posted 7 days ago on gigaom
Taiwanese chipmaker Mediatek is best known for designing the system on a chip (SoC) and providing reference designs for scores of inexpensive Android devices currently flooding emerging markets. But its latest chip, the MT6795, announced Tuesday, is a high-end effort, meant to compete with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon. In fact, with its support for 64-bit operating systems and its Cat 4 LTE modem, the MT6795 adds of the features needed to achieve competitive parity with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801, a quad-core chip currently found in most phones on the premium side of the market. Mediatek’s MT6795 SoC will have eight cores, clocked at 2.2GHz, and will include support for recording “full HD super slow motion video.” The SoC will be able to power a 2K device display, like the 2560 x 1600 panel currently found on the LG G3, which uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip for a variety of reasons, most particularly its built-in LTE modem. Last week, Samsung announced an Exynos chip with a Cat 4 LTE modem, which was seen as one of the last barriers to Samsung’s adoption of its own chip platform for premium devices. Mediatek says MT6795-powered devices will be available by the end of 2014, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make it to the United States. Mediatek is a very globally focused company and doesn’t have a strong presence in the U.S ..market. Still, these “top-tier” features, like an LTE modem and 64-bit support, will soon trickle down to Mediatek’s less expensive products, and that will make its core customers — makers of inexpensive smartphones — very happy.  Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How the mega data center is changing the hardware and data center markets

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Rackspace, the cloud provider that has always differentiated itself based on the value of its “fanatical service, is now tiering its more basic IaaS cloud resources from its higher-level, support-intensive offerings. The goal is to make comparisons with public cloud giants Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google easier and to play up the fact that, for a little more money, Rackspace can offer much more hand-holding than those public cloud giants. The San Antonio, Texas-based company has always had core infrastructure and higher-level managed services, but didn’t do a good job explaining that to customers, according to Rackspace CTO John Engates (pictured above). “People looked at our price and the AWS price and thought they were comparing apples to apples. In reality, we had apple pie, not apples,” he told me. So, going forward, Rackspace will offer managed infrastructure starting at $0.005 per GB RAM ($50 minimum per month) and higher-level managed operations at $0.02/GB RAM ($500 minimum per month). The latter is “all-in managed cloud”  where Rackspace does much of the heavy lifting for customers, Engates said. Carl Brooks, an analyst with the 451 Group, said this messaging will help clarify Rackspace advantages to potential users. “What they’re doing here is getting out of the endless comparisons with AWS/MSFT/GOOG,” he said via email. “Rackspace can now say, look, it costs X, same as the big vendors … but we have support and oh yes, we have 10GB internal networking and $0.02 extra gets you a whole unicorn and a princess party all to yourself and there’s no way in hell AWS or Azure can touch that,” Brooks added. Calling all developers To attract more developers to its platform — and perhaps woo them from AWS — a new “developer+” program will provide a full array of resources — 40GB of CloudFiles storage, free monitoring, networking, DNS, email service for up to 50,000 messages per month, load balancing — free for 12 months. This is important because developers are the constituency that has driven AWS success. “Free resources for an entire year — that’s better than Amazon’s free tier because you can actually run a real app on it. The AWS free tier is not enough to do anything interesting,” Engates claimed. I’ll leave it to AWS fans to dispute that contention. Rackspace is much smaller than these huge public cloud players, which have other profit centers to fund massive cloud projects. That is one reason it hired Morgan Stanley in May to evaluate options, including a possible sale or merger.   Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How OpenStack can become an enterprise reality.What defines the key players of the IaaS industryHow the mega data center is changing the hardware and data center markets

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GraphLab, a Seattle-based startup that launched in 2013 to develop an open source project of the same name, is releasing next week its first commercial software, called GraphLab Create. Unlike the open source software that is focused on graph analysis, Create is designed for data stored in graphs or tables, and can be used to easily run any number of popular machine learning tasks. Carlos Guestrin, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said the goal of Create is to help savvy engineers or data scientists take their machine learning projects from idea to production. It includes a handful of modules for building certain types of popular workloads, including recommendation engines, graph analysis and clustering and regression algorithms. We have previously covered some of the disillusionment with current machine learning libraries — many of which are open source — with regard to speed and ease of use. Even where those factors are improving, there has still been a dearth of out-of-the-box tools to create even popular machine learning applications such as recommendation engines. Carlos Guestrin. Source: Carnegie Mellon University One of Create’s main benefits is simplicity. Users write, test and deploy their jobs in Python, and the jobs execute in GraphLab’s C++ engine to step up the speed. Jobs can execute on a laptop or across a cluster of servers running Hadoop (with YARN), and built-in management tooling lets users monitor running jobs. Given the current state of affairs, though, I asked Guestrin whether it’s really possible for a software product to democratize machine learning the way he hopes Create can do. “That’s a yet-to-be-answered question, because nobody has yet done it,” he said. So far, he acknowledged, most machine learning research has focused on one-off systems and “my curve is better than your curve” demonstrations. He thinks GraphLab Create can reach 80 to 90 percent of use cases because the focus from the beginning was on usability and robustness. There are other commercial machine learning products on the market, including Skytree, but Guestrin said the big difference between them and GraphLab is in the barrier to actually using the product. GraphLab handles the full lifecycle from data engineering through production, and generally doesn’t require a specialized, deep engagement before it’s deployed. An example of an SFrame tabular data structure in Create. Guestrin said GraphLab already has a handful of big-name users for Create, including Pandora (where it’s running music recommendation algorithms) and Zillow. Some other well-known companies with significant movie and news recommendation algorithms have also expressed interest, he said. Future versions of Create will include capabilities for even more advanced machine learning workloads, including deep learning and ensemble models, Guestrin said. Guestrin, who’s also a professor at the University of Washington, was one of the researchers who worked on a recent project nicknamed “Learn Everything About Anything,” in which a model taught itself different aspects of broad topics by analyzing data available online via Google Books Ngrams and image databases such as Google Images and Flickr. The way iOS did for mobile applications, Guestrin wants GraphLab Create to help make it so anybody with the inclination and a modicum of coding skills can start building machine learning applications without worrying about all the hairy details around optimization, deployment and other historically time-consuming processes. “I think we can do it,” he said, “and we’re hoping to be the ones to do it.”Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How to use big data to make better business decisionsWhy renewable energy and the smart home ruled cleantech in the second quarterRethinking the enterprise data archive for big data analytics and regulatory compliance

