I didn’t wait all line to get an iPhone 6 or 6+.
But apparently a lot of people did.
In San Francisco, I saw a report on Facebook that the line wrapped around three streets. That’s a little disappointing, considering it’s San Francisco. I would have expected a line of at least a couple of miles long.
Syracuse.com’s Geoff Herbert did some investigating to find out what’s up with the line waiting?
Adam Hanft, who works at a New York consulting firm for consumer brands, told Market Watch that shoppers feel validated by a crowd making the same decision as them. “Social proof,” as it’s called, also explains why Black Friday sales get mobbed when certain high-tech products may even be cheaper on other days.
Others say they simply enjoy the experience of meeting like-minded individuals. “Queue chic” is not a waste of time if they’re making friends who agree their purchases are the right choice, Market Watch adds.
But some Syracuse line waiters suggested it was tradition, that they waited in line every year to trade in their old iPhones. Others said they did it because “It has an Apple logo on it.”
Me, I only just ordered an iPhone 5s over the summer, so I’ll wait for the planned obsolescence and iOS degradation to kick in before I consider an upgrade.
If you’re looking for teardown info, iFixit already got their hands on an iPhone 6+. It was a 28-step teardown!!
The other big tech news this morning was the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s initial public offering. Early estimates had the IPO floating at around $68, but Alibaba hit the low $90s right out of the gate, valuing the company at $225.5 billion — that’s more than Facebook, that’s more than Google, that’s more than eBay or Amazon. That trails only Facebook.
Is that valuation too high? Bloomberg’s Leslie Picker suggests not, because Alibaba actually makes money, compared to other recent IPO candidates:
Alibaba’s profits also make it a standout among technology IPOs. Twitter Inc. raised more than $2 billion last year, and Chinese rival JD.Com Inc., which has achieved a $40 billion valuation, raised about $2 billion in May — both without any annual earnings. Alibaba by comparison turns about half of its sales into income.
If you’re trying to remember what exactly it is Alibaba does in China, Picker provides a friendly reminder:
Alibaba provides various marketplaces for buyers and sellers as well as services that help them conduct their businesses. Taobao Marketplace, started in 2003, enables millions of individuals and small businesses to sell products. Tmall.com provides a virtual shopping mall, with retailers and brands offering products, and Juhuasuan operates a flash-sales model.
..and that with a still growing-like-wildfire user base:
Mainland Internet users have grown to 632 million and could exceed 850 million by 2015, according to government data.
Alibaba is trading under the ticker “BABA.”
Apple threw down a gauntlet on privacy earlier today with an open letter from CEO Tim Cook on its web site “about Apple’s commitment to your privacy.”
In the letter, Cook appears to clearly differentiate Apple and its use of personal and social information with that of the wider marketplace:
We believe in telling you up front exactly what’s going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience.
He goes on to explain that Apple is publishing a new website where they will explain “how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why.”
He then draws a clear line between Apple’s business model of being product-focused, and that of Apple’s competition (namely Google) where “You’re the product”:
A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy. Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.
Still surfing through some of the reactions, but David Meyer from GigaOm had this to say:
Overall, I think this is a very necessary set of moves, and hopefully one that will be good for the wider mobile ecosystem. It’s about time that vendors started putting trust front and center in their marketing pitches. Particularly as these devices start storing and transmitting health data and information about the functioning of people’s homes, customers need to be assured that this data will be held securely – indeed, they should demand it as a condition of adopting such services.
Meyer also suggests other players need become more transparent about user privacy, including Google:
Google too needs to be more upfront about what it’s doing to protect the privacy of its users, and if there are elements of its activities that it’s quieter about, then perhaps that’s a message worth taking to heart.
So it appears that Apple cares about consumer’s privacy.
My only question is whether or not consumers care about consumer privacy!
