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Dedicated cloud instances are something of an oxymoron. The traditional understanding of cloud computing is that it runs stuff from many users runs on shared infrastructure. Dedicated instances, by definition, aren’t shared and thus could appeal to a class of users who worry about the drag that neighboring workloads can have on their jobs — the so-called “noisy neighbor” problem. They also may suit those who see shared infrastructure as not compliant to various industry regulations. There are enough companies worried about such things that Amazon Web Services launched dedicated instances in March 2011 and significantly cut prices on them in July. Since that price cut — which amounted to nearly 80 percent in some cases — the use of AWS dedicated instances has risen significantly, according to Cloudyn, which monitors AWS and Google cloud usage for customers. In a blog post, Cloudyn VP of marketing Eron Ambramson wrote that before July 2013, dedicated instances were hardly used at all. But now, 9 months after price cuts, 0.5 percent of the instances it monitors are dedicated. (Cloudyn said it has eyes on 8 percent of total AWS workloads.) Percentage of workloads running on AWS dedicated instances by region. The price differential now between dedicated and regular instances is about 10 percent, although dedicated instances also incur additional run-time charge of $2 per hour per region — which for big companies is “outweighed by the advantages and peace of mind of having your own dedicated hardware,” Abramson wrote. Server Density CEO David Mytton said AWS needs to offer dedicated resources since rivals offer very fast bare-metal capabilities, which he argues can also be cheaper than shared cloud infrastructure in some use cases, a topic that Mytton and others will address at Structure in June. “Everyone knows the noisy neighbor problem and AWS doesn’t have a great historical reputation for performance on that front. It’s one reason why Softlayer has an advantage with their fast deployment of bare metal that works alongside their cloud, so you can easily move workloads around,” he said via email. SoftLayer, bought by IBM last year, is now the core of IBM’s cloud computing story. Dedicated instances? meh. Others don’t see dedicated instances as a real advantage. For one thing, performance drag comes more from virtualization itself rather than noisy neighbors, said Joe Emison, CTO of BuildFax, an avid cloud user. “And, noisy neighbors do more damage with respect to network traffic than anything else.” If that is the case, Amazon’s IOPS-optimized Elastic Block Store and scaling options in S3 storage and CloudFront content delivery network address those issues. “Buying dedicated for performance is a bit like buying premium gasoline to make your Honda Accord perform better — it probably does but shouldn’t you be doing something different if you want to see significant results?” Emison said. He also discounted the compliance argument. It’s true that some auditors don’t sign off on the use of multi-tenant environments, but those auditors will  also “not be OK with other things AWS does even with dedicated instances,” he said. Users cannot tour AWS data centers, for example, or even get a comprehensive list of all security details for those facilities. For auditors of security- and compliance conscious organizations, these hurdles will probably be deal-breakers anyway.  Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The Structure 50: The Top 50 Cloud InnovatorsA field guide to web APIsWhat you missed in cloud in the third quarter of 2013

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Truecaller, the Swedish reverse-lookup phone directory, has expanded its Live Caller ID feature to its iOS app, allowing users to quickly look up unknown numbers from the home screen, the company announced on Tuesday. While Truecaller’s Live Caller ID feature has been available on Android since 2010, it’s much more difficult to integrate on iOS because Apple’s platform does not let apps intercept calls. This means Truecaller had to find a workaround, but it’s a fairly innocuous one: When you receive a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, you simply take a screenshot of the call. Truecaller references that screenshot against its database of phone numbers, and then Siri reads out the name. The demo video is short and sweet: Speaking to TechCrunch, Truecaller CEO Alan Mamedi expressed a hope that Truecaller could gain access to Apple’s calling APIs in the future, to make the process a little less kludgy. While that seems unlikely, there’s no denying that the company has some momentum recently: it raised nearly $19 million from Sequoia Capital in February, and it wants you to know it’s a big deal in India.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Hyperlocal: opportunities for publishers and developersWhy iMessage won’t kill SMSWhy Apple Could — and Should — Bring Voice Recognition Technology to our Phones

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With dramatically higher throughput and lower latency, flash-based SSDs offer an obvious performance boost over traditional storage solutions. Still, flash storage commands a premium, and many businesses struggle to justify investments in new storage technology when existing solutions are performing adequately. Implemented properly, flash storage can not only enhance existing applications but also create entirely new ones. To take advantage of these improvements and build an implementation plan that offers the best return on their investment, businesses must understand the use cases best suited to flash technology and budget accordingly. In this webinar, our panel will discuss these topics: What are the functional advantages and operational efficiencies of flash-based SSDs? What are the benefits and drawbacks of hybrid approaches? Can lower latency and higher IOPS enable entirely new products and services? How can businesses determine what level of performance improvement is worth the cost and disruption of an upgrade? What are the staffing and operational concerns of managing flash-based and hybrid storage? How can businesses avoid vendor lock-in and take advantage of continually dropping flash prices? Speakers include: Barb Goldworm, president and chief analyst, FOCUS Mike Karp, VP and principal analyst, Ptak, Noel & Associates Marc Staimer, president and chief dragon slayer, Dragon Slayer Consulting Andrew Warfield, CTO and co-founder, Coho Data Register here to join Gigaom Research and our sponsor Coho Data for “Flash storage: when, why and how to get there,” a free analyst roundtable hosted Thursday, May 1, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. PT.

