source: cnet.com

The company's got a lot of problems to fix.

When Apple warned earlier this month that sales over the holidays were as much as 11 percent lower than expected, it was a shock. Now it looks like a trend. 

On Tuesday, Apple forecast sales of between $55 billion and $59 billion for the second fiscal quarter, compared with average Wall Street estimates of about $59 billion. The forecast follows disappointing fiscal first-quarter revenue the company reported in its results. 

The sales forecast is the latest data point for Apple watchers, who for years have wondered when iPhone sales would hit a theoretical limit for how many million could be sold every quarter. Now it seems they might have an answer.

Apple is estimated to have sold 66.6 million iPhones in its first fiscal quarter, which ended Dec. 29, down 15 percent from a year earlier, according to Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi. Apple stopped publishing unit sales, meaning there's no official account for the number of iPhones, iPads or Macs sold. The company said it tallied nearly $52 billion in iPhone sales, down 15 percent from the same time a year ago.

It's unclear what's caused Apple to hit the wall. Some analysts blame the company's high iPhone prices. Apple now charges more for many of its phonesthan it does for the entry-level MacBook Air, which starts at $999. The colorful entry-level iPhone XR, which starts at $749, is the only new Apple phone to come in under the popular laptop's price. Meanwhile, cell carriers have cut subsidies as well.

In a letter Apple shared with investors Jan. 2, CEO Tim Cook pointed to an economic slowdown in China and the country's "rising trade tensions with the United States." He also said the company struggled to make enough products to sell to customers and that when it did, a stronger US dollar effectively raised prices overseas. Following up on a call Tuesday, Cook also blamed the lack of subsidies amplifying the sticker shock of its phones. 

Apple on Tuesday said it counted $84.3 billion in revenue, down more than 4 percent from a year earlier. That wasn't much of a surprise, considering the company issued a rare warning Jan. 2 that it would miss its forecasts by as much as $10 billion.

"While it was disappointing to miss our revenue guidance, we manage Apple for the long term, and this quarter's results demonstrate that the underlying strength of our business runs deep and wide," Cook said in a statement Tuesday. He added that Apple would continue to innovate, saying "we are not taking our foot off the gas."

Apple's shares, which had fallen more than 1 percent in regular trading Tuesday, rose more than 5 percent after the earnings release to $163.47 per share.

Apple's quarterly earnings were a strong reminder of just how important the iPhone is. 

Apple saw growth in all its other product categories, like the Mac and wearables. But with the iPhone representing more than 60 percent of Apple's sales, those successes weren't enough to blunt the iPhone's troubles.

 source: technewsworld.com

Google this week debuted a slew of new capabilities for its artificial intelligence software, Google Assistant, at CES in Las Vegas.

One of the headliners was a preview of Google Assistant Connect. The new platform lets device manufacturers incorporate Google Assistant into their products easily and cost-effectively.

Connect uses Google's existing smart home platform to expand to new device types, while making device setup and discovery easy for consumers. A manufacturer could create a continuous e-ink display projecting weather or calendar information, for example, while using Connect to drive content from a linked smart speaker.

"The key here is making device setup and discovery easy for consumers," observed Jack Narcotta, senior industry analyst for smart home strategies at Strategy Analytics.

"Addressing the frustration that still often accompanies smart home device setup and use -- especially during that all-important initial setup -- is a big step for any company seeking to expand its footprint into the smart home," he told TechNewsWorld.

