For its next act, the Silicon Valley giant wants to put a supercomputer in your pocket, the better to sense, search, and interpret your personal surroundings. We talked to the scientists who are making it happen.
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In his book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz comes to an interesting conclusion involving human choice.
“People choose not on the basis of what’s most important, but on what’s easiest to evaluate.”
Common sense would dictate that if you were given a list of choices, you would choose the one that is most important to you, when in reality humans usually choose the one that is easiest for them to understand and evaluate. Very often we do so because we don’t have the time to put in the research necessary to make an informed decision. Politicians are rarely elected based on the majority of people doing research on their background and the policies they support. They are elected for the fact that people can relate to the message they are spreading and because we have heard of them before.
When it comes to our own designs, we imagine people being able to make informed decisions on what the next step should be. However, they are already making 400+ decisions throughout the rest of the day that are likely more important than what they will deal with in our design.
Do you think most people realize there are benefits to driving a manual transmission car over an automatic? Do you think they care? Automatic is easier to pick up so why bother with any other choice? How often do we stay in relationships that we shouldn’t, simply because it’s easier to just deal with it than face the repercussions of having to confront the person?
These C.E.O.’s may have had their own internal business reasons for these unpopular decisions. But they were internal, self-interested reasons. Reasons intended to please stockholders, perhaps.
Even so, all three committed several cardinal sins: Putting customers last. Rewarding loyalty with rudeness. Failing to make their cases to the public.
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But some startups have barely come up with a plan. One group of founders knew from the beginning of the session that they were going to have to ditch their original idea, which was a tool to make real-time plans with friends. They used it as a way to get into the class but always intended to abandon it once they came up with something better. The trio—two engineers and a derivatives trader with degrees from Stanford and MIT—has been spending 14-hour days in front of a whiteboard, trying to brainstorm a promising concept. Time and again, they have proposed potential businesses to Graham; none of them worked out. But just before the first weekly dinner, they lit upon the idea of building a curated mailing list of high-demand jobs linked to college alumni networks. Graham gave them the go-ahead, and they are just getting under way with their new company, Insider Posts.
That kind of radical reinvention is standard practice here. Indeed, a sizable percentage of YC companies will, at some point, drastically rethink their business—a process known in the startup world as pivoting. During last winter’s session, an 18-year-old Israeli founder named Daniel Gross pulled the most notorious pivot in YC history. Two days before Demo Day, soon after his cofounder quit on him, the young engineer realized that his original business plan was fatally flawed. Gross concocted an entirely new idea, a site that would allow users to search all of their social networks at once. He quickly coded a demo and gave the pitch. Within a year, he had launched the product. Now his company, Greplin, has $4.8 million in funding.
Helen Belogolova and Christine Yen are trying to accomplish a similarly successful pivot. When the two MIT grads interviewed for Y Combinator, they outlined their vision for Citythings, a site to help people discover local events. Over the next few months, they realized it wasn’t working and dropped the idea. But as they researched, they discovered another potential business: Because venues for special events often sit unused even as party and conference planners spend days trying to find space, Belogolova and Yen decided to set up a system that connected planners with available spaces. Citythings would become Venuetastic. Pivot completed.
PALO ALTO, CA--(Marketwire -12/13/11)- HP (NYSE: HPQ - News) today announced two leasing promotions that can help businesses deploy the latest technology while conserving capital for strategic purposes.
The "1-2-3" and "90 Day" deferral programs are offered to qualifying businesses in the United States and Canada through HP Financial Services, the company's leasing and asset management subsidiary.(1)
The programs can help businesses expand their capabilities and evolve to Instant-On Enterprises, where everything and everyone is connected. Instant-On Enterprises require IT environments that are flexible, automated, secure and able to quickly adjust to changing demand.
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2012: Siri Is a Stunner, Amazon Is Amazin' and Security Gets Spendy - Arik Hesseldahl - News - AllThingsD
Before diving into the predictions, Anderson tells me there is a grand theme that unifies them all: “Integrating everything.”
What does that mean? “It means a whole lot of stuff that needs to be integrated. We don’t need anything new at all. There’s so much work that needs to be done with the existing tool sets. Steve Jobs didn’t really invent anything at all. But he was great at integrating things into a product. There’s a lot more of that work to do. We have to do it in the phone world and the TV world and the health care world. We have lots of devices and lots of chips and lots of operating systems and lots of content. The bigger question is, how do human beings use it all efficiently?”
