Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Microsoft Has Started To Ship Surface Hub

After the delay, Microsoft has finally started to ship Surface Hub.
Microsoft Corporation Surface Hub has finally started to ship out to consumers mentioned by the company through a blog post. The PC is priced at $22,000 and was going to be shipped in January however the device is all set to be sent to offices in the United States. Many consider it to be a interactive productive device due to its high end functionalities.
Brian Hall, the General Manager of Microsoft devices mentioned, "We are releasing a team-empowering solution that will make meetings more productive, modernize workflows, and let people engage with data much better."
Right after the initial delay by the company, the Surface Hub was scheduled to be shipped in the first trimester of 2016. Thus, there was a delay already so it is expected that the company might have overcome all the issues associated with the device. The price of the 55 inch Surface Hub is $8,999 whereas the 84 inch variant costs $21,999. As expected, the company has increased the price of the gadget.
The recent device is undoubtedly adding weightage to the Surface range. The device has been designed in a manner that it caters to the demands of the collaborative environments. The Surface Hub needs to be wall mounted thus teams can work on it simultaneously. The device has been made in compliance to the feedback governed from consumers and partners and the software and hardware team at Microsoft.
As per the company, the device boasts of the best collaboration and security features pertaining to Skype for Business, Office, Windows 10, OneNote, and Universal Windows apps
In the blog, MSFT also mentioned that instead of making the business mechanism more efficient, by buying a Surface Hub will minimize costs for an enterprise. According to a study by Forrester Consulting, who have taken five consumers in consideration having hands on experience with the device. Thus, a NPV of 3 years unveiled the benefits of more than $850,000 in terms of management costs along with the other costs involved in buying devices and printing. The company has highlighted about better sales, but these figures are mere estimates. Since sales tend to be under the influence of numerous factors beyond increased collaboration of Surface Hub, thus giving all the credit to the new device is rather absurd.
However, it needs to be noted that the Surface Hub is offering similar results with a return of almost $800,000 making a device priced at $20,000 a sane investment. The company also boasts of offering a 75% increase in terms of productivity to users during a remote meeting. Moreover, it will also save time since you won’t be required to make notes or establish video connection system. Printing cost that sum up to $9000 can be overcome by the electronic device as well.
Hence, the company has come up with a blessing in disguise for the enterprise sector. However, the pricing is quite hefty. If the functions are same as what the company perceives then it is a great idea for enterprises to invest.

Perks and Ultimate Benefits of Amazon Prime Loyalty Program

Amazon Prime program is not only popular for its free shipping but has other perks for customers as well.
Amazon Inc. has one of the best, if not the best, customer loyalty program in the retail industry. The company’s Prime program offers unlimited perks to its members but it is not only limited to free shipping. Many members and non-members boast about the free shipping, which actually is the best feature if anyone shops online. There might be many online retailers for the customers to shop at but many customers look free shipping.
The luxurious brands and online retailers normally offer free shipping if a user exceeds minimum buy amount. For instance, Amazon has raised the amount to $50 if a customer wishes to avail the free delivery but for Amazon Prime members, there is no minimum amount whatsoever.
For $99 per year, the online retailer offers its customers free delivery, early access to its lightning deals, and other amazing discounts on the platform. It is not only about the free delivery for which the Prime program is so successful and for which it has proved to be a major revenue stream.
Many infamous advantages contribute to Prime’s greatness. The price at which the company is selling out the membership is a great deal if someone is looking for online shopping with benefits along with entertainment.
With free shipping option, Amazon Prime offers its customers with free same day shipping service and free two day shipping on all orders if they are looking to receive packages as soon as possible. At this moment, the same day delivery is available to customers living in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle/Tacoma, Tampa Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. The company expects to add a few more names to the list in the near future.
The loyalty program offers free access to audio and video streaming services. Amazon Prime Video is one of the fastest growing aspects of the Prime membership, which is also directly competing against companies in streaming industry, such as Netflix and Hulu. It has also hopped on the original programming bandwagon and has produced a couple of hit shows.
Recently, Amazon announced a mega deal with TV networks such as Showtime and Starz. In the deal, members who have access to Prime Video will have the option to subscribe to these premium channels at a discounted rate. The company would add more premium networks and channels on its list soon.
On the other hand, Amazon Music has proved to be a great deal for the Prime members as well. For users who do not have subscription to the likes of Spotify or Tidal but are subscribed to the Prime membership, it is a cost effective alternative for them. The music library is not as advanced as other audio streaming giants but it surely good enough to pass their time. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Microsoft Apologizes For Chatbot Blunder