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Open source configuration management (CM) company Chef today released a slew of new features, including an analytics platform for its Chef CM tool, full integration with Linux containers and Docker and commercial support for a package of open source tools tailored for testing. Essentially, the new analytics platform offers a visual display of everything going on with the Chef server, which is the heart of the Chef CM tool. Every time a user makes a change in the network, the analytics platform logs that information and presents a searchable database that all team members can connect to in order to see what is being altered. “It is a searchable log of all the actions and changes to the configuration policy and data for the Chef server,” said Colin Campbell, director of patterns and practices at Chef. “If there is a change made, it is very easy to go back look at everything that changed.” Figure displaying what the new analytics tool will look like The company is also letting the world know that it’s joining the container bandwagon by announcing a new plug-in for Docker called Knife as well as full integration with Docker in its Chef Test Kitchen platform. With Knife, customers will be able to manage Docker containers that can be spun up and used with the Chef Test Kitchen platform in order to perform system testing using containers instead of virtual machines. While containers are getting pretty popular with developers, said Campbell, operations staff still need to have a “testable and repeatable process for working with them,” which is something the Chef Test Kitchen platform will supposedly offer. Finally, the company is bundling together a couple of open source testing tools like its own Chef Test Kitchen into a single package that will be a part of the company’s open source development kit, which the company sells consulting services around. While users who have the skills to set up the open source testing tools on their own probably won’t find much use out of having everything bundled together, Campbell said that this testing package will be useful for the enterprises who need a little help managing their infrastructure. “Chef can integrate with almost everything out there,” said Campbell. “It’s about helping the customer get familiar with the testing.” It’s interesting to note that Chef’s new announcements are the sort of thing that drive open-source purists like former Chef employee Noah Kantrowitz up the wall. Kantrowitz got up in arms last week over whether or not Chef was behaving like a truly open source company in regards to the way it deals with its Chef community. But Chef has made no secret that it wants to be a big company and in order for it to do that, it has to find a way to make money with the most obvious way to do so entailing selling consulting services around its open source tools. “We have a tremendous open source footprint,” said Jay Wampold, vice president of marketing at Chef. “We’re building a business around that.” Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Shutterstock user DrHitch.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The operator’s view of SDN, NFV, and open sourceRethinking the enterprise data archive for big data analytics and regulatory complianceHow OpenStack can become an enterprise reality.

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Success in the brave new digital world will require adopting new leadership styles and rewiring work patterns with next generation web-based social and mobile tools. Join Stowe Boyd, a lead analyst for Gigaom Research, and Bob Zukis, the CEO of Bloomfire and author of the best-selling book Social Inc. Hear firsthand as these two industry leaders provide a candid discussion on the future of work and how you can crack the code to maximize productivity and create a high-performing workplace. Webinar attendees will learn ways organizations can leverage these new-way tools to help solve pressing business problems, realize concrete business value, capture dispersed and fast-changing knowledge, highlight expertise, generate and refine ideas, and harness the wisdom of crowds. Join Gigaom Research and Bloomfire for a free webinar on July 29, 2014, at 9 AM PT. Register today! Don’t get left behind!

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A petition asking the Obama Administration “to allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states” finally received an official response this week, but the answer will likely disappointment fans of the car maker. As Jalopnik reports, the White House wrote, “as you know, laws regulating auto sales are issues that have traditionally sat with lawmakers at the state level” — meaning that Tesla will not be getting any high-level help fighting laws that block the direct sale of cars like Tesla Motor’s electric Model S. States like New Jersey and Texas have passed such laws, which are widely viewed as a means to protect the auto industry’s longtime franchise dealer model. This means that, while Telsa can open “experience outlets” that show off its cars, it can’t actually sell them through these outlets. Tesla filed its petition in June 2013, and soon received more than 100,000 signatures, which is the level at which the White House is obliged to offer an official response. While the Administration’s framing of auto sale regulation as a state issue is not surprising, Tesla boosters will be disappointed that it did not call on Congress to look at the issue. The response offers praise for Tesla and highlights the Administration’s clean car initiatives, but the company does not appear to be satisfied. In a statement, Diarmuid O’Connell, VP of corporate and business development, described the White House message as “disappointing” and said it “was even more timid than its rejection of a petition to begin construction of a Death Star.” The White House petition system, dubbed “We the People,” has been in place for years and led to a series of official responses on serious policy issues as well some more frivolous ones. In April, the White House responded to a petition to deport Justin Bieber, but declined to take action, saying “we’ll leave it to others to comment on Mr. Bieber’s case.” Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Why renewable energy and the smart home ruled cleantech in the second quarterA look back at the first quarter of 2014What the next business model for EVs might look like

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Photo by Mr. Vi/Thinkstock Kosta Grammatis, who believes broadband is a fundamental human right that should be available to everyone, has a new startup and business model. The startup, Oluvus, buys bandwidth from an undisclosed telco and then offers free mobile phone service to the U.S. The hope is that people will shell out for extra services and fund broadband services for other parts of the world. The model reminds me of Toms Shoes, where each purchased pair of shoes pays for a pair for a needy child. Whether or not Grammatis succeeds, the Wired article detailing his efforts and failures is worth a read.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile spaceWhy videoconferencing is critical to business collaborationSponsored content: Why the smart home is finally ready for the mainstream market