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Even the venerable iPhone 4 gets a speed bump with IOS5! =)
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When the original iPod first came out 10 years ago, the concept didn't seem novel to those who had already hopped on the MP3 player bandwagon. What was new—aside from its deep integration with Apple's music store—was the physical design. The minimalist layout, the screen with playlists, the easy-access buttons—and oh, the scroll wheel! These were all elements that made up a signature Apple design.
The iPod in all of its manifestations has now been part of our lives for a decade now, and it has become clear that the world fancies its design. Whether in its original form or in a shrunken downand slightly manipulated format, the influence of the original iPod has remained part of American pop culture for a decade. Everywhere you look, there are iPods—iPod shuffles attached to people at the gym, iPod touches and every generation of nano being fiddled with on the subway, iPod classics, and iPhones being toted on airplanes.
How did the iPod's original design morph over time? Let's look back.Sent from Mobile
"Big data" is the big new buzz phrase in technology, and Teradata is the Big Daddy of the field.
Big data refers to vast amounts of diverse, unstructured data that are difficult for traditional analytical systems to handle. Social media networks such as Google (ticker: GOOG) and Facebook, for instance, collect massive amounts of data—text, photographs, charts—that come steadily from all directions. Companies from a range of industries are digging through information mountains like these in search of patterns and competitive edges. Pursuits like genomics, astronomy, military surveillance and radio-frequency identification technology are also contributing to the explosive growth of the field.
The challenge in this kind of analysis is to dig deeply, quickly and widely. The industry calls it the Three Vs: volume, velocity and variety. And Teradata's systems master the challenge.
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Based on $150 million of research by the Stanford Research Institute and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Siri melds speech input, a soothing-if-robotic synthesized female voice, natural-language processing technology, location awareness, and integration with Yelp and the Wolfram Alpha knowledge engine into something new and amazing.
You begin by holding down the Home button or simply lifting the phone to your ear, then you tell Siri how it can help you. All of the following spoken requests, and dozens more, worked perfectly for me:
"Remind me to call my wife when I get home."
"Schedule a call with Tom at 2pm"
"Wake me up at midnight tomorrow."
"Find me a Portuguese restaurant in San Francisco."
"What is 14,000 Japanese Yen in U.S. dollars?"
"When did William Howard Taft die?
Apple says Siri is in beta, but it's already remarkably clever and conversational. It understands family relationships, and if you haven't told it who your spouse or mom is, it'll ask, then remember. If you have seven Toms in your contacts, as I do, it'll list them all and ask which one you meant. It notices when you've arrived at your home or office. You can tell it "I'm hungry" or ask "Is there a God?" or "Where is Apple?" and it'll understand and say something relevant in response.
True, Siri isn't going to beat IBM's Watson supercomputer at Jeopardy anytime soon: There are lots of things you might want it to do—such as provide spoken driving directions—that are beyond its current skills. In fact, it's missing some cool features from the original Siri app, such as movie information and flight statuses. And as I've tried it, it's sometimes failed to understand me or just plain stalled.
Still, Siri is breathtaking for a beta. If voice-activated assistants are all around us in five or ten years, we'll look back and say it all started here.
"Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything." That was Steve Jobs talking in 2007, as he was about to introduce the first iPhone. He was right about it being a landmark. But he was also correct that it was a once-in-a-while event. Most products—including Apple ones—are merely evolutionary and only change some things.
Fortunately, Apple isn't just an expert at revolution; it also does evolution uncommonly well. Consider its newiPhone 4S, which went on sale on Friday. (The company loaned me one for review.)
As the 4S's very name acknowledges, it's no radical rethinking of last year's iPhone 4: There's a lot that hasn't changed at all, plus a few major new features and some minor tweaks. That's prompted somegrumbling, but it's okay: The iPhone 4 was an exceptional phone in the first place, and the 4S is that much more exceptional. And one new arrival—it goes by the name Siri—might just turn out to be the beginnings of a bona-fide revolution.
Back then, the company was doing $24 billion in annual sales, with desktops and laptops combined accounting for almost 43% of revenue and iPods contributing 35%. Over the past several years, the breakdown has dramatically shifted heavily toward the iPhone, while the iPad was just introduced last year. Here's a breakdown using full-year data.
