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Apple Targets Microsoft Office With Free Apps

NY Times

SAN FRANCISCO — At an event meant to feature its latest iPad tablet computing devices, Apple on Tuesday took aim at one of the biggest and seemingly unassailable businesses of its rival Microsoft, its Office software for tasks like word processing and spreadsheets. Apple said iWork, a set of applications for Macs, iPads and iPhones that essentially duplicates whatMicrosoft’s Office offers customers, would be free to anyone who bought a new Macintosh computer or mobile device from Apple. Each Apple app used to cost $10 apiece.  The latest version of the Macintosh operating system, Mavericks, will also be free.

The pricing maneuver was perhaps the lone surprise at an Apple new media event here at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. As expected, Apple souped up its iPads with faster processors and zippier Internet connections.

Tablets are devouring the PC market, which has long been Microsoft’s playing ground. About 120 million tablets were shipped in 2012, nearly seven times as many as in 2010, when the first Apple iPad was released, according to Gartner, a market research company. IDC, another research company, predicts that sales of tablets will surpass those of PCs in the fourth quarter of this year and on an annual basis in 2015.

So far, Microsoft has had little success in that growing market. Its attempts to sell tablets have been failures, and Windows 8, which it has marketed as a software system for tablets and PCs, has gotten a chilly reception. What’s more, Microsoft still charges $120 for people who want to upgrade from the older Windows 7 system to Windows 8. 

Apple is No. 1 in the tablet market with about a 32 percent share, according to IDC. But the company faces fierce competition from companies like Amazon, Samsung Electronics and Google, whose tablets undercut the iPad in price. Samsung, the No. 2 tablet maker, is quickly gaining traction, with 18 percent of the market in the second quarter, compared with 7.6 percent in the period a year earlier, according to IDC.

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Why Big Data Is Not Truth

NY Times

The word “data” connotes fixed numbers inside hard grids of information, and as a result, it is easily mistaken for fact. But including bad product introductions and wars, we have many examples of bad data causing big mistakes. Big Data raises bigger issues. The term suggests assembling many facts to create greater, previously unseen truths. It suggests the certainty of math.

That promise of certainty has been a hallmark of the technology industry for decades. With Big Data, however, there are even more hazards, some human and some inherent in the technology. Kate Crawford, a researcher at Microsoft Research, calls the problem “Big Data fundamentalism — the idea with larger data sets, we get closer to objective truth.” Speaking at a conference in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, she identified what she calls “six myths of Big Data.”

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In Tech, Does IT Or Marketing Rule?

NY Times

Doesn’t anyone want to talk with the Chief Information Officer?
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the big consulting firm, on Tuesday published its fifth annual survey of “Digital IQ,” or how well executives understand the capabilities of modern technology. It also tries to identify what it will take to realize those capabilities (often, not surprisingly, with the kind of services a big consulting firm can provide).

The key technologies in this year’s survey included mobile, social media, big data and cloud computing. The goal, the report said, is not just to employ these emerging technologies to automate or streamline processes, but to use them in innovating faster and better, and to create more valuable products and services. Making this happen, the authors said, requires open and effective communication at the highest ranks.
If only.

“We asked business leaders and information technology professors how strong the relationship was between the chief information officers and others at the top of the organization. Then we had them rate it, on a scale of one to five,” said Chris Curran, one of the study’s authors. “We were looking for the characteristics of companies that had a 4.5 or more.”

Of 1,100 companies surveyed, with both information technology and nontechnical executives surveyed in equal measure, just 13 percent had that strong relationship. At least you can’t accuse these respondents of grade inflation.
The greatest top-level disconnect, Mr. Curran said, appears to be between corporate chief information officers and chief marketing officers. “Which is weird, because there is so much energy around big data and analytics,” he said. “It’s creating a conflict.”

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BlackBerry Wants to ‘Keep Moving’ With Big New Campaign

NY Times

The much-discussed arrival on Wednesday of the all-new BlackBerrysmartphone and operating system,  which have been deemed crucial to the future of its parent company, will be accompanied by a huge marketing campaign that is being described as the largest in the company’s history.

The campaign, with a budget estimated at more than $200 million, will include work from six agencies and the first-ever Super Bowl commercial for the BlackBerry brand, which is to appear during Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday.

