Tag: IBM

Watson could sort out advertising woes

Dr Watson and Sherlock HolmesBiggish Blue has turned its AI supercomputer Watson onto the small matter of advertising and will actually go live with a service.

The Watson-infused ads, initially announced in June, are rolling out on The Weather Co. properties such as its mobile app. Already Andy Warhols’ favourite Campbell’s Soup  is using it to market based on weather patterns, location and other attributes.

Jeremy Steinberg, global head of IBM’s The Weather Company, said Big Blue is pondering various business model for the Watson cognitive ads.

Unilever, GSK and Toyota are expected to follow. Steinberg said that IBM is trying to figure out a long-term model. Subscription is a possible as is advertising as a service.

What makes Watson ads interesting is that they are about engagement not necessarily clicks or CPM. They are about engaging customers and driving action.

Watson can deliver recipes based on Campbell’s soup based on its knowledge of cooking. Watson has had extensive training with chefs. Watson will also integrate what other users are making. Add it up and one benefit of a cognitive ad is that it can serve as a focus group to some degree.

IBM says banks rushing to adopt block chain

blockchainBiggish Blue claims that banks and financial institutions are falling over themselves to test and deploy blockchain set-ups.

IBM said that banks and other financial institutions are adopting blockchain technology “dramatically faster” than initially expected, with 15 percent of top global banks intending to roll out full-scale, commercial blockchain products in 2017.

More than 65 percent of banks expected to have blockchain projects in production in three years’ time, with larger banks – those with more than 100,000 employees – leading the charge.

IBM asked  200 banks about their plans and were told that the areas most commonly identified by lenders as ripe for blockchain-based innovation were clearing and settlement, wholesale payments, equity and debt issuance and reference data.

Blockchain, which originates from digital currency bitcoin, works as an electronic transaction-processing and record-keeping system that allows all parties to track information through a secure network, with no need for third-party verification. Ironically it was a solution touted by Ecorp in the television series Mr Robot as a way of solving its hacking problems.

Almost every major bank has said it is looking into the technology, widespread financial adoption has been thought to be at least five to ten years away.

“The industry is hurtling toward blockchain adoption far faster than many expected. 2017 looks to be the year banking on blockchains shifts from zero to sixty.”

Analysts think Big Blue has set the bar too high

EEQnWFSIn its results announcement , IBM gave a full-year profit target many analysts sets the bar too high and will result in the outfit ending up on its back while the bar sails throw the air.

Analysts who are a big fan of bars generally think that Big Blue has made solid progress as it shifts into high-growth areas such as cloud-based services, and both profit and revenue beat analysts’ expectations in the second quarter.

But the company may have over-egged the pudding by sticking to its full-year adjusted earnings forecast of at least $13.50 per share, analysts said, especially after it indicated that profit in the current quarter would come in below estimates.

To meet the target, IBM would need to turn in its best sequential improvement in profit in nine years in the fourth quarter

Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said that it was possible, but unlikely.

IBM, which reported a profit of $14.92 per share from continuing operations last year, has missed its full-year target for the last two years.

The company’s shares were down slightly at $159.53 in early afternoon trading on Tuesday, having risen about 16 percent since the start of the year.

Chief Financial Officer Martin Schroeter indicated IBM would report a third-quarter profit of $3.11 to $3.24 per share.

That means IBM will need to report a profit of between $4.96 and $5.09 per share in the fourth quarter to hit its target.

Analysts on average expect earnings of $3.22 per share for the third quarter and $4.96 in the fourth.

Investors and analysts have raised doubts about IBM’s ability to increase revenue growth in its newer cloud-based and analytics businesses at a pace fast enough to make up for falling revenue in its traditional hardware businesses.

Still, at least eight brokerages raised their price targets on IBM’s stock after the company reported its smallest revenue decline in eight quarters.


IBM shakes off the Big Blues

IBM PCBiggish Blue has surprised the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street by making a bob or two more than expected.

The company had been in the doldrums despite more restructuring than you can poke a stick at and all the sell offs of the family silver that it could manage.

These figures show that the company’s shift to high-growth areas such as cloud-based services is finally getting results.

IBM also stood by its full-year forecast for adjusted earnings of at least $13.50 per share, dispelling any concerns Brexit having an effect on the outfit.

Biggish Blue receives nearly a third of its revenue from Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Chief Executive Ginni Rometty’s push toward cloud-based services, security software and data analytics seems to have paid off with a 12 percent rise in revenue from “strategic imperatives” in the second quarter.

Cloud revenue jumped 30 percent, compared with 34 percent in the preceding quarter.

Total revenue dropped 2.8 percent to $20.24 billion for the quarter ended June 30 from a year earlier, hurt by a fall in its traditional hardware businesses.

The company’s global business services revenue, which includes consulting, fell 2 percent, while its systems unit, which includes systems hardware, dropped 23.2 percent.

However, the company’s 17th straight quarterly revenue decline was not as steep as expected. The average analyst estimate was $20.02 billion. It is seen that the company really is turning around.

