The Robots are Coming!

Elon Musk thinks he can increase the speed of his Tesla production line in Fremont, California by 20X. I find this an astonishing concept, but Musk not only owns a car company, he also owns the company that makes the robots used in his car factory. So who am I to say he’s wrong? And if he’s right, well then the implications for everything from manufacturing to the economy to geopolitics to ICBM targeting to your retirement and mine are profound. We may be in trouble or maybe we’re not, but either way it’s going to be an interesting ride.

My friend Jerry Kew from the UK brought this […]

What the heck is happening at Apple?

cook“What the heck is happening at Apple?” people ask me. “Has the company lost its mojo? Why no new product categories? Why didn’t Apple, instead of AT&T, buy Time Warner? And why are the new MacBook Pros so darned expensive?

After first getting out of the way the fact that Apple is still the richest public company in the history of public companies, let’s take these questions in reverse order beginning with the MacBook Pros. In addition to their nifty OLED finger bar above the keyboard, these new Macs seem to have gained an average of $200 over the preceding models of the same size. What makes Apple think they can get away with that?

Apple can […]

Why SoftBank is paying $32 billion for ARM Holdings

Mr. SonSoftBank is buying ARM Holdings for $32 billion. Why would a company not presently in the semiconductor business spend 32 times sales to enter a new industry? By traditional measures it makes little sense. But for SoftBank it makes perfect sense, because here’s a company that has spent more than 30 years making high-risk bets on entering new businesses by apparently over-paying for assets. It’s the way they’ve always done it and it has nearly always worked. In this case SoftBank is paying a 43 percent premium over the recent ARM share price because that’s how much money it took to overcome the resistance of ARM management. And it’s just a guess […]

Thinking about Big Data — Part Two

BigDataIn Part One of this series of columns we learned about data and how computers can be used for finding meaning in large data sets. We even saw a hint of what we might call Big Data at Amazon.com in the mid-1990s, as that company stretched technology to observe and record in real time everything its tens of thousands of simultaneous users were doing. Pretty impressive, but not really Big Data, more like Bigish Data. The real Big Data of that era was already being gathered by outfits like the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) — spy operations that were recording digital communications […]

Thinking about Big Data — Part One

BigDataBig Data is Big News, a Big Deal, and Big Business, but what is it, really? What does Big Data even mean? To those in the thick of it, Big Data is obvious and I’m stupid for even asking the question. But those in the thick of Big Data find most people stupid, don’t you? So just for a moment I’ll speak to those readers who are, like me, not in the thick of Big Data. What does it mean? That’s what I am going to explore this week in what I am guessing will be three long columns.

My PBS series Triumph of the Nerds was the story of the personal computer and […]