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Google has signed its largest clean power contract to date — for 407 MW of wind power — with Iowa power company MidAmerican Energy to supply clean energy for Google’s data center in Iowa. Google made the announcement on its blog on Tuesday, which is Earth Day. MidAmerican is largely owned by investor Warren Buffet’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway. Four hundred and seven megawatts of wind power is the equivalent power to a mid-sized coal plant or a large natural gas plant. Or, to put it another way, it could provide enough electricity for over 100,000 average American homes. Google says that amount of wind power in Iowa will not only cover the power of its current facilities there, but will also allow for expansion. The deal includes both direct energy generation from MidAmerican’s wind farms and MidAmerican’s renewable energy certificates that are part of other wind projects. A Google-backed wind farm in Iowa The deal is the latest to show how Google is evolving its business of contracting out and buying clean energy in various ways — including working with utilities, power companies, and clean power financiers. Google has been one of the most creative and aggressive internet companies when it comes to buying clean power to run its data centers. This week, also timed with Earth Day, Apple has been touting its clean power commitments to both its data centers and retail outlets. Apple has pledged to run all of its data centers off of 100 percent clean energy. While Apple and Google are leading the way, other Internet companies like Twitter and Amazon are lagging behind.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Warren Buffett and the true value of solarWhat first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile spaceWhat today’s companies need to bridge the sales automation-to-CRM gap

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Cloud storage service Bitcasa is adding Chromecast support for its Android app, the company announced Tuesday. Bitcasa offers an “infinite drive” for an annual price of $999, as well as a free 20 GB plan. The most interesting uses for this new feature should be centered around casting personal content like photos and home videos onto a TV. While the Chromecast can natively cast image file types from a desktop browser, streaming from a cloud app streamlines the process. You can download Bitcasa from Google Play right here.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Why the TV industry matters for GoogleThe evolution of consumer-media cloud storageWhat first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile space

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IBM has made another investment out of the $100 million it has set aside to fund companies using the Watson cognitive computing system, this time investing an undisclosed amount of money into a company called Fluid. IBM and Fluid are working on an application, called Expert Shopper, that will let consumers ask complex, natural language questions on retail websites and receive product recommendations in return. Fluid is IBM’s second publicly announced Watson-fund investment, with the first going to a health care startup called Welltok. Both were early partners in IBM’s cloud-based Watson service and API.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What the fourth-quarter 2014 meant for tech buyersListening platforms: finding the value in social media dataA near-term outlook for big data

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AT&T, the nation’s second largest broadband provider and wireless company, is getting into the streaming business with a $500 million joint venture created to acquire, invest in and launch a Netflix-style video streaming service. As the television distribution model that’s been in place for decades collapses online, this deal marks the first time a big U.S. ISP has decided to go over the top with a TV service. AT&T has joined forces with media and entertainment company the Chernin Group, and together the two companies have committed $500 million in funding to the venture. More detailed financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. However, the Chernin Group will bring assets to the venture, including the contribution of its majority stake in Crunchyroll, a subscription video on demand service. From the press release, it is unclear exactly what type of content the joint venture hopes to offer. The Crunchyroll content is mentioned in the release, and Chernin has a quote that seems to indicate this is about providing more content outside of the traditional broadcast options. From the release: “‘A critical part of The Chernin Group’s strategy has been our significant focus on the online video industry, and joining forces with AT&T only further underscores our strategic commitment in this area as operators, investors and programmers,’ said Peter Chernin, Chairman and CEO, The Chernin Group. ‘Consumers are increasingly viewing video content on their phones, tablets, computers, game consoles and connected TVs on mobile and broadband networks. AT&T’s massive reach on those platforms across mobile and broadband and their commitment to the online video space make them the perfect fit for this venture with us.’” If done well, this joint venture is a significant move and could break down the geographical barriers for buying pay TV. If the content is robust enough on the AT&T effort, Comcast subscribers or FiOS pay TV subscribers might elect to choose the AT&T offering instead, destroying the triple play bundle and throwing content companies into a tailspin. If the venture is done poorly, or with a lack of compelling content, the new offering will join a crowded field of big over-the-top providers and perhaps help drive up up content acquisition costs. This might validate Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Instant Video and YouTube’s efforts, but it’s also a big new player to look out for.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Over-the-top video in 2012: trends and technologies to watchOTT technologies and strategies for broadcastersWhat the shift to the cloud means for the future EPG

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Clickatell is a global leader in mobile messaging and transaction services, which enable its customers to connect, interact and transact with their business partners and communities via mobile phone. Clickatell’s technology team is charged with supporting three main business applications: a message exchange, transaction exchange and USSD gateway. These are all revenue-generating systems for the company, so keeping them running smoothly is crucial. Clickatell needed greater insight into how these applications were operating, in real time. Previously, when something went wrong with one of the platforms, the support staff would be notified via the monitoring applications, but troubleshooting and performing root-cause analysis was often a time-consuming process. Clickatell now uses Splunk software for incident investigation, performance monitoring and operational business analytics. This lets Clickatell become aware of a potential issue before it becomes a real issue. The team now has the ability to react faster and proactively, so they can let customers know there’s a problem ahead of time. In addition, Splunk gives Clickatell visualizations of its system performance and health. Splunk dashboards also provide senior executives with insights into key business KPIs and SLAs. With Splunk, Clickatell can extract valuable pertinent information — such as activity, data volume, patterns of events or errors — from its machine data and supply that directly to customers. As a result, Clickatell’s customers can also be more proactive and deliver better service to their own clientele. Read more about how Clickatell is using Splunk for improved business metrics, customer service and availability.