Net income fell to $2.50 billion, or $2.61 per share, from $3.45 billion, or $3.50 per share.


Millions of Xiaomi phones have bugs

bugMillions of Xiaomi phones are vulnerable to a “flaw’ that could allow an attacker to remotely install malware.

Although the flaw in the analytics package in Xiaomi’s custom-built Android-based operating system has been fixed, it could be a while before users install the patch.

Security researchers at IBM, who found the flaw, discovered a number of apps in the package that were vulnerable to a remote code execution flaw through a so-called “man-in-the-muddle” attack and allow an attacker to run arbitrary code at the system-level.

Xiaomi is advising users should update their devices as soon as possible. The flaws rely on a lack of encryption and code-checking and verification. The risk is that if the phone is already hacked the update could be theoretically modified in transit although the hackers would have to be rather quick.

Companies are getting more into trouble for software that they supply with their hardware.  Lenovo faced a scandle when some some its bloatware arrived with a particularly nasty security flaw. It did fix it and bundled off a patch, but the case highlighted the risks for suppliers in providing such software to users.

1,000 core chip developed

many-coreA team of boffins has emerged from its smoke filled labs with a microchip with 1,000 independent programmable processors.

The team, from the University of California, Davis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, developed the energy-efficient 621 million transistor “KiloCore” chip so that it could manage 1.78 trillion instructions per second.

Team leader Bevan Baas, professor of electrical and computer engineering said that it could be the world’s first 1,000-processor chip and it is the highest clock-rate processor ever designed in a university.

While other multiple-processor chips have been created, none exceed about 300 processors. Most of those were created for research purposes and few are sold commercially. IBM, using its 32 nm CMOS technology, fabricated the KiloCore chip.

Because each processor is independently clocked, it can shut itself down to further save energy when not needed, said graduate student Brent Bohnenstiehl, who developed the principal architecture. Cores operate at an average maximum clock frequency of 1.78 GHz, and they transfer data directly to each other rather than using a pooled memory area that can become a bottleneck for data.

The 1,000 processors can execute 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating only 0.7 Watts which mean it can be powered by a single AA battery. The KiloCore chip executes instructions more than 100 times more efficiently than a modern laptop processor.

The processor is already adapted for wireless coding/decoding, video processing, encryption, and others involving large amounts of parallel data such as scientific data applications and datacentre work.

Apple squashes “right to repair” bill

Details of Man working with electrial components

Details of Man working with electrial components

Extensive lobbying from Apple has managed to save its users from a bill which would have meant they could have helped save the planet by repairing their own gear.

The New York state legislation that would have required manufacturers to provide information about how to repair devices like the iPhone so they could be fixed locally and kept going long after Apple believed they should be scrapped.

But the bill mysteriously failed to get a vote, ending any chance of passage this legislative session. Similar measures have met the same fate in Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts and New York.

It is a quaint way that US lobby groups keep their steel-capped boots on the throats of democracy by gumming up the proceedings.

New York State Senator Phil Boyle (R) who sponsored the bill was disappointed that it was not brought to the floor.

Gordon-Byrne said lobbyists from IBM, Apple, Xerox and Cisco were particularly active in working against the legislation.

Right to repair laws would protect consumers and help the environment by insuring that devices last longer, thus reducing electronics waste. If you or a business can affordably repair a broken device, you may have less incentive to buy a new one, the logic goes.

The Corporate oligarchs who have rule the US since the country revolted against its lawful constitutional monarch, oppose right to repair legislation because it would relax their total control over their products.

Consumer Technology Association once claimed that anyone posing as a repair shop to reverse-engineer such a device to create counterfeit devices.

New Yorkers will have to wait until next year before right to repair legislation has another chance.


SAP signs pact with Apple

maxresdefaultThe outfit which makes expensive management software, which no one is sure what it does, is partnering with the cargo cult which makes expensive shiny toys for those with more money than sense.

SAP has signed a deal with Apple which is part of yet another move by Jobs’ Mob to flog its expensive gear to businesses. Apple has already signed deals with IBM and Cisco in a desperate bid to get buisinesses to buy its expensive gear now that the Chinese are saying no. So far these moves have gone no-where so it has asked SAP to help.

SAP announced a broad partnership with Apple today to bring iOS to SAP’s enterprise customer base. Steve Lucas, president for SAP’s Digital Enterprise Platform says while it’s natural to see similarities between the IBM deals, there are major differences.

For a start SAP has been working closely with Apple to bring its “profound design sense to this endeavor.” The objective of this partnership is no less than to revolutionise work on the iPad and iPhone, Lucas says.

SAP has announced several programs to help push iOS to its customers starting with a new set of apps for the iPad and iPhone that take advantage of data stored in SAP tools. It’s also providing an iOS SDK for SAP HANA, its in-memory database product, allowing organizations to not only use the apps that SAP is building, but also giving them the opportunity to build their own custom apps using data stored in HANA.

