IBM has launched a beta of Watson Analytics, an interactive Q&A service designed to answer questions and highlight trends within sets of enterprise data.
The service “is about putting powerful analytics in the hands of every business user,” said Eric Sall, IBM vice president of marketing for business analytics.
Traditional business intelligence tools remain too difficult to use for business managers, Sall said. “It is hard to get the data. It is hard to analyze the data if you’re not a specialist, and it is hard to use the tools,” he said. Watson Analytics attempts to streamline the process.
Natural language systems are becoming increasingly prevalent as a form of human-computer interface. Apple’s Siri, Google’s GoogleNow and Microsoft’s Cortana all act as virtualized personal assistants, able to answer a range of simple questions on behalf of their users.
Watson Analytics operates in a similar manner, in that it can offer responses to questions posed by the user in their chosen language, rather than forcing the user to develop a SQL query, master a complex statistical package or write data-parsing code to better understand some large set of data.
The effort is the latest move in IBM’s $1 billion initiative to commercialize Watson technologies.
IBM Research developed Watson to compete with human contestants on the “Jeopardy” game show in 2011, using natural language processing and analytics, as well as many sources of structured and unstructured data, to formulate responses to the show’s questions.
In the years since, the company has been working to commercialize the Watson technology by identifying industries that could benefit from this form of cognitive computing, such as health care, law enforcement and finance.
Earlier this year, IBM launched the Watson Discovery Advisor, which is customized for scientific researchers who need to deeply probe one specific body of scientific knowledge, such as chemistry or cellular biology.
Another service, the company’s Watson Engagement Advisor, uses the artificial intelligence technology to aid in customer support.
The company said demand had outstripped supply of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which feature larger screens and longer battery life. Deliveries of pre-orders will begin on Friday and will continue through October.
Bumper first-day pre-orders point to first-weekend sales of up to 10 million units, analysts estimated.
“Assuming preorders are similar to the 40 percent of first weekend sales for the iPhone 5, this would imply iPhone 6/6Plus first weekend sales could be around 10 million,” Wells Fargo Securities analysts wrote in a note.
About 2 million pre-orders were received for the iPhone 5 in the first 24 hours after it went on sale in September 2012. Apple sold 5 million of these phones in the first weekend.
Apple sold 9 million iPhone 5Ss and 5Cs, which were launched last year, in the first three days in stores. The company did not reveal pre-order numbers for these phones.
Raymond James analysts said they expect sales of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to top 9 million in the first weekend.
“Apple will be selling every iPhone it can make, at least through October. Because of this, the first weekend sales are typically more indicative of supply than demand,” they said.
The company routinely grapples with iPhone supply constraints, particularly in years that involve a smartphone re-design.
Apple’s website showed last week that the larger 5.5-inch “Plus” models displayed a wait time of up to a month. The 4.7-inch version was available for delivery on Sept. 19.
Janney Capital Markets analysts said the large number of pre-orders was due to “pent-up demand” for bigger iPhone screens.
The brokerage raised its sales estimate for the latest iPhones to 37.4 million units for the current quarter and 60 million for the quarter ended December.
The Supreme Court’s June ruling on the patentability of software raised as many questions as it answered. One specific software patent went down in flames in the case of Alice v. CLS Bank, but the abstract reasoning of the decision didn’t provide much clarity on which other patents might be in danger.
Now the lower courts appear to be bringing the ruling’s practical consequences into focus and it looks like software patents are getting a kicking. There have been 11 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court’s decision and each of them has led to the patent being invalidated.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Patent Office handed out a growing number of what might be called “do it on a computer” patents. These patents take some activity that people have been doing for centuries — say, holding funds in escrow until a transaction is complete — and claim the concept of performing that task with a computer or over the internet. The patents are typically vague about how to perform the task in question.
The Supreme Court invalidated a patent which claimed that it’s owners invented the concept of using a computer to hold funds in escrow to reduce the risk that one party would fail to deliver on an agreement. The Supreme Court ruled that the use of a computer did not turn this centuries-old concept into a new invention.