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It’s not a shocker that Satya Nadella will anchor Microsoft’s third-quarter earnings call Thursday, but folks will be listening carefully to what he has to say — expecting him to hold fast to his broad strategy of device independence, as long as those devices hook into Microsoft’s Azure cloud. His predecessor, Steve Ballmer, was not a fixture on these calls. What would be surprising is if Nadella deviated from his cloud-first-mobile first messaging. Wall Streeters don’t expect Nadella, an engineer, to delve into the niceties of foreign currency and tax rates — CFO Amy Hood will handle that. But they do want to hear about broad strategy, and perhaps even get a continued commitment to the “One Microsoft” mantra rolled out last summer by Ballmer and reaffirmed by Nadella in his first email to employees as CEO. That re-org was aimed at nuking structural silos and infighting at the famously fractious company. Nadella has to negotiate a tricky passage. On the one hand, he’s pledging support for non-Windows devices — last month Microsoft finally announced Office for iPad and Android. (Some say the new tablet-oriented version of Office is dumbed down, but that’s another story.) On the other hand, traditional Windows and Office and on-premise versions of SQL Server, Sharepoint, etc., continue to pay most of the freight. Scott Guthrie, the long-time Microsoft vet who is now the executive vice president in charge of Azure, will discuss progress on this front at Structure in June. In (somewhat) related news, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, once a primary contender for Microsoft CEO, is stepping down before the end of the year, handing the reins over to Ford COO Mark Fields, according to the Wall Street Journal (reg required). In January, Mulally said he planned to stay at Ford till the end of 2014, so this represents a slightly accelerated changeover.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Is Android broken and if so, will Google fix it?CES 2012: a recap and analysisMillennials in the enterprise, part 2: benchmarking IT’s readiness for the new digital workforce

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Some major acquisitions jolted the mobile industry in the first quarter of 2014, underscoring some important trends. Meanwhile, turbulence plagues the mobile-gaming industry and Dish is ramping up speculation about its plans to enter the mobile market.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What happened in mobile in the fourth-quarter 2013The living room reinvented: trends, technologies and companies to watchWhat mattered in mobile in the second quarter

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Home security is one of the gateway services to a smart home, which is one reason iControl purchased the maker of Piper a few weeks ago, and why companies such as Alarm.com and ADT are getting pushing into the smart home market with new products. But between the old and the new, Steve Hollis, the CEO of Korner thinks there is a market. He’s just launched an Indiegogo campaign on Tuesday to help get people excited about the idea and find backers for the project. His Seattle, Wash.-based team has built an all-in-one open/close sensor that people can place on doors and windows. The design of the sensor is unique in that it measures the door opening and closing, without requiring two parts. Together, three of these sensors, one fob to bridge the sensors’ radio network to Wi-Fi and the app cost $99. That’s an crazy low price point for a DIY security product that basically lets you know if a door or window has opened. The app is fancier than that, letting you establish trusted contacts that alarms can escalate to, much like a higher-end monitoring service from a professional alarm company. Hollis explains that the goal behind Korner, was to bring the cost of security down to a level that everyone could truly afford it and install it. I like the simplicity the project offers — it fits within my mantra of buying products that solve a particular pain point as opposed to a system that tries to be everything. I’m curious though how Korner plans to take the product past the Indiegogo campaign. Hollis says that while Indiegogo backers will get free service and access to the app in perpetuity, people who end up buying Korner when it hits the market at the end of this year or early next will likely buy a $59 package with a $39 annual service fee. Hollis thinks that the app itself is a potential source of a lot of innovation around neighborhood information. He says that when people sign up for Korner, they are likely to include a neighbor as a potential contact to escalate alarms to. As they do this, buyers introduce their neighbors to the product. Hollis thinks it’s possible that people with the system will be able to leave messages for their neighbors, creating a kind of local community of information about potential problems, lost animals or whatever else. I think that’s a nice ideal, but even $100 is still a significant chunk of change to spend on a neighbor’s recommendation — although less than the $200 to $240 for a Piper or Canary –or even more for a monitored service. I’d like to see the sensors used in other kits, although given the subscription model Hollis is going after, it wouldn’t make sense for Korner to license that technology and become merely a hardware provider. So for those interested in created a DIY security product with a bit of a social aspect to the monitoring, check out Korner. It’s a project worth watching, given the hardware and the subscription model. Korner has a partnership with Domestic Abuse Women’s Network, funding closes early june: ship in year end for GA or early new year. how did you cut the costs to the bone?Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How the truly smart home could finally become a realityA look back at this year’s CES and what it means for tech in 2014Sponsored content: Why the smart home is finally ready for the mainstream market

