Data Sheet—Thursday, July 6, 2017
George Colony, CEO of tech-industry market researcher Forrester, and I have had a long-running dispute about Apple. He is a passionate member of the Apple-can’t-innovate-anymore camp, a faction of Apple watchers that believes the company went into decline the moment Steve Jobs passed from the scene. I am a slightly less committed member of the Apple-is-still-great (if never again as great) school of thought. I have argued that the last 15 years of the Jobs era was a feat that even the great man wouldn’t have repeated and that Apple remains a powerhouse of excellence despite the gap in years between its great innovations growing wider.
Colony challenged me shortly after I published a book in 2012 that supported this thesis, arguing that Apple would fade without Jobs just as Sony did without its founder, Akio Morita. He hasn’t given up on his thesis, despite the massive increase in Apple’s market value in the ensuing years. He told me recently that Apple’s surge is a testament to the engine Jobs created, not the result of any recent Apple product development.
Now Colony is at it again, arguing that Apple should buy IBM for its Watson artificial intelligence technology. It’s a slim post that sidesteps other arguments he might have made for such a tie up. IBM, for example, is having trouble growing. Apple under Tim Cook, who began his career at IBM, is interested in selling to businesses in a way Jobs never was.
Colony’s evidence for Apple’s inferiority in AI is its also-ran Siri digital assistant. Apple is sensitive on this topic. It gave journalist Steven Levy unprecedented access to its machine learning team last summer to prove that like Google and Facebook, Apple is in this important game.
It isn’t likely Apple will buy IBM, as Colony acknowledges. The mere suggestion that it needs IBM’s technology is another swipe at a company worth three quarters of a trillion dollars.
If only Apple could hurry up and make a car. Maybe then Colony would lay off them.
Gold is harder to steal. Hackers stole user data and money from Bithumb, one of the top five biggest Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrency exchanges. The crooks got into the accounts of about 3% of the site's customers and made off with hundreds of millions of South Korean won, or tens of thousands of dollars.
Get your popcorn ready. Shares of Advanced Micro Devices jumped 9% on early indications that its new CPU chip for PCs, called Ryzen, is gaining ground against Intel. Graphics competitor Nvidia got a smaller 3% gain on news of a broad tie-up with Baidu for artificial intelligence projects.
Get your popcorn ready, Part II. After fining Google $2.7 billion over alleged improper favoring of its shopping service, European Union antitrust regulators got right back to work. Now they're looking to punish Google over possible misuse of the Android operating system for smartphones.
Can I just say no, thank you? Microsoft has developed an analytics tool for its Office software to let companies track what their employees are doing. Dubbed "something like a Fitbit for work productivity," the system lets managers see metrics like time spent in meetings, on email and working after hours.
Congratulations, you almost won. Lyft says it's now providing over 1 million rides per day, about double the rate of last year. Uber announced it passed the million-a-day benchmark back in 2014, so the plucky #2 of app-based ride services still has a lot of catching up to do. (Required Jerry Seinfeld video.)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
As Silicon Valley moves to address its rampant sexual harassment problem, the focus has largely been on the men, some well-known, who have engaged in the behavior. The brilliant Microsoft researcher danah boyd has a more direct approach to the problem, suggesting how the bro' culture could be eliminated.
In a lengthy and worthwhile essay on Medium, boyd argues that such a change is possible and offers recommendations.
What’s at stake is not about a few bad actors. There’s also a range of behaviors getting lumped together, resulting in folks asking if inescapable sexual overtures are really that bad compared to assault. That’s an unproductive conversation because the fundamental problem is the normalization of atrocious behavior that makes room for a wide range of inappropriate actions. Fundamentally, the problem with systemic sexism is that it’s not the individual people who are the problem. It’s the culture. And navigating the culture is exhausting and disheartening. It’s the collection of particles of sand that quickly becomes a mountain that threatens to bury you.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Nokia Branded Phones to Get Zeiss-Branded Camera Gear by Aaron Pressman
Alibaba Debuts a Smart Home Speaker Similar to Amazon’s Echo by Tom Huddleston, Jr.
Volkswagen Pushes Further Into Virtual Reality by Jonathan Vanian
What Volvo’s Electric Car Ambitions Mean for Tesla by Kirsten Korosec
Imagination Tech Slams Apple for 'Unsubstantiated Assertions' by Don Reisinger
Xiaomi and Nokia Just Signed a Major Patent-Sharing Deal by Geoffrey Smith
BEFORE YOU GO
Remember the amazing Nintendo Game Boy? Now almost 20 years old, the super fun portable game player still entertains some photo buffs with its tiny camera. Astronomy student Alexander Pietrow hooked one up to a telescope in the Netherlands and started snapping mini pics of the moon and other celestial bodies. That caught the attention of the Digital Photography Review web site:
Granted, these photos won't win any astrophotography awards. But this fun little photo experiment is useful, in our minds, for two reasons. One: it's a good reminder of just how far digital photography has come since the 90s. And two: it might just inspire you to try something crazy. Pietrow managed to capture some form of astrophotography with a 2-bit camera... what's your excuse?