Another step ahead for Amazon in its bid to become the world’s biggest cloud computing platform for businesses, and to specifically take aim at a big regional competitor in Asia, Alibaba: today it announced that it would extend its Amazon Web Services suite of products to China beginning with a limited preview in early 2014. You can apply for early access on the AWS China homepage here. It is teaming up with local players to provide infrastructure to underpin AWS, and is also starting an incubator to develop more localized services to run in the AWS cloud.
AWS China will sit alongside Amazon’s existing China portal (which has seen some success, particularly around the newly-available Kindle); and it will include all of the different services that Amazon has developed for other AWS regions: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR), Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudFormation, AWS Storage Gateway, Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), Auto Scaling, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Glacier, Amazon Simple Workflow (SWF), AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), AWS Management Console, and AWS Premium Support.
“Current and prospective AWS customers have asked us to build a local AWS Region in China,” said Andy Jassy, Senior Vice President, Amazon Web Services. “China represents an important long-term market segment for AWS. We are looking forward to working with Chinese customers, partners, and government institutions to help small and large organizations use cloud computing to innovate and deploy faster, save money, expand their geographic reach, and do so without sacrificing security, availability, data durability, and reliability.”
Amazon says that its AWS effort, at least in these early stages, will be rolled out in partnership with local players — they include ChinaNetCenter and SINNET, which will be providing data centers; and ISP services such as infrastructure, bandwidth, and network capabilities. There are also consultants and other partners, including Cloudgo, Bamboo Cloud, Bamboo Technologies, ChinaNetCloud, and Hitachi Consulting China (full list here).
Amazon has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Beijing and Ningxia governments to develop cloud computing services, “to help foster development of a robust IT sector in Western China, empowered through cloud computing, that enables more Chinese customers to innovate and grow existing and new businesses.” As part of that, AWS China will develop an incubator in partnership with the Shanghai Jiading Industrial Zone. It will offer “a combination of resources from AWS China along with a variety of incentives from Shanghai Jiading Industrial Zone.” (If you are familiar with Microsoft’s Bizspark program, that’s what this sounds like.) Amazon says it will roll out more of these in other regions going forward.
This is not Amazon’s first move into cloud computing services in China. It says it already counts “thousands” of companies like Xiaomi, Qihoo 360, TCL, Tiens, NQ Mobile, FunPlus, Kingsoft, Mobotap, and Papaya Mobile as customers. And it was partly their instistence that led Amazon to move into China, the company says.
“Current and prospective AWS customers have asked us to build a local AWS Region in China,” Andy Jassy, SVP, AWS. said today in a statement (the company had a ceremony in Beijing today to mark the new service and sign the agreements). “China represents an important long-term market segment for AWS. We are looking forward to working with Chinese customers, partners, and government institutions to help small and large organizations use cloud computing to innovate and deploy faster, save money, expand their geographic reach, and do so without sacrificing security, availability, data durability, and reliability.”
This is also a more concerted effort by Amazon to pitch for more big business and to tap into the very large and still-growing community of smaller and medium-sized businesses in the country.
In the latter sense, offering cloud computing services to that segment puts Amazon into closer competition with Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant that has also been making more moves to become a one-stop shop for doing business online. Alibaba has arguably been called the Amazon of China, but in fact, Amazon wants to be the Amazon of China.
Amazon claims it is filling a hole in the market as these businesses become more connected.
“Prior to AWS, businesses would take on the massive capital investment of building their own IT infrastructure or contracting with a vendor for datacenter capacity that they might or might not use. This choice meant either paying for wasted capacity or having to worry that their forecasted capacity was insufficient to keep pace with their growth,” AWS writes in a statement. That will include AWS’s well-known, super-aggressive pricing, which tends to undercut many other cloud-based offerings in other regions, and is built on a pay-as-you-use model with options for no upfront payments — an attractive option for smaller businesses that may not have much working capital.
A tourist in Australia had to be rescued by police after plunging off a pier while browsing Facebook on her phone, officials said Wednesday.
But while many are leaving the profession of journalism, they're taking their craft with them.
Three years ago yesterday, the first retail buyer of a brand-new Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car was handed his keys in Denville, New Jersey.
Just three days earlier, the first Nissan Leaf buyer had received his battery-electric car in a large ceremony at San Francisco’s City Hall.
Together, Jeffrey Kaffee and Olivier Chalouhi became the first of roughly 160,000 U.S. drivers to date who have bought modern, mass-market plug-in electric cars.
A lot has happened since then.