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On Tuesday at 11am ET, Aereo will face off at the Supreme Court against big broadcasters and the Justice Department over whether Aereo, which lets consumers watch and record over-the-air TV for $8/month, should be shut down for copyright infringement. Here’s a brief Q&A about the most important TV case since 1984, when the Supreme Court found the VCR to be a legal technology. Below you can find links to full background coverage. What is Aereo and why are the broadcasters suing it? Aereo rents dime-size antennas that act like long-distance rabbit ears attached to a remote DVR. The service, which is available in 11 cities, lets people watch and record over-the-air channels like NBC and Fox by streaming shows to their phone or computer. The broadcasters say Aereo is violating copyright law by rebroadcasting their signals. Aereo, however, claims that it’s the subscribers who are doing the transmitting, and that Aereo simply rents a tool that lets people watch a private performance — much like they do when they tape a TV show and watch it their living room. What does each side want? The broadcasters want the Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court ruling, and to issue an injunction that will shut Aereo down across the country. Aereo wants the court to say it does not violate copyright law, which would allow it to expand to more cities, including ones on the west coast. How long is the hearing and how can I follow it? The hearing lasts one hour. The lawyer for ABC and the other broadcasters will argue for 20 minutes, and the Solicitor General (who is siding with ABC) will weigh in for 10 minutes. Aereo gets 30 minutes to make its case. The Supreme Court is still a sketchbook and note-pad sort of place, so there will be no live-blogs, tweeting or TV. But Gigaom and others will be filing stories shortly after the hearing. How will the Justices decide? Experts genuinely aren’t sure and are predicting a tight ruling. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is expected to side with the broadcasters, but the views of the other Justices are less clear. Copyright lawyer Ali Sternburg has pointed out that Justice Elena Kagan did not support the broadcasters in a similar Supreme Court case when she was Solicitor General, and noted that Justice Stephen Breyer has argued in the past for more limited copyright — meaning these two Justices could side with Aereo. As such, the outcome is likely to come down to Chief Justice John Roberts and the other conservatives on the bench. Another notable feature of the case is that, in an unusual move, Justice Samuel Alito at the last minute reversed his early decision to recuse himself from the case. Alito’s surprise move eliminated the prospect of a 4-4 tie, which would have upheld a lower ruling in favor of Aereo. Finally, veteran SCOTUS reporter Lyle Denniston observes that things will turn out poorly for Aereo if the Justices spend most of their time focusing on what Aereo is doing – while things will look brighter if the Justices’s questions are instead about what consumers are doing when they use the service. When will the decision come? Sometime in the summer — probably late June or early July. Why is the case so important? Aereo right now is still just a speck in the massive television economy. But the TV industry is worried that Aereo could eventually upset the current “bundle” model of TV, which relies on selling consumers a large package of channels. If Aereo is legal, it may encourage more consumers to “cut the cord” and replace their pay-TV provider with some combination of Aereo and other internet services like Netflix. This had led the broadcasters to threaten that, if Aereo wins, they will take their signals off the air and become cable channels. Meanwhile, sports leagues like the NFL — which seek to tightly control how and where people watch their games — are warning that Aereo will hurt their business, and are supporting the broadcasters in the case. The case also has implications for the emerging cloud computing industry. Companies like Google and Dropbox, which are supporting Aereo, worry that a win for the broadcasters could thrust the “public performance” right — the central legal issue in this case — into a host of other consumer cloud services. Where can I learn more about all this? Argument preview: Free TV at a bargain price? (SCOTUS Blog’s rundown of all legal issues, including the Justice Department perspective) Here are 3 ways Aereo will tell the Supreme Court it is legal (Our overview of Aereo’s legal strategy) Aereo Case will Shape TV’s Future (New York Times media writer David Carr explains what the case means for the TV industry) Aereo’s CEO on the future of Netflix, TV sports and the public airwaves (Gigaom’s interview with Chet Kanojia) What happens if broadcasters lose the Aereo case? (Fortune story contains numerous quotes from TV analysts and law professors) Inside Aereo: new photos of the tech that’s changing how we watch TV (Gigaom’s original profile of the Brooklyn site where it all started)    Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The biggest third-quarter events in the consumer spaceWhat the shift to the cloud means for the future EPGWhat the shift to the cloud means for the future EPG

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Navigation may have found its initial home in the car dashboard, but there are many different modes of transportation we use from feet to bikes to skis that can all benefit from some turn-by-turn directions. San Francisco’s scooter-sharing startup Scoot is a good case in point. It wanted to create a navigation system for its fleet of electric mopeds, but it had a few concerns. Its scooters don’t handle freeways well. Nor are they particularly good at mounting steep hills. So it went to open source mapper Mapbox to help it develop a turn-by-turn directions app that navigates around those obstacles. Source: Mapbox Scoot and Mapbox announced today they have built a nav and mapping app with the capabilities and limitations of the electric scooter in mind. In addition to highways and inclines, the app can help Scoot’s customers avoid San Francisco streets with trolley tracks — notoriously unkind to two-wheeled vehicles – as well take into account the amount of juice left in the electric vehicle’s battery so you won’t find yourself stranded a mile from your destination. The deal represents a new twist for Mapbox, which recently raised a $10 million Series A. Founded four years ago by a bunch of open-source mapping enthusiasts, Mapbox follows the same business model as Nokia Here, providing raw map data to navigation and other location-based services companies. But instead of selling proprietary geographical data, Mapbox draws its maps almost entirely from open sources such as OpenStreetMap and the government. It then offers its products to customers through an API, which allows them to customize the designs of their maps as they see fit. You’ve probably already run into Mapbox data on Foursquare, Runkeeper or Pinterest. With its deal with Scoot, though, Mapbox is expanding into a new field: navigation that can be customized by context, CEO Eric Gundersen said. “We want to take that same level of customization in the map design space to the navigation space,” Gundersen said. As with its mapping data, Mapbox is relying on open source with its nav technology, using Open Source Routing Machine (OSRM) at its core. Mapbox is making that technology more developer friendly by presenting its features as parameters customers can turn on and off to tailor navigation engines for any mode or style of transport. In the case of Scoot, it’s barring freeways, trolley car routes and any hill with an incline greater than what the scooters can manage. But there are endless possible permutations, Gundersen said. Scoot’s new Mapbox powered nav engine resides on your smartphone but plugs right into the shared scooter. For instance, Gundersen said Mapbox is working with companies building sight-seeing apps for the connected car that would allow you to take the most scenic route to your destination, rather than the quickest or most fuel-efficient one. Or a sports-driving app for a motorcycle could map out the most curve-filled route through a city, guaranteeing you’ll get the maximum thrill ride out of your crotch rocket. But Gundersen said he believes the biggest opportunity for Mapbox’s technology lies outside of the motor vehicle. We’re already starting to see a second wave of navigation apps targeting public transit users. But given the vast wealth of geographic information systems (GIS) data Mapbox has collected, navigation can go beyond the commute and into outdoor recreation. National parks could offer hiking trail navigation apps. Training apps like Runkeeper (which is already a Mapbox map customer) could route you through parks and along sidewalks with fewer intersections interrupting your jog. And a bicyclist can arrive in a new town already armed with a digital map of all bike lanes.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Takeaways from mobile’s second quarterWhy Google Android’s Electric Vehicle Deal With GM MattersLocation: The Epicenter of Mobile Innovation

