A company that owns technology for producing ready to eat meals that don’t require refrigeration says it’s been talking to Amazon about it, and that Amazon is looking into providing the food as part of its groceries offering. Because the food produced using the technology can stay on an unrefrigerated shelf for up to a year, it’d be a great fit for the more standard UPS-based delivery Amazon uses for non perishable items and wouldn’t require the much greater density of delivery infrastructure Amazon’s fresh grocery service does, and could therefore be offered much more widely. It’s a bit surprising to hear an Amazon partner (or potential partner) talk this openly about its relationship given Amazon’s general secrecy, which may yet scupper the deal. And the technology is still awaiting FDA approval, so there’s nothing imminent anyway. But it’s yet another sign that Amazon is really serious about making a bigger push in groceries, and that that push isn’t going to be restricted to just the Whole Foods footprint it’s in the process of acquiring.
Amazon to Provide its Echo Mic Array and Related Technology to Select Hardware Partners (Apr 13, 2017)
Alphabet’s Waymo filed an injunction against Uber for allegedly stealing intellectual property – Recode (Mar 10, 2017)
The fact that Waymo is suing Uber isn’t new, but this new step of filing for an injunction is, and that’s important because it could speed things up considerably. Judging the case in full could have taken months if not years, but a request for an injunction will involve convincing a judge in a much shorter space of time that there’s enough merit to the case for him or her to intervene in the near term. So we’ll know rather sooner how solid Waymo’s case here is, and will likely also get additional details from both sides about exactly what’s been going on. Importantly, we’ll get more from Uber than its brief initial statement about the accusations being baseless, which will be intriguing because from where I sit the forensic evidence looks fairly compelling. As I’ve said before, though, the toughest aspect of this for Waymo and its lawyers is proving that Levandowski actually used the files he downloaded rather than simply his memories of work he’d previously done.
This didn’t take long – Ming-Chi Kuo, who is the best-sourced Apple financial analyst out there, has debunked the report that the next iPhone will replace the Lightning port with USB-C. I said yesterday that this felt like a 50/50 report in the first place – logical as an eventual step, but not necessarily imminent, and it appears that we can now lay it to rest. Kuo does say that the other end of the cable might be USB-C, and that the new iPhones will support fast charging, something competing Android devices have had for some time.
This feels like a somewhat gratuitous use of AI here by Netflix – maybe this is technically AI, but it’s hard to see how it’s not just image analysis. But the broader point here is that this is an often overlooked aspect of Netflix’s differentiation: its technical capabilities in video delivery. Yes, its investments in original content and its massive and rapidly growing scale globally are huge advantages over the competition, but its content delivery networks, compression techniques, and a host of other technical capabilities are also key to making its user experience better. And this is another area where it often feels like it will take competitors a long time to catch up even if they ever decide that’s strategically important.
This is (mostly) an example of the “tell, don’t show” problem with tech companies and AI – too much about models and methodologies, and not enough about real consumer benefit. There are some examples sprinkled in here, but it definitely feels like this post is intended for engineers, not the general public. Facebook undoubtedly has serious AI chops, but needs to do a better job telling the consumer side of this story (while avoiding anything creepy, often a challenge with Facebook’s new technologies).