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Codeship, the 4-year-old company behind a hosted continuous integration offering, is adopting a freemium model to encourage new users to try its service before having to break out their credit cards. Like many startups, Codeship has experimented with how to get users aboard – up till now offering (but not publicizing) a free, limited tier of its service. Now the idea is to let developers have full access to all of the product’s capabilities for up to 100 builds before charges apply, said CEO and founder Mo Plassnig (pictured above.) Continuous integration was popularized by Facebook, Google and other web-scale companies that must always iterate and integrate new features in a continuing workflow process. CI  competitors include CircleCI and Wercker, the winner of Structure Europe Launchpad in 2012. Given the explosion of startups vying for developer and end-user attention, the pressure is on to persuade people to test new products out and  (hopefully from the vendor point of view) get hooked. The freemium model is one way to do so, as is are limited-time offers and limited free tiers of service. Codeship, with offices in Boston and Vienna, garnered $2.6 million in funding earlier this year and now has 14 employees in Boston and Vienna. Codeship team  Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How to Implement Continuous Delivery

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Evrythng, the atrociously named, Cisco-backed British startup that wants to provide the identity management layer for the internet of things, has struck a collaboration deal with Norway-based printed electronics outfit Thinfilm. Thinfilm makes smart labels that contain sensors, displays and NFC wireless communications capabilities. These labels can be used on products, food packaging, clothes – lots of things, really – and, through the Evrythng deal, those items can now have their “identities” managed through Evrythng’s platform. According to Evrythng chief Niall Murphy, printed electronics fix the cost and scalability issues around connecting things to the web for interaction and tracking purposes. He may have a point – as I recently reported, printed and flexible electronics are going to be revolutionary in terms of bringing connectivity and many other use cases to new form factors, largely because they’re cheap and increasingly easy to produce. The deal means Thinfilm’s NFC barcodes can connect to Evrythng’s cloud platform through the user’s phone, in order to track products and combat counterfeits. The integration of Thinfilm’s smart labels with the platform will open up other scenarios, too: temperature-sensing labels on pharmaceuticals could report back so no one ends up with spoiled medicine, for example, while the pharma company could aggregate and analyze data about its shipments.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How M2M is changing the mobile economyWhere the internet of things and health care meetWhat mattered in cloud during first-quarter 2014

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Remember the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, the unit of British spy agency GCHQ that uses criminal-style techniques to disrupt and discourage online activism? Now, thanks to a new Snowden document published late Monday by The Intercept, we know JTRIG also developed tools for manipulating online polls, “shaping” what people see, and spamming on an epic scale. The document comprises screenshots of a GCHQ wiki page for JTRIG tools and techniques. It’s a sort of menu for other departments in GCHQ, showing what tools have been developed or were under development – the page was last updated in July 2012, and a note near the top says “We don’t update this page anymore,” pointing users to a newer page. Apart from providing a list of rather hilarious codenames with frequent geek culture/gaming references (CONCRETE DONKEY is a Worms weapon; POD RACE a Star Wars thing) and a few nods to questionable music (a data collection system called JAZZ FUSION has a subsystem called TECHNO VIKING), the page also gives an interesting insight into modern propaganda and disinformation techniques. Using JTRIG’s toolset, agents can: Spoof an email address and send mail from it (CHANGELING, or SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE for BlackBerry users – “Ready to fire, but see constraints”) Send out spam emails on mass scale (BADGER – “Ready to fire”) Send out audio messages to large numbers of phones or “repeatedly bomb a target number with the same message” (CONCRETE DONKEY – “In development”) Spam a target with text messages (CANNONBALL – “Ready to fire”) and send spoofed text messages (BURLESQUE – “Ready to fire”) Send out SMS spam to lots of people (WARPATH – “Ready to fire”) Spam instant messaging users with “a tailored message” (PITBULL – “In development”) Fax-spam (SERPENTS TONGUE – “In redevelopment” for some reason) Automate interaction and alias management on social networks including Twitter (SYLVESTER) “Produce and disseminate multimedia via the web” (SKYSCRAPER – “Ready to fire”) Amplify messages, normally video, on sites like YouTube (GESTATOR) “Change the outcome of online polls” (UNDERPASS – “In development”) Clone and alter websites in real-time (HAVOK) “Masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries” (CLEAN SWEEP – “Ready to fire”) Insert media into target networks (SPACE ROCKET) Boost website hits and rankings (BOMB BAY – “In development”) and inflate page views on websites (SLIPSTREAM – “Ready to fire”) Use denial-of-service attacks (PREDATORS FACE and ROLLING THUNDER) So, by the looks of it, agents can send out mass messages on a variety of platforms, shape which websites people are most likely to see – both by boosting some sites and crushing others with denial-of-service attacks — and shape the conversation on social networks. 50 Cent Party, eat your heart out. There’s also a section entitled “Shaping and Honeypots” that mentions a URL shortening service (DEADPOOL), a “secure one-to-one web based dead-drop messaging platform” (HUSK), a file-sharing site (LONGSHOT), an image hosting website (PISTRIX) and a “public online group against dodgy websites” (NIGHTCRAWLER). It would be lovely to know which sites and services those codenames refer to. Also, GCHQ-ers can spy on people and attack targets’ computers in various ways, as one would expect: “Permanently disable a target’s account on their computer” (ANGRY PIRATE – “Ready to fire” with restrictions) Disrupt target’s Windows computer (STEALTH MOOSE – “Ready to fire” with restrictions) Block the target from being able to send or receive email or view online material (SUNBLOCK – “Tested, but operational limitations”) Identify and encrypt files on a target’s computer (SWAMP DONKEY – “Ready to fire” with restrictions) Find private photos on Facebook (SPRING BISHOP) Get Skype call and chat records, and contact lists, in real-time (MINIATURE HERO) And so on. This is quite the catalog.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Consumer products will drive enterprise breakthroughsRetail 2.0: the convergence of wearables, iBeacons and big dataApplying lean startup theory in large enterprises

