Tech This Week: Wheels, Seals and Deals

|April 9, 2016 0
For a change people were seen lining up for pre-orders for something that is not a hot smartphone. For a bigger change, companies are actually taking the privacy issue seriously enough to bolster never-before encryptions

INDIA: When Elon Musk took the curtains off the much awaited Model 3 at Hawthorne, California, he may have expected fans to line up for bookings, but did he expect pre-orders around 325,000 in just about one week?

Enthusiastic Tesla fans have been lining up outside dealerships across the world and the number of pre-orders has already crossed three times the number the company expected.

Yet Tesla’s complex production issues, specially with a past dotted with production problems (during its boutique production mode days too) and with competitors like Volt also having confronted the consequence of falling short of achieving the aggressive forecasts put up for the Volt plug-in hybrid; there’s a lot that could play the wrong way for the ignition spark here.

On one hand it is almost heart-warming to see people voting with their money on alternative technology and vehicles on a planet mired in pollution. But automakers like Tesla and GE (with its awaited Chevy Volt EV-Electric Vehicle) will have to iron out questions around ramping up production efficiently, quickly and profitably enough to meet this unprecedented surge in demand.

New experiments with the needed supply chain, the ecosystem issues, specially the one about enough high-level charging stations, battery pack production, and Tesla’s Gigafactory plans in Nevada, would pave the road from here for electric vehicles.

The roads in Singapore this week were seen to be taking a new turn with the driverless car phenomenon stepping outside experimental modes thanks to MIT and nuTonomy working together. Driverless cars, and level 4 ones at that (Google is testing level 3 ones), would be soon seen plying as taxis in this innovation-friendly country.

Talk of self-driving theme dominating the week and you also get to add Intel’s acquisition of Yogitech, the self-driving technology safety firm from Italy that covers hardware and software around automation for IoT.

Would all these new moves towards driverless wheels ensure safety et al? The answers would come up as these autonomous wheels peel away from the curb. Like what WhatsApp did as it surprised many with the announcement of end-to-end encryption services across phone, messaging, videos, photos etc.

This may deepen the debate that Apple vs. FBI Face-off has set off over the boundaries of privacy and user convenience but what becomes equally interesting is a question beyond the privacy-gilded proposition.

Would an iron-clad encryption that protects (or professes to) protect its users’ privacy over everything, not challenge the quintessential data-driven advertising models that Google, Facebook (WhatsApp is under its wings only) have been operating since ever? Or would it bring privacy to device-side data but if conversations are being backed upon cloud-based servers, then the government may have a hole in the dyke to pursue? Unless more moves in the future (as Apple is working on) seal that avenue.

Sealing a deal this week Mphasis-Blackstone acquisition also set analysts wondering. Experts have ventured that the deal (can be anywhere between approx. $800 million to $1 billion) could provide Mphasis an opportunity to come out of shadows inked by the EDS and HP phases.

“The Blackstone buyout would allow it come out of its oblivion status and will give it an opportunity to come back into the mainstream IT services as a force to reckon with. Moreover, Blackstone portfolio companies could in itself be an opportunity to mine.” A Gartner analyst underscored.

More on many other shadows as we see them dissolve next week.

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