All Thing Digital
All Thing Digital
T-Mobile has started rolling out higher-speed LTE service by tapping the airwaves it acquired as part of its MetroPCS acquisition.
Just before Thanksgiving, T-Mobile quietly turned on the faster service in parts of North Dallas. The higher speeds come by combining T-Mobile’s LTE spectrum with that originally held by MetroPCS. Combining the spectrum allows so-called 20-by-20 service, or double the amount of spectrum T-Mobile had been able to offer in most markets.
T-Mobile plans to eventually offer the expanded LTE service in 90 percent of the top 25 U.S. markets, but timing depends on how quickly it can move around some of its existing network traffic.
“We actually have been working on it for a little while,” said Grant Castle, a T-Mobile network vice president. T-Mobile had touted the increased bandwidth as one of the benefits of the MetroPCS deal, though it hadn’t committed to offering 20-by-20 service until next year. The company expects to have 10-by-10 LTE service in 40 of the top 50 markets by the end of the year.
With each of the major carriers now offering LTE networks in most big cities, a race is on not just to add cities but also to improve the speeds and capacity of the LTE networks in existing markets.
Verizon, which was the first and fastest to deploy a nationwide LTE network, has been working to add another flavor of spectrum, known as AWS, to its LTE network in an effort to add capacity and boost speeds, especially in high-traffic areas of key cities. Some phones are already able to take advantage of that spectrum and some others can take advantage of the additional airwaves via a software update.
Sprint, meanwhile, has announced plans for Sprint Spark, which will boost Sprint’s LTE speeds by tapping the airwaves that Sprint got in acquiring Clearwire. The carrier is launching Spark initially in five cities, with plans to cover 100 within three years.
Unlike those service improvements, though, T-Mobile’s moves will work with all LTE-capable devices on its network, Castle said.
AT&T is enhancing its network with a combination of small cells, macro cells and distributed antenna systems as part of its “project VIP” slated to be complete by the end of 2015.
Taking advantage of the new speeds, though, will require new devices that are designed to use the additional airwaves. So far Sprint has announced seven devices that will support the faster network, including the Samsung Galaxy Mega and Galaxy S 4 mini, the LG G2 and Nexus 5, HTC’s One Max and a pair of mobile hotspots.
Last month AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg put the current LTE networks to the test. Check out this post to see what he found.
Aiming to attract more shoppers to its stores — and to Windows — Microsoft is planning 12 days of deals, kicking off Monday with a $199 tablet for sale at its retail and online stores.
The company will sell Dell’s Venue 8 Pro — an 8-inch Windows tablet — for $199, with the first 20 visitors to each store getting it for just $99. The quad-core, Intel-based tablet, which normally sells for $299, includes the full version of Windows 8.1 and comes bundled with Office Home and Student.
Other deals will follow each day, with Tuesday’s offer being the Garmin Forerunner 110 Fitness watch plus a $25 gift card for $129.99.
A teaser page went live on Friday at Microsoft’s online store.
Yahoo announced Friday it had acquired Evntlive, a streaming video startup that broadcasts live concerts and events to online viewers.
The company was founded in 2012 and launched the beta version of its service in April.
As a result of the acquisition, Evntlive will shut down its existing service, and its employees will join Yahoo’s video team to work on Yahoo Screen and Yahoo Music, according to a statement made on Evntlive’s website on Friday afternoon.
Evntlive had previously raised about $2.3 million in seed funding from investors such as Vint Cerf, Yogen Dalal, Ellen Levy and Steve Wadsworth, among others, according to CrunchBase data.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. GigaOm first reported the news.
The U.S. Supreme Court will attempt to answer a question that has perplexed the technology industry for decades: When is a piece of software patentable?
On Friday, the high court agreed to hear an appeal of a case that has tied lower courts in knots. A May ruling in the case from a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., yielded seven opinions, totaling more than 120 pages, and no clear answer to whether — and when — computer code should get patent protection.
We’ve all known that lawyers in the Apple-Samsung case have been racking up huge bills. Now we have a better idea of just how much.
In court filings this week, Apple asked a federal judge to order Samsung to pay more than $15 million in legal fees, an amount it says is a fraction of the more than $60 million in outside legal bills it has racked up in the current San Jose, Calif., case. It also wants $6 million in other miscellaneous costs, such as copying and electronic filings.