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I get a lot of questions about AllJoyn, so I invited Liat Ben-Zur, the chairwoman of the AllSeen Alliance, to come to the podcast and talk about the organization’s vision for a protocol that helps devices talk to each other. She discusses the vision behind AllJoyn and the AllSeen Alliance and discussed elements such as security and what the future may hold for hubs as the mediator of devices in the smart home. Before we delve into AllJoyn, Kevin Tofel and I discuss a new wireless mesh networking technology that uses the Zigbee radio hardware implementation but nothing else. The Thread Group is launching Tuesday with a new, low-power wireless mesh network backed by ARM, Samsung, Nest and others. Kevin and I talk about some of the salient bits as well as an update on my week with the Nest and some thoughts on Apple’s iBeacon hardware and what it means to offer Presence 1.0. Host: Stacey Higginbotham Guests: Kevin Tofel and Liat Ben-Zur, chairwoman of the AllSeen Alliance I’m a Nest convert after little more than a week Thoughts on Thread, a new wireless, mesh networking protocol to aims to take on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Bits about beacons as Kevin and I talk about Apple’s purported iBeacon hardware All about AllJoyn and the AllSeen Alliance Is there a future for hubs in the smart home? Internet of Things Show RSS Feed Subscribe to this show in iTunes Download This Episode PREVIOUS IoT PODCASTS: How to train your smart home and does the internet of things need an OS? Dropcam was only the beginning. How Nest plans to build a smart home empire. What is Project RoseLine and why did it get $4M in federal money? Digital health is going to need medical approval and a great UI Much ado about HomeKit, the new Apple smart home framework How the internet enables future cars, and is this the slowest network in the world? Thingful wants to crawl the internet of things, but is this the right model? How will your home talk to you? We talked to Sonos to find out. Learn how this hospital is using the internet of things to improve health Integration drama in the smart home and Lumafit’s CEO on new wearables Are we nearing the Dropbox moment for the internet of things? Drones 101 and why your August smart lock hasn’t shipped just yet What would you do with $100M? We talk to Prodea about connecting the world Let’s get industrial data online, and moving the connected home Dude, where’s my car? Plus a tour through a Savant home Cooking with the internet of things and the coming wave of dumb “smart” devices Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Why renewable energy and the smart home ruled cleantech in the second quarterA look back at this year’s CES and what it means for tech in 2014Gigaom Research predictions for 2014

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Samsung, ARM, Nest and four other companies have gotten together to build a new radio standard for the smart home. Dubbed Thread, it is a low-power, mesh network protocol that also supports IPv6. The standard is built on the existing radio hardware used by ZigBee devices (802.15.4), which means that a company could update their ZigBee devices to support Thread with software if they chose. So does the smart home need a new networking protocol? I think need may be a little strong, but there’s certainly a lot of appeal in designing a radio protocol from the ground up. And outside of the companies above, Freescale, Silicon Labs, Yale Security and Big Ass Fans also agreed. Chris Boross from Nest Labs, who is involved in the Thread Group, ran through the issues associated with other radio technologies during an interview Monday. What’s the matter with Wi-Fi? According to him, Wi-Fi is both power hungry and made for big data while Z-wave is controlled by one company. Bluetooth is low-power, but while the standard is being tweaked to accommodate a more mesh-like structure, it’s not a true mesh network. It also doesn’t yet support IPv6 in the real-world implementations but the specification does allow for it. ZigBee has a range of issues, but suffers in part because it has so many variations that the standard is not as standardized as consumers would like. To address these perceived flaws and others, the Thread networking protocol supports IPv6 using 6LoWPAN, which is a way to adapt the heavier IPv6 capability for a power-and-packet constrained network. It also can support a mesh network of 250 devices or more. This may seem like overkill, but if you tally every light bulb in your home, every outlet, every switch and then start adding sensors and fun devices, that number starts making sense. A Big Ass Fan that could one day include Thread. There are two challenges associated with getting a new radio standard into the mass market — even if it’s a software upgrade to an existing radio found on plenty of existing devices. The first is convincing device makers to put an 802.15.4 chip inside everything from a phone to a hub and the second is making sure the standard is really a standard. You gotta make them love you! To solve the first problem, using an existing radio hardware is a good first step. It’s a lot easier to convince device manufacturers to send a software upgrade to add Thread support to existing ZigBee stuff than it is to convince them to add a new radio. But Thread does have an issue in that so far, ZigBee isn’t popular on tablets or phones, which are the dominant means of controlling a smart home today. Luckily most hubs on the market have ZigBee radios and service providers such as Comcast are even embedding ZigBee into their set-top boxes. So while, at first you might need a hub or gateway of some sort to control your thread devices, if it becomes popular, then perhaps Samsung, Apple, Asus or another phone or tablet manufacturer adds a new radio. Boross declined to comment on Samsung’s plans for thread, although it could push adoption with the addition of a thread radio in all of its phones. For the second problem of creating a true standard, the thread group is taking a page from Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Much like the Wi-Fi Alliance certifies all Wi-Fi devices, the Thread Group plans to provide similar rigorous testing, certification and enforcement. ZigBee actually lost ground with device makers because it fragmented its standard so much that the devices weren’t actually interoperable. It’s trying to repair that damage now, but it still has two versions of ZigBee for the consumer and pro markets. Finally, for those who are confused about how Thread might fit into the bigger picture, this is a radio effort, so things like HomeKit, Nest’s Developer program and even Qualcomm’s AllJoyn would work on top of Thread. The goal here is to supplant Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as the de facto standards for the smart home. What are the odds? Today, the Nest thermostat is running a version of Thread, and later this year the spec will be defined enough that other manufacturers could start building Thread-based products. Boross said that the thread Group will start certifying devices in mid-2015, which means that while companies may support thread and build it into their products, there won’t be certified devices until the middle of next year. Thread inside. Will this succeed? It’s tough to say. In may ways this will add to consumer confusion, and there are smart people at many chip companies that make Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips trying to tweak the radios for more efficiency in the smart home. That being said, connected devices do behave differently from laptops or phones, and building a radio specification optimized for those devices — especially when we’re anticipating so many of them isn’t crazy. The Thread backers have done what they can to mitigate the risks that new radio specifications face and certainly have a lot of marketing product muscle. I’ll be eager to see the first devices to get the Thread seal of approval. If we see hubs and vendors like GreenPeak, which sells ZigBee chips into set-top boxes, then this Thread protocol might lead us to a better connected home network.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How Apple’s HomeKit will change the smart home marketWhy renewable energy and the smart home ruled cleantech in the second quarterHow IoT Can Deliver on Its Promise

