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.
Google Inc rolled out in India on Monday the first smartphones under its Android One project, pricing them at around 6,399 rupees ($105) to capture the low-cost segment of the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.
The Mountain View-Based company tied up with Indian mobile players Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles to launch the affordable phones, which are powered by its operating system and aimed at emerging markets.
After launching in India, Google said it plans to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015.
Google outlined the pricing and expansion details in a marketing document seen by Reuters. The company is due to host an official media event later on Monday.
India is seen as a lucrative market for low-cost smartphones because many people are buying the devices for the first time. Just 10 percent of the India’s population currently owns a smartphone, brokerage Nomura said in a recent research note, and that figure is likely to double over the next four years.
Google, however, is not the only company jostling for a share of the Indian market.
There are at least 80 smartphone brands in India and analysts say the Android One phones must offer customers more than just affordability if it wants to compete with similarly priced devices made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Motorola and China’s Xiaomi.
“The initial pricing never sticks but it’ll be tough for them to compete if they don’t come down further,” said Neil Shah, research director for devices and ecosystems at Hong Kong-based technology research agency Counterpoint Research.
In June, Google had announced the launch of the Android One project, which aims to boost demand for low-end Android smartphones by vastly improving their quality.
HP is about to make one of its few purchases since it cocked up buying Autonomy in 2011.
HP wants to buy cloud software startup Eucalyptus Software which provides open-source software for building private and hybrid clouds, or Internet-based computing services.
It is not a big sale — HP is tipped to pay less than $100 million. The acquisition is expected to close in the fiscal fourth quarter, after which Eucalyptus Chief Executive Officer Marten Mickos will join HP as senior vice president and head of its cloud business. He will report to CEO Meg Whitman and be tasked to buy HP’s “Helion” cloud computing services. Martin Fink, who now leads the cloud business, will remain chief technology officer as well as director of HP Labs, which focuses on researching next-generation products.
Although it has been making losses, HP has a lot of cash in the bank. It ended the July 2014 quarter with $4.9 billion in operating company net cash. In August, Whitman told analysts HP was in a position to make acquisitions if needed, though it remains committed to returning half its cash to shareholders.
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.
The acquisition of Movirtu helps BlackBerry ramp up its portfolio of services to cater to the needs of its core base of corporate and government clients. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Movirtu’s virtual SIM technology allows an individual to have both a personal and business number on a single mobile device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number.
This allows employees to switch between work and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards.
“Clearly this fits nicely within the strategy we have so far articulated. We are building recurring revenue streams in value-added services and providing more value to enterprises,” the head of BlackBerry’s enterprise unit John Sims said in an interview.
Sims said Movirtu’s technology would allow IT administrators for example to restrict calls and emails to a work number after a particular time, without blocking personal calls or emails to the same device.
BlackBerry, which dominated the smartphone market in its infancy, has been reshaping itself over the course of the last year as its devices have lost ground to Apple’s iPhone and a slew of rival devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.
Under the leadership of its new chief executive John Chen, the company has moved rapidly to stabilize itself by selling certain assets, partnering to make its manufacturing and supply chain more efficient, and raising cash via the sale of its real estate holdings.
Chen, a well-regarded turnaround artist in the tech sector, intends to remain a competitor in the smartphone arena, but is focused on reshaping the company to build on its core strengths in areas like mobile data security and mobile device management.
The company has been making small acquisitions in the last few months, as it looks to build out its offerings for so-called enterprise clients made up primarily by large corporations and government agencies that are in many cases still major users of Blackberry 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.
IBM and Intel have announced that SoftLayer will be the first cloud platform to offer customers bare metal service that provides monitoring and security down to the microchip level. The move will tighten up security on cloud based systems just as Apple’s iCloud appeared to be hacked.
The IBM system works with Intel’s Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) which identifies if traffic is coming from a known location using trusted hardware. Intel TXT verifies components of a computing system from its operating system to its boot firmware and hardware and can then permit or deny a workload from running on that select server system. The increased security is also activated during boot up, meaning that it doesn’t add any performance overhead to applications.
It will also will help organizations improve governance, compliance, audit, application security, privacy, identity and access management and incident response.
Mark Jones, chief technology officer for SoftLayer, said that perceived security flaws were the biggest barrier to cloud adoption.
SoftLayer is the only bare-metal cloud platform offering Intel TXT, leading the industry in enabling customers to build hybrid and cloud environments that can be trusted from end-to-end,” he added.
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?”
The Iconia Tab 8 W runs Windows on an Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core processor. It offers 8 hours of battery life, weighs 370 grams and is 9.75 millimeters thick. The 8-inch screen has a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels.
For the $149 price tag, Acer includes a one-year subscription to the Personal version of Office 365, which includes access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook.
Android fans will prefer the Iconia One 8, running Android 4.4. It has the same Intel processor and screen dimensions as its Windows cousin, but is slightly lighter at 340 grams and only 8.5 millimeters thick.
Buyers can choose between 10 colors, including red, green, blue, purple and pink.
Acer also took the covers off the Iconia 10, an Android-based 10-inch tablet. The device has a quad-core processor from MediaTek. The screen is protected using Gorilla glass and has Full HD resolution. Using Dolby Digital Plus, surround sound is simulated from two-channel stereo audio headphones.
Available in black or white and with a price of $199, the Iconia Tab 10 includes a micro HDMI port and Wireless Display support for showing photos and videos on a bigger TV.
The first of the new tablets to start shipping will be the Iconia 10, available this month in the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
The Iconia Tab 8 W will go on sale in October in EMEA and in November in the Americas.
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.
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.
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.
After four years of double- and triple-digit growth, worldwide tablet shipments this year will grow by just 6.5% over last year, according to IDC. The research firm had previously forecast 12.1% growth.
The tablet market is maturing and long-term trends are becoming clearer, said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets.
More money is being spent on cheap laptops, smartphones or wearables, and people are keeping tablets longer than expected, Bouchard said.
“We originally thought the [ownership cycle] was two years. We realized it was closer to three years,” he said.
In addition, users aren’t discarding older tablets and are instead handing them down to their kids.
Meanwhile, laptop prices are also coming down fast, and putting pricing pressure on tablets, especially in Europe, Bouchard said.
In the last month a plethora of sub-$250 tablets running Microsoft Windows 8.1 with Bing started shipping. Microsoft is helping PC makers build cheap laptops to battle threats from Chromebooks, Android and iOS and is offering the OS royalty free.
Interest is swaying in the direction of smaller-screen tablets, and those looking for larger screens are moving to laptops, Bouchard said.
“As you move up in screen size, you move towards productivity. The keyboard is becoming more important,” Bouchard said.
Tablet shipments will continue to grow in emerging markets, at a 12% rate, driven by small screen, low-cost tablets from Chinese companies. Shipments in mature markets, where buyers are moving to larger-screen devices, remain flat.
Buyers are increasingly considering wearables and smartphones versus tablets, but more data generated by small-screen devices could ultimately help tablet shipments, Bouchard said.
“Long to medium term, it’s a positive thing, it creates a halo effect, it will generate more data, and you’ll need more screen to visualize the data,” Bouchard said.
IDC’s tablet forecast also accounts for 2-in-1 devices, which can be used as laptops or tablets.