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If you want to track your fitness with Nike software, you’re probably going to have to use Apple products. The news that Nike had laid off a majority of its digital sport hardware engineering team last week meant the reported end of Nike’s FuelBand, the oldest of the current generation of wearable fitness trackers. Nike will still be a player in the wearable space, but it will no longer be producing hardware, according to reports from CNET and Recode. If Nike exits the physical wearable market, as now seems likely, Apple will be the primary sensor maker for Nike’s future wearable apps given the length and depth of the two companies’ close ties. Although there are a handful of Nike apps available for Android, there is no app (on any other mobile platform aside from iOS) that supports Nikefuel, which Nike describes as the “heart of the Nike+ ecosystem.” In many ways, this is the culmination of a process that’s been taking place between the two companies for the better part of a decade: Nike will design the fitness app experience, and the hardware will be made by Apple. Apple and Nike have a long history Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has been spotted sporting a FuelBand, sits on Nike’s board of directors. Nike has had partnerships with other innovative tech companies in the past, releasing a Nike+ Kinect game with Microsoft in 2012, and a GPS watch with TomTom in 2011. TomTom currently makes its own GPS watches, and the public face for Nike+ Kinect, Jay Blahnik, now works for Apple. Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on, wearing a Nike Fuelband, before the Apple Store opens to sell the new iPhone on September 20, 2013 in Palo Alto, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Nike is an important partner for Apple. The iPhone 5S includes an advanced motion coprocessor, the M7, which allows fitness apps to track motion without turning on the full power of the main processor. At the iPhone 5S announcement, the demo app was Nike+ Move, which is almost identical to the Nike+ FuelBand app but does not require an external wearable sensor. Currently, Nike+ Move is available only for the iPhone 5S. Nike’s first foray into the digital activity tracker market was a product called Nike+iPod, released in 2006. That consisted of a piezoelectric sensor that tucked into a shoe and a dongle that attached to an iPod nano, and the software was eventually expanded to include the 2nd generation iPod Touch and iPhone 3GS. Eventually, Apple integrated enough sensor capabilities into the iOS platform so that the separate dongle was no longer needed. Now there are seven different apps available on the App Store which include the Nike+ brand. Only one now requires separate hardware — Nike+ FuelBand. There is still no NikeFuel app for Android. In previous statements, Nike has said there isn’t an Android app in development. And while Nike hasn’t ruled it out, it seems unlikely. If Nike wants to stop the fragmentation of its sensors, there is no easier way to do that than to make Apple products the preferred hardware for the platform. In fact, this is Apple’s advantage over other handset makers — because there are so few iPhone models, there is no need to finely calibrate sensor readings for a multitude of devices. Nike’s platform, built on top of Apple’s platform Nike’s expressed plan is to make its Fuel fitness tracking system into a platform for other developers on which to build applications. This makes sense — hardware is difficult and expensive, and requires specific engineering expertise and supply chain mastery in order to produce decent margins. Other companies may have good hardware or data expertise, but are unlikely to grab the attention of the toned and tan. Fitness trackers are bought with high hopes, but many end up forgotten after a few weeks, like a diet. Nike CEO Mark Parker and Apple CEO Steve Jobs during the May23, 2006 unveiling of a partnership between Nike and Apple. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/WireImage While Nike has never released sales data for the FuelBand, a report estimated the entire fitness tracker to be worth $330 million in 2013, and the FuelBand only accounted for 10% of brick-and-mortar sales during that period, according to a report from the NPD Group. Nike revenue for the third quarter of 2013 was $7 billion, so it appears the FuelBand was not moving the dial. Taking into account research and development costs, it’s possible the FuelBand was a money pit. But as the world’s largest sportswear designer, Nike already has the attention of fitness fanatics, and knows the exact kind of marketing will best hook athletes into a new product category. It’s that kind of large, committed user base that will compel competitors, like Strava and MyFitnessPal, to build features on top of the Nikefuel API, whereas they may not have considered the FuelBand platform important because there is a limited install base. To better reach potential partners, earlier this month Nike opened up a new tech office in SOMA, the heart of San Francisco’s tech district. While it might not make competitive sense for some of the smaller fitness apps to team up with Nike, if there’s a large contingent of customers who associate Apple’s fitness features with Nike+, they might not have a choice. By making Nike hardware and Apple hardware one and the same, Nike not only gains a huge installed user base, but Apple gets a user-facing feature no other handset maker can match: fitness from a world-famous fitness company. Nike Fuelband close-up. Image from Flickr/Angel Navedo Nike’s hardware exit has been a long time coming Nike executives have been hinting at their plans to get out of the hardware market for some time. Talking to Fast Company earlier this month, Steven Olander, the Nike vice president of digital sport — the department which just lost 80 percent of its staff — said, When Nike developed the FuelBand SE, people asked if we were becoming a technology company. But that was never the intention. We weren’t so much excited about the thing as what the thing enabled, which is motivating people because they have a way to measure how active they are–we have a saying that you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Last year, Nike CEO Mark Parker said at a Fast Company conference: It’s really important to understand what we do well . . . what we bring to the party, so to speak, and actually amplify that and not to expect us to really go in and compete with the latest, greatest development of sensor technology. Apple’s strength is is making slick, well-engineered hardware that sells well. Now these devices, as a matter of course, have advanced sensor technology built in. Nike’s strength is making fitness cool. Regardless of whether Apple introduces a wearable product this year, or simply introduces new features like the rumored Healthbook app, Nike’s fitness software will be a big part of it.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Analyzing the wearable computing marketGigaom Research predictions for 2014How to manage the customer experience through mobile apps