This has lead to lots of other patents being declared llegal. On July 6, a Delaware trial court rejected a Comcast patent that claimed the concept of a computerized telecommunications system checking with a user before deciding whether to establish a new connection. The court said that the patent could easily be performed by human beings making telephone calls.
Basically this means that you can’t take a normal human activity, do it with a computer and call it an patentable invention.
It would kill off the famous one click patent if that were ever challenged.
Customers may have to wait three to four weeks to get their hands on Apple Inc’s iPhone 6 Plus, after a record number of orders for the company’s latest smartphones put a huge dent in the available supply.
The new iPhone 6 goes on sale on Sept. 19 in the United States but the company began taking online orders on Thursday. While the larger 5.5-inch “Plus” models now display a wait time of up to a month, the 4.7-inch version remains available for delivery on Sept. 19, Apple’s website showed.
Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint Corp, also showed shipment delays of up to six weeks on their respective websites. Apple said the pace of orders has so far outstripped any of its previous iPhones.
“Response to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has been incredible, with a record number of pre-orders overnight. Pre-orders are currently available online or through the Apple Store App,” spokeswoman Trudy Muller said.
Apple routinely grapples with iPhone supply constraints, particularly in years that involve a smartphone re-design. The latest iPhones come with larger screens and some analysts had anticipated that production issues may keep a lid on initial runs.
Its suppliers had scrambled to get enough screens ready because the need to redesign a key component had disrupted panel production, supply chain sources told Reuters last month.
It was unclear whether the hiccup could limit the number of phones available to consumers, the sources said at the time. Apple declined to comment on supply chain issues.
In addition, Chinese customers may also have to wait until the year-end before they can buy the iPhone 6. Apple is yet to set a release date for China, the world’s biggest smartphone market.
The company unveiled its latest iPhones along with a watch and a mobile payments service last Tuesday.
Verizon Communications will give customers who trade in an old iPhone a free iPhone 6 in exchange for a two-year contract, the country’s largest wireless carrier announced hours after Apple Inc introduced the widely anticipated device.
The announcement came as critics speculated that Apple’s newest phone, starting at $199 with a two-year contract, would not be competitive as more carriers eliminate contracts and unbundle service charges from the cost of devices.
Analysts say that by making the cost of devices more transparent, equipment financing plans make expensive handsets like the iPhone less appealing. On the other hand, the plans allow customers to pay for devices in installments, making pricy devices like the iPhone more accessible.
Customers who trade in an iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5c or 5s in working condition will receive a $200 gift card to pre-order the 16-gigabyte version of the newer model, Verizon said in a statement. The offer does not apply to Apple’s other new phone, the larger iPhone 6 Plus.
Verizon has been more reluctant than competitors to dive into equipment financing, and its promotion indicates its attachment to the older contract model, which binds subscribers to the carrier for a fixed term, said Jan Dawson, analyst at JackDaw Research.
“There is an inherent risk in the shift to installment billing that it creates more loyalty to the device than to the carrier,” said Dawson.
“Verizon sees the value of the two-year contract in that tying a device to a two-year plan can prevent churn,” said Dawson.
He pointed out that new device releases are major factors for subscribers in deciding whether to switch carriers.
As the market for new smartphone customers shrinks, carriers have been competing aggressively for subscribers, slashing prices and engaging in creative promotions to poach each others’ customers.
On Monday, T-Mobile announced it would beat any other major carriers’ trade-in rates and give customers a $50 credit as well.
Intel has released its Edison chip for wearables at its Intel developer conference (IDF) in California today. The tiny computer is a dual-core Quark system on chip (SoC) Pentium-class x86 processor made using the 22nm process.
The Edison device runs Linux and has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth modules. The chip can also connect to its own app store, and has 40 I/Os via a 70-pin connector that lets users do many things without going through a custom board. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich Intel said that the module, which has the footprint of an SD card, was to encourage developers to build the next generation of wearable and connected devices now that it is shipping.
