iPhone Demand Higher Than Expected; VW’s Car OS; Amazon Changed Search Algorithm To Their Benefit; AI Calculates Risk of Heart Condition Death

Apple has been diversifying, but is still primarily and iPhone company, that lives and dies by iPhone sales. Sales have been expected to be weaker this model year, as smartphone sales in general have slid, and since it’s an ’S’ year, with less major changes. Now, 9to5mac.com reports that well respected Apple Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo put out a report yesterday that iPhone 11 and 11 Pro demand is beating expectations after the pre-order launch Friday. Kuo is seeing strong demand for the new colors…midnight green on the 11 Pro, and the green and purple colors on the 11. He warns that production problems on the glass for the midnight green phone have restricted output of that one so far. Demand is higher for the 11 Pro in the US, while in China, the less costly iPhone 11 is selling better. The sales estimate has now been raised for 2019 from 65-70 million units to 70-75 million smartphones. Kuo notes that the trade in programs and zero interest payment plans are boosting sales as more people are choosing to upgrade.

Cars have been running on an insane number of multiple processors for years. With the advent of infotainment systems, such as Apple Car Play and Android Auto, those systems have not only been integrated in to the existing systems, but in some cases, the car can’t run without them. According to arstechnica.com, an example is some cars that use Android Auto which use the Navigation GPS to provide the vehicle’s master time counter. If the Nav system dies, the car won’t run! Makers have been loathe to consolidate all functions under the likes of Android Auto. As VW pointed out: “When you do this, you get a great package of function and services, no doubt. But you also have to open up all the car’s sensor data [to Google], and when I say all, it really is all sensor data.” VW has decided instead to build out its own OS which would span all 12 VW group brands. They are staffing up now, and will have between 5,000 and 10,000 employees working on the OS. VW hopes to have it in place by 2025.

Amazon apparently revised its product search system last year to feature items that are more profitable for the company. The Wall Street Journal says the change came on the heels of an internal fight between executives at Amazon retail in Seattle, and the company’s search team in Palo Alto (which opposed the move.) At least the initial version was also opposed by Amazon’s own lawyers, who pointed out ongoing investigations by the EU and US over Amazon’s dual role as as seller and the marketplace…effectively competing with its own independent sellers. After the legal objection, the company tweaked to algorithm, and left out an overt profitability metric, opting instead for a slightly less in-your-face one called ‘contribution profit.’ Expect this to be fodder for more calls for regulation or even breakup…especially in the EU.

MIT researchers have come up with a machine learning system called RiskCardio that can estimate risk of death due to cardiovascular issues that block or reduce blood flow. According to engadget.com, the AI needs a 15 minute ECG reading, and takes it from there. It can apparently figure whether or not someone will die within 30 days or even up to a year later. There is more to be done, but this could be a huge breakthrough for docs to be able to quickly diagnose heart health, and decide on the appropriate level of treatment. A caveat: without pre-existing condition protection as in the Affordable Care Act (unless that’s taken away), it’s another thing that would make you more uninsurable.

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