Microsoft debuted Tay chatbot that brought the company down to its knees.
Microsoft Corporation recently apologized for the menace caused by Tay, its artificial intelligence enabled chatbot. The function of the chatbot is to message like a teen girl. The problem thus aroused when the software tweeted statements that were extremely offensive in nature that it had learnt from the users. According to the company, humans exploited the chatbot since a glitch in the software transformed the program into a medium that propagated hate speech. It turned into a robot that sympathized with Hitler’s ideology.
The Windows 10 giant published its statement apologizing for the damage caused by Tay on Twitter. The company also explained about the cause behind this via a blog post. Peter Lee, the writer of the blog and Microsoft Research’s Vice President stated, “We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for, nor how we designed Tay.”
The concept behind Tay was that it would evolve and become smarter once it started to chat with human users. It would also learn idea, writing style and speech from them. The platform was permitted by the company to interact with the masses officially on Wednesday. The program was designed in a manner that its quick learning ability initially made it mimic the hateful remarks that surfaced on various social media platforms such as SnapchatKikGroupMe.
Since the time, the menace created by Tay got viral. Microsoft put a halt to its operations and deleted all the tweets. The company clearly stated that the program would only be launched again if the users can deduce a way to prevent the platform from being influenced by hate promoting contents. It will try its best to preserve its values and principles whatsoever.
Mr. Lee mentioned that the maestros behind this program did test the chatbot by experimenting in different scenarios. They did not encounter any flaw and were only able to figure it out after it went live. He further mentioned, “Although we had prepared for many types of abuses of the system, we had made a critical oversight for this specific attack. We will remain steadfast in our efforts to learn from this and other experiences as we work toward contributing to an Internet that represents the best, not the worst, of humanity.”
The company was quite fast when it came to apologizing and took spontaneous action to regulate. The incident in its true essence is quite alarming. This is not the first instance where the company has experimented with something on the likes of the program. Initially, the company debuted Xiaoice, another chatbot that was targeted towards the Chinese masses paired with Weibo, a messaging service used by 40 million people in the region.
Microsoft has finally cleaned up the mess it made. Not knowing that the program can adapt to hateful speech is bitter on the company’s end.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Amazon Files A Suit Against Former Executive

Upon joining domestic rival Target, Arthur Valdez is sued by Amazon for violating his non compete clause.
Amazon Inc. is pushing efforts to build its own shipping network. The company’s rising multi billion dollar logistics bill has proved to be a liability in the past year and it will keep on increasing considering the increase in growth significantly. Being one of the biggest online retailers in the domestic and international markets, the e-commerce giant is now trying to become an evolving advanced logistics giant in the coming times. And for that, it is investing a lot of money such as Amazon leased 20 cargo jets to begin the air delivery process.
When it comes to delivering products within the US boundaries, Amazon believes that taking a full day is not good enough. It seeks to deliver packages a little faster to its customers. Furthermore, the company wants to reduce its reliance on other shipping giants including FedEx and UPS and will bolster its relations with the United States Postal Service. With so much going on for the company at this moment, the seasoned logistics executive of Amazon was approached and hired by its domestic rival Target. This did not greatly effected the online retailer but a loss is a loss at such a crucial time.
According to the recent news, it is believed that the e-commerce leader has sued its former logistics executive for joining Target. The move came just a month after he joined the domestic rivals and said that Arthur Valdez has violated the non compete clause inserted in his contracted when he was joining. This clause prohibits him from joining any rival firm for at least 18 months after leaving Amazon.
Amazon said, “Mr. Valdez new position with a key Amazon competitor will involve the disclosure and use of Amazon's confidential and proprietary information to Amazon's detriment and Target's advantage in a core area of competition between the companies: the cost-effective and rapid movement of goods in the most efficient way possible for retail customers.”
Amazon stated that Arthur Valdez signed his non compete clause back in 2012 and he is a well reputed 16 year  veteran at the world’s largest retailer. He was the vice president of operations and had the responsibility to handle’s international supply chain expansion for a long time.
On this suit filed by Amazon, the Target spokeswoman, Molly Synder, wrote in an email to The Associated Press Wednesday, “We have taken significant precautions to ensure that any proprietary information remains confidential and we believe this suit is without merit. However, as this is pending litigation, we are not going to comment further at this time.”