Apple's fiscal year closes at the end of September, so this data above goes only through September 2010. The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and full fiscal 2011 results on Tuesday. The past three quarters have been whoppers, so it wouldn't be fair to leave them out.
The picture is crystal clear: iOS devices now comprise the vast majority of Apple's revenue.
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Blurry Vision: How Corporate Boards and the Consulting Industry Undermine the Future of Great Companies
Eventually, the most successful music companies may not be the ones that create, play, or sell music. Rather, they may be the ones to collect the most music data. In this race, Somerville, Massachusetts-based the Echo Nest is ahead. It's an ever-growing, easily searchable database (called the Musical Brain) of every possible data point for more than 30 million songs--and it's not for you, or any consumer. "We put it all in the hands of the people who create the new ways that we discover and interact with music," says CEO Jim Lucchese. Right now, that means 7,000-plus app developers, plus some heavy names like MTV. These folks create platforms to sell music, and the Echo Nest takes a cut. Below, a sampling of the services and how versatile music data can be.
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The oxpecker is an African bird that ekes out a living from the ticks that live on the backs of rhinoceroses. I imagine even it would be embarrassed by Zynga's dependency on Facebook.
That the details of the Zynga-Facebook relationship still had the capacity to shock--as they did when Zynga disclosed its financials in preparation for its initial public offering--underscores just how deeply the game maker's fortunes rely on Mark Zuckerberg's goodwill. Not only does Zynga derive "substantially all" of its customers and revenue (almost $600 million in 2010) through the social network, but in a five-year agreement that it signed last year, Zynga also promised to give Facebook a heads-up before it releases any new game on the social network and to grant Facebook exclusive access to those games.
Of course, Zynga is not alone. Silicon Valley is littered with companies whose fortunes are tied to what you might call "OPP"--other people's platforms. There are multitudes of Apple and Facebook app developers, Twitter clients, and Google-dependent content farms. These one-sided relationships rarely end well. So why do so many promising young developers resign themselves to building barnacles rather than great new ships?
Tablets represent a huge opportunity for Bezos, not only to sell a new kind of device but also to entice people to buy more stuff. Even with only 28.7 million iPads sold, e-commerce sites say they see an increasing amount of traffic coming from tablets.Forrester Research (FORR) reported this summer that online purchases made on tablets now account for 20 percent of all mobile e-commerce sales, and that nearly 60 percent of tablet owners have used them to shop. Bezos says tablets “are a huge tailwind for our business.” Amazon once saw spikes in traffic during the workday lunch hours. Now traffic is more evenly distributed as people pick up their tablets anytime of the week, buying the books and albums they see on television and making impulsive decisions about replacing their dishwashers.
The Kindle Fire (internal code name: Otter) is designed to ensure that even more of those purchases go to Amazon. The company has built a tablet-optimized shopping application, with simplified and streamlined pages but none of the clutter of the main website. The app is pre-installed and sits at the bottom of the Fire’s main screen (users can get rid of it if they want). The device also comes with the enticement of a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, the company’s $79-a-year two-day delivery program that tends to convert members into Amazon addicts who triple or even quadruple the amount they spend on the site. Since March, Amazon has also administered its own app store for Android devices, culling Google’s more comprehensive selection and removing everything that’s offensive and unreliable. Kindle Fire owners will have access to apps from Pandora (P), Twitter, Facebook, and Netflix (NFLX). Other competitors such as Barnes & Noble (BKS) can submit their apps, but it will be much easier for Kindle Fire owners to find Amazon’s own content.
Horowitz and O'Reilly talked dreamily about a sensor-rich future where almost unimaginable technologies were built on tidal waves of data. "Imagine we all opted-in and donated our microphone sensors in this room to capture an aggregate of data," he imagined. "There will be sensors like dust everywhere and it will be [technologists' job] to harvest that data and return it as killer apps."
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BankSimple, the most-hyped pre-launch web application in the nerd-o-sphere, is about to make its web-only personal banking service available to its first customers. An incredibly ambitious little project that promises no surprise fees, hot web design and real time data processing, BankSimple is very eagerly anticipated. Today the company released a video demo of its web interface and the feedback has been enthusiastically positive.