SAP is also offering SAP Academy for iOS as a training ground for SAP programmers to learn to use the HANA iOS SDK.

While you might not see a natural fit between SAP and Apple, when the IBM partnership was launched in 2014, it certainly raised some eyebrows too, but by the end of last year the partnership had created 100 apps — and that number has surely increased since then.

SAP is also planning on building 100 apps. The apps and the SDK are not yet available, but they say they should start to trickle out in Beta later this year. Many of the apps are in progress, according to Lucas, but they are not ready to ship yet.


IBM creates cloud based quantum computer

schrodingers_catIBM unveiled the world’s first cloud based quantum computer which means that anyone can run quantum computing experiments from anywhere in the world.

Jerry Chow, IBM’s Manager of Experimental Quantum Computing Group said that IBM’s effort gives access to a much broader and larger space of computations.

“It’s a web-based platform for public to access to run quantum algorithm and quantum circuits on a real quantum processor in our labs. We want people to programme their own algorithms and learn what it means to do quantum computing.”

IBM’s cloud-based quantum computer will have just 5 Qbits and one quantum processor rather than an array. IBM plans to add qubits and even change processor configurations over time, but it will not be superfast.

According to Chow, IBM’s custom-built quantum processor is a silicon wafer etched with super-conducting metal which has to be super-cooled to 0.015 degrees above absolute zero.

Chow’s team has set up a queuing system and even a sort of virtual currency, called Q-Coins. Everyone who registers gets coins and can earn more by completing tutorials. The coins are used to run the tests against the Quantum silicon and get replenished when the experiment is done.

The IBM Quantum Computing Cloud interface includes tabs for a underguide and a place to keep track of your results.

Access to the real quantum computer will also reveal errors or “noise in the system,” which can help programmers refine their quantum algorithms. The environment will also include a simulator that will let you compare your results to those from the hardware or simply practice running error-free quantum algorithms.

Aspiring quantum computer scientists can access IBM’s Quantum computer here.

The decline of the Apple Cult comes to pass

apple-cultTwo years ago, we warned that Apple was like a decapitated brain unaware that its body had died, but now the signs of rigor mortis are setting in and it is getting harder to deny.

The outfit reported its first ever decline in revenue in 13 years yesterday. Ok, the figures are still what many companies would dream of – revenues of $50.6 billion and quarterly net profit of $10.5 billion, but much worse than the $58 billion and net profit of $13.6 billion last year.

The Tame Apple Press is trying to do its best to claim that the reason is a global downturn in smartphone sales. However this mystical downturn has not affected Apple’s rival Samsung which has done rather well.  They are also choosing to ignore the fact that Apple’s problems are going to get much worse.

Apple made several mistakes.  It did not spend enough investing in R&D and as a result it relied on the iPhone far too much. For the iPhone to keep making money it had to be super cool and upgraded every year. However Apple has decided not really to upgrade its phone significantly for two years. Sure it might have strapped better chips under the bonnet of the iPhone, but it is still more or less the same phone.

Apple also relied too much on China without really understanding the market. In China, ownership of an iPhone was a status symbol. It proved you had more money than sense. However as the Chinese economy retracted, overt shows of wealth gave way to functionality. HTC and Samsung phones had more bells and whistles, and looked much better.

But Apple’s refusal to have a good old redesign go at  its iPhone, even returning to the iPhone 5 design this year, was just silly.

Is it any wonder that Apple sold only 51.2 million iPhones this year?

So what is Apple’s response? Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an earnings call that  services, which includes the App Store, Apple Music and Apple Pay, were one of the bright spots of the quarter, with revenues at $6 billion, up 20 percent from last year.

So it looks like Apple will try to lean on those services and hold on until the world economy picks up and can afford its pointless trinkets once more. Not a brilliant, super-cool way out of trouble but given Apple’s huge cash pile it might just work.

Cook claims that everything is down to weakening currencies and he seems to have convinced many of Wall Street’s leading analysts.  Most of them are predicting iPhone sales will once again increase by the end of this year, following the likely release of a new product in September.

However that approach might have worked in the past, but rumours suggest that Apple is not going to add much to the iPhone 7 coming out this year. In fact word on the street is that the only significant inovation will be that that Apple is going to introduce the same fast recharging features that other phones already have, and bring in an annoying cordless headphone feature which will hack off any users who have invested in expensive corded headphones.

Cook warned a reduction in channel inventory would also impact Apple’s revenue for the next quarter, but projected an optimistic outlook on the call.

“The future of Apple is very bright,” he said. “Our product pipeline has amazing innovation in store.”

Yeah well so far there is nothing rumoured to be that good.  Sadly Apple is not going anywhere fast.  It has piles of money and can effectively sit on its hands for a few years waiting for the next big thing.  But Apple is paying the price for its arrogance. It has become the IBM it mocked when it first started out. It is slow, indifferent to users and user demands and worst of all it is not putting out new products any more.