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Netflix Seeks To Monetize Torrent Users

Netflix is starting another battle with its target audience i.e. non paying customers who access its content through torrents.
It is known that not all viewers who access Netflix are paying for the monthly subscription. Netflix Inc. knows that password sharing amongst viewers, friends, and families is common and gradually the trend is increasing for multiple reasons. One reason is that password sharing is a cost effective method of using the service whereas the other reason is that some people buy one membership (preferably the 4 screen plan) in one household. But it seems like the online video content service provider might soon change this feat.
The streaming giant recently began its crack down operation on users that were accessing the service using a VPN service. According to the company, this was the initial step to take on pirates. Sources suggest that Netflix is now taking its operations a step forward as it looks forward to preventing the paying customers from stealing using VPN services.
The streaming service provider is also making a list of sites that are the host to pirated original series of Netflix through torrent links. All in all, Netflix wants to make its customers feel valued as if almost 75 million subscribers are spending minimum $7 per month to access Netflix content and original series, why the remaining TV viewers who are not subscribed to Netflix get to watch its content via pirated means.
It is believed that this is the first time ever that the streaming service provider has taken a bold approach to protect its copyrighted properties. For long, the company was under pressure from its content license owners to save the content from geo dodgers and such pirates.
In 2015, the CEO Reed Hastings famously said that Netflix is not interested in going against those users who pirate its content. Mr. Hastings continued, “Certainly there’s some torrenting that goes on, and that’s true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand.”
Since then, Netflix has significantly grown in the market to become the global TV network. And as it keeps on moving forward, the organization is changing its policies of which the streaming service trying hard to prevent access of non paying customers from the platform from under rated and shady locations. Netflix is forcing and urging people who do not own a streaming membership to buy and do not steal content video hosting sites and torrents. It wants people to stream the same content using its official service.
Netflix is all in to fighting pirates. Torrent Freak states, “The company has significantly increased the number of takedown requests in the last year. So far, the company targeted almost 72,000 links to pirated content found on both torrenting and streaming sites. Most of these links have been removed, so don’t be surprised if you can’t find House of Cards, Narco, or Sense8 available for download on illegal sharing or for streaming on shady sites.”
The internet TV provider is currently engaged in two battles now with its own target audience. It will be exciting to see how the company manages to win as well as keep hold of its customers in the longer run

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Pfizer Drug Xeljanz Has Managed To Succeed Clinical Trails