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Ever since Nate Silver left his perch at the New York Times and took his FiveThirtyEight blog to ESPN, where he subsequently launched an ambitious experiment aimed at data-driven journalism, the NYT has been working on a new venture aimed in part at filling the hole he left, and also at competing with the “explanatory journalism” of Ezra Klein’s recently launched Vox project. The new effort from the Times — known as The Upshot — debuts on Tuesday. In a post on the project’s Facebook page, editor David Leonhardt, formerly the paper’s Washington bureau chief, said that the idea is to give readers some help in understanding complex stories like Obamacare, inequality and the problems in the U.S. real-estate market. The Upshot will “build on the excellent journalism the New York Times is already producing,” he said. “We believe many people don’t understand the news as well as they would like. They want to grasp big, complicated stories… so well that they can explain the whys and hows of those stories to their friends, relatives and colleagues. We believe we can help readers get to that level of understanding by writing in a direct, plain-spoken way, the same voice we might use when writing an email to a friend. We’ll be conversational without being dumbed down.” A boom in journalistic explainers That sounds very much like the mission statement behind Vox, which Klein started after joining Vox Media (the company behind sites like The Verge and SB Nation) when his offer to start a new venture at the Washington Post — where he ran the Wonkblog — was turned down. But the second part of Leonhardt’s description of The Upshot sounds very much like FiveThirtyEight’s mission, namely reporting and analysis based on data sets. “The world now produces so much data, and personal computers can analyze it so quickly, that data-based reporting deserves to be a big part of the daily news cycle. One of our highest priorities will be unearthing data sets — and analyzing existing ones — in ways that illuminate and, yes, explain the news. As with our written articles, we aspire to present our data in the clearest, most engaging way possible.” One of the biggest strengths that The Upshot has going for it, as Leonhardt mentions, is the existing firepower and resources of the New York Times, which theoretically gives the new project a foundation from which it can work without having to reinvent the wheel for every story. In a sense, The Upshot is an attempt to act as a kind of internal aggregator and explainer for the NYT’s own content — something the paper has typically allowed external players to do, apart from ventures like its topic pages. This really gets back to my old hobbyhorse: News orgs should build their own self-aggregation layer rather than let others do it for them.— Joshua Benton (@jbenton) April 17, 2014 Journalist, aggregate thyself This kind of approach is one that a number of media-industry observers have recommended, including Nieman Journalism Lab director Josh Benton, who mentioned on Twitter how traditional media outlets should do more with the data in their own stories — the way the Pew Research Center does with its new site FactTank — instead of always leaving that role to others. In addition to Leonhardt, the new site will feature writing from Josh Barro, Nate Cohn, Neil Irwin and Derek Willis and will be using the graphic and technology skills of former NYT science editor Laura Chang and former technology editor Damon Darlin. Leonhardt said he also wants the new project to “feel like a collaboration between journalists and readers” in the same way that some NYT blogs like Tara Parker-Pope’s Well blog are: “We will often publish the details behind our reporting, and we hope that readers will find angles we did not. We also want to get story assignments from you: Tell us what data you think deserves exploration. Tell us which parts of the news you do not understand as well as you’d like.” One unanswered question that The Upshot will have to confront: Will readers want to get smart aggregation and/or analysis of the context behind New York Times‘ stories from a unit within the newspaper itself — however well-meaning — or would they prefer to get it from somewhere else? Post and photo thumbnails courtesy of Shutterstock / Ivelin RadkovRelated research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.NewNet Q1: Advertising, commerce and discovery dominateContent Farms: The Players, The Benefits, The RisksFrenemy mine: The pros and cons of social partnerships for online media companies

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Food Network has slowly been evolving its digital strategy over the years, moving away from using the web and mobile to just tease its cable programming toward creating original content and apps. It looks like that strategy may take an interesting turn by using data analytics to help consumers plan their meals and shop for food. FN and its parent Scripps Networks Interactive have bought an Austin startup called Food on the Table that aims to use big data and partnerships with local grocery stores to help consumers plan and shop for their weekly meals. Austinpreneur reported the acquisition on Monday. I got confirmation from Food on the Table that the it is now part of Scripps, though we’re still waiting on more details. It does look like founder and CEO Manuel Russo has taken on the role of VP of commerce for Scripps Interactive. Source: Shutterstock / Fedor Kondratenko My colleague Stacey Higginbotham was impressed with the Food on the Table (and still remains a subscriber) when she first wrote about them in 2011: “The final piece of this puzzle is the Food on the Table service (I said people should meet them during SXSW) which tracks grocery deals, allows me to submit my recipes, then delivers a meal plan that helps me use recipes to incorporate food that’s on sale. From there, I can generate my shopping list. I think it’s an extraordinarily disruptive service because it takes the act of applying data and technology to disrupt an industry, much like TiVo aggregated data on a variety of shows and channels, added a hard drive and changed the way people watch TV.” Though we don’t know how Food Network and Scripps Interactive — which also owns the Cooking Channel, the Travel Channel, HGTV and the DIY Network – will integrate Food on the Table’s technology, there are loads of possibilities. Food Network may be primarily an entertainment outlet on TV, but online it’s become a huge resource for recipe and cooking techniques drawn from its on-air talent like Alton Brown and Ina Garten. Considering the size and breadth of its content library FN could easily create a service that allowed it to use Food on the Table’s technology to generate meal plans based on its recipes alone, though it would be even more useful if users could bring in alternative recipe sources. For instance, if you’re in Southwestern frame of mind, you might be able to tell your FN/Food on the Table app you want to eat like Bobby Flay for the week. It could then scan all of Flay’s recipes (FN lists 1,731 of them) and compare their ingredients against sale items generated form your favorite local grocery stores. Before you know it you’ve got meal plan mapped out by a Food Network celebrity that even takes pains to spare your wallet.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The Future of Work Platforms: An OverviewMobile Operators’ Strategies for Connected DevicesVMware’s Cloudy Ambitions: Can It Repeat Hypervisor Success?

