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Apple News & Analysis

Amazon Opens a Brick-and-Mortar Cloud Store

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Retailers along San Francisco's Market Street have struggled to make a buck over the past decade, in large part because of competition from online stores like Amazon.com. So it isn't without irony that Amazon Web Services opened a brick-and-mortar pop-up store in their midst.

At first, the 30-foot wide, three-story high storefront looks empty compared to the carefully decorated windows and sales banners in neighboring stores. Then you spot the burly bouncer guarding the door, suggesting that something private is going on behind the whited-out windows. Finally, you see the modest lettering for Amazon Web Services somewhat above eye level. And still, you wonder, what is this?

This is a month-long experiment for AWS that blends one part Apple Genius Bar, two parts hip startup and a smidge of trade show marketing to produce a coffee-scented, loft-like environment where Amazon's cloud clients can ask for some free advice, attend events, get some training or, perhaps, just wash down a handful of M&Ms with a complimentary cappuccino. Day-long boot camps, normally $600, are free, like everything else here.

Do We Really Want Apple to Corner the Smart Home Market?

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The home is where we spend our time, living, sleeping, socializing — and, yes, working.

That being said, it's no surprise there has been a significant amount of innovation around the smart home concept in recent years. New products offering Internet connectivity have burst onto the market — and many of them offer real value in the smart home space.

Despite my eagerness and anticipation for each new smart home product that is released, each has also been meet with a certain frustration and trepidation. The big problem: I generally need to access or use each new product on a different platform.

That's a barrier to development of the Internet of Things (IoT). But now, here comes Apple.

5 Reasons Google Beat Apple to Become the Top Brand

2014-5-june-arm-wrestling-champ.jpgYou just can't block the buzz about Google. In the past few weeks, the company surpassed Apple as the world's most valuable brand, according to Millward Brown Optimor's 2014 BrandZ ranking.

It was a big blow for Apple, which had held the top spot for the previous three years. But Apple fell 20 percent in brand value in the past year to an estimated $147.9 billion. Even worse, there is a "growing perception that it is no longer redefining technology for consumers," according to Millward Brown, a New York City-based research firm.

Meanwhile, Google's brand value rose 40 percent from a year ago to $159 billion. Apparently it's pretty profitable to avoid evil, even as regulators here and abroad are taking a closer look to make sure that slogan is true.

What's behind Google's climb, beyond Apple's loss of founder Steve Jobs?

Siri, Dim the Lights #WWDC

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to pick up steam, as Apple briefly -- and we mean briefly -- discussed HomeKit, its smart home service, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014 this week in San Francisco.

Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, reportedly spoke about HomeKit for just 90 seconds of his 2 hour keynote, which was apparently enough to offer a decent idea of what it will look like.

The service -- a wireless protocol that will certify smart devices within the household while simultaneously keeping others out -- operates through Siri, and will give users the ability to adjust thermostats, lock doors, dim lights and more from any iOS 8 enabled device.

Apple is reportedly collaborating with 18 companies on the initiative, including Honeywell, Philips, Chamberlain, Marvell and Broadcom to ensure that companies looking to make HomeKit compatible products will have no problem doing so.

Apple's iBeacons Could Reinvigorate Retail

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Brick-and-mortar store locations are declining — and online retail continues to devour market share. Could Apple's iBeacon technology be the catalyst that slows the slide of traditional stores or even stops their predicted demise?

It’s no secret the majority of physical retail locations have trouble competing with online retailers. There are a number or reasons why, including convenience, selection and price. But iBeacon might be in a position to level the playing field.

Just by itself, iBeacon is an interesting technology. It takes advantage of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), thereby allowing users to be alerted by their mobile device when they come within range of the iBeacon. Like anything in the Internet of Things (IoT) realm, the device itself is only half the fun.

The data it can capture and the benefit it can bring the end user are where we see the real bang for our buck.

What's Cooler Than Beats Music Using MapR? #HadoopSummit

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We all know streaming music is a big thing — people no longer get excited about building playlists or hitting shuffle on their iPods only to hear the same tired tunes over and over again.

Today we want to listen to crowd-sourced, curated music that’s selected specifically for us. And services that can provide that need to process and crunch lots of data (demographic, psychographic, mobile, social …), big data and to then apply predictive analytics to determine what might delight us.

While providers like Spotify and Pandora have been doing that for quite some time, Beats Music recently came out of nowhere and disrupted the scene — so much so that Apple bought it (and Beats Electronics) from Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

Now we’re not going to tell you that either of those music moguls knows a lot about big data (they could, but we sort of doubt it). But we do know this: Beats Music uses MapR for its big data needs.

How to Mine Gold from the Internet of Things

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has been an idea at the edge of market disruption for some time now, and a lot of companies are jumping into the game.