No fewer than 15 different cars that plug in are now on sale in parts of the U.S., with more on the way.
The three electric cars selling at the highest rates have remained the same for 18 months; they are the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S.
A fourth car, the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, sells at a slightly lower average rate but has been on the market longer.
Each of those models has seen sales of 20,000 to 50,000 units in the U.S.; every other plug-in car has sold less than 10,000 units.
The Nissan Leaf is now assembled in Tennessee, with production ramping up, courtesy of a Department of Energy loan that Nissan is paying back.
The Voltec powertrain in the Chevrolet Volt has spawned another model, the 2014 Cadillac ELR, which goes on sale next month.
And the Tesla Model S, the longest-range battery-electric car in the world today, has turned out to be a sleek, elegant, reliable, and desirable luxury sport sedan from the company many doubted could manage to put such a car into production.
After three years and 160,000-odd cars, both buyers and carmakers know somewhat more about plug-in cars than they did at the start.
Here are a few thoughts on what automakers, buyers, drivers, and even the media have learned–or should have–during those years.
(1) There is no one electric-car buyer
Research done several years ago at the University of California-Davis identified at least four different motivations that would lead someone to consider buying a plug-in car, whether all-electric or a plug-in hybrid.
They were the desire to be the earliest adopter of cool new technology, desire for a greener and zero-emission vehicle, concern over U.S. energy security, and the potential for lower lifetime costs.
And talking to any group of plug-in car owners underscores this point. People buy electric cars that run on grid electricity for different reasons.
(2) Range counts, a whole lot
One of the insights shared by General Motors and Tesla is that even if most people drive less than 40 miles a day, they won’t buy a car with that limitation.
The Tesla Model S is offered with EPA-rated ranges of 208 or 265 miles; no other battery-electric car has more than half that range.
And the Chevrolet Volt uses a gasoline range extender to offer essentially unlimited range beyond its 38-mile electric range. As it turns out, about two-thirds of all miles in Volts are covered on grid electricity, not gasoline–but the range extender removes the range anxiety.
(3) Behind the wheel, electric cars are simply nicer
To get people to buy plug-in cars, as the saying goes, you simply have to let them drive plug-in cars.
The smoothness, silence, and instant torque of cars powered by electric motors instantly renders gasoline and diesel cars primitive, noisy, and seemingly archaic.
The letting-people-drive-electric-cars issue–also known as “getting butts in seats”–has proven to be a big challenge for carmakers unused to explaining radically different ideas about how to “fuel” a car.
(4) Most electric cars will come from existing automakers
Tesla Motors gets lots of coverage, and lots of attention.
Its CEO Elon Musk is sometimes compared to the fictional superhero Iron Man, it has produced a sexy, powerful, and popular battery-electric sport sedan, and it has very big plans to become a major automaker.
But Tesla may be the example that proves the rule that most automotive innovations are rolled out by large global makers. It’s the sole startup still offering cars on the U.S. market today; Fisker, Coda, and others didn’t make it.
(5) Electric cars can cover lots of miles reliably
Logically, one of the biggest worries when considering an electric car is whether the batteries will last. We know, for instance, that climate can play a role in reducing battery life.
They’re warranted against failure for either eight years/100,000 miles or 10 years/150,000 miles, depending on what state you live in.
More data is needed, of course, but that will come with time.
(6) The best is yet to come
The first example of any automotive technology is necessarily primitive.
Carmakers no longer sell cars and expect their buyers to do the last steps of quality control–with the possible exception of some new in-car infotainment systems–and the current crop of plug-in cars is impressive in how much like “real cars” they actually are.
But down the road, today’s Leafs, Volts, and Model Ses will seem primitive. Ten or fifteen years from now, mass-priced battery-electric cars with 200 miles of range will be commonplace. GM even says it’ll launch one by 2017–and so does Tesla.
With the price-performance of lithium-ion battery cells improving by something like 7 percent a year, costs won’t come down immediately.
But five to eight years from now, plug-in cars will be less expensive, they’ll cover longer ranges, and they’ll be far more common than they are today.
What will the next three years of plug-in car sales bring?
Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.
This story originally appeared on Green Car Reports.
