Tech / Telecom news — 12 Jul 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Connectivity

In a somewhat ironic public relations’ initiative, AT&T will participate in today’s “day of action” for net neutrality, a reaction to current FCC’s attempt to roll back current rules. The obvious irony here is that AT&T has repeatedly been accused by the FCC of violating open internet protections, and of lobbying vs. these rules (Story)

Applications

Facebook remains on a quest to look for increasingly scarce “advertising real estate” across their high-audience apps, as the “raw material” for revenue growth, and potentially at the expense of user experience. E.g. in Facebook Messenger, where they’ll start to show ads between user messages. Will WhatsApp be next? (Story)

Google may receive a second (large) blow in the EU, after the recent antitrust fine, as French courts are to rule this week if the Search company has been illegally avoiding to pay French taxes by using Ireland (where rates are lower) as a proxy. The estimated owed amount would be around $1.3bn, so not a small thing… (Story)

Snap’s valuation is under pressure, with shares falling -7% yesterday, below IPO price, after Morgan Stanley, one of the IPO underwriters, published a negative note accusing it of not innovating as quickly as expected. Competition from Facebook and Instagram (that have replicated SnapChat’s features) remains a key concern (Story)

SOFTWARE ENABLERS

Artificial Intelligence

Wal-Mart, already the #2 US e-commerce company, is working to link their customers’ online experience with the one at shopping malls, and claims to be using Machine Learning for that. AI is already being applied to home delivery logistics, customer insights / recommendations, and checkout line optimisation at the stores (Story)

Apple feeling the pressure of competition in Virtual Assistants, and also (potentially) a negative customer reaction on unmatched (high) expectations, with Siri having lost 7.3m users in 1 year, equivalent to -15% of the user base (!) However, they’re still #1 assistant in US, ahead of Alexa, with 41.4m monthly unique users (Story)

HARDWARE ENABLERS

Network technology

Startup network vendor Affirmed Networks (a participant in AT&T’s Domain 2.0 initiative) is not waiting for standardisation and is already offering a 5G network slicing function, which they claim can help operators to allocate resources “by device type, location, service type and more” and optimise for latency or bandwidth (Story)

Components

Intel presented yesterday an update in their chip product roadmap, with focus on corporate servers and cloud data centres, and beating expectations in terms of processor performance, which was increased by up to 1.65x. However, Intel’s direct answer to Nvidia (and others’) AI-specialised chips seem to be still in the works (Story)

VENTURE CAPITAL

Toyota is launching a $100m Corporate VC fund to invest in AI and robotics startups, to complement current research under way in their R&D labs. They’re looking to anticipate the coming transformation of the auto industry, and act accordingly, using partners / acquiring companies, as they don’t believe they can do this alone (Story)

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