5 Technology Observations: 28 May 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news insights, updates, perspectives and views to start your day for Thursday, May 28, 2015.

Actually, this morning's update involves 12 items to sip on.

12. Apple West: Otherwise known as Lenovo. The Chinese PC maker showed off prototype smartwatches and smartphones at a Beijing conference this week. As HP and Dell largely struggle to reinvent their PC businesses, it's been remarkable to watch Lenovo continually innovate -- sometimes succeeding (smartphone diversification) and sometimes failing (big-screen tablets) but always on the move.

11. M&A Chatter: Avago Technologies is in discussions to buy Broadcom, potentially combining two of the leading mobile chip makers. The potential deal, allegedly valued at about $35 billion, could be announced by Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Both companies, by the way, are increasingly obsessed with the "connected car" concept.

10. Why Cars?: So why are Avago, Broadcom, Apple, Google and so many other tech companies obsessed with cars? Apple's Jeff Williams called cars "the ultimate mobile device" at this week's Code conference. But that doesn't quite tell the full story. Think of the tech opportunity this way: Cars will become self-driving mobile living rooms with captive audiences who have time on their hands to do just about anything via wireless connections... Sounds lucrative for any technology companies that capture the new living room... on wheels.

9. Endless Replay: I've spent a lot of time listening to Pink Floyd's "final" album -- The Endless River -- in recent weeks. As you might expect from an album that was based on leftovers and incomplete projects from the 1990s, the work feels... incomplete. But maybe that's precisely the point. Keyboardist Richard Wright died of cancer in 2008 and bassist Roger Waters left the group more than 30 years ago. Some new tunes ("Sum") spark memories of "Welcome to the Machine" and "Run Like Hell." Portions of "Anisina" seem to borrow from "Us and Them." Overall, perhaps the open-ended instrumentals were the best way to say goodbye -- without saying goodbye.

8. Disrupting E-Commerce: Google Search results will soon include a "Buy"button -- pitting the Internet giant against Amazon in yet another market... The question: Will there be a pay-per-click option for retailers that want to have their 'Buy' buttons displayed in search?

7. GoPro Disrupted: The rugged digital camera maker says it's working on a quadcopter drone. Um, isn't that called a Lily? Funny how the disrupters are getting disrupted more and more rapidly... (unless you're the one being disrupted, of course).

6. Warning, Warning: Noted Wall Street and tech pundit Mary Meeker warned in her latest Internet report that web and mobile user growth is slowing. That could hurt startup business models and valuations, The Wall Street Journal suggested. My spin? Overall, valuations are way too high. Some unicorns and newer startups are heading for painful reality checks. But there's always room for innovation and disruption. In After Nines Inc.'s case we still have plenty of headroom as we strive to reach the 3 billion people on the Web who have yet to discover us...

5. Pre-Event Buzz: MapR says several of its top execs are set to speak at Hadoop Summit (June 9-11). Among the topics we'll be tracking: Where Hadoop, Apache Spark and Apache Drill potentially fit into the Internet of Things conversation... We'll also catch up with event host Hortonworks on a range of items... 

4. Fresh Funding: Tech startups raising money for growth initiatives include...

  • Jumpshot (San Francisco), focused on marketing analytics, raised $22 million in Series A funding led by Avast Software.
  • Lystable (London), which makes a platform that connects businesses with freelancers, raised $1.5 million in early stage funding from multiple backers. To me, Lystable sounds like a potential super-niche alternative to Work Market (far more advanced with total engagement management).
  • Tegile Systems (Newark, Calif.), focused on flash-driven storage arrays, raised $70 million from multiple investors, bringing total funding to nearly $118 million.

3. Next Podcasts: We expect to have conversations with Clarizen CEO Avinoam Nowogrodski (project management across unstructured and structured data) and Glint CEO Jim Barnett (employee engagement) in the next few days. Our chat with Nowogrodski (pictured) should surface June 2 or so. Keep an eye on our Podcast center for the latest conversations with I.T. entrepreneurs -- covering business development, venture funding, growth strategies and plenty more.

2. Beauty or Performance?: A few weeks ago, I mentioned that our R&D efforts abandoned the Mobile First mindset and instead pursued a "Triple Play" approach. I'm pleased to say we (actually, people smarter than us) just figured out the Triple Play -- though no replays of this rare feat are available for public viewing. Yada, yada, yada. Now our R&D effort is onto its next challenge: Focus on beauty -- or sheer performance... Stay tuned.

1. Reminder: After Nines Inc. does not publish blogs or newsletters on Friday -- freeing us to focus on R&D the entire day. We'll be back Monday, June 1 with a fresh round of content.

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