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That didn’t take too long: Star Trek fans with Android Wear smartwatches can already download and install a free watchface based on the fictional LCARS computer interface of the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Daniele Bonaldo created and uploaded the “Starwatch” app to Google Play on Monday night, announcing the custom design on his Google+ page. The watch face displays the time, date and — just for kicks — the Unix Epoch, which is the total number of seconds (not counting leap seconds, of course!) since 0:00:00 Coordinated Universal Time on January 1, 1970.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How the customer experience can help businesses build applicationsWhy unsanctioned file-sharing still exists in the workplace and what managers can doContext is king: accelerating productivity through context

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The good news for advocates of net neutrality is that a lot of folks in tech are on the same side: scrappy startups and mighty companies like Google share the belief that broadband providers should not be allowed to discriminate in how they deliver web traffic. The bad news is that the small guys appear to believe this more than the big guys. These different levels of conviction were apparent on Monday in the form of the last-minute submissions to the FCC, which had earlier called for comments on its proposal for internet “fast lanes” – a controversial idea that many in the tech world fear could smother start-ups who would be unable to pay the tolls to go fast. In their new FCC submissions, two important tech constituencies set out their concerns in very similar language, but called for the agency to address the “fast lane” issue in very different ways. One constituency is the Internet Association, a trade group for dozens of well-known companies such as Google, AOL, Facebook and Amazon. In its comment to the FCC, the group declared that any new rules “should subject broadband Internet access providers to non- discrimination, no-blocking, and robust transparency requirements” — but then recommended the agency adopt “simple light-touch rules” to resolve the situation. The Association did not, however, use any of its 25-page comment (see below) to explain how the “light-touch” rules would work in practice. The omission is important since the FCC’s last attempt to finesse the non-discrimination issue collapsed in January when a DC appeals court ruled that the agency could not impose net neutrality without reclassifying the broadband providers as so-called “common carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act. Even though the Title II reclassification would likely be essential to any official non-discrimination policy, the Internet Association’s comment does not even mention it once. The same is not true, however, in Monday’s other major tech industry submission to the FCC. This one came from Y Combinator, a hugely influential startup incubator that attracts a regular stream of A-list entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The comment, authored by Reddit founder and Y Combinator partner Alexis Ohanian, stated bluntly: “[W]e need a bright-line, per se rule against discrimination, access fees, and paid prioritization on both mobile and fixed … Only reclassifying broadband as Title II will protect an open and neutral Internet… the Court simply couldn’t have been clearer: so long as the FCC refuses to classify broadband providers as “telecommunications services” under Title II, the FCC cannot ban ISPs’ technical discrimination, access fees, or paid prioritization.” The call for Title II echoes the public position of Etsy, Dwolla, CodeAcademy and General Assembly — names that are well known within tech circles, but are less familiar to ordinary consumers and to many in Washington. This name recognition is less of a problem for most of the companies in the Internet Association, which also includes Expedia, Yelp, Yahoo and TripAdvisor. The split over tactics, especially Title II, is likely a harbinger for the rest of the FCC process. That process will begin this week with a 60-day reply period, offering another opportunity for the various groups to stake out their positions before the agency decides what to do. Meanwhile, sources in Washington claim that big tech companies are unlikely to make a stand on Title II, pointing out that no one has yet to write a big check to fight for reclassification. If the major internet companies don’t shift on the Title II issue, however, the chances appear remote that the FCC will ultimately decide to reclassify the broadband providers — especially since Comcast and other powerful companies would fight reclassification vigorously. Here’s a link to the Y Combinator comment. The Internet Association comment is below (I’ve underlined some of the key parts) Internet Assoc Comments Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How public policy changed the consumer tech space in first-quarter 2014Bitcoin: why digital currency is the future financial systemHow mobile will disrupt the living room in 2014

