Author: News Aggregate

Ex-Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs May Still Lead Takeover Bid

Former Qualcomm Chairman Paul Jacobs is continuing his efforts to raise money to buy the San Diego cellular giant and take it private, two news outlets reported Thursday. Bloomberg and CNBC said Jacobs is in discussions with potential investors to see if he can raise enough capital to acquire the company. Both news organizations cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter. A representative for Jacobs declined to comment other than to say it’s early and his efforts to explore an acquisition of Qualcomm were already disclosed. Jacobs, former chief executive and chairman of Qualcomm, revealed earlier this year that he wanted to buy the company and take it private. He was removed from Qualcomm’s board of directors in March after informing fellow directors of his intentions. Jacobs’ move is considered a long shot by industry observers because of the massive amount of investment required to pull it off. Qualcomm’s board rejected a $117 billion offer from Broadcom earlier this year on the grounds that it undervalued the company given its long-term growth prospects. Broadcom’s hostile takeover attempt was eventually blocked by President Trump over national security concerns. Broadcom was based in Singapore at the time but earlier this month moved its headquarters to San Jose. According to Bloomberg, Jacobs, who owns less than 1 percent of Qualcomm, is in discussions with strategic investors, sovereign wealth funds and wealthy individuals...

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No, Facebook Is Not Eavesdropping on You Through Your Smartphone

It’s time to move on from everyone’s favorite Facebook conspiracy theory: No, Facebook is not listening to you through your phone’s microphone. This is a crowd favorite. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress this week to discuss the company’s data collection and privacy policies, he was asked if Facebook was spying on people through their microphones twice: Once by Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., on Tuesday, and once by Congressman Larry Bucshon, R-Ill., on Wednesday. Even those of us at Recode have been guilty of wondering whether or not Facebook is listening in. But it’s finally time to move on. Zuckerberg said it’s not true, not once, but twice, on the record, in front of Congress. His denial wasn’t even new. The company wrote a blog post back in 2016 explaining that it doesn’t do this. The post was helpfully titled, “Facebook Does Not Use Your Phone’s Microphone for Ads or News Feed Stories.” But while it may not be true, it’s interesting that this theory routinely comes up. The fact that Facebook’s ad targeting is, at times, so accurate that people assume the company must be spying on them is a great endorsement of Facebook ads. But it’s also a spooky reminder of how much Facebook must know about you and what you do in your daily life. And if you’re worried Facebook might be listening to...

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Apple HomePod Sales Struggle, Fall Way Behind Amazon Echo

The HomePod has not delivered the sonic boom Apple had hoped for so far. Apple’s new $329 home speaker had strong pre-orders when it was launched Feb. 9, but it has petered out in the increasingly competitive home speaker market since, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. Three weeks after its debut, the HomePod, at its nadir, captured about 4 percent of the weekly sales of smart home speakers. Inventory is rising in Apple stores, and Apple cut back on orders and lowered sales forecasts, according to Bloomberg, which cites numbers from Slice Intelligence. During its preorders, Apple made up a third of the smart home-speaker market. But after its first 10 weeks on the market, Apple HomePod made up only 10 percent of the smart home speaker market, just behind second-place Google Home’s 14 percent. The overriding winner was the Amazon Echo, which made up 73 percent in that same period. Bloomberg pointed to the HomePod’s lagging artificial intelligence, powered by Siri, and other limited capabilities when compared to Amazon Echo and Google Home, as reasons for its sluggish sales. HomePod, despite being $100 more expensive than the most expensive Amazon Echo product — Echo Show, which has a video screen — is limited in voice commands to mainly controlling Apple’s proprietary apps, such as Apple Music. Apple is forecasted to sell 7 million HomePods in 2018 and about 11 million...

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Driverless Cars Give Hope to the Blind

In 2012, Steve Mahan, who is blind, climbed into the driver’s seat of a self-driving car and rolled up to the drive-thru of a Taco Bell in a video that’s been viewed more than 8 million times online. The piece, produced by Google, captured the potential of autonomous-car technology to change the lives of the visually impaired. “It was my first time behind the steering wheel in seven years and was absolutely amazing,” Mahan said. Self-driving-car advocates say that in addition to helping the disabled, the vehicles will allow people to do other tasks while driving and make roadways safer by removing human error. But six years after Google’s viral video, national advocates for the estimated 1.3 million legally blind people in the U.S. are worried the industry is not factoring their needs into the design of the new technology, a mistake they say will make the cars more expensive and harder for them to access. “Although we have been held up as obvious beneficiaries of the technology in conversations and presentations, this will have just been exploitation if the systems are not accessible,” said Anil Lewis, executive director of the National Federation of the Blind’s Jernigan Institute. “How about instead of Taco Bell, we demonstrate a blind person independently operating an autonomous vehicle, dropping off his/her kids at school on the way to work, and maybe stopping by...

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Zuckerberg Faced ‘Grandpa’ Questions from Lawmakers

Mark Zuckerberg faced two days of grilling before House and Senate committees Tuesday and Wednesday to address Facebook’s privacy issues and the need for more regulation for the social media site. Yet the hearings in Washington managed to showcase the normally press-shy Zuckerberg’s ability to perform as an able and well-rehearsed, if a bit stiff, CEO of one of the world’s biggest companies — and the degree to which much of Congress appears befuddled about technology and the relevant issues. “For the most part, so far, this has been a victory for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg and enormous validation that D.C. is ineffectual,” said Scott Galloway, who teaches marketing at New York University. The hearings were a major test for Zuckerberg. Facebook is confronting its biggest privacy scandal in 14 years after it was revealed that the data firm Cambridge Analytica misused data from up to 87 million users. Some members of Congress hold computer science degrees or other technical knowledge and were well-versed in the issues, drilling Zuckerberg about how Facebook tracks people who are not on the site and what changes the social media will make to protect user data. Others focused on concerns like censorship and perceived bias on the site as well as children’s privacy policies. But many appeared out of touch on the fundamentals of how Facebook works and lobbed mainly softball questions. On...

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