Tech / Telecom news — 16 Mar 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Applications

Amazon trying to stimulate developers to write new apps for the Alexa ecosystem, with monthly credits of up to $100 to buy AWS cloud computing services, effectively making it possible for third parties to build new “skills” for free. However, a more difficult problem is that current Alexa skills have little to no usage (Story)

Enterprise

Oracle’s share price was going up +5% yesterday, after a beat in quarterly earnings and a slight miss in revenues, but with signs that their efforts to catch up in Cloud are finally paying off, with Cloud revenues (+73% yoy, now 11% of total) expected to surpass licensed SW (-16%) in next fiscal year, with similar margins (Story)

Artificial Reality

Snapchat’s (somewhat bizarre) animated filters for pictures are qualified as “Augmented Reality” in this Forbes article, which looks at the company as a pioneer in the technology, exploiting the acquisition of Israeli startup Cimagine, and having the right audience, with 41% of all US 18–34 year-olds now being active users (Story)

Meanwhile, startups having recognised the “solitary” experience in conventional Virtual Reality as a barrier of adoption, are trying to introduce social features in the medium, including the ability to build your own avatar to interact with others in the virtual worlds. A company called Morph 3D is specifically focused on this (Story)

Devices

Latest rumours on the new iPhone version to be released this year confirm that it will incorporate a curved screen, but unlike in other smartphones, this feature will remain only a design element and won’t be accompanied with any new functionality. It seems that the design is not yet finalised, and changes could still happen (Story)

Components

Just after Intel revealed its intentions to become the core of the “data centres on wheels” behind future self-driving cars, rival Nvidia announced on Tuesday a partnership with auto-parts leader Bosch to build an onboard computer capable of running the AI (inference) required for self-driving, using new SoC “Xavier” (Story)

NETWORK TECHNOLOGY

Recent announcement by 3GPP that they will accelerate the standardisation of some elements of 5G NR specifications have led AT&T to estimate that they will be able to start large-scale trials and deployments of standards-based mobile 5G services as early as late 2018, one year before initially expected (Story)

BIG DATA & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Google’s DeepMind making advances towards “General AI”, with its new “EWC” algorithm, enabling AI systems playing games to exploit knowledge acquired for one game to play others without having to be specifically trained again. This ability for AI to not forget, or learn sequentially, is becoming a hot space in the field (Story)

Other companies, like startup Kernel, are focused on enhancing human intelligence by developing brain implants to link people’s thoughts to computers. Risks of secondary effects, and the complexity of the brain itself make this a very challenging field, but there seems to be an emerging trend around this at the moment (Story)

M&A MOVES

Intel’s ongoing acquisition of Mobileye may position the company centrally within future connected cars, but has integration risks, specially as Intel has no significant experience in integrating technology acquisitions. Biggest previous ones are Altera (with impact still to be seen) and McAffee (an apparent failure) (Story)