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
When most people leave the hospital after a lengthy stay, they probably assume they won’t be coming back again soon to deal with the same problem. Unfortunately, that’s often just wishful thinking. In fact, re-admissions — sometimes within just a couple weeks — are such a big problem that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) includes measures to address the problem. Put simply, the law provides financial incentives for hospitals to improve readmission rates and financial sticks with which to punish hospitals where the problem persists. Improve the problem, get more funding. Keep readmitting patients within short windows after discharge, don’t get paid for treatment. The latter scenario is bad for patients and bad for hospitals. According to studies, about a quarter of Medicare patients treated for heart failure are readmitted within 30 days, and heart-failure re-admissions alone cost Medicare about $15 billion a year. Predictions about how many of those are preventable range from less than 20 percent up the the Department of Health and Human Services estimate of 75 percent. “If you can predict that, that’s a huge, huge cost saving for the hospitals,” said Ankur Teredesai, who manages the Center for Data Science at the University of Washington, Tacoma. However, help might be on the way thanks to a research project by Teredesai and his Center for Data Science colleagues. It’s called the Risk-O-Meter, and it’s already being used by one hospital system in the Seattle area. Now, the researchers who created it are looking to commercialize it, either by licensing the access to the cloud-based service or by starting their own company. A look at the factors the UW Tacoma project analyzes. Under the hood of the web and mobile applications that allow doctors to enter patient information and receive a risk score is a machine learning system that analyzes more than 100 attributes about each patient. These range from standard stuff such as vital signs, lab results and medical history to more-personal stuff such as a patient’s demographic information and living conditions. However, the Risk-O-Meter has much more utility than simply as a one-off risk-scoring app, Teredesai explained. Risk scores change as patients progress through treatment, helping doctors to evaluate treatment options on an ongoing basis. Even after patients leave the hospital, hospital staff can benefit from alerts indicating it’s a good time to check up on a patient, or to call with reminders about taking medication. Doctors can also drill down into the data in order to figure out what factors are causing a score to spike. This type of analysis is important because a high score could be caused by a non-medical factor that’s easy enough to account for once a patient is discharged. For example, Teredesai said, “The chances of then getting readmitted are higher — much higher — if [patients] live alone. … The models actually show that.” On the treatment front, he noted that although doctors will often keep patients for 13 days after heart failure, the project’s models show that risk scores drop significantly after 10 days, but then rise again after 13 days. So perhaps those three extra days aren’t really necessary, and might even help cause a readmission, Teredesai said. The Risk-O-Meter team is also working on a way to help doctors evaluate the effectiveness, or risk, of various intervention options, although Teredesai noted that’s still a work in progress. It’s potentially a very valuable tool, though, because a system that can model specific treatments against the profiles of specific patients could result in more effective treatment plans. The team also wants to integrate the risk-scoring system into existing electronic medical records systems in order to cut down on the number of tools doctors have to use. A screenshot of a Risk-O-Meter online demonstration. Teredesai said the system was designed with privacy in mind, which is why it runs on a HIPAA-compliant cloud platform (Microsoft Azure) and lets hospitals choose what data they want send for analysis. Whatever they send, though, it remains anonymous and is discarded once it’s scored against the models. The system doesn’t keep any patient info, he said. We’ve seen a lot of activity — and a lot of capital investment – at the intersection of big data and health care, but many efforts, including IBM Watson and startup Lumiata, are more diagnostic in nature. A lot have been strictly academic research or the results of individual hospital systems analyzing their own data. What might be most appealing about the Risk-O-Meter is that it’s a broadly deployable cloud service that promises better patient outcomes while also helping hospitals where it matters most to them — their bottom lines. Hospital CIOs and administrators know they need to do both, and anything that can plausibly deliver has to at least get a serious look.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Who matters in the Quantified Self movement, and whyHow to use big data to make better business decisionsWhy renewable energy and the smart home ruled cleantech in the second quarter

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Now for sale at Amazon, Radioshack and Staples, 3D printers are getting less and less difficult to find. Home Depot became the latest retailer to offer 3D printers today when it began selling MakerBots online and in 12 stores nationwide. The store is selling three printer models, plus MakerBot’s 3D scanner and filament. The 12 stores are located in California, Illinois and New York. “Imagine a world where you can 3D print replacement parts and use 3D printing as an integral part of design and building work,” MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis said in a release.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.A market analysis of emerging technology interfacesThe legal challenges and opportunities for 3D printingBitcoin: why digital currency is the future financial system

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Many acknowledge the need to manage mobile content, but there is currently no consensus on how to do so. Enter the mobile content management software market, which holds a number of strategies and tactical approaches for vendors with important go-to-market decisions. Table of Contents

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
San Francisco-based IoT startup Aether Things is delaying the shipping date of its Cone connected loudspeaker. The Cone, which is supposed to learn from your listening habits and automatically mix music based on past preferences, was scheduled to ship by July 15. On Monday, the company informed prospective buyers via email that it won’t meet that deadline: “We’ve come across some delays in finalizing Cone, which means we are unfortunately postponing the ship date. We’re very sorry to have to extend the wait,” the email reads, without providing an estimate for a new shipping date.

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
So much for clarity. Three weeks after the Supreme Court shut down Aereo for streaming TV over the internet without permission, a court in California has given the green light for satellite TV company Dish to continue selling a service that does much the same thing. In a short ruling issued on Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused a request by Fox to shut down “Dish Anywhere,” which lets consumers record the broadcasters’ shows on a DVR and then beam them over the internet to a computer or mobile device. In its ruling, the 9th Circuit upheld a lower court’s finding that Fox was unlikely to suffer serious harm if Dish Anywhere was not shut down pending a copyright trial. The four-page decision is highly technical and avoids entirely the Supreme Court’s Aereo ruling — which Fox had invoked to say that Dish was engaged in an unauthorized public performance. The new ruling is likely to further muddy the water over what companies can do with content owned by the likes of Fox and ABC, which broadcast their shows for free over the airwaves but also collect retransmission fees from pay TV providers like Dish. Services like Aereo and Dish Anywhere fall into a legal gray area because they provide cloud-based DVRs that are controlled by consumers, meaning they should (in theory) fall outside the law that restricts companies from retransmitting broadcast signals to the public. The courts’ explanations, however, have failed to make it clear why one service is legal and the other is not. In the closely-watched Supreme Court case, a 6-3 majority ruled that Aereo’s internet streams were “public” but glossed over the reasons why this was the case — leading Justice Antonin Scalia to complain in dissent of “an improvised standard (“looks-like-cable-TV”) that will sow confusion for years to come.” In the Dish case, meanwhile, the company did have a license to retransmit signals via satellite, but did not have the broadcaster’s permission to offer a remote DVR tool, which is why Fox was seeking an injunction to shut down Dish Anywhere. And given the technical nature of the 9th Circuit ruling, it’s not clear why Dish Anywhere is legal and Aereo is not. The new California ruling is another in a series of victories for Dish, which has also prevailed over ABC in court over its Hopper DVR, which lets users skip over commercials. Here’s the 9th Circuit ruling via the Hollywood Reporter: Dish Anywhere Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The Paradox of Thinking Outside the (Set-Top) BoxHow real-time bidding is changing advertisingSector RoadMap: Content personalization in 2013