Google acquired Nest to elbow its way into the smart home market. Samsung is pumping out smart watches at breakneck speed to stake its claim on the wearable tech market. Companies are jockeying to take advantage of technologies like iBeacon in the retail space, and a new NFC payment system seems to pop up in tech news each week. 

And I am sure everyone has seen the weekly rumors about Apple's unconfirmed, unannounced, often speculated smart watch, which is supposed to be its own entry into the wearable market.

Perhaps it's time to stop reminiscing about the "gold in them thar hills" — and start thinking about the gold waiting to be mined in the IoT.

Adobe: IBM's Silverpop Deal Could Trigger 'Nightmare'

customer experience, Adobe Calls IBM's Silverpop Acquisition a 'Nightmare'

IBM’s acquisition of Silverpop will create “headaches” for marketers using Big Blue platforms because of “silo problems” that will lead to a potentially expensive “integration nightmare,” according to a top official at Adobe, a leading competitor.

Suresh Vittal, vice president of marketing strategy for Adobe’s Digital Marketing business, told CMSWire that IBM, which typically sells to CIOs, is trying to hand marketing to IT.

“This acquisition feels like an attempt to fix the failings in the Unica acquisition: namely email and cross-channel execution,” Vittal said. “We think Silverpop is a partial answer that creates significant overlap problems for both Unica and Silverpop clients.”

Microsoft Takes Office to the Chrome Store

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Only two weeks after Office landed on iPad and about eight weeks since it made it easy to find through the launch of Office.com, Microsoft is chasing users wherever it can find them -- and in this case it's Chrome Web Store, right in the middle of Google’s own stomping ground.

It also appears to have quietly retired its Scroogled campaign.

It would probably be a bit silly to overestimate the real impact of this, given that users were always able to access Office apps through the Office.com in the Chrome browser. But with a new CEO on board, any sign of changes in the way Microsoft is doing business should be paid attention to. 
 

SharePoint: A 'Formidable Enterprise Collaboration Platform'

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Everyone knows SharePoint has had problems. However, the Radicati Group just released a report that contains words new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella must be more than happy to hear.

According to the Microsoft SharePoint Market Analysis, 2014-2018, edited by Sara Radicati, Microsoft ironed out the wrinkles in the 2013 edition and now offers a powerful enterprise collaboration platform for business users. 

It's unlikely these claims will go unchallenged, particularly in the file sharing and sync space where companies like Dropbox and Box claim to offer easier file sharing and collaboration possibilities than SharePoint does.

Finally! Office for iPad: Still Want It?

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Let's cut to the chase. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s first press conference since he started 52 days ago was pretty underwhelming.

Yes, he finally announced the launch of Office for iPad, along with the new Enterprise Mobility Suite — surprising just about no one.

But all of those who expected something more from Nadella, like detailed insight about his plans for the company, left disappointed. Aside from discussing his Mobile First, Cloud First strategy and those plans to push all Microsoft customers into the cloud, he didn't say much.

But give him points for being poetic, in person and online. As he noted in a blog post, "As long as human curiosity and ambition drive us to create new things, capture moments and collaborate to get things done, we should expect the world of devices to follow suit."

Microsoft May Release Office for iPad

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If Microsoft press conferences are always a matter of intense speculation and conjecture, the conference that has been announced for next Thursday (March 27th) in San Francisco will be, by anyone’s standards, an exceptional event -- not least because it will be the first conference hosted by new CEO Satya Nadella. 

Of course, excitement is also being driven by speculation that, finally, Microsoft will be announcing Microsoft Office for iPad. 

Think the PC is Dead? You May be Right

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Wall Street must be pretty muted today. It has been a bad week with a lot of big companies calling out some pretty miserable results. IT companies are no exception, but we’re not going to talk about Twitter here. Instead, we’ll simply say Sony’s figures were so bad, that it has decided to pull out of the personal computer market.

It has also decided to pull out of the television manufacturing space, but we don’t really care about that. But PC’s are different though and the announcement by Sony comes just a day before Gartner published figures to show that the European PC market is down another 4 percent.

There are no recent figures for the US market yet, but they should land soon. While analysts will be looking desperately to find a silver lining, it’s a good bet that those figures are going to be pretty poor, too.

All that stuff about the death of the PC ... Maybe it really isn't exaggerated.

Wozniak: Apple Could Build Droid Phones, Warns of 'Police State'

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Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak captivated a tech-savvy audience in San Francisco today by warning that society is moving towards "a police state," calling for public resistance to the unrestricted collection of marketing data, and speculating that Apple could produce iPhones that run on Google's "not-so-fenced-in" Android operating system.

Reach Out and Touch for Better Collaboration, Customer Experiences

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From repeated assurances that "your call is very important to us" to an anonymized stream of corporate communications … Isn't there anything that can put some humanity back into collaboration and communications? The quantified self – breaking down human behavior into data sets – could help companies inject some personality into their customer service.

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