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IT decision-makers must better understand the modern workers they’re supporting in order to make them more productive and better aligned with corporate objectives.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Cloud security market landscape, 2013–2017An analysis of Windows Azure’s strengths and weaknessesGet the most from your IT service management provider

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Netflix wants to bring its streaming service to set-top-boxes leased by U.S. pay TV operators this quarter, the company announced Monday. In its Q1 letter to shareholders, the company announced that it will first launch on TiVo (S TIVO set-top boxes leased by operators in the U.S., which is similar to agreements the company struck in Europe. Netflix also said that it will “try to extend to non-TiVo devices” after rolling out on TiVo boxes. In Sweden, Netflix partnered with Com-Hem earlier this year to make its service available to pay TV subscribers. Com-Hem customers can access Netflix through the TiVo box they’re leasing from the operator, where the service will be listed alongside traditional cable channels in the channel grid. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during the company’s earnings call Monday that the integration with U.S. operators would at launch not include any billing services, but that consumers could potentially also directly pay their Netflix subscription through their cable bill. A Com Hem TiVo featuring the Netflix app, as shown at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. Netflix wants to unveil similar partnerships with other operators this year. Netflix has struck similar agreements with Virgin in the U.K. as well as Denmark’s Waoo. In the U.S., the company could previously not enter similar partnerships because of restrictions in its contracts with Hollywood studios, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said earlier this year that those contracts have since been renegotiated. Netflix didn’t identify the U.S. operators it is partnering with Monday, but U.S. operators that already offer TiVo devices include RCN as well as Suddenlink. Both operators are also already Netflix partners, and use the company’s OpenConnect content delivery system.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What the shift to the cloud means for the future EPGWhat the shift to the cloud means for the future EPGNext-generation TV remotes and interfaces

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Hey, Ma Bell! Your peering policies are so lame, your fiber network is slower than DSL! That’s essentially the insult that Netflix is flinging at AT&T in a shareholder letter accompanying the streaming video service’s first quarter financials. The gist of the accusation is that by refusing to sign an interconnection deal with Netflix, AT&T’s customers are getting a streaming experience that sucks. It’s the same tactic Netflix employed with Comcast, putting the customer in the middle of an esoteric fight about internet interconnection agreements. Absent FCC intervention, we’ll see if the Netflix strategy works a second time around.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How consumer media consumption shifted in the second quarterOTT technologies and strategies for broadcastersWhat the shift to the cloud means for the future EPG

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After a month-long investigation into allegations of sexism and intimidation at Github levied on Twitter by a former employee, GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath announced on Monday that while it found “no evidence” of gender-based discrimination in its workplace, co-founder Tom Preston-Werner has decided to resign from the company. Before quitting her position as a designer and front-end developer, Julie Ann Horvath took to Twitter to accuse the company of sexist practices, and she elaborated on that story, without naming names, to TechCrunch. Soon after, Wanstrath announced that the relevant founder was put on leave pending an investigation — who was identified by Valleywag and other outlets as Preston-Werner. Upon close of the investigation, Wanstrath said that the company found no “legal wrongdoing” within the company, but the investigator found “evidence of mistakes and errors of judgment.” Without elaborating, Wanstrath confirmed that Preston-Werner would resign and the company would make changes to its workplace policies: We are implementing a number of new HR and employee-led initiatives as well as training opportunities to make sure employee concerns and conflicts are taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. Preston-Werner also discussed his resignation on his personal blog, denying that he or his wife Theresa engaged in gender-based harassment: With every decision I made at GitHub and in every interaction I had with employees, I tried to treat people better than they expected and to resolve conflict with empathy. Despite that, I’ve made mistakes, and I am deeply sorry to anyone who was hurt by those mistakes. It devastates me to know that I missed the mark, and I will strive to do better, every day. Horvath, who now works for Andyet, discussed her experience working for Github onstage last week at the re:build Conference in Indianapolis.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Big Data, ARM and Legal Troubles Transformed Infrastructure in Q4What happened in social in the fourth-quarter 2013How to Implement Continuous Delivery

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It’s been a busy season of acquisitions for Verizon. Earlier this month it announced it was buying Cincinnati Bell’s spectrum for $210 million, but it’s also got two more deals in the works, which would add airwaves to its spectrum portfolio in central California and Hawaii. Verizon is buying Golden State Cellular, which serves Yosemite National Park and surrounding counties in California, and it has struck a deal with pan-Hawaiian carrier Mobi PCS to buy its spectrum. FierceWireless dug up Verizon’s FCC filings for both deals, which still require regulatory approval before becoming final. Compared to the big sales of Leap Wireless to AT&T this year, MetroPCS to T-Mobile last year and Alltel to Verizon in 2009, these deals are tiny. But that’s because after all of these acquisitions there are few large regional carriers left from which to cherry pick. There is only one regional carrier left, U.S. Cellular, with more than a million subscribers. In fact, companies like Cincinnati Bell Wireless are what amounts to large these days. Even though it has 340,000 subscribers, Strategy Analytics rates it the eight largest independent carrier in the U.S.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The future of mobile: a segment analysis by GigaOM ProA look back at mobile in the third quarterIn Q3, the Tablet and 4G Were the Big Stories

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The New York Times Bits blog reports on the close of InBloom, a database for student data that became a privacy lightning rod. On the one hand, it’s a great idea: there’s a lot that educators and researchers could learn from analyzing this type of data across regions, demographics, etc. On the other hand, it’s probably not a wise idea to connect students’ names with sensitive or personal information. Objectivity is key, too. You’d like to measure attributes in a way that doesn’t lend itself to educators’ biases and reinforcement of stereotypes. Story posted at: bits.blogs.nytimes.com To leave a comment or share, visit: InBloom student data repository to closeRelated research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Who to watch in the growing European cloud marketThe Internet of things: creating tomorrow’s health careConnected world: the consumer technology revolution

