Looking past the glitter, big names, and big money ($3.2bn)

First, the people. Tony Fadell’s team is justly admired for its design skills. They will come in handy if Google finally gets serious about selling hardware, if it wants to generate new revenue in multiples of $10bn (its yearly revenue is approximately $56bn now). Of course, this means products other than just thermostats and smoke alarms. It means products that can complement Google’s ad business with its 60% Gross Margin.

Looking past the glitter, the elegant product, the smart people, do we believe there is a purpose in the Nest acquisition? Or is Google simply rolling the dice, hoping for an IoT breakthrough?

~ theguardian.com

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A very well written article with details on why not Apple, why Google, and why now.

Siri – It’s not you, it’s Cortana

“Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a memo about the company’s in-development voice AI. “Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it.”

Windows Phone certainly needs all the help it can get — despite showing healthy growth in 2013, the smartphone market still looks an awful lot like a two-horse race between the populist Android and the more elite iOS.

Cortana, if implement across all Windows platforms, could provide some of the connective tissue that Microsoft seems eager to showcase. I’m skeptical of how magical it will actually be, though — Siri was hailed as a Google killer before she was revealed to be mostly a little program that would inaccurately Google things for you. Mildly amusing, sure. Magical, not quite.

Dave Thier – Contributor, Forbes

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Finally. “Cortana” if executed correctly could become a good reason for people to look into getting a Windows Phone, especially if they make the service useful across all of the Windows 8 and Windows 9 devices.

Google founders’ private air terminal in California

Google founders Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt have won approval to build a private terminal at Mineta San Jose International Airport, and CNBC has learned that construction on the $82 million facility will start in February. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

Signature Flight Support, a Florida-based company that manages corporate aircraft, will develop and operate the 29-acre terminal in partnership with Blue City Holdings, which handles the personal aircraft of Google’s principals.

Signature, which operates in 115 airports, said Google’s terminal is its biggest project so far. The jet center will have a 270,000-square-foot hangar—a major amount of space for a private entity within a commercial airport.

~ Mark Berniker, CNBC Silicon Valley Bureau Chief

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The NSA is reading your text messages, daily.

The NSA program, codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can”, according to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of existing surveillance targets.

The NSA has made extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and more – including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity.

An agency presentation from 2011 – subtitled “SMS Text Messages: A Goldmine to Exploit” – reveals the program collected an average of 194 million text messages a day in April of that year. In addition to storing the messages themselves, a further program known as “Prefer” conducted automated analysis on the untargeted communications.

~ The Guardian

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Yahoo’s Spring Cleaning

yahooAccording to sources close to the situation, Yahoo’s Editor-in-Chief Jai Singh has quit the company, a major departure which comes in the wake of changes made to its media unit after the firing of COO Henrique De Castro yesterday.

Under the new plan announced by CEO Marissa Mayer in an internal memo, the media unit will now come under the purview of CMO Kathy Savitt. Appointing a marketing person in charge of editorial is probably enough of a reason for many journalists to run screaming from the building, but it’s not clear what prompted Singh’s exit.

~ Kara Swisher Re/code

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OK. Who’s next? it is really not surprising, many key people will be let go like COO Henrique de Castro and others like Editor-in-Chief Jai Singh, will leave by themselves as they don’t find the new Yahoo a good fit for them.