Today’s a big day for the folks in Scotland and the United Kingdom, as the Scots determine whether or not they’re prepared to strike out on their own since 1707, when the Treaty of Union brought Greaet Britain and Scotland together. That was a mere 307 years ago.
I’m not about to take sides in such vote, one that has turned whole families inside and out, based on the media coverage I’ve seen. Half seem to say “Yes” to independence, the other half seem to say “No.” We’ll find out tomorrow morning which half was bigger. Meanwhile, I’ll just say that Edinburgh is lovely and the scotch whiskey I tasted from around the Scottish countryside simply sublime.
Back here in this country, the big news is the continued PR unravelling of the National Football League, fed originally by the Ray Rice elevator video and, then, one case of domestic abuse of the League’s players emerging after another. Such a chain of events is often referred to as “death by a thousand cuts,” except in this case, only a few players are getting cut and being forced to take their $600-700K/week paychecks to simply sit on the sidelines.
But not everyone is hankering to get back in the football game. Right here in Austin, Texas yesterday, the starting quarterback for the University of Texas Longhorns football team, David Ash, announced that he would end his football career after having experienced several concussions in his three+ years with the team.
David Ash had a collegiate quarterback passing rating average of 138.6, and had a 62.9 percent completion rating for over 4,700 yards.
I had to go back and look up what all goes in to a NCAA QB rating, citing the following example from Wikipedia:
- ATT = Number of passing attempts
- COMP = Number of completions
- YDS = Passing yards
- TD = Touchdown passes
- INT = Interceptions
Ashe was a very good quarterback, but that’s not the big news, that Ashe had a high QB rating. The big news is that he’s quitting now rather than after having been drafted into the NFL.
Ashe is playing some serious offense with his health, and one has to wonder whether other players in NCAA men’s football will sit up and take notice.
As for me beating up on the game of football, that’s hardly the case. I love the game. I was wearing shoulder pads and knee pads in the hot north Texas sun as early as fifth grade, and played in a pee-wee flag football league before that. I loved everything about it — the camaraderie, the smell of the turf, the coaches yelling at me, the strategy behind the game, the constant improvisation on the field, and yes, even the hits. Especially the hits.
But that was a long time ago. We didn’t know then what we know now.
And so the game is at a crossroads.
How can football at all levels continue to be viable and safer with an acceptable level of violence on the field, while at the same time educating its players to stop the violence off the field — against women, children, anyone — all while minimizing the player risk of enduring long term physical and mental damage. It’s a tall order.
On the field, technology can certainly help. New helmet standards are being explored to try and at least reduce the percentage of concussions, but that new standard will take effect in 2016 at the earliest. New rules have already been introduced to prevent “defenseless” players from taking shots above their shoulders and helmet hits.
Off the field…well, that’s a little more complicated, because in that equation, we’re all complicit: Players, fans, advertisers, TV networks, all of us who love the game.
Sidelining players may be a start, but it seems to me to be simple common sense would suggest there has to be a bigger price to pay for beating up on defenseless women and children — a price that carries a penalty high in moral suasion, in dollars, and in attention paid by the spectating public.
Because we can’t pay attention to the violence of the football game on the field and not pay attention to the domestic violence off of it.
But, if enough people do look away from the gridiron, for a single weekend, even for a single game, the stakeholders of the game are sure to take notice of emptier stands and lower TV ratings.
Because after all, that is how, and why, the game is played in the first place.
AT&T and IBM are continuing to speed up business adoption of cloud services by extending AT&T NetBondSM services to the SoftLayer platform for stronger security and performance.
This extension of the IBM and AT&T alliance will allow businesses to easily create hybrid-computing solutions. AT&T Virtual Private Network (VPN) customers can use AT&T NetBond to connect their IT infrastructure to SoftLayer’s cloud services.
The service allows customers to benefit from highly secure connections with high reliability and performance as an alternative to relying on public Internet access.