In addition to the Super Bowl spot, there will be other television commercials, print and online ads, promotions, public relations efforts, events, a partnership with arts and cultural figures like Alicia Keys, a presence in social media and elaborate digital demonstrations in real time of the new offerings.

The spending will be the most ever for the company “by a long shot,” said Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer at the parent company, which on Wednesday changed its name from Research In Motion to BlackBerry, part of a corporate-wide re-branding.

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Do Not Track? Advertisers Say ‘Don’t Tread on Us’

NY Times

THE campaign to defang the “Do Not Track” movement began late last month.

Do Not Track mechanisms are features on browsers — like Mozilla’s Firefox — that give consumers the option of sending out digital signals asking companies to stop collecting information about their online activities for purposes of targeted advertising.

First came a stern letter from nine members of the House of Representatives to the Federal Trade Commission, questioning its involvement with an international group called the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, which is trying to work out global standards for the don’t-track-me features. The legislators said they were concerned that these options for consumers might restrict “the flow of data at the heart of the Internet’s success.”

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Motorola Set for Big Cuts as Google Reinvents Itself

NY Times

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Motorola Mobility, the ailing cellphone maker that Google bought in May, told employees Sunday that it would lay off 20 percent of its work force and close a third of its 94 offices worldwide. The cuts are the first step in Google’s plan to reinvent Motorola, which has fallen far behind its biggest competitors, Apple and Samsung, and to shore up its Android mobile business and expand beyond search and software into the manufacture of hardware

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For Twitter-Owned Apps and Sites, a Cacophony of Confusion

NY Times

Did Twitter just cut off its entire face to spite its nose? On Friday, the company put up eviction notices for third-party apps that mimic tools and services that Twitter provides. But some of those apps are far superior to Twitter’s offerings. In a blog post with the headline “Delivering a consistent Twitter experience,” the company gave a stern warning to developers who build applications on the Twitter platform. “We’re building tools for publishers and investing more and more in our own apps to ensure that you have a great experience everywhere you experience Twitter,” wrote Michael Sippey, Twitter’s director of product. ”No matter what device you’re using.”

There’s one slight problem: Twitter-built products are anything but consistent across different devices. Twitter’s mobile site, mobile apps, iPad app, desktop apps and Web site are so divergent that it looks as if they were built by several different companies. These inconsistencies go beyond design and user interface issues. Features that are the core to Twitter’s business are absent too. 

“It seems that making money without owning the user-experience is hard and Twitter wants to be that go-to Web site and mobile app,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst at the research firm IDC. “The problem is they have let the cat out of the bag and many have written better interfaces.”

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Time Inc. to Sell Its Magazines on Apple’s Newsstand

NY Times

Time Inc., once the magazine industry’s most ardent opponent of selling subscriptions through Apple, will make all of its magazines available via Apple’s newsstand, the two companies said Wednesday. Laura Lang, Time Inc.’s chief executive, and Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for Internet software and services, said in a phone interview that they had reached an agreement that would allow readers to subscribe to 20 Time Inc. magazines, including People, Sports Illustrated, InStyle and Entertainment Weekly, through the newsstand section of Apple’s App Store.

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For Tech Start-Ups, New York Has Increasing Allure

NY Times

When Doug Imbruce wanted to start an interactive video company in 2009, he had no luck finding investors in New York. So he moved to Silicon Valley — where venture capitalists were receptive to his pitch — and founded Qwiki. But in February, he decided that being so far away from the nation’s big media companies was stifling his start-up’s growth. So he moved back to New York, bringing the company with him. Qwiki, with 15 employees, now operates out of a SoHo loft space.

“We went to Silicon Valley because they understood how big we wanted to get,” Mr.Imbruce said, “and we moved back to fulfill that promise.” The recent burgeoning of New York’s Internet industry has forced some entrepreneurs — who, just a few years ago, might have felt they had little choice but to head west to pursue their dreams — to make a difficult choice. New York is now enough of an attractive alternative that a few West Coast-born start-ups are even packing up and moving east.

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WPP in Microsoft Deal for Digital Ads

NY Times

WPP, one of the world’s largest advertising concerns, has entered into a partnership with Microsoft that will allow both companies to place and sell digital ads for the brands and publishers they work with, the companies said Wednesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The three-year agreement will make the Microsoft Advertising Exchange the exclusive third-party digital advertising exchange for Real Media Group, a division of 24/7 Media, a WPP digital advertising technology company.

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