Xeljanz drug for rheumatoid arthritis by Pfizer has managed to pass the clinical trials and tests in ulcerative colitis.
Pfizer Inc. has managed to pass clinical tests for its arthritis drug in ulcerative colitis making the pathway for another approval for the oral medication.  The data that has been gathered from these studies is going to be used in the application to regulators for approval of UC for xeljanz (tofacitinib).
The two studies were from oral clinical trials at the 11th Congress of ECCO from OCTAVE induction 1 and OCTAVE induction 2, for the tests and analysis of safety and efficiency of the drug in 10 mg per day for adult patients who have ulcerative colitis. Xeljanz was seen to reduce moderate to severe UC and was showing better results than placebo. The pharmaceutical company conducted a test in which patients were being given 10 mg of xeljanz twice every day which proved to be successful in no rectal bleeding in just eight week as compared to 8.2% of individual who were given a placebo.
Pfizer Inc. might be able to provide patients with a better and more efficient treatment.  This disease is difficult to handle leading most of the patients either becoming completely intolerant to any treatment whatsoever. The patients given xeljanz showed improvement and mucosal healing. The tests were conducted on patients’ injected with biotech medications before and even the ones who did not receive any treatment before.
Millions of patients around the world are diagnosed with UC, which affects the bowels with symptoms like abdomen pain, weight loss, diarrhea and many other painful health issues.   Xeljanz has the approval of 45 countries worldwide proving its success in 6,200 patients, who were diagnosed with moderate RA.  
The pharmaceutical giant consistently provides its customers with drug and medication that did not exist before. It has received many approvals for treatments of cancer and now UC. Xeljanz might be good for patients suffering from UC, but it can increase the risk of certain types of cancer as it changes the manner, the immune systems functions including Lymphoma, skin cancer. Patients who are considering taking this medication should first know what problems they have, and should consult a doctor before start taking it. 
Xeljanz is going to serve patients with psoriatic arthritis, especially for the ones on whom DMARDs do not work and even the ones who don’t show good response on the usual anti-TNF treatment. For now, the drug is undergoing FDA review. This drug can become the top seller of the company; it managed to gain sales worth $523 million in 2015 with a 70% increase in comparison to 2014.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Microsoft Embraces Backlash On Social Media

Microsoft embraces backlash on social media for objectifying women in its conference.

Microsoft Corporation is now under immense scrutiny since they are accused of depicting a strong display of sexism during the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in 2016. The company hosted the Xbox GDC party on Thursday, where female dancers were dressed in school girl costumes in an erotic manner that entertained the guests.
As per the attendants who were present at the event found it to be extremely distasteful and an activity that was not really required. It was stated that having girls dressed as erotic school girls and making them dance was extremely objectifying and sexist. Twitter was one platform where the masses expressed their dismay and claimed that they would officially file a complaint against the act. Some were so frustrated that they claimed that this initiative has motivated them to switch sides and have encouraged them to switch to Sony’s PlayStation from Xbox.
So now we need to put the things back in the puzzle, the gaming fraternity has often been condemned since they usually display women in a superficial manner. Moreover, the characters are mostly not meaningful. Similar to the way, Hollywood is condemned for objectifying women. It now seems that the Windows 10 giant has taken a step back when it comes to the position of women in this fraternity. The ironic part was that MSFT sponsored a “Women in Games” lunch at the conference.
The company depicted a lot of maturity after the event where it apologized and took responsibility for what happened. Mr. Aaron Greenberg, the head of Xbox marketing did not have any clue about the happenings where he tweeted that he is extremely disappointed about what really happened and he claimed that he would "follow up with the team" regarding the scenario.
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox mentioned in an official statement to The Verge stated that the incident that took place is against the core values of the company. He stated, "It was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. I know we disappointed many people and I'm personally committed to holding ourselves to higher standards. We must ensure that diversity and inclusion are central to our everyday business and core values. We will do better in the future."
The company is under a lot of pressure in terms of the Xbox division. Xbox is stumbling and is losing the sales in the long term in contrast to PlayStation. PlayStation is doing so well in the fraternity that Xbox One cannot keep pace with it.
The event which is so sexist in its true spirit ignited the controversy further which is likely to dent the image of Xbox One amongst consumers. When it comes to a consumer oriented product, any controversy that involves misogyny and sexism can prove to be really harsh for the life cycle of the product.  It will not be astonishing to note that Xbox’s core consumers particularly females shift to PlayStation. Female gamers have increased significantly over the past couple of years and Microsoft might just lose upon them.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Alibaba To Expand Global Footprints In India