AT&T NetBond combines the security of AT&T virtual private networking with cloud resources. As a result, business customers have flexible and high performing access to the cloud. It also dynamically allocates VPN bandwidth, allowing customers to use as much or as little as they need.
AT&T NetBond offers the following customer benefits:
- Simple: Seamlessly works with existing AT&T VPN through APIs, creating an automated experience. Customers don’t need to order or manage any other equipment or access lines.
- Savings: Network elasticity that automatically flexes with the needs of the cloud service. Companies can save as much as 60 percent on networking costs.
- Performance: Delivers as much as 50 percent lower latency and three times the availability when compared with the public Internet.
- Security: Isolates traffic going directly to cloud platforms using the AT&T private global network, providing more protections from risks such as DDoS attacks.
The companies expect these capabilities to be available in first quarter of 2015.
You can learn more here.
IBM today announced that Caris Life Sciences is using IBM technical computing and storage technology to accelerate the company’s molecular profiling services for cancer patients.
These services deliver important information to help oncologists develop tailored therapeutic plans for each patient’s unique cancer, which could lead to better health outcomes and reduced costs to the healthcare system in general.
Today, optimal cancer care requires sophisticated integration of diverse molecular profiling technologies, which analyze the alterations in molecular signaling pathways in a patient’s tumor to best match them to potential treatment options or clinical trials by sifting through patient case history treatments, clinical trial data, medical literature, and other emerging evidence.
This poses information overload challenges for oncologists who need to make treatment decisions in real time. Today’s clinicians need access to sophisticated big data infrastructure and analytical algorithms to optimize clinical decisions.
To help meet this need, Caris is using multiple technologies to develop world-class molecular profiling services that help doctors advance evidence-based, personalized treatment options for cancer patients.
It has tested more than 65,000 cancer patients for 70 different molecular markers using multiple technology platforms. These markers are then correlated with 55 FDA-approved cancer therapies and hundreds of clinical trials agents.
The Caris tumor profiling database is one of the largest datasets in the application of advanced molecular profiling technologies to support clinicians in delivering personalized treatment recommendations – or precision oncology.
Working with IBM and premier IBM Business Partner Re-Store, Caris has developed a scalable, data-aware and secure infrastructure with IBM systems and servers for complex molecular profiling analysis. This enhanced infrastructure leverages the broadest range of IBM technologies in the life sciences industry.
With the support of IBM technical computing and software defined storage technology, Caris can now make recommendations on 55 potentially actionable drug to molecular target associations as a result of being able to profile both genomic and proteomic data — a significant increase over the current 19 therapeutic recommendations using genomic information alone.
By adding IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and code name Elastic Storage to its HPC environment, Caris is able to access and process massive amounts of data at a significantly faster pace.
You can learn more about Caris’ use of IBM technologies in the video below.
IBM today announced Watson Analytics, a natural language-based cognitive service that can provide instant access to powerful predictive and visual analytic tools for businesses.
According to analysts, only a small fraction of business people use powerful analytics tools as part of their decision making today. Watson Analytics is designed to make advanced and predictive analytics easy to acquire and use.
The first release of Watson Analytics will include a freemium version of its cloud-based service designed to run on desktop and mobile devices.
Watson Analytics offers a full range of self-service analytics, including access to easy-to-use data refinement and data warehousing services that make it easier for business users to acquire and prepare data – beyond simple spreadsheets – for analysis and visualization that can be acted upon and interacted with.
IBM Watson Analytics uses natural language to make interaction with powerful, predictive analytics easier with the ability to understand key questions, such as:
- What are the key drivers of my product sales?
- Which benefits drive employee retention the most?
- Which deals are most likely to close?
Unlike analytics offerings designed primarily for data scientists and analysts predominantly focused on visualization, IBM Watson Analytics automates steps like data preparation, predictive analysis, and visual storytelling for business professionals across data intensive disciplines including marketing, sales, operations, finance and human resources.