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Every time I test a new Windows Phone handset, I get an inch closer to using one on a long-term basis. Currently my SIM card is in a Lumia 930 that comes pre-installed with the much improved Windows Phone 8.1 software. It includes the new Action Center and Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Siri, to name just a few new features. So, why don’t I use Windows Phone 8.1 as a daily driver? It typically comes down to missing apps that I need. Until recently, there was still one more work-related app that I use on iOS and Android all throughout the day. Lo and behold, it’s there and has been for nearly a year although I missed the memo: Socialcast arrived for Windows Phone last August. That leaves Google+ on Windows Phone as the lone holdout for me: I’m a heavy Google+ user seven days a week and the G+ experience on Windows Phone is dismal. At least it was until this weekend when I got a Twitter recommendation to try gPlus, a native Google+ app for Windows Phone. @KevinCTofel have you tried a third party app for google+? metroappsauce.com/2014/05/12/gpl…— Rahul Mathur (@weemundo) July 13, 2014 While not perfect, gPlus is a very capable client. Most of the other Google+ apps I’ve found in the Windows Phone store are simply web-based clients wrapped in an app and don’t offer any additional features than using Google+ in Internet Explorer. But gPlus is different: It’s a pure Metro-style app that works far better than using IE. The software supports the main Google+ stream but you can also read posts from people in your Circles or in Communities, something I often do for various groups such as the Chromebook and Moto X communities. Posts can be created for public viewing or within a Community. You can post links or photos — images already taken or use your Windows Phone camera for a new snapshot — with gPlus, and you can also view a user’s full profile. Notifications are one area that still needs a little work. Yes, the gPlus app shows your notifications; tap the notification badge and you can view any unread items. But the gPlus notifications don’t yet appear in the Windows Phone Action Center, so you have to manually check the app for any outstanding comments or +1′s. Compared to the terrible in-browser experience of Google+ on Windows Phone, that’s a small price to pay for an otherwise excellent app. The app is priced small, too. You can try it out free, but I opted to pay $0.99 for the full client within the first day of using it.   For me, gPlus is well worth the buck, and until a better Google+ client comes along for Windows Phone, I’ll be using it from now on. In fact, I can’t think of any more missing apps that might hold me back from using Windows Phone on a longer full-time basis. That doesn’t mean Microsoft’s mobile platform has all the apps that you and others need, of course. We all have different requirements and “must-have” applications. But if you were to ask me why I haven’t switched to Windows Phone, I really don’t have a good answer now, thanks to gPlus. Thanks, Rahul, for the app recommendation.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Sponsored Research: How empowering workers enhances business communicationWhat developers should know when choosing an MBaaS solutionWhat to expect for the mobile OS market in 2013

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
BitTorrent Inc. is looking to revive its live streaming efforts with a new product name and new staff, if job offers posted earlier this month are any indication. The company shut down its previous live streaming test, dubbed BitTorrent Live, in February, and said at the time that it would shift its focus to mobile live streaming. Now, it looks like it may rebrand these efforts as BitTorrent TV. This is from a job listing for a senior product manager that was published two weeks ago: “This position is for the PM leader of the new BitTorrent TV product, among BitTorrent’s new initiatives that leverages the power of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol. This product aims to introduce to the world a scalable, inexpensive live streaming technology.” Another job listing, posted at about the same time, includes the following: “We are looking for an advanced C++ engineer who will help develop a revolutionary new product that will bring peer-to-peer streaming to video broadcasting. You’ll have a chance to work directly with our founder, Bram Cohen, on this new type of peer-to-peer technology. You will be pushing the processing and networking limits of (…) hardware on mobile/embedded platforms.” Cohen’s work on live streaming has been a long time coming. Cohen, who invented the original BitTorrent protocol and now serves as BitTorrent Inc’s Chief Scientist, started to develop a new P2P-powered live streaming protocol that was focused on low-latency video transmission in 2008. In late 2011, BitTorrent began to test the technology by streaming live music sessions out of a studio it built in its own office. However, the problem with this approach was that it relied on a browser plug-in, which was too much of a hurdle for many users. In an email to testers, Cohen wrote in February: “After invaluable experience in real deployments, we found that requiring a browser plug-in is daunting to our users. Because of this, we are refocusing the product on mobile platforms… ” BitTorrent’s Chief Marketing Officer Matt Mason announced separately in February that the company would introduce “a new mobile streaming application” in alpha stage later this year. All signs now point to this being BitTorrent TV. It’s still unclear what the app is actually going to offer, and a spokesperson quizzed about BitTorrent TV told me Monday that it is still “in an exploratory stage.” However, the job offers make it sound like BitTorrent Inc. is quite serious about finally turning Bram Cohen’s live streaming work into a product. The job offer of the Product Manager for BitTorrent TV, who is going to be in charge of releasing the product, stated that the job will be “critically important to the company.”Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Bitcoin: why digital currency is the future financial systemHow mobile will disrupt the living room in 2014How to balance cloud-based and edge-based mobile data with hybrid application design