Alibaba will soon expand its reach to the Indian e-commerce market.
It is clear now that Alibaba Group Holding is pushing to expand its presence in the Indian e-commerce market. The company said that it would not expand its operations in the foreign market until it has made name there, which is why it is focused to make deals and acquisitions in the region. Sources report that the e-commerce giant is all set to expand its existence in India this year as it goes on to highlight India’s importance to China’s biggest online retailer.
The president of Alibaba Group, Michael Evans, and the global managing director K Guru Gowarappan recently met the Communications and IT minister of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in order to discuss the possibility of expansion and underline its interest in the region. A senior government officer said in a statement, “Alibaba is very keen on coming to India in a very big way, particularly in the ecommerce sector. They're only exploring the way - whether to go on their own or set up shop with someone else.”  
The main plan is to penetrate the online commercial business in India this year. Ravi Shankar said after the meeting that undoubtedly e-commerce is rising at a fast pace and it is a rising phenomenon in the region at this moment. He added that it is “growing at 50% plus, with a huge catchment area, which shows the potential of a big aspirational market.” The Communications and IT manager is pleased and said that Alibaba will have full cooperation from our side to grow and extend its business in the region.
The corporate executives focused on the offline market of India in the meeting. The company is willing to capitalize on the Online to Offline (O2O) market of the region first and then it suggested focus on the online and delivery platforms.
It is known that the Chinese conglomerate is currently focused to improve its presence in the O2O market back in China and it plans to do the same in the Indian region as well. Shankar Prasad added that the Chinese e-commerce leader is most welcome to begin with and adopt the similar strategy of O2O business in India too. India is a rising nation and many people are not used to being online, as the major digit push has still not happened. Hence Ravi Shankar Prasad added, “They can look at setting up their own (delivery platforms) or use the time and tested postal service.”
For that matter, a former Alibaba executive has also joined India’s online payment service PayTMAlibaba is an investor in the online payment service since last year. Bhushan Patil who was one of the main members who was responsible to run the platform has joined PayTM as a vice president. He will be in position to do the same thing which he did for Alibaba in his tenure.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Apple Plans To Strengthen iCloud Encryption In Future

The major challenge lies ahead when Apple has to strike the balance between bolstering the encryption without creating inconvenience for users.

Apple had openly refused to assist in unlocking the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook – one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attacks but the tech titan has handed in the data from Farook’s phone, which he had backed up on iCloud service. In the near future, the company will not be able to decode user information by any means.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has been working on strengthening its encryption so much so that even it cannot decrypt the data backed on the iCloud service.
The major obstacle that the company’s executives ought to push out of their way is how to strike the balance between the iCloud encryption and users’ convenience. Since the CupertinoCalif. firm has always taken pride in developing easy to use, innovative, and intuitive software, it now worry about making the software complicated.
The impending complexity, which might be created by the encryption of the iCloud service, is that in the case where a user forgets the password and the company doesn’t have the keys, users will lose all the stored photos and the important data. However, if the tech organization keeps a copy of the key, it can be coerced to turn over the service by the legal authorities and the likes. A former Apple security and privacy manager, Window Snyder, also endorsed the underlying implications if the company maintains the hold of the copy of the key.
The security of software has the same issues as that attached to the physical world. Tighter security invites more hurdles for instance, more codes or locks for a home alarm system. Therefore, the company has released no determined timing in the duration in which it will bolster the encryption of its iCloud service.
The subject service of Apple is basically Internet services set through which users can sync and store the data across multiple devices. For instance, a photo shot through iPad can automatically appear on a Mac or an iPhone which has the same iCloud account. After having a secure Wi-Fi connection, the backup service of the iCloud automatically captures and saves the daily snapshot of the contents of the phone. Users can later use the backups to transfer health data, iMessages, photos and other information to a new iPhone from the old one.
Apple already has a feature called iCloud Keychain which is inaccessible by the company itself. The users can safely and securely store their credit-card information and passwords on it.
Apple already stores some data that it can’t access or read in iCloud Keychain. It is the case with the subject device of the legal battle between Apple and the F.B.I. The company readily provided the last backed up data till Oct 19 which account for six weeks prior to the shootings that occurred on Dec. 2.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Google Might Just Sabotage Uber`s Monopoly