In a piece for The New York Times “Bits” blog, Steve Lohr highlighted some recent work IBM has done with clients using Watson Analytics:
IBM has shown an early working version of Watson Analytics to a handful of customers and industry analysts, letting them try it out, and they are generally impressed. It combines basics of data handling with the Watson technologies of natural-language processing and machine learning. A result, they say, is that a business person, who is not a statistician or data scientist, can type in questions to probe corporate data. Examples: “What high-value customers am I most likely to close sales with in the next 30 days?” and “Which benefits drive employee retention the most?”
Designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind, business users can gain instant access to persona-based business scenarios specific to their role. Instead of fumbling over data, searching for answers or testing hypotheses, the user can focus on understanding the business and effectively communicating results to stakeholders.
Watson Analytics, they say, may respond with answers ranked by probabilities or with suggestions. The suggestions can begin a sort of dialogue, recommendations to improve the data used or add other sources. It can, for example, rate the quality of the data probed by an initial inquiry. More reliable predictions, the Watson software might say, would result from cleaning the data or including other sources, like local weather or traffic flows, for retail sales predictions, for example.
Most analytic offerings assume users have data ready for analysis, a clear idea of the type of analysis needed, and the skills and time to build a model for analysis.
However, most business users have none of these things. Finding and validating data can represent 50 percent or more of the time in an analysis project. Business users often then struggle with figuring out what analysis would be relevant and how to tell the story in a report or diagram. Watson Analytics automates these steps to accelerate users’ ability to get to the answers they’re seeking, quickly and on their own.
Watson Analytics also incorporates natural language processing so business users can ask the right questions and get results in terms familiar to their business that can be read and understood or interacted with.
As users interact with the results, they can fine-tune their questions and the data to surface the most relevant facts and uncover unforeseen patterns and relationships, which will enable predictive decision making for all levels of users.
Watson Analytics delivers a unified analytics and data experience on the cloud. Like other IBM Cloud solutions, it will be hosted on SoftLayer and available through the IBM Cloud marketplace.
IBM also intends to make Watson Analytics services available through IBM Bluemix to enable developers and ISVs to leverage its capabilities in their applications.
Certain Watson Analytics capabilities will be available for beta test users within 30 days, and offered in a variety of freemium and premium packages starting later this year.
When I posted about last week’s Apple announcement, I suggested the most important news was not the new Apple Watch or new iPhones, but rather the Apple Pay scheme that was also announced.
I stand by that, aside from all the post-announcement hype, but as I expected, Apple can’t just snap their fingers on this one.
Here’s Prismatic in a blog post entitled “Why Walmart and Best Buy aren’t backing Apple Pay:
When Apple Pay was unveiled Tuesday, Eddy Cue was quick to mention that 83% of US card issuers are already on board. 220,000 stores will also support the mobile payment initiative at launch, including big chains like McDonalds, Walgreens, Staples, and of course, Disney.
But not everybody’s on board.
Well, remember the browser wars of the 1990s? And then the start of the smartphone wars with the introduction of the iPhone and Androids?
There are still plenty of merchants that haven’t signed on, and some of the biggest names, including Walmart and Best Buy, don’t plan on supporting Apple Pay any time soon. Both Walmart and Best Buy have no plans to equip their stores with NFC scanners, according to The Wall Street Journal. The iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Apple Watch utilize NFC to process mobile payments.
But apparently the opposition runs deeper than that when it comes to Best Buy and Walmart:
The real reason Best Buy and Walmart won’t be supporting Apple Pay is their allegiance to a retailer-owned mobile commerce network called Merchant Customer Exchange. MCX uses an iOS and Android app called CurrentC that involves the customer scanning a QR code instead of using NFC’s tap-and-pay. It’s basically a cross-platform take on Passbook.
Cross platform, it’s good, no?
MXC, or “Merchant Customer Exchange,” seems to be sourced from technology designed by VeriFone, and both Best Buy and Wal-Mart have been using the QR code scanning capability for some time.
