Weekend Roundup: Apple iOS losing more ground to Android, Now TV teardown, Ask.fm aftermath, IBM “unveils” Matrix precursor

IBM working on software ecosystem for brain-like chip

I’ve always been wondering how the Matrix in the eponymous movie, “The Matrix”, would come to life. It looks as boffins at IBM might be working towards something akin to that. In other words, an ecosystem of software that will power chips that replicate the physical make-up of the human brain. IBM’s press release refers to a technology that would “enable a new generation of intelligent sensor networks that mimic the brain’s abilities for perception, action, and cognition”. For now though, they are a long way from achieving that but any device based on it would still represent a quantum leap from the current traditional computer architecture paradigm that relies on sequential operations.

All this is part of IBM’s drive as pioneer of cognitive computing. Interestingly enough, that announcement came after another one where IBM, together some with other technology behemoths, announced the launch of the OpenPower consortium which aims to deliver hardware and software solutions with Big Blue’s Power chips at its core and at the same time to nurture the growth and extend the industry adoption of the architecture, one which is ideally suited to run that software system.

It is not the first time that Ask.fm has been linked to the death of British teenagers and already some big names (Vodafone, BT, EDF amongst others) have instructed their marketing department to pull their adverts from the websites, probably because they didn’t want to be associated with Ask.fm. Whether this will force the website to change its stance remains to be seen and only time will tell whether they eventually flock back to a website that ranks in the top 150 globally.

Apple’s smartphone market continues to shrink

Apple saw its share of the global smartphone market continue to decrease with Android now within touching distance of 80 per cent. Apple is a distant second with 13.2 per cent of the market while Windows Phone occupies third place with 3.7 per cent, about the same as BlackBerry and Linux combined. As for the previous quarters, Korean powerhouse Samsung was instrumental in Android hegemony and remains by a distance, so much so that it has probably has a bigger share of the smartphone market than any other single player (and is almost certainly bigger than the rest of the Android competition combined). But don’t discount Apple yet, the company has, many times in the past, been left for death by analysts and competitors only to fight back with a vengeance. It will launch a new flagship handset, iPhone 6 and a new version of iOS, possibly in the last quarter of the year. Plus one should not discount the possibility of a number of new iPhone models to stem the tide of Android smartphones.

Now TV box by Sky: Something to be enthused about

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Sky’s Now TV box is likely to be my surprising choice for the best piece of hardware on the market. Not because it has a unique feature or introduces a new paradigm, but instead it is the first time that such a piece of technology is available for £10, a price that includes batteries, a HDMI cable and even postage and packing. Sky is almost certainly subsidizing this box and will likely use it as a Trojan horse to penetrate households that would have never previously considered Sky as a content provider. For now though, we can only hope that DIY enthusiasts will hack it and add to its feature list. I managed to become one of the many Now TV box users who managed to get Plex, a popular media player, onto that little box.