Google also announced new plans for Assistant:

  • Building Google Assistant into the Sonos One and Sonos Beam speakers so users can control their sound entertainment from anywhere in the home without needing their smartphone. Earlier models of Sonos speakers will be updated to work with Google Assistant;
  • Expanding Assistant later this year to work with other popular media and entertainment devices, including Samsung TVs. This will let users use voice commands to turn the TV on, change volume and channels, and switch within inputs;
  • Having Google Assistant built into Dish's Hopper family of receivers. This will let consumers use their Dish Voice Remote to search for content, check the weather, or control other connected devices in the home;
  • Including Google Assistant in Android TV. Sony, Hisense, Philips, Xiaomi, Haier and JVC are among the Google partners that have launched and showcased such Android TV devices. Several will have far field microphones that will let them pick up the user's voice even with noise in the room or on the TV; and
  • Expanding Google Assistant's ability to respond to users even when their Android phones are locked if they opt in to this feature. They also will be able to set up and dismiss alarms, schedule reminders and timers, and view answers to personal queries such as traffic and calendar updates. This feature is currently available on Pixels and will be rolled out to all Android devices in the next few weeks.

Assistance for Everyday Living

Lenovo will unveil a Smart Clock this spring, priced at US$79, that incorporates Google Assistant and will let users control their smart home devices.

Whirlpool previewed its new KitchenAid Smart Display with the Google Assistant at CES.

 source: forbes.com

This is the second installment of the annual Gartner prediction/trends set. The last one focused on strategic predictions. This one focuses on Gartner’s technology trends.

This year’s list feels a little like a redo (with some new names for already pretty well-defined trends). Part of the problem with solid research organizations like Gartner is how visible they are. They host conferences, publish reports and through their consulting practice evangelize the technology trends they endlessly discuss in their travels. So the annual lists cannot help but disappoint a little since so many of us have heard a Gartner analyst or consultant describe the trends, or have seen a bunch of Gartner Hype Cycles and Magic Quadrants. 

More Obvious Than Good or Missing 

With all that said, let’s look at the trends. Some of the trends are good, some are obvious and some are missing.

 

The first trend is “autonomous things.” Gartner believes in autonomous things! Sorry, but this trend is about as obvious as a Trump rally. Investments in autonomous things – especially vehicles – have been spiking for years. In fact, there’s a bona fide race to autonomy of all shapes and sizes among some of the largest companies in the world – and some of the (very well-funded) smallest! And yes, autonomous things will be enabled by a variety of technologies, including especially IOT and AI. No one knows, for example, what % of air, land and sea vehicles will be partially or fully autonomous in five years, and, yes, connectivity will be part of the rollout of all things autonomous. Good, but obvious.

“Augmented analytics” is a true emerging trend: we’re on our way, but the number of applications is still thin. I’m not too sure about Gartner’s “citizen data scientist” concept, but if it helps us understand and define the interrelationships among data preparation, the automated and quasi-automated generation of insights, and “human assistance” in areas like natural language processing (NLP) and auto-generated visualization, then I guess “citizens” are better than traitors. There’s no question that AI will assist with big data analytics. The open question is the distribution of tasks: who does what? Another good, though obvious trend.

 

  source: cnet.com
 

We came, we saw, we chose. From the coolest products to the weirdest, we've spent a week sampling the technological wonderland that CES 2019 has to offer. And now, it's time to present CNET's picks for the best of CES.

There's a TV that magically rolls down into a box, the most powerful gaming laptop we've ever seen, a pinpoint makeup applicator that "erases" your skin flaws, a smartwatch that's partially powered by your body heat and so much more. 

Watch this: The top 10 best things we saw at CES 2019
 22:46

Best TV: LG OLED R rollable TV

Best car tech: Audi/Disney Holoride 

Best smart home tech: KitchenAid Smart Display

Best AI/smart assistant: Google Assistant with extensive 2019 upgrades, including Interpreter Mode and Google Assistant Connect

Best beauty tech: P&G Opte Precision Skincare System 

Best emerging tech: Matrix PowerWatch 2 

Best health tech: Omron HeartGuide

Best PC: Acer Swift 7

Best gaming gear: Alienware Area 51m

Best AR/VR tech: HTC Vive Pro Eye 

Watch CNET's Brian Cooley and Scott Stein count down the picks (video above), and click through the gallery below to see all the details.