All IDF attendees went home with a free Edison developer kit and it will be on sale for $50 retail cost. Like the Galileo board it will be open source so developers can develop it.
“I really hope to see an explosion of innovation around this part, it has everything a person needs and an extension capability to build just about anything you can think of,” he said.
Edison has been developed by Intel to be a simple low-power development platform for people to develop software easily, thus to usher in the next generation of Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices.
As the company tries to revive MSN, the focus this time is also on top content from the Web instead of offering original content. For the relaunch, the company has signed up with over 1,300 publishers worldwide including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Yomiuri, CNN and The Guardian.
A “Services Stripe” at the top of the MSN homepage gives users easy access to personal services including Outlook.com email, OneDrive, Office 365 and Skype, as well as popular third-party sites like Twitter and Facebook, according to an online preview launched by Microsoft on Sunday.
The new MSN also provides “actionable information” and content and personal productivity tools such as shopping lists, a savings calculator, a symptom checker, and a 3D body explorer. Readers will have access to content from 11 sections including sports, news, health and fitness, money, travel and video, wrote Frank Holland, corporate vice president of Microsoft Advertising, in a blog post.
The company said it has rebuilt MSN from the ground up for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. The new MSN helps people complete their key digital tasks across all of their devices, wrote Brian MacDonald, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for information and content experiences, in a blog post.
“Information and personalized settings are roamed through the cloud to keep users in the know wherever they are,” MacDonald added. Users worldwide can try out the new MSN preview.
In the coming months, Microsoft plans to release MSN apps across iOS and Android to complement its corresponding Windows and Windows Phone apps. “You only need to set your favorites once, and your preferences will be connected across MSN, Cortana, Bing and other Microsoft experiences,” MacDonald wrote.
Microsoft claims an audience of more than 437 million people across 50 countries for MSN.
MSN.com ranks number 26 among the top sites in the U.S., behind Microsoft’s own Bing site, Google’s search site, YouTube, Facebook and Yahoo’s portal, according to traffic estimates by Alexa.
The Fire Phone, which originally sold for $649 minus a contract commitment and for $199 with a two-year deal with AT&T, was marked down to $449 without a contract and 99 cents with one.
Amazon spun the dramatic price cut in the best possible light. “Fire is another example of the value Amazon delivers to customers,” said Ian Freed, vice president of Amazon Devices, in a statement Monday.
In fact, by all accounts, the Fire has done poorly. According to data mining done a month ago by ad network Chitika, Fire Phone usage grew only “incrementally” in the device’s first two months. By Aug. 14, Amazon’s phone accounted for just 0.02% of all smartphone-based ad impressions.
Chitika’s number was not a measurement of the number of devices in use, but of the online activity of Fire Phone users: The calculation was best described as “usage share.”
StatCounter, another metrics vendor that also tracks usage share, did not even list Fire Phone in its operating system data for the month of August.
In June, when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the Fire Phone, most analysts slammed the pricing, saying that the online retailer needed to do more than simply mimic the competition.
“If the $199 on 2yr contract is all there is to Fire Phone pricing it will be a tough sell,” Carolina Milanesi, chief of research and head of U.S. business for Kantar WorldPanel Comtech, said on Twitter that day.
“Does the 99-cent price matter? Sure it does. But in the scheme of things, does it help? No, because you still have to have a contract,” Milanesi said in an interview today.
She pointed out that Apple, for example, gives away the iPhone 4S to customers who sign up for a two-year contract with a mobile carrier. The Fire Phone’s “unlocked” price of $449 is also identical to that of an off-contract iPhone 4S.
Amazon missed its chance to make a splash months ago, Milanesi argued. “This price then would have sent a different message,” she said. “It would have made a difference because at the time [mid-June] there was not a lot going on. But to do this the day before Apple announces its new iPhones, and right after Samsung showed off its Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge?”