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New Netflix subscribers could soon be forced to pay a bit more for the company’s streaming service: The company announced in its first-quarter earnings letter to shareholders that it intends to raise the prices for new members by $1 or $2 this quarter. CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells wrote: “In the U.S. we have greatly improved our content selection since we introduced our streaming plan in 2010 at $7.99 per month. Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only. Existing members would stay at current pricing (e.g. $7.99 in the U.S.) for a generous time period. These changes will enable us to acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience.” Netflix had previously said that it wanted to experiment with new pricing tiers, but didn’t seem in rush to implement any pricing changes at the time. However, the company also experimented with price increases for new members in Ireland, and the results seem to have encouraged the company to raise prices in other markets as well. Existing customers in Ireland are grandfathered into their old plans for two years, according to the letter to shareholders. The announcement comes as Netflix ended another quarter of strong international growth. In Q1 of 2014, the company added 1.75 million international subscribers, compared to 1.02 million in Q1 of 2013. Altogether, Netflix now has 12.68 million international subscribers, compared to 7.14 in Q1 of 2013. In the U.S., Netflix added 2.25 million streaming subscribers, compared to 2.03 million in Q1 of 2013. This means that Netflix now has 35.61 million streaming subscribers in the U.S., and a total of 48.35 million streaming subscribers worldwide. Despite this growth, the company reported solid financials for Q1: Including all of its business segments, Netflix generated revenue of $1.07 billion in Q1 of 2014, compared to 1.02 billion in Q1 of 2013. This resulted in a net income of $53 million, compared to $3 million a year ago.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.A look back at the first quarter of 2014How to utilize cloud computing, big data, and crowdsourcing for an agile enterpriseHow mobile will disrupt the living room in 2014

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AT&T said Wednesday that it will consider bringing its GigaPower service that offers speeds of “up to 1 gigabit” to 21 new cities. Before anyone gets too excited, can we take a moment to call out AT&T for using the nation’s legitimate excitement over gigabit networks to sell privacy-invading broadband plans that don’t even make the gigabit grade, while also stripping away generations of broadband policies designed to ensure low-income areas get service? I call it gigawashing. Much like I might announce a plan to discuss options to cook dinner tonight with my husband — which may or may not result in a home cooked meal — AT&T is announcing that it plans to discuss bringing its gigabit service to 21 municipalities that have that certain set of je ne sais quoi that AT&T is looking for. From the release: AT&T will work with local leaders in these markets to discuss ways to bring the service to their communities. Similar to previously announced metro area selections in Austin and Dallas and advanced discussions in Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem, communities that have suitable network facilities, and show the strongest investment cases based on anticipated demand and the most receptive policies will influence these future selections and coverage maps within selected areas. As I’ve written before, those “receptive policies” mentioned above and “strongest investment cases” dismantles the idea that network providers must serve all community members and can take away a point of leverage that municipalities have traditionally used to ensure that low-income areas also get infrastructure upgrades. Google is guilty of this as well, but it has done far more to provide service to community centers in low-income areas and to also get local groups and residents out to sign up for fiber, so all areas can benefit. But wait, there’s even more uncertainty ahead. In Austin, which AT&T is “already servicing with fiber today,” so far AT&T’s GigaPower service is limited to 300 Mbps and is set to get an upgrade to a full gigabit some time this year. Yesterday I was at my brother in-law’s house where he is a GigaPower subscriber, his computer was registering speeds of 70 Mbps down and 50 Mbps up using Ookla on a wired connection. That’s fast, but not 300 Mbps fast and certainly not a gig. My brother and sister-in-law are not speed freaks like myself, but they were disappointed with the GigaPower product. To me, what was most troubling is that they couldn’t tell me if they had signed up for AT&T’s service plan that offers them a lower price on internet service if the customer lets AT&T use your surfing habits to offer ads. They signed up for a bundle, they said, that was cheaper than their previous service. As someone watching the industry, this is troubling in the extreme. My family is buying a service that is far from what was advertised, and is unaware (and doesn’t seem to care all that much) if they signed away their privacy in an attempt to buy a service they aren’t actually getting. And now AT&T is touting that it wants to bring this service to even more cities if it gets the kind of government help that I worry will let it (and even Google) cherry pick neighborhoods to serve. And yes, Google is not blameless here, but given the new type of invasive plans that offer advertising in exchange for a lower price tag, and the fact that AT&T’s efforts to bring a gigabit so far aren’t delivering a gig, Ma Bell should have some explaining to do before these 21 cities get too excited about their hoped-for gigabit service.

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It looks like some mobile success stories can’t be repeated on different platforms: Samsung has quietly stopped the distribution of paid apps for its smart TVs and connected Blu-ray players. The consumer electronics manufacturer made the change at the end of March, notifying affected consumers about the possibility to get refunds for some apps, while also assuring everyone that paid services like Netflix and Hulu Plus will continue to remain available on the company’s connected devices. Samsung first introduced the ability for smart TV developers to charge for their apps in early 2012, mirroring similar efforts by Roku and others to offer developers additional ways to monetize their apps. However, with a few exceptions, smart TV apps haven’t really been huge sellers, and publishers generally prefer subscription models that allow them to monetize their content across different platforms. Think of it as the Netflix model: Consumers pay Netflix directly, which allows the company to make its service available on mobile as well as connected devices without having to share its revenue with any platform operator. A service that charges customers through Samsung’s smart TV platform on the other hand was only available on Samsung’s devices, and the publisher had to share its revenue with Samsung. That model may work for mobile apps that consumers only use on one device, but it breaks when consumers want to access content on multiple screens.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The rebirth of hardware demands new definition of designFlash analysis: smart watchesOpportunities for living room application platforms

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