Wrike has launched a new version of its project management platform with an emphasis on real-time analysis and new features such as syncing calendars to work projects. The new platform, Wrike Enterprise, gives the company a deeper focus on the corporate market for its collaboration-centered tools. It gives customers a way to crunch project management data in the order of a million updates per day. This is data around work items such as tasks completed, the original time planned for the project and the historical data that is associated with the project. The data is presented in “instant infographics,” that help people see the latest updates to projects, said Wrike CEO Andrew Filev in an email interview. Historically, project managers have done detailed plans that they then track. The manager periodically updates the projects and then compares the current state to the baseline established at the start of the project. With the Wrike platform, the data from every interaction is stored and then compared to historical data and then presented in a chart. A customer can see the state of the project from different dimensions such as the realistic amount of time a project will take to get done, what requires immediate action and how performance of an employee has evolved over time.
A new user group feature in Wrike Enterprise allows the project manager to include employees in multiple work groups by project, department, or any other ad hoc query. It can share the needed data with the whole group and keep permissions organized. This allows the manager to keep track of the overall project without hundreds of people making their own changes.
Just in time for the holiday-feast season, we now have published charts that detail the effect of cold weather on the battery range of Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt electric cars.
Think “range shrinkage.”
The data comes courtesy of FleetCarma, the Canadian company whose app MyCarma tracks vehicle operation for fleet managers and a small number of private owners as well.
Batteries and drivers like 70 degrees F
The firm compiled data from more than 7,000 Nissan Leaf trips to determine how temperature affected the cars’ real-world range.
And the data includes drivers using cabin heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer–as they tend to do in actual use.
As FleetCarma notes, the “Goldilocks zone” (just right) for maximum range seems to be 60 to 75 degrees F (15 to 24 degrees C).
Lithium-ion battery chemistries lose performance at the same temperature extremes where driver preferences to stay around 70 degrees come into play.
Fast degradation of the air-cooled Nissan Leaf battery pack in a small number of extremely high-temperature locations, especially Phoenix, Arizona, is leading the world’s highest-volume electric-car company toward deploying a more heat-tolerant battery chemistry as early as April 2014.
Fewer Volt data points
The data set for Chevy Volt range-extended electric cars used by FleetCarma was smaller, at about 4,000 data points, as the analysts excluded trips taken when the temperature fell below 25 degrees F (-4 degrees C).
Below that temperature, the Volt periodically runs the combustion engine, which distorts results based on continuous battery range alone.
FleetCarma charted the best range results alongside the averages, showing that some Volt hypermilers were able to increase electric range more than 30 percent over others–achieving about 60 miles vs. 45 miles (roughly 95 vs. 70 km).
Shockingly, Leaf hypermilers sometimes beat the averages by 60 percent, garnering 120 miles of range against 75 miles (195 km vs 120 km) for the mere mortals among their peer group. One wonders whether a ski hill was involved.
No substitute for real-world results
Development engineers at Nissan and Chevrolet closely studied their batteries’ behavior in different temperature in the test lab, but they could only get limited data from their own extreme-weather testing as to how that would affect battery range across the very wide spectrum of driver behaviors.
These kinds of data gathered by FleetCarma will help automakers fine-tune future development efforts, as there’s simply no substitute for large sets of field data.
No verification protocol — however rigorous — can provide the breadth and quality of feedback that comes from widespread deployment. Happily, FleetCarma’s charts provide exactly that information.
Hint of Big Data to come?
Ford is known to have embraced Big Data early, and its competitors are surely following suit. But while each carmaker would probably love to track all of their customers’ driving habits, the post-Snowden era could produce a backlash over he privacy implications.
This may open a niche for arm’s-length, third-party vehicle monitoring services like FleetCarma, Automatic, Zubie, and others, which serve an opt-in clientele that wants to monitor their own driving habits.
(In this sense, it’s conceivable that some vehicle-monitoring service vendors might get absorbed into automotive market research firms such as IHS or Hedges & Company.)
So whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or nothing at all this holiday season, if you’re driving on plug power, be aware of the temperature–and plan accordingly.
This story originally appeared on Green Car Reports.
The research firm CB Insights recently put together its list of the 15 tech companies that had the best "exits" in 2013 - that is, they delivered the richest return for their investors, whether they were acquired or went public.
While the rest of us are messing around with our Paypals and Amazon Payments, some folks in Argentina have created the first crowd funding platform in America to take bitcoin.
The platform, called Idea.me focuses primarily on artistic, musical, and retail projects although, as evidenced by the project photos, many campaigns have a philanthropic bent. The platform was “born in Argentina” wrote Pia Giudice and is now in seven countries in Latin America. It is the area’s only regional crowd funding platform. The platform has seen $750,000 in funding and should be raising $2.4 million in March 2014 in a Series A.