Dubbed My Intelligent Communication Accessory, or MICA, has glamorous looks as well as 3G cellular connectivity. It doesn’t need to be tethered to a smartphone.
Designed by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of fashion house Opening Ceremony, MICA is a cuff-style accessory covered with snakeskin as well as semiprecious stones such as obsidian and lapis, which were important stones in Ancient Egyptian tombs.
It will be available in two styles, one with white snakeskin and the other with black snakeskin, each with different stones.
The 1.6-inch sapphire-glass touchscreen can display SMS messages relayed through the bracelet’s Intel XMM6321 3G cellular radio. It can also display calendar alerts.
No world on price yet, but if you have to ask you can’t afford it. It will be sold through some Barneys and Opening Ceremony stores by the December holiday season.
The MICA bracelet also follows Intel’s acquisition of health-tracking wristband maker Basis Science in March.
The tablet, which runs on Google’s Android 4.4 OS, has Intel’s quad-core Atom chip, code-named Bay Trail. The chip is capable of running PC-class applications and rendering high-definition video.
The 8-inch S8 offers 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution, which is also on Google’s 7-inch Nexus 7. The S8 is priced lower than the Nexus 7, which sells for $229.
The Tab S8 is 7.87 millimeters thick, weighs 294 grams, and runs for seven hours on a single battery charge. It has a 1.6-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel back camera. Other features include 16GB of storage, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. LTE is optional.
The Tab S8 will ship in multiple countries. Most of Lenovo’s tablets worldwide with screen sizes under 10 inches run on Android.
Lenovo also announced its largest gaming laptop. The Y70 Touch has a 17.3-inch touchscreen, and can be configured with Intel’s Core i7 processors and Nvidia’s GTX-860M graphics card. It is 25.9 millimeters thick and is priced starting at $1,299. It will begin shipping next month.
The company also announced Erazer X315 gaming desktop with Advanced Micro Devices processors code-named Kaveri. It can be configured with up to 32GB of DDR3 DRAM and 4TB of hard drive storage or 2TB of hybrid solid-state/hard drive storage. It will ship in November in the U.S. with prices starting at $599.
The products were announced ahead of the IFA trade show in Berlin. Lenovo is holding a press conference at IFA where it is expected to announce more products.
ARM claims it has seen growing momentum for its 64-bit ARMv8-A processor designs, announcing it has signed 50 licensing agreements with silicon partners to fab chips based on the architecture.
ARM said that a total of 27 companies have signed agreements for the company’s ARMv8-A technology, including all of the silicon vendors selling application processors for smartphones plus most of those targeting enterprise networking and servers.
The firm did not disclose which company signed the 50th licence, telling The INQUIRER that it was up to the licensees themselves whether to announce their plans. However, it claimed that while the first wave of ARM v8-A licences were for silicon targeting smartphones and tablets, the latest wave includes many aimed at enterprise infrastructure as well.
ARM unveiled its 64-bit processor architecture in 2011, followed a year later by the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 core designs based on it. These provide backwards compatibility with existing 32-bit ARM software, but add a new 64-bit execution state that delivers more capabilities, including support for 64-bit data and a larger memory address space that is required if ARM chips are to make their way into servers and other enterprise hardware.
“ARMv8-A technology brings multiple benefits, including 64-bit capability alongside improved efficiency of existing 32-bit applications,” said Noel Hurley, GM of ARM’s processor division.
While ARM’s chips are already widely used in smartphones and tablets thanks to their low power consumption, they have also been getting attention in recent years for use in the data centre, as service providers and enterprises alike have become concerned about the amount of power being consumed by IT infrastructure.
The list of silicon vendors developing chips based on the ARMv8-A architecture already includes Samsung, Qualcomm, Broadcom and AMD, the latter of which is set to bring to market a series of ARM-based server chips, the Opteron A1100 Series processors, codenamed Seattle.
Meanwhile, software vendors including Red Hat and Ubuntu Linux developer Canonical are working on a 64-bit software ecosystem to power ARM-based servers.
