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Data Sheet—Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Wednesday is a notable day for tech, and not just because we’ll be treated to Apple’s latest melange of fall product announcements—almost certain to include an extensive upgrade to its set-top technology and an overhaul to its smartphone line.

Even as the Apple fan community converges on San Francisco, lawyers for Microsoft and the Justice Department will meet in a New York appeals court to argue whether the U.S. government has the right to seize data store on email servers in Ireland.

This is far from the first case of this nature. There’s another brewing that involves Apple and encrypted iMessages. But it is the first big dispute to be argued after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on questionable federal data collection practices.

One of Microsoft’s arguments, summarized Monday in a New York Times article about the case, is that handing over the messages will embolden other nations to request information stored on cloud servers in the United States.

The Times quotes Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith: “French want their rights under French law, and Brazilians under Brazilian law. What is the U.S. government going to do when other governments reach into the U.S. data centers, without notifying the U.S. government?”

That’s definitely a question that businesses moving to cloud computing services should also be asking.

Also making headlines this morning: Microsoft has completed its buyout of Israeli security company Adallom. Docker just hired a former Twitter executive as its new CFO. Live in San Francisco? You could have your groceries delivered by Google. Plus, did you know that venture capital firms keep “dying unicorn” lists? Read on to get your Tuesday started.


Uber accelerates with $1.2 billion Chinese fundraise. The ride-sharing company doubled its goal there to 100 cities, compared with its 20-city presence currently. Stateside, Uber looks ready to formally launch its package-delivery program for e-commerce retailers. (Reuters, Re/code)


Toshiba finally closes books for last financial year. The Japanese computing giants promises an extensive restructuring plan before year end—one that could include a foray into healthcare technology. But can it survive its $1.3 billion accounting scandal? (Wall Street Journal)

Unfriendly climate for analytics software stocks. Hortonworks, Splunk, and Tableau have taken some hard hits over the past several months despite positive sales reports. Some of that is because of broad market malaise, but for the latter company in particular, the trend is troubling. (Fortune)

Google contemplates return to China. The re-entry centers on its mobile business, according to reports that first surfaced on The Information. (Journal)

Wave your wallet here. Revenue related to “contactless payments” enabled by smartwatches and other mobile gadgets could grow 100% this year. Here’s how credit-card giant MasterCard expects to capitalize. (Fortune)

Amazon’s inexpensive tablet. The e-commerce retailer still has a thing for low-priced consumer electronics. The six-inch model in a series due for the holidays could be priced at just $50. (Journal)

Java evangelists part ways with Oracle. One of its most high-profile technologists for the widely used computer programming language, Cameron Purdy, left in August. Apparently, he’s not the only one. (Fortune)

Fewer automotive recalls? More car makers are upgrading features, specially navigation systems, using wireless software updates. That could save the industry a whopping $35 billion by 2022. (Fortune)

Toyota thinks artificial intelligence can help humans avoid accidents. It is investing $50 million with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to advance technologies that help human adapt to dangerous road conditions, such as those found in snowstorms or sudden thunderstorms. (Fortune)


Is modular technology the next ‘it’ trend?

Modularity is commonplace in manufacturing where standard components are used to build vehicles and personal computers, among other products. However, modularity has never been offered to consumers on a major scale. Acer is one of several technology companies pushing reset. Its new “modular” PC, called the Revo Build Series, lets people build their own desktop computer LEGO-style.


This messaging service has 3X as many monthly active users as Twitter. Facebook’s WhatsApp reached the 900 million milestone. (Fortune)

Curious about how Facebook’s Siri rival works? Watch this blind test drive. (Wired)

Twitter’s workforce loves hanging out. The company is an avid user of Google’s Chromebox videoconferencing system and Hangout group chat service. (Fortune)

Why mess with success? Microsoft spent $2.5 billion on Minecraft last year. So far, it hasn’t interfered with its creator’s “step-based” development style. (Fortune)


Aaron Sorkin’s “Steve Jobs”: The first reviews by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

This video game company is launching its own theme park by Chris Morris

Why Android Wear will give the Apple Watch a run for its money by Sarah Silbert


Live from Fenway Park or [insert your favorite baseball stadium here]. How radar and powerful data-crunching software are reinventing the world of sports stats. (Fortune)