The request follows a trial and retrial in which Samsung was found liable for violating various Apple patents and ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Now, Apple is seeking reimbursement for some of its massive legal expenses in pursuing the case.
Apple says it has paid or expects to pay lead law firm Morrison & Foerster approximately $60 million and also expects to pay $2 million to a second law firm, Wimer Hale.
Under the law, only certain legal expenses can be reimbursed to the party that wins a patent suit, but even under those measures, Apple says it is owed $15.7 million.
A Samsung representative declined to comment, though its lawyers will no doubt argue against Apple’s motion.
Women who are smaller than about 5’5″ can’t go on spacewalks, according to aerospace engineering professor Dava Newman, who herself is too small. That’s because the bulky pressurized space suits built for leaving spacecraft start at size medium. (Talk about a role model problem, if small women don’t even get a shot!)
(Also, I checked, and Sandra Bullock is 5’7″, so in this case Hollywood didn’t lie.)
That limitation was part of the motivation for a 15-year research odyssey Newman has undertaken to design a bio-suit that would fit close to the body and allow astronauts of all sizes to be more agile in space, research funded at first by NASA and now by a string of academic research grants.
A big appeal of her work is that Newman is essentially a fashion designer for astronauts, and that’s why she spoke at the TED Women conference in San Francisco this week, showing off a skintight bio-suit prototype that makes space look super hot.
“We make them for females because I’m in charge,” she said in an off-stage interview.
And it’s not just about people of slighter stature. Today’s bulky spacesuits have a terrible track record of causing shoulder injuries for astronauts of various sizes.
Newman’s team has made an enormous breakthrough in recent months, she said, by incorporating active materials — specifically nickel-titanium shape memory alloys.
Newman’s long-time goal has been to design a suit with the pressure of 30 percent of the atmosphere, or 29.7 kilopascals.
“We can get to 20 percent with shrink wrap,” she said.
The ability to pressurize close to the skin comes from mathematical calculations about how tension lines can be laid out on the suit that do not become overextended and break when a person moves. As an added benefit, sensors can be safely placed on the lines. Newman calls this “elegant math.”
Recent tests with active materials — which cinch up when you apply electricity — have proven to be more than effective, Newman said. Her team expects to soon publish papers on the latest research. “We’re now beyond what we need, 50 to 60 kilopascals,” Newman said.
So will these be used by astronauts anytime soon? Unlikely, Newman said.
“Our dream is to invent the world’s coolest space suit for Mars,” she said. “But NASA won’t be sending humans to Mars for two decades, so we have time.”
The Federal Communications Commission said Friday it has delayed until 2015 the timeline for a planned reverse auction of TV airwaves, a decision that reflects the commission’s intent on getting the complex proceeding right.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler published a blog post announcing the FCC’s decision to delay the auction, after the commission previously set a goal of carrying out the auction next year. “I believe we can conduct a successful auction in the middle of 2015,” Mr. Wheeler said.
After months of speculation, Apple today rolled out its iBeacon technology in all of its 254 U.S. stores, allowing the company to send notifications to shoppers’ phones based on their location within the store.
The technology, which sends data to phones via Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE from iPhones, iPads and other third-party hardware Apple has positioned around its stores, will initially be used to prompt shoppers who have installed the Apple Store app and agree to be tracked to take certain actions.
For example, shoppers who have come to the store to pick up a device they ordered online may receive a push notification-like message indicating that the product is ready and to swipe to view the confirmation.
Another implementation triggers a message to shoppers when they are near the store’s accessories department and will prompt them to read product reviews and pay with the app’s Easy Pay function, which lets shoppers scan a product’s barcode with their phone and pay from the app.
“We’re really excited about what iOS developers will be able to do with iBeacon, a technology we introduced with iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and geofencing to provide apps a whole new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores,” Apple said in a statement.
The messaging efforts used in this initial rollout are pretty straightforward. But you could imagine Apple rolling out increasingly sophisticated use cases as time goes on, perhaps ones that recommend purchases based on current products a user owns or on online shopping behavior.
