Mobile Digest: Waymo fails to deliver knock-out blow to Uber

Uber’s self-driving car program is under threat after revelations of a remarkable feat of cyber espionage. Andrew Tolve reports.

In the news

 

After months of allegations, finger pointing and good old-fashioned mud slinging, Google’s self-driving car company Waymo and Uber finally got their day in court. Waymo alleges that one of its former engineers, Anthony Levandowski, swiped 14,000 files of Waymo’s proprietary data and used it to launch his own self-driving truck company Otto, which Uber acquired six months later for $680 million. Newly divulged in court last week was that Waymo believes that Levandowski and Uber were working in tandem the whole time and that Otto was merely a misdirection to keep the rest of the tech community in the dark. Uber doesn’t contest that Levandowski stole the files but says that it had nothing to do with it. Waymo furnished proof that Uber paid Levandowski $250 million in Uber stock the day after he left Google, but it failed to deliver what the judge called “a smoking gun.” The judge thus refused to order a temporary injunction on Uber’s self-driving car program. Doing so would have brought Uber’s self-driving car fleet to a halt and would have given Waymo a huge leg up in the market for self-driving cars, which is projected to be a $20 billion annual market by 2020. Waymo has pledged to push the case to a jury trial in October. Levandowski announced that he is stepping down from his position as head of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group but will stay at the company.

 

In the money

 

Enterprise software firm ESW acquired collaboration specialist Jive for $462 million. Jive is an Enterprise 2.0 business that helps companies create internal communities that increase dialogue directly among employees. ESW plans to integrate Jive into its family of businesses known as Aurea, where it will become part of Aurea’s customer experience management platform. ESW paid $5.25 per share, a 20 percent premium from Jive’s closing stock price at the end of the second quarter. 

 

In other news

 

Livestreaming continued its meteoric rise in 2017. Twitter announced a new exclusive programming deal with concert organizer Live Nation that will allow Twitter to livestream concerts of popular musicians. The concerts will join a growing lineup of live video on Twitter, from 24/7 streaming news from Bloomberg to marquee events like Fashion Week in New York, Paris and Milan.

 

Livestreamed content will now pop up in Google searches on iOS devices. Google has instructed its search crawlers to seek out a host of streaming services and sites, from YouTube to Amazon Video to Hulu, and to display that live media content right alongside links to articles and blog posts. The search results will also include sites where songs can be played, including on iTunes and Spotify.

 

Facebook announced that it’s hiring 3,000 additional employees to scan for lurid livestreamed content. The hiring comes in the wake of a spree of troubling livestreamed events on Facebook, including of several murders and suicides. Facebook already employees 4500 people for real-time content monitoring.

 

Cisco launched a new platform, Control Center for Mobile Enterprise, aimed at helping companies manage and monitor their employees’ mobile devices. The platform gives companies visibility into how much data is being consumed by each enterprise device on the platform, and how much it is costing, in the moment. It also automates controls over costs and services, so enterprises can, for example, create and enforce a roaming policy that automatically upgrades employees who are about to hit their travel plan’s data limit to the next travel plan level. 

 

Samsung’s got its mojo back. The company’s new Galaxy S8 smartphone shattered records for pre-orders during a two-day blitz last week, racking up nearly 550,000. In case you were counting, that’s more than five times greater than what the Galaxy S7 hauled in and 150,000 more than the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. The phone hits the market April 21. 

 

Microsoft launched a new operating system for education called Microsoft Windows S. The system works on any PC, as well as on Microsoft's newly launched Surface laptop (retail $999). Microsoft wants to catch up with market leader Google, whose Chromebooks represent 58% of the K-12 education market as compared to Microsoft’s 22% share. 

 

In debuting the new platform and PC, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hinted that Microsoft is working on a new Surface smartphone that should be out this year. Nadella said the phone will be “the most ultimate mobile device” and that it “will not look like phones that are there today.”

 

For the first time a majority of US homeowners (50.8%) live in cell-phone-only homes according to a US government survey released last week. Landlines aren’t going the way of the Dodo yet. 45.9% of homes in the US still have a landline, although 39% of those homes have a smartphone in them as well — meaning that smartphone penetration has hit nearly 90%. 

 

Finally, another sign of how pervasive the mobile revolution has become: Mobile captured more than half (51%) of all U.S. internet advertising revenue for the first time ever, according to IAB’s Internet Advertising Revenue Report. Mobile experienced a 77 percent upswing from $20.7 billion the previous year, hitting $36.6 billion in 2016. IAB attributed the growth to a “marketing shift from ‘mobile-first’ to ‘mobile-only’ in order to keep pace with today’s on-the-go consumers.”

 

The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.

 

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media.