Google is giving other ride sharing services an opportunity to prosper sabotaging the monopoly of Uber.
Alphabet Inc. has revealed its plans regarding an application where there will be a separate tab devoted to ride sharing services. The announcement regarding the upgrade surfaced via the Maps blog.
The recent feature will enable the app to tabulate the best possible routes by making a comparison of various services. The search engine giant has added car sharing service like Ola Cabs, mytaxi, Hailo, Gett, 99 Taxis etc. to the list. This move itself will sabotage the presence of Uber in several countries.
GOOG has decided to retain Uber as the company’s ride service partner globally. But it is also paving the way for the above cab services in Germany, India, Brazil, UK and Spain. All those people who do not live in these countries will only have Uber as the dominant force. It is quite amusing to note that the core competitor of Uber, namely Lyft is not part of the recent upgrade. It is not evident that the reason behind not popping up is due to the negotiation barrier or Uber has added a clause that the company cannot add Lyft while being in collaboration with them.
The blogs by Google Maps noted the users present in the key cities have dealt with various issues while choosing the best possible transportation service to reach the destination. The Google Maps presently shows options for biking, transit, and walking. However, the recent update makes the equation more affordable for the masses. Moreover, it also makes the tedious process easier since users will not have to go to different websites to compare the tariffs rather GOOG will do the job for them.  
The users will be required to install the ride hailing apps for various services on their smartphone to see the rates. So the condition is that the app needs to be installed on the smartphone, then the user needs to tap on the Google Maps ride sharing tab which will tabulate all the tariffs and pick up times in case the car is in the vicinity. The users have the option to chalk out the service with whom they wish to book a ride with and they will then be navigated to the chosen app by Google Maps directly.
The company will also show more options in circumstances they make sense. This actually means, in some cases, the users can get access to available ride option while walking. The service will also cater to various ride options by each provider in case of availability.
The update by Google Maps will surface on the Android devices before the week ends. However, the company has not specified about the iOS update. Google Maps is doing quite well on the iOS platform as well so till the time Apple Inc. does not come up with a service of this nature then Google can take advantage of the situation.
Uber was the only possible option when it came to ride hailing for the masses in various countries it renders its service to. However, Google Maps has come up with a major dent that can completely rupture the popularity of Uber and also take its business away. Considering this, Uber needs to be prepared to up its game or the competition might just become difficult to survive in the industry.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

CVS Health Opens MinuteClinic In Target

CVS has taken the initiative to help the walk-in patients having no primary care provider.

On Tuesday, CVS has unveiled the inauguration of the walk-in medical clinics dubbed as MinuteClinic. The convenient medical store is located inside Target stores operating in the regions of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham. The Target-based clinics have been restructured and transformed into MinuteClinic. The transformed clinics has been located in more than two Charlotte-area stores – Concord and Charlotte – and eight of such rebranded stores have been located in The Triangle in Apex, Wake Forest, Raleigh, Carey, and Durham.
In addition to the aforementioned stores, 30 more MinuteClinic have been located in the Charlotte-area while a half of it is being operated in the Raleigh-Durham area and they are being operated inside selected CVS Pharmacy stores.
High CVS official, Andrew Sussman, has expressed that the latest inaugurated MinuteClinic, which has been located inside the premises of Target, will have the same offering and the same services scope as it has made available to the number of patients coming at MinuteClinic being operated in North Carolina and nationwide.
He further added, "In addition, some services will be new to Target guests, including treatment for minor sprains and strains, contraceptive care, smoking cessation counseling and weight loss assessment and coaching." Sussman added that with the modern and latest Target-located clinics the company could work on its objective of providing primary care to the customers.
Sussman said that around 50% of the visits at the clinic happened on holidays, evenings, and weekends. As a last resort, patient has to go for the emergency department and bear exorbitant charges of the emergency department or opt for equally expensive urgent care options. He added that half of the patients who have come in the clinic to be treated are what he termed as “medically homeless” having no personal physician for them.
For such “medically homeless” patients who came at the clinic premises, the MinuteClinic provides a list of physicians in the area who are likely to take new patients.
The clinics are opened seven days a week and no prior appointment is needed to pay a visit. The clinics cover major health insurers and for the patients going for the payment by cash or credit, then the treatment prices are appropriately disclosed at the clinics’ premises and official website.
The step of the company is commendable highlighting the seriousness of the company to play the contemporary role in providing the best health care to the customers. The company has also announced of spending around $50 million on a youth antitobacco campaign. The biotech giant is not only developing cure of the life threatening but also looks forward to eliminate the source of disease from the society.