But, perhaps more importantly, Apple likely views its rollout as one giant demonstration for other retailers looking to harness the power of mobile phones to give shoppers more personalized in-store visits via their own apps, whether it be special offers if a shopper spends a certain amount of time in one corner of a shop or information about products.
Similar technologies have been out there for some time, but Apple’s arrival in the space will likely speed up adoption.
The startup NewAer, for example, has been working on a technology similar to iBeacon for quite some time that supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and which it hopes to license to brands to use in their own apps. Its founder and CEO, Dave Mathews, said in an interview with AllThingsD in the fall that Apple’s entree will legitimize the space.
“iBeacon is a real win for us,” he said at the time. “We don’t really have to explain any more what this is about.”
Other kinds of startups, such as Nomi and Euclid, are starting to capitalize on retailers’ desire to learn more about what goes on in their stores by tracking shoppers’ movements and providing retailers with information about how many people are visiting their stores, how frequently, and where they are spending time inside a given shop during a visit.
Nomi will work with a retailer to match a given device with a person’s real identity, should they opt in in some fashion. Euclid has refrained from doing this and provides retailers with aggregate data.
Any technology that hopes to match a specific device with a individual’s real-world identity will rightly raise privacy concerns, making the messaging around tracking opt-in critical to shoppers’ acceptance of the practice. Of course, shoppers will want to see some real value in exchange for information about themselves. Whether iBeacon and other technologies will provide that remains to be seen.
The biggest celebrity get for Twitter today? A handful of funny comediennes.
In an interview with the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer on Friday morning, CEO Dick Costolo named a handful of his most desired “VITs” (or very important tweeters): Melissa McCarthy, Amy Pohler and Tina Fey — three of the most successful women in American comedy today.
“I should be able to use some of my pull from my Chicago improvisation days to get a few of ‘em onto the platform — and I’ll make that my goal,” Costolo said.
A smart idea, especially considering that clever one-liners and quips seem to travel the furthest on Twitter via retweets and Web embeds. It’s also probably good to double down on snagging those VITs and making them Twitter loyalists before a competitor — like, say, Facebook — hooks them heavily into its services instead.
But perhaps in the meantime, Costolo could encourage his board members to do a little more tweeting?
Check out a clip of the interview with Lauer below.
After receiving final approval from the Cupertino City Council build its massive new headquarters in the Northern California city, Apple wasted no time in moving ahead with the project. Earlier this week, the company began demolition of the existing site, which formerly belonged to Hewlett-Packard. Once that phase of the project is completed, construction can begin on the 176-acre campus and the vast, spaceship-shaped building that will be its centerpiece.
Any effort by Comcast Corp. to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. would face significant hurdles in Washington, according to a Federal Communications Commission official, casting doubt on a cable-industry consolidation scenario that has grabbed Wall Street’s attention.
Comcast, the No. 1 cable provider, measured by subscriber numbers, has been considering a bid for the No. 2 player, Time Warner Cable, which is already being pursued by a smaller cable firm, Charter Communications Inc. But Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, said in an interview that the Obama administration would be unlikely to approve a combination of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
While Google is still working on its self-driving car, a new YouTube video offers a humorous look at what life might be like if Apple’s Siri were given the keys to a car today.
The video, done in the style of the videos Apple typically does in conjunction with a new product launch, is the work of John Dabrowski and Mark Odlum, a pair of 36-year-old filmmakers from West Hartford, Conn. who are in L.A. these days, hoping to get their big break in Hollywood. In the meantime, they are doing short comedies for YouTube under the name Smart Department.
“We kept hearing about this Google ‘Driverless Car,’ right around the time Siri was becoming popular, and John happened to go for a ride in his friend’s new car,” Odlum said. “They decided to test out the fancy voice-activated navigation system. It didn’t work, and immediately tried to send them to Iceland — no kidding.”
The pair decided to imagine what it would be like if voice navigation was the only way to drive, and thus, Steeri was born.
Look at Plantronics’ online catalog and you’ll see a lot of commonplace products: Telephones, speakerphones and a long list of headphones, earbuds and headsets for everything from music to gaming to telemarketing.
But CTO Joe Burton thinks the company needs to “shift to mobility … [and] away from normal phones.” It needs, he said, to make itself a competitor in wearable computing.
I know; I was skeptical, too. Hang in there.