Prismatic points out some other key MXC partners:
Target, 7-Eleven, Southwest Airlines, Gap and Shell.
And as they also point out, the timing couldn’t be better for Apple, because point-of-sale terminals in the U.S. must begin supporting electronic EMV credit cards by October 2015 or “risk liability for fraudulent card activity and identity theft.”
As a merchant, would you go for the vanilla MXC offering or enter into the sexy milieu of the Apple Pay ecosystem, complete with one-touch buying??
You can set your watch (buy) it.
IBM announced that Gartner, Inc. has positioned IBM as a Leader in the 2014 Magic Quadrant for Mobile Application Development Platforms.
For the report, Gartner evaluated the IBM MobileFirst application development portfolio that includes a complete range of tools for developers to create, deploy, manage and secure mobile apps, on-premise or in the cloud.
According to Gartner, “Leaders must represent a strong combination of ability to execute and completeness of vision. In the mobile application development platform (MADP) sector, this means that Leaders not only are good at cross-platform development, deployment and management across the full life cycle, but also have good vision of the multichannel enterprise, support for multiple architectures and standards, a solid understanding of IT requirements, and scalable channels and partnerships. Leaders must provide platforms that are easy to purchase, program, deploy and upgrade, and which can connect to a range of back-end and cloud services, from the same vendor as well as third parties.”
A key component of the IBM MobileFirst portfolio, IBM recently announced several enhancements to the IBM Worklight platform to address the evolving needs of mobile app developers, including those increasingly incorporating analytics and cloud-based services to quickly build and deploy mobile apps. Other major components of the IBM MobileFirst portfolio include integrated software and services for mobile management, payments, security and engagement.
IBM Worklight allows enterprises to optimize mobile user experiences by supporting both native (via SDKs) and hybrid development models as well as tracking user experience with sentiment analysis and crowd-sourced feedback submissions.
The platform helps developers integrate analytics, workflow and back-end systems, and ensure greater enterprise security and version management. IBM Worklight features mobile management and security capabilities for scanning apps to identify vulnerabilities early in development cycles and assist with determining problems with apps that have already been deployed.
Something must have seeped into the mergers and acquisitions well over the weekend, as there are lots of deals and deal chatter coming into this fine Monday morning.
First, the rumor that Microsoft was to buy videogame company Mojang, maker of “Minecraft,” is no longer a rumor. Microsoft apparently paid $2.5 billion for the pleasure. But it looks as though there’s a planned brain drain straight out of the gate, according to the Mojang blog:
Though it’s too early to confirm which of us will continue working on Minecraft or other projects, we predict that the vast majority (if not all) Mojangstas will continue to work at Mojang for the time being. The founders: Notch, Carl, and Jakob are leaving. We don’t know what they’re planning. It won’t be Minecraft-related but it will probably be cool.
Brain drain or not, Microsoft has finally found itself some content for the Windows Mobile platform!
Meanwhile, across the continent in Teaneck, New Jersey, IT consulting firm Cognizant is getting a healthcare boost with its acquisition of privately held TriZetto Corp for $2.7 billion in cash.
TriZetto offers healthcare IT solutions to both payers and providers. The combined entity will serve 245,000 healthcare providers and payers and will cover a massive 180 million consumers across the U.S.
There’s also a big beer deal allegedly in the works that makes these other two look like minor pickups. Anheuser-Bushch InBev NV is apparently looking closely at buying its global beer rival SABMiller, a deal that would be roughly estimated at around $122 billion.
All these beer rolls up make me pine for the simple days, when you could “Just say Natural.”
You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay…
For me and so many others, 9/11 is a day of remembrance, and I’ve written in past year’s anniversary blog posts my thoughts and memories about that ill-fated day, trying to focus on the positive.
