But when Sonos started working on integrating Alexa into its multi-room wireless music system a year and a half ago, though, that setup posed a problem. Most Sonos users have more than one speaker, and a surround sound system full of blinking lights would turn their homes into an ersatz light show. Plus, it felt wrong: Sonos is an audio company, betting its future on sound as the interface for all the tech in your home. There had to be an audible way for Alexa to let you know it's listening. The team seized on a setting buried in the Alexa app, which enables what Amazon calls "sound cues."
It spent billions creating a self-driving car, started Google Fiber to bring ultra-high-speed internet to the masses, and acquired the Darpa-backed robotics company Boston Dynamics. SoftBank is perhaps most famous in the U.S. for its ownership of Sprint, but it's spent the last two years investing in, acquiring, or founding a vast, if head-scratching, array of tech companies. It started a self-driving bus company with Advanced Smart Mobility; invested $1.2 billion in OneWeb, the satellite internet company founded by former Googlers; and purchased both Boston Dynamics and fellow robotics company Schaft from Alphabet. It's got assets, of course-- Son decided to sell off SoftBank's $7.9 billion share in Alibaba last year to help finance its $32 billion acquisition of ARM, the company behind the chips that power the vast majority of smartphones and tablets.
Kameron Hurley's science fiction novel The Stars Are Legion almost never saw the inside of a book store. She came up with the idea in 2012, but she and her agent didn't think anyone would buy it. A "big gory political space opera" wasn't something flying off the shelves at the time. But two years later, Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice swept the major science fiction awards, Guardians of the Galaxy became a surprise box office smash, and Syfy announced plans to make The Expanse into a TV show. Hurley's book soon found a home at Saga Press.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich promised $7 billion today to resume construction of a chip factory near Phoenix that could one day employ 3,000 people. The company announced plans to layoff 5,000 people that year. An Intel spokesperson says it made the decision to resume construction on Fab42 this year thanks to projected growth and that Intel had not received any new tax incentives for the project (though it has received incentives from the state of Arizona in the past). In 2015, Intel spent $16.7 billion on Altera, a company that reprogrammable chips used by companies like Microsoft to power AI applications in the cloud.
When you finally get your chance to ride in an autonomous Uber, you may find yourself clambering into a Mercedes-Benz. That's because Daimler, which owns Mercedes, announced today that it will use Uber's immense network to deploy its own robocars. Last year, it struck up with Volvo, which built Uber's autonomous tech into a fleet of XC90 SUVs for testing in Pittsburgh and San Francisco (until the California DMV kicked it out). But the Daimler deal marks a new approach for Uber. Until now, its public plan called for stuffing its homegrown tech into vehicles built by an established manufacturer like Volvo, then deploying it.
Ford's plan to shift the production of small cars from Michigan to Mexico dismayed those people worried about the demise of American manufacturing. In fact, Ford building small cars in Mexico allows the automaker to ramp up production of trucks and SUVs in the states, which is good news locally and more widely. Labor comprises a smaller percentage of the cost of larger, more expensive vehicles like trucks and SUVs, which have far larger profit margins for automakers. In other words, it makes more economic sense to build cheap cars abroad and expensive cars at home--which is what Ford plans to do.
Today is Amazon's second annual Prime Day, the made-up shopping holiday where Amazon makes hundreds of thousands of discounted deals available to Prime members. Amazon launched Prime Day a year ago to commemorate its 20th anniversary, and in spite of what many subscribers viewed as a rather lame product lineup, the company said it sold more on Prime Day than on Black Friday in 2014--34.4 million items sold, or 398 per second. Amazon doesn't reveal how many subscribers it's accumulated in over a decade since it launched Prime, but research group Consumer Intelligence Research Partners recently estimated about 63 million members in the US--or 52 percent of all US Amazon customers. Echo and Alexa devices designed for the home, and a recent survey from research firm Contact Solutions found that 88 percent of US mobile users most frequently make online purchases at home, far more often than they do at work or on the go.
The press release said that the chipmaker was cutting 11 percent of its global workforce in order to "accelerate its evolution from a PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices." Considering that the PC market is dying and that Intel had never really been successful as a chipmaker for mobile phones, Intel is right to restructure (and remarket) itself as a cloud company--and, per the press release, as a data center company. According to research firm IDC, Intel controls 99 percent of the market for chips that drive computer servers. In short, Intel is pretty much telling the truth when it says that "the data center and Internet of Things (IoT) businesses are Intel's primary growth engines."