As it turns out, even though “normal phones” are still its bread and butter, Plantronics has been experimenting for the past few years, loading its headsets with sensors like the ones you might find in a smartphone or, say, Google Glass. And with these sensor-laden hardware experiments, the company has been reaching out to third-party developers over the past few months through a secondary website, PLT Labs, to develop conceptual hardware and software.
And some of these sensor-headsets are already out in the wild. At Cisco’s call center, Burton said, once a customer support rep puts on a phone headset, a motion sensor registers that it is being worn and the rep is automatically added to the call routing queue. If near an active webcam, he or she is put in the special video support queue.
One of Plantronics’ internal experiments also piqued my interest. The company has hacked an Xbox to let the motions of a headset wearer leaning from side to side control a motorcycle racing game. In other words, Oculus Rift-esque motion tracking on a gaming console based on sensors connected to the body rather than the one-step-removed Kinect camera.
As I wrote last month, the gaming startup Mind Pirate says wearables becoming as ubiquitous as cell phones is an “inevitability,” and believes it can help shape their future:
Rather than trying to solve consumers’ problems, the idea is that entertaining apps will validate new categories of devices for consumers, which you could argue was a big chunk of the mobile story as well. Getting in front of games for devices like Google Glass may mean helping to figure out just what, exactly, a world of omnipresent games would look like.
By contrast, Burton maintains that Plantronics’ chances at breaking into wearables may stem from the converse of that idea. That is, the company already has a history of convincing people to put stuff on their heads. He broke sensors down into four types: Near you (e.g. in your phone); on you (e.g. via a Fitbit clip); touching your body (e.g. an activity tracker on your wrist); and touching your head.
But why separate touching your head from the rest of your body? Cynical answer: Because that makes Plantronics’ headsets seem automatically more sophisticated. Less cynical counterpoint: Sensors on the wrist are good for health and biometrics, but the head indicates intent, Burton said. He speculated that retail stores might one day want to use wearables to figure out where on the shelf customers look and how long they look there.
“That’s frickin’ advertising gold,” he said.
However, Burton acknowledged the “creepiness factor,” that “social acceptability runs in the other direction.” It’s easier to keep a watch-like activity tracker on the body at all times than to rationalize wearing smart glasses everywhere.
On top of that, PLT Labs doesn’t have a clear roadmap for making marketable products … at least, not yet.
“Our expectations are pretty open-minded right now,” Burton said, describing the concept hardware side as taking a “kitchen sink approach.” In the long term, the company will pick out the viable candidates for production based on both “volume and strength of demand,” he added.
For now, the Labs division is focusing its attention on talking to developers and gathering ideas at hackathons. Here’s a video of the winners of a recent hackathon in Seattle; I particularly like the “Smoke on the Water” demo that starts at 1:52.
For months, investigators at Microsoft Corp. hunkered down in front of their computer monitors, patiently stalking the shadowy figures behind what the company says is a major Web ad-fraud machine.
Then, on Thursday, they pounced. Armed with a court order and law enforcement help overseas, the team took steps to cut off communication links to European-based servers considered the mega-brain for an army of zombie computers known as ZeroAccess.
According to the latest measurements from Apple’s App Store, 74 percent of iOS devices are running iOS 7. That’s a 10 point improvement over October, when Apple last reported iOS adoption metrics.
Meanwhile, just 22 percent of iOS devices continue to run iOS 6, and the remainder some earlier version of the software. In other words, 96 percent of all iOS devices are running one of Apple’s two most recent mobile operating systems.
Impressive considering iOS’s chief competitor, Android, isn’t seeing nearly the same torrid uptake of its latest few iterations.
According to Google’s own metrics, the most recent version of Android, KitKat or Android 4.4, is now running on just 1.1 percent of Android devices. Meanwhile, 54.5 percent of them are running one of three variants of JellyBean, 18.6 percent are running Ice Cream Sandwich and 24.1 percent are running Gingerbread, an OS that first shipped in February of 2011.
Look at the two adoption charts side by side and the difference is clear: Android is fragmented, iOS is not. For Apple, that’s an important message to relay to developers.
As I’ve written before: “Build your apps for iOS, and with one API you can hit the majority of the operating system’s addressable market. Develop for Android, and there are at least three different APIs you’ll need to deal with to reach the majority of its users. To Apple, this is a significant competitive advantage, one that the company is clearly interested in raising awareness around.”