Idea.me has already funded 450 projects and seen $2 million pledged to backers. Pledges can come from multiple sources but they’ve recently enabled bitcoin as an alternative to credit cards and Paypal. “We’re the only platform that accepts bitcoins in the whole continent, including US and Canada,” said Giudice. “Also, our business unit is unique in the world: Idea.me is the only platform that executes campaigns with multinational companies to fund specific projects.”
I’d love for Kickstarter and Indiegogo to start taking bitcoin, although, presumably, the long gestation times of most projects and the volatility of BTC could be problematic for the company and its customers. Idea.me uses Bitpay, “automatically converts Bitcoins in dollars, so that the pledger pays with BTC, but the creators will receive the contribution in USD” according to a blog post. When BTC turns into a medium of quick exchange, it makes a lot of sense. Best of all it’s helping the little guy in South America.
“With the very limited access to formal capital in Latin America, Idea.me is esential for the development of our countries,” said Giudice. Looks like things are little speedier when it comes to virtual currency far south of the border.
Every quarter or so, IDC releases an update on the tablet market that has numbers showing the iPad falling further and further away from first place.
Journalists readily publish it, because it’s simple to understand and it’s easy to get traffic from an article showing that Apple is losing its edge.
The problem is, it just isn’t true. In fact, it’s an absolute fairytale that paints a flawed portrait of the tablet market. Here’s why.
(Disclaimer: In my cross-platform world, the more tablets the better — so it’s in my best interests that more manufacturers sell more tablets. So this isn’t an Apple fanboy piece.)
Shipped doesn’t mean sold
Many reports love to show data on tablets shipped. When it comes to Apple, it reports the number of tablets that are actually sold. Other manufacturers simply report tablets shipped for that quarter. This is an apples to oranges comparison.
The issue is that tablets shipped (to retailers) are often not sold (to customers). Instead, they sit on store shelves. Look at the writedown that Microsoft had to take for its first-generation Surface, to the tune of $900,000,000. This is happening across the board with most tablet manufacturers as they are often shipping tablets, but they are going unsold.
On the other hand, we’re able to see how many devices Apple actually sells in the tablet market every quarter, because it tells us.
Samsung and the others offer zero breakdown of how many tablets they’ve actually sold. Even if Samsung’s “shipped” numbers were correct, we have no apples to apples comparison of how many tablets were actually sold by the company.
Sold doesn’t mean used
If a tablet actually gets sold but nobody uses it, does it still count?
Many of the non-iPad devices being sold are sub-$200 devices. In the Others category, we’re looking at cheap knock-offs that don’t provide a very good experience. These are the type of devices that are given away as stocking stuffers or spur-of-the-moment purchases that people own, but don’t actually use. It’s a lot easier to stop using a cheap device you bought for under $200 than it is a device that starts at $329.
Android tablets also have very few tablet-tailored apps. Apps are a way to give people something to do on a tablet. With the iPad, there are a lot of iPad-specific apps, meaning a lot to do. With Android, few apps means less to do.
The other tablets aren’t online much
Of course, a popular activity on tablets and other devices is browsing the web. But even here, Apple is winning: iPads are trouncing Android tablets in terms of web usage.
We took a sample of one million people using our publishing platform over the past month. In our sample the iPad accounts for 89 percent of tablet traffic compared to the other groups of tablets. Nexus 7 is at 3 percent and the Kindle Fire at a little over 7 percent. These are two of the most marketed and well-known tablets on the market, yet they are one-eighth the size of the iPad in terms of browser usage.
“Other” tablet manufacturers (besides Apple, Samsung, and Amazon) account for 35.3 percent of the tablet market. But that number makes little sense. First off, it’s crazy to believe that a bunch of no-name competitors have more share than Apple or any other major manufacturer. If we do assume that these tablets have the real market share they claim, then web usage would be higher. Why you ask? These tablets are often not Google-sanctioned and do not have the Google Play store installed. With fewer apps to use, you would start to see more web usage from these tablets. Any sane person would realize there’s no way this is true.
Here’s my bottom line: In the smartphone market, Android certainly is shipping and selling a lot of devices. Samsung is a real threat and I see a lot of ordinary folks switching over from Apple to Samsung.
The tablet market? That’s a lot different. The tablet market is the iPad market, just like the digital music player market was the iPod market ten years ago.
Will it change? Time will tell. In the meantime, stop believing the fairytales.
Jason Baptiste is founder and chief marketing officer of mobile publishing company Onswipe.