ARM recently announced that the 50 billionth chip containing an ARM processor core had been shipped by partners, and said the momentum in 64-bit ARM architecture is a key component in the journey toward the next 100 billion chips.
The social network is responding to a firestorm of user anger that erupted when it appeared that Facebook was forcing people to load its Messenger app in a veiled attempt to usurp their privacy.
Now Facebook is trying to set the record straight.
“You might have heard the rumors going around about the Messenger app,” Facebook said in a message to users that popped up on the network’s mobile app. “Some have claimed that the app is always using your phone’s camera and microphone to see and hear what you’re doing. These reports aren’t true, and many have been corrected. Still, we want to address some concerns you might have.”
The message is one way Facebook is trying to spread the word about Messenger.
“We’re testing ways of explaining Messenger to people, and as part of that, a percentage of people will receive this notice,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in an email to Computerworld. “We felt it was important to offer more information, particularly in light of false reports that have spread over the last couple of weeks.”
The trouble started earlier this month when users first complained that Facebook was making them use a separate app to send messages, photos and videos to their friends via their mobile devices.
Matters heated up when reports surfaced alleging that Facebook could use the app to surreptitiously take over users’ smartphones to take photos or even make phone calls.
Much of the confusion stemmed from reviews of the app in the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store.
On Google Play, a user identified as Ty Owen wrote, “Look very closely at the permissions before downloading. The permissions state they can make calls and send texts without you even knowing. By doing this it will cost you money and god noes [sic] what other info they are getting.”
The problem snowballed and the rumors spread, leading some users to either not download Messenger or to uninstall it.
According to Facebook, those comments do not reflect reality.
“If you want to send a selfie to a friend, the app needs permission to turn on your phone’s camera and capture that photo,” the company said in its message to users. “We don’t turn on your camera or microphone when you aren’t using the app.”
Invitations to the media and analysts went out a week ago for the long-expected event. Apple was even coyer than usual, declining to provide any hints, as it often does, of the event’s purpose.
“Wish we could say more,” the invitation simply read.
Analysts expect that it will be used to unveil new iPhones, as the same-timed presentations did in 2013 and 2012.
The date, as Computerworld pointed out a month ago, synchronizes with Apple’s iPhone 5S and 5C unveiling of last year. Then, Apple touted the new smartphones on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The year before, Apple used Sept. 12, a Wednesday — the usual day of the week, Tuesday, had been an anniversary of the terrorist attacks against New York City and Washington, D.C. — for its iPhone 5 debut.
The event will take place at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, which is on the campus of De Anza College in Cupertino. The Flint Center seats 2,400, significantly more than either the theater on Apple’s campus which was used last year for the iPhone 5S and 5C or the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where Apple hosted its 2012 iPhone 5 presentation.
o-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the original Mac on January 24, 1984, at the Flint Center. (Jobs’ portion of the shareholders’ meeting where he introduced the Mac begins at the 40:56 mark in this YouTube video.)
The choice of the venue, its size and even the impenetrable tagline made one analyst wonder what Apple has up its sleeves other than the anticipated iPhone 6.
“[The tagline] hints at something unexpected,” said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research. “We know there will be an iPhone in two [screen] sizes, we think we know there will be an ‘iWatch,’ or whatever Apple calls its wearable. But there have been a lot of leaks of a larger-sized tablet. I betcha that’s the unexpected.”
Gottheil was referring to a recent upswing in speculation that Apple is working on a larger-screen iPad, perhaps with a display in the 13-in. range.
“Apple can fill as large a hall as they want,” said Gottheil about the larger space for the Sept. 9 event. “I think the gist is that they want a broader audience, and may be making one big major announcement this year rather than separate events for the iPhone and iPad.”
Apple will kick off the Sept. 9 event at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET). Apple’s history of live webcasting events is spotty: It always broadcasts the keynotes of its Worldwide Developers Conferences (WWDC), and for the last two years also publicly webcast its annual iPad events. But it has not broadcast iPhone introductions.