In 2011, Google changed the way it ranked websites, in an effort to punish spammers and “content farms” that showed up high in search results but delivered crummy pages.
This week Facebook announced that it was changing the way it ranked content in its all-important News Feed — the main page Facebook users see on their desktop and on their phones — in order to promote “high-quality content.” And Facebook said it would make things like “meme photos” harder to see.
The immediate reaction from several publishers I’ve talked to this week: “This is Facebook’s Panda.”
But if that’s the case, then who is Facebook trying to punish? And why does Facebook care about this anyway — isn’t the crucial thing that people like the stuff, and not what the stuff is?
One way to get some answers is to ask a Facebook executive directly. News Feed manager Lars Backstrom got on the phone with me to explain the company’s thinking.
Peter Kafka: Your post says that you want promote some kinds of content and demote other kinds of content. But I don’t really understand what you want to push up and down, and why.
Lars Backstrom: We don’t really think about it that much in terms of promoting and demoting certain kinds of content. The way we think about it is that we’re doing a better job of identifying value.
In the past there were a lot of things that all fell into one bucket, and we would treat them all the same, even though they clearly weren’t. If you see a funny meme photo in your feed — sure, you get some value from that. But if you compare that to reading 1,000 words on All Things D, you would presumably get more value from that experience than the first one. And in the past we were treating them as the same.
But if I like them both, aren’t they the same? From a Facebook perspective, shouldn’t the things that people like be the things that people like?
I’m not saying that one doesn’t have value. And we’re not trying to impose our will and view on the world. But we went and asked people which of those things they get more value from. We’ve run surveys and asked people to rate stories and things.
And they’ll say, “The cat photo was great, and I had a good chuckle, but of those two, the second one enriched my life more, and I got more value out of it”.
It’s not us trying to be more proscriptive. We’re trying align our definition of value with that of our users.
You make a good point, which is that the surveys are not necessarily the truth. But it’s just as naive to treat every single click as having the same value.
Are you paying attention to the source of the content? Or is it solely the type of the content?
Right now it’s mostly oriented around the source. As we refine our approaches, we’ll start distinguishing more and more between different types of content. But for right now, when we think about how we identify “high quality,” it’s mostly at the source level.
So something that comes from publisher X you might consider high quality, and if it comes from publisher Y it’s low quality?
In your post you specifically call out meme photos that are hosted on other sites. Is there something about photo hosting sites you have an issue with?
No, that was just an example. There’s no targeting of one category or another.
This seems very reminiscent of Google’s Panda changes a few years, which was a really big deal for search. Is that what you’re doing here for social?
I’m not totally familiar with the details of Panda. At least from the way you described it, it’s maybe not quite at that scale. But it’s kind of a step in that direction.
Whenever we make a change like this, it has the potential to break some of the strategies employed by people who get distribution on Facebook. My favorite example of this is when you have a photo, and then a very explicit call to action where you say “one like = one respect.”
So when the text or photo has a call to action, those posts naturally do much better. And in a traditional feed ranking where we’re evaluating just on the number of likes, those things all did very well.
So “like this if you like puppies” is the kind of thing you want to push down. What about publishers like BuzzFeed, and then Upworthy, and now a slew of Upworthy clones, that seem to have figured out how to crack the Facebook/viral code. Are you trying to rein in those guys?
I wouldn’t say we’re trying to rein in anybody. I’m not sure how the most recent changes will affect those sites.
Our goal is to provide user value. We’re trying to do that algorithmically, and if people find ways to game the algorithms that we have, then we have to adapt.
So this is not aimed at BuzzFeed?
What about Upworthy?
We don’t have any sort of specific enemies or targets.
In the past you guys have made changes to the way the News Feed works, and it has had a big impact on people who depended on Facebook for distribution. Like Zynga. Or more recently, SocialCam and Viddy. But those people did things that regular users didn’t like, and here regular users like the stuff …
I think you’re making this into a slightly bigger thing than what it is. We’re trying to be as proactive as possible about messaging even things that might have a 10 or 20 percent impact.