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
If you want to know the weather, you certainly have a lot of options these days. There are 24-hour cable weather stations. Local TV stations of make their love Doppler radar feeds available online or over a separate broadcast channel. Detailed weather stats and forecasts for any city in the world are only the tap of a mobile app or the typing of a URL away. But an interesting new Bay Area startup called BloomSky wants to give you the most personalized weather report of all – one from your home. The company has designed a consumer weather probe that you can mount in your yard or on your roof. It tracks temperature, barometric pressure, rain, humidity and even ultraviolet light levels. It also has a high-definition camera that can record and share real-time images and time-lapse photography of the sky above your roof. It connects to your home network through a Wi-Fi radio, and can also connect to your smartphone. BloomSky wants to sell its stations to consumers and businesses in hopes of creating a gigantic crowdsourced weather monitoring and prediction network. The concept of personal weather stations is certainly nothing new. Members of the Citizen Weather Observer Program have long collected data from personal weather stations and submitted to the National Weather Service using specialized sensor rigs. The Weather Underground also aggregates observational data from amateur meteorologists. But BloomSky wants to take a time-intensive — and expensive — hobby, and make it accessible and useful to the general public, according to company founder and CEO J.T. Xiao. BloomSky wants to build a meteorological network around its probes that will it report local weather conditions down to the neighborhood level and allow its members to share their “personal weather” information on the internet and social networks. BloomSky weather module comes with five sensors, an HD camera, and a Wi-Fi radio, and can be powered with a solar panel. (Source: BloomSky) BloomSky is funding the initial manufacture of its modules through a Kickstarter campaign, but it plans next year to start selling them retail for $170. Next month, BloomSky plans to launch a consumer beta program in the San Francisco in which it will place a station in 80 Bay Area neighborhoods. Data and images collected from those beta probes will be used to generate a real time map of the San Francisco’s different microclimates, Xiao said. Instead of just providing a general temperature figure for the entire peninsula, BloomSky wants to show that while it’s raining in the Mission it might only be foggy in Parkside. All of BloomSky’s probes will contribute general data to the network — which will be accessible to the general public through an app — but individual probe owners can choose weather to share specific location data (so you can track conditions and see images at the address level). Individual probe owners can also choose to share a snapshot of their local weather conditions as well as photos with anyone via social networking tools, BloomSky said. It’s definitely a fascinating concept, but I’m still skeptical if ordinary consumers are interested in tracking and sharing the climate around their homes, or at least interested enough to pay $170 for a probe (though the Kickstarter campaign is offering pre-order devices at steep discounts). But only one or two people in any given neighborhood have to own a weather station for the network to be effective. Also, BloomSky is hoping businesses will pick up any consumer slack. Any business which factors climate conditions into its business model could use the BloomSky module as a handy tool for planning and marketing purposes, Xiao and his team said. A surf shop could show its customers the height of the current waves, for example, while a bed & breakfast could post real-time temperature and rain data on its website.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How to utilize cloud computing, big data, and crowdsourcing for an agile enterpriseGigaom Research predictions for 2014Sponsored content: Why the smart home is finally ready for the mainstream market

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Last year, I suggested Microsoft was feeling the heat from Chromebooks: Why else would the company invest in a Scroogled ad campaign to show how much better Windows is than Google’s Chrome OS? I received a fair share of criticism on my stance back then, but on Monday, Microsoft confirmed my thoughts, essentially admitting that Chromebooks need to be taken seriously. Speaking at the Windows Partner Conference, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner had this to say according to The Verge: “We are going to participate at the low-end. We’ve got a great value proposition against Chromebooks, we are not ceding the market to anyone.” Along with the statement, Turner showed off the following slide that highlights how Windows computers will tackle Chromebooks head-on: Though low-cost laptops offering features that Chromebooks either can’t or don’t: From a price perspective, these devices — as well as some new small Windows 8.1 tablets coming down the pike at or under $99 later this year along with $199 laptops – will surely give consumers pause before purchasing a Chromebook. Helping these prices is Microsoft’s reduction, and in some cases, elimination of the licensing fee for Windows 8.1. However, the success of stemming Chromebook sales will have just as much to do with the overall experience these laptops and tablets actually provide. While Microsoft’s list of things a Chromebook can’t do is accurate — although I’m not sure consumers care about everything on that list — what a Chromebook does do, it does extremely well and without much of the overhead that comes with a Windows system. That’s one of the advantages to a “lighter” operating system. The tricky part for Microsoft is that many of its key hardware partners don’t just make Windows devices; many have decided to jump into the Chromebook game as well. Think Dell, Lenovo, HP, Acer and Asus to name a few. It’s also telling that these Windows computer makers have broadened their products to include support for Chrome OS over the past two years. It’s as if they knew back then what Microsoft is only recently learning: Google’s Chromebook strategy to usurp computing experiences shouldn’t be taken lightly.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How the mega data center is changing the hardware and data center marketsWhat mattered in social business in the first quarter of 2014What communications service providers need to improve and transform their networks

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Verizon FIOS subscribers continue to see buffering Netflix streams, and the situation is apparently getting worse: Netflix’s latest ISP speed index saw the average speed of Netflix streams watched by FIOS subscribers decline to 1.58 MBPS in June, down from 1.9 MBPS in May, and well below average speeds seen on other ISPs. The average speed of Netflix streams requested by Cablevision customers was 3.1MBPS in June, and Comcast customers got their Netflix fare with an average of 2.61 MBPS. Verizon actually used to fare a lot better in Netflix’s ISP speed index. Last fall, Netflix streams to FIOS customers were still averaging up to 2.22 MBPS, but speeds have been in freefall since January. Both companies continue to blame each other for the reason behind the slow-down, with Verizon public policy VP David Young once again arguing last week that Netflix was deliberately choosing a transit route without enough capacity to serve FIOS customers. Netflix executives have been countering this by saying that Verizon has chosen to limit interconnection capacity in order to get Netflix to pay for peering. Both parties reached a commercial agreement, which includes such payments, in April — but the results of that agreement have yet to be felt by Verizon customers.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 market analysis of emerging technology interfacesHow the PaaS market is moving beyond deployment and scaling

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posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Anonymous sharing app Secret has raised $25 million in Series B funding, the company announced Monday, bringing its total haul just shy of $35 million. Secret is also attempting to expand to a larger audience by making “collections” of its content — in categories like “Popular” and “Dating” — available on the web in “a daily digest into the very best of Secret…a sense of what people are really feeling.” You have to be a registered user to subscribe to those collections but you can see some examples here. There’s nothing to get too excited about so far — secrets like “I am notably more productive when I listen to Pitbull, which is my new least favorite thing about myself” seem like things that could just be tweeted, no privacy required. The company also added Facebook login, so instead of just getting friends on Secret via the list of contacts on your phone, you can add them by (anonymously) logging into Facebook. The round was led by Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian, SV Angel, Fuel Capital, Ceyuan Ventures and some others.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The risks and rewards for the ride-sharing market in 2014How the tablet will create better productivity in the enterpriseRetail 2.0: the convergence of wearables, iBeacons and big data

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