about once a month, usually on a Saturday or Sunday morning, and we’d go up on the hill and talk. Occasionally, I’d go down to his place, but a lot of the time it was him coming up to my place. Why are we even looking for the “next Steve Jobs?” Steve took a failing computer company — and they probably would have never brought him back if they weren’t at the end of their rope — and turned it into the highest-market-cap company in the world. People were always aware that innovative solutions are good for your company. I think this just underscored it in a really powerful way. It wasn’t just through cutting costs or innovative marketing. Though Steve was a pretty good marketer. But that was when he returned to Apple in 1997. Most of the time when people talk about the “next Steve Jobs,” they’re using that phrase to refer to entrepreneurs who are still early on in their careers. So, are those people really that hard up for work?

Read More