So it’s not like you’re never going to see a funny cat photo from Imgur or some photo-sharing site anymore. It’s that maybe you’ll see 10 percent less of that, and 10 percent more articles and things like that.
We’re trying to be a little better about that.
And even a 10 percent change can be very significant to some companies, given Facebook’s power.
The main thing I want to be clear about is that we want to optimize for user value. We recognize that this is one of the harder things we have to do.
There are certainly people that come to Facebook looking to see funny cat photos. And we want to make sure that it’s a good experience for them as well as people who are looking for more serious news. Ultimately we’re trying to make it as personalized as possible, and give people what they really want to see.
[Panda photos via Imgur]
The personal genetics startup 23andMe announced this evening it will stop giving new customers genetic analysis information after being warned by the FDA over compliance issues.
It is not discontinuing sales, however, as we initially thought based on the company’s wording. 23andMe said it would “comply immediately with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s directive to discontinue consumer access to its health-related genetic tests during the ongoing regulatory review process.”
However, that doesn’t mean it’s stopping sales of new kits. Rather, new customers will only receive “raw genetic data without interpretation.”
It’s a departure from the company’s response of two weeks ago, which was to continue selling the kits but stop advertising them.
Mountain View, Calif.-based 23andMe had publicly apologized for being slow to respond, after the FDA complained of delays and threatened seizure, injunction and civil financial penalties.
23andMe said tonight it will continue offering services and research for customers who bought kits before November 22, when it received the warning letter.
The FDA wants 23andMe to wait for clearance as a medical device before it can offer diagnostics to customers. It is concerned about people acting on information they receive about their genetics, or getting false complacency if the company’s testing clears someone from risk in error.
However, the agency doesn’t yet offer classifications for many things 23andMe promises to do, so it will likely be a long road ahead to actually comply.
Here’s the notice now posted on 23andMe’s site, and a press release:
Welcome to 23andMe.
At this time, we have suspended our health-related genetic tests to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s directive to discontinue new consumer access during our regulatory review process.
We are continuing to provide you with both ancestry-related genetic tests and raw genetic data, without 23andMe’s interpretation.
If you are an existing customer please click the button below and then go to the health page for additional information. If you are a customer who purchased before November 22, 2013, you will still have access to your health-related results.
We remain firmly committed to fulfilling our long-term mission to help people everywhere have access to their own genetic data and have the ability to use that information to improve their lives.
Upon entering the site, please confirm you understand the new changes in our services.
I understand that 23andMe only sells ancestry reports and raw genetic data at this time. I understand 23andMe will not provide health-related reports. However, 23andMe may provide health-related results in the future, dependent upon FDA marketing authorization.
Current 23andMe customers who received health-related results prior to November 22, 2013 will continue to have access to that information.
Customers who purchased kits before November 22, 2013 will still receive health-related results.
Customers who purchase or have purchased 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service (PGS) on or after November 22, 2013, the date of the Warning Letter from the FDA, will receive ancestry information, as well as their raw genetic data without interpretation. These new customers may receive additional health-related results in the future, dependent upon FDA marketing authorization. Customers who purchased kits on or after November 22, 2013 will be eligible for a refund. 23andMe will be sending an email with refund instructions to all eligible customers.
If it’s December, it’s time to start predicting what’s going to dominate the headlines and trends of 2014. I make it a point every year to sit down with Mark Anderson, an industry analyst and CEO of Strategic News Service, and get an early look at the predictions he makes in a speech at an annual dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
As with previous rounds of predictions he has made (See 2011, 2012 and 2013), some already make sense if you’ve been paying attention to the way things are going, and will become more pronounced in the year ahead. Others are a little more surprising.
Siris head into silos. There will be more products like Apple’s Siri, and they’ll spread out and dive deep into vertical markets. Current voice-recognition products are sitting in the range of 60 percent to 80 percent accuracy, which is still too frustrating to be effective for daily use. “You still get a lot of Siri jokes,” Anderson says. “But as that rate approaches 90 percent and above, they’ll get more useful and start appearing in industry-specific products.” Customers will start trusting these systems more.
Visualization goes mainstream. As more companies spin up efforts to harness the capabilities of big data and analytics, making the results more useful will become a higher priority. That’s going to bring a new emphasis on visualization tools. “Let’s stop talking about Big Data and start talking about seeing data. We haven’t yet had any big improvements in ways to help us use all this data we’re gathering.”