Today, I’ll forego business as usual here on the Turbo blog. But I couldn’t help notice that last night’s speech by President Obama about the strategy for dealing with the ISIS terrorists swarming across Iraq and Syria was odd in its timing, coming the day before the 13th anniversary of 9/11.
Because this is largely a blog that focuses on technology and marketing, and sometimes the connective tissue between the two, I thought it might be an appropriate time to recognize the role technology played on that horrifying day, and how technology has changed in the war on terror since September 11, 2001.
For example, though the BlackBerry has seen some rough roads in the past few years, on that dark September day, the only real “smartphone” available was often the only lifeline of communications between people separated from one another, and demonstrated seven years before the introduction of the iPhone the future of mobile data communications a communications capability we simply take for granted today.
This was how Simon Romero described one scenario about the BlackBerry’s role in a story published September 20, 2001:
BIG WTC explosion. I’m going to street. I’m scared.” That was Lynne Federman’s frantic e-mail message to her husband a few seconds after the first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Ms. Federman, a corporate lawyer, was in her office at J. P. Morgan Chase, three blocks from the trade center, punching the message into her BlackBerry pager. “What??” her husband, Joseph Korb, wrote back on his BlackBerry from Newark, where he was on jury duty. “Seems helicopter crashed into WTC,” Ms. Federman replied. “Going to street now. Very scary. End of world.”
I remember myself how the phone lines were jammed that day, and having just moved to Austin from NYC two months prior, there were a number of people I wanted to make sure were safe. For me, AOL Instant Messenger and a corporate instant messaging client was how I began to learn the people I loved were safe.
The Times went on to describe the BlackBerry’s capability, a description that in retrospect seems almost antiquated:
The BlackBerry…worked well because its network in a way resembles the on-ramp of a freeway. It transmits data in small packets of information that can simply wait for a small amount of space on the system to be freed up to be sent or received.
To continue the analogy, the traffic moved slowly, but it mostly worked.
If the BlackBerry was the “on-ramp” in 2001, what would be today’s equivalent? Thirteen years later, the technology story has evolved dramatically, and so have its adherents.
That would include ISIS, which has used social media to great effect — from communications and propaganda to recruiting.
Vice Media recently wrote a story about ISIS’ social media exploits, explaining:
The phenomenon of fighters taking their message to social media is not new, and the war in Syria has been fought over the control of narratives as much as of territory. The offensive in Iraq is opening up a new battlefield both on and offline, however. And, so far, ISIS militants have proved that they are absolute pros at the Twitter wars.
Vice went on to outline ISIS’s sophisticated organizational structure surrounding its use of Twitter:
“There are different types of ISIS divisions on social media: the ISIS official media account, which publishes all its video releases, ISIS province accounts, which publish live feed info and pictures, the ISIS mujahideen accounts, where fighters talk about their experience and daily life, and ISIS supporters, who counter Western, Shia, and tyrants’ propaganda and lies,” Abu Bakr al Janabi, a prolific ISIS supporter who often translates and distributes the group’s messages, told VICE News.
Twitter has tried to go on its own offensive in return, working to remove ISIS-affiliated accounts when and where possible.
For their efforts, ISIS has threatened to kill Twitter employees for the removals and account shutdowns.
But the Twitter back-and-forth may be a mere skirmish compared to the larger social media communications strategy ISIS has in play:
“Everyone needs a social media campaign today, even political movements in the Middle East it seems. The type of highly focused marketing and social media community building as exhibited by ISIS is something that brands strive for to get their message across,” Dinah Alobeid, a spokesperson for social analytics company Brandwatch, told VICE News.
“Social media is good for building a network of connections and recruitment,” he added. “Fighters talk about experiences in battle and encourage people to rise, and supporters defend and translate ISIS statements.”
The airstrikes on ISIS are at 150 and counting. So what is the strategy for countering the impact of its social media juggernaut?
President Obama may have to relent and upgrade his special presidential BlackBerry after all.