Samsung Electronics and LG announced their upcoming smartwatches, the Gear S and G Watch R, last week in advance of the show.
Samsung’s Gear S is a 3G smartwatch that doesn’t need a smartphone to function. It’s powered by an unspecified dual-core 1GHz processor and has a curved 2-inch Super AMOLED screen with a 480 by 360 pixel resolution.
After using Android Wear on the Gear Live, Samsung is back to using the Tizen operating system on its latest model. Getting developers to customize apps for smartwatches will be a challenge for any company, particularly Samsung since Tizen doesn’t have the fan base that Android and iOS have.
To help make up for the lack of apps, Samsung has teamed up with Nike on a running app and Nokia for maps.
The Gear S also has 4GB of integrated storage, 512MB of RAM and a 300mAh lithium-ion battery that lasts two days with typical use, according to Samsung. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the Gear S will start shipping worldwide in October.
Samsung has now announced five smartwatches in 12 months — the first model, the Galaxy Gear, was launched at IFA last year. The company’s aim is clearly to consolidate its leading market position in smartwatches, particularly given relentless rumors about Apple’s possible entry into the wearables market, research company CCS Insight wrote in its IFA preview.
The tactic is similar to what Samsung has done in the past — try out a number of different ideas and see what sticks. Given this approach, it’s somewhat surprising the company hasn’t put out a smartwatch with a round face, which LG and Motorola Mobility are expected to do soon.
Motorola’s round Moto 360 has been a long time coming. It was announced along with Android Wear in March and will finally be introduced this week. Motorola has promised the smartwatch would ship in the summer and since it’s already September the company has to deliver in the next few weeks to fulfill that pledge.
The Moto 360 is also a good looking device and is expected to have a 1.5-inch screen, be water and dust resistant, and have an integrated heart-rate monitor.
It will compete with LG’s Android Wear-based G Watch R, which has a 1.3-inch screen and is powered by a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor. It has 4GB of integrated storage, 512MB of RAM and a 410mAh battery. It too has a heart-rate monitor and is water and dust resistant.
Sony is also expected to launch a new smartwatch at IFA. The company is a veteran in the field, so far using its own version of Android. But given Android Wear’s strong momentum, it’s likely that Sony will use the Google platform on the new device, according to CCS Insight.
The smartwatch sector is still in its infancy, with products that have a lot of room for improvement. Wearable sales are still dominated by armbands from vendors such as Fitbit and Jawbone, which have more than a two-thirds market share.
The T4KA7 is a 1/2.4-inch, 20-megapixel backside illuminated sensor with a 1.12 micrometer pixel size, which provides for a smaller sensor size overall.
The sensor allows for a lower module height of under 6 millimeters compared to the current 20-megapixel, 1.2-micrometer sensors, the company said.
“T4KA7 is the first 1.12-micrometer, 20-megapixel sensor on the market with a high frame rate of 22 fps at full resolution,” a Toshiba spokeswoman wrote in an email.
The frame rate is 1.8 times the speed of Toshiba’s previous 20-megapixel sensor, the T4K46.
When zooming digitally, the sensor provides crisper images compared to 13- and 16-megapixel sensors, which are resolutions widely adopted in recent smartphones, she added.
Announced earlier this year, Samsung’s camera-phone hybrid Galaxy K zoomhas a 20.7-megapixel image sensor that is supposed to perform well when taking photos in low-light settings.
Without a specific measurement for comparison, it’s hard to say whether the T4KA7 would do any better in low-light shooting situations than other sensors, the Toshiba spokeswoman said.
“We think we are providing top-class sensors in terms of pixel performance,” she added.
Toshiba is producing samples of its new sensors now, with mass production of up to half a million units per month to begin in November.
Higher-end smartphones already featuring 20-megapixel cameras include the Sony Xperia Z1, the Nokia Lumia 930 and 1520.
Announced last month, the Nokia Lumia 1020 sports a camera designed for photographers — it has a sensor with 41-megapixel resolution.