Price rules consumer electronics. Headline-grabbing features will become less important as consumer electronics companies struggle to win market share for their smartphones and tablets. That’s going to lead to a situation where price becomes the critical deciding factor for consumers. “I think we’re leaving the time where every new device is radically new, and entering one where people decide what they’re going to buy based on which thing is the lowest price. Features get better incrementally, but they also get cheaper.”
That leads to the next two related predictions: The most popular smartphones will be those that sell for less than $100. The most popular tablets and what Anderson likes to call “carry-along” devices will be those selling for $250 or less. “It will be a volume driven thing, rather than quality-driven thing,” he said.
Software plays on a flat hardware field, as we build out the global computer. Even as hardware improves, pretty much everything important that happens in the Enterprise IT environment will happen in software. Software-defined networking will pick up steam, as will software-defined storage. “The stampede has been to virtualize everything. We’ve virtualized the private data center, the cloud, and now the network,” Anderson said. “The energy in global computing is going to be around software that runs on flat hardware. All the technical work going into breaking down the barriers between cloud types will result in software that can truly run anywhere.”
The new Microsoft that no one expected. We know that Microsoft will get a new CEO, but the wrong question to ask, Anderson argues, is who that new CEO is going to be. “At some level it’s critical, but it doesn’t matter as much as the power structure at the top. The person they hire has to be someone who can run a very large global operation with many moving parts. But then that person will have to pick two people below them to run Microsoft’s enterprise and consumer businesses,” he said. “I really think there should be two presidents under the CEO who have a lot of power. That’s the more interesting question to me.” If so, there’s a pretty good chance that Microsoft will get its mojo back, he says.
Micromapping arrives. We’re accustomed to having our phones tell us how to get where we’re going, but that utility usually stops the second you step indoors. That’s going to change as numerous companies start working on what Anderson calls MALT: Micromapping, Advertising, Location and ID, and Transactions. Precise indoor maps and location information will be coupled with advertising that’s targeted at you and that can lead to a transaction that might not even require waiting in a checkout line. “Your phone will bring the store to you. It will know what you like, and direct you to where those things are, and when you pick them up, you’ll just walk out. The store will know who you are and how you’re paying, and you’ll just walk out.”
The quantified self goes mainstream. All those Jawbone Ups, and Fitbits and other fitness devices will be joined by more gadgets that measure the condition of your heart and how you sleep and all sorts of other conditions related to your health. And while it should be helpful information to have, doctors generally aren’t ready for patients showing up with so much data. “They’re going to have to start catching up and fast,” Anderson said.
Encryption everywhere. Call it the Snowden Effect. The biggest direct result of the revelations of the former NSA contractor about his former employer’s activities will be a massive surge in the use of encryption technology to protect data in transit and at rest. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are already beefing up their encryption efforts. Everyone else on the Internet will follow suit. While the NSA will be the motivating factor, the end result will be that it will be harder for hackers from China and other countries to attack systems for the purpose of stealing critical intellectual property. “The anger that has come out of the Snowden disclosures has led everyone to start working on encryption,” he said. “The end result is it will provide more protection from people who want to steal your intellectual crown jewels, which is what I consider to be the real problem.”
Spotify AB is planning a free, ad-supported version of its streaming-music service on mobile devices, according to people familiar with the matter, after previously making mobile users pay a monthly fee.
The Sweden-based music company has reached licensing deals with all three of the global music companies to use their recordings on the new service, these people added.
Until now, a free version of Spotify was available only on desktop and laptop computers.
Box Inc. has secured $100 million in funding at a valuation of about $2 billion, said chief executive Aaron Levie, as new international investors plan to help the online storage provider expand outside the U.S.
The Los Altos, Calif., company plans to open its first offices in Japan, Australia and Brazil in 2014, and invest heavily in its European headquarters in London, said Mr. Levie.
The funding round included corporations in four markets, the CEO said: Itochu Technology Ventures, Macnica Inc. and Mitsui & Co. in Japan; Telefónica S.A. in Europe and Latin America; and Telstra Corp. in Australia. DST Global, Coatue and previous Box investors also contributed to the round, Mr. Levie said.