Microsoft Buys Nuance; Apple Working on TV Box With HomePod Speaker & FaceTime Cam; Tesla Jacks Up Solar Roof Prices; Facebook Spent Millions on Zuck SecurityPosted: April 12, 2021
Microsoft has announced that they have acquired Nuance. According to the Microsoft News site, Redmond says the ‘acquisition will combine solutions and expertise to deliver new cloud and AI capabilities across healthcare and other industries.’ Microsoft has dropped $19.7 billion on Nuance, in an all-cash deal. It’s the 2nd largest acquisition by MS since snapping up LinkedIn. The CEO of Nuance, Mark Benjamin, will remain. Nuance is most known for their Dragon software, that uses deep learning to transcribe speech, and which gets more accurate over time guy adapting to a user’s voice. The tech has been licensed out to numerous services, including Apple’s Siri.
Apple is apparently working on a new product for their smart home line. It iss essentially an Apple TV box with and added HomePod smart speaker and a FaceTime camera. 9to5mac.com reports that the integrated device would be similar to the Roku Streambar or Fire TV Cube. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg notes that it is in the early stage of development, and as such, might not see the light of day. You can still buy discontinued original HomePods…in White only. The original $349 device is slightly discounted to $299 now. The $99 HomePod Mini is selling much better. It is unlikely that this new gadget will be done in time for the next Apple TV release this Fall.
It’s not unusual for companies to increase prices of products and services that occur a year after a contract is signed. What IS unusual is a really big jump. Electrek.co says that Tesla has jacked up the prices for Solar roofs and Powerwall installations by some 30%! Needless to say, this is quite a shock to customers who have had a signed contract for more than a year, and who have already spent thousands in preparation for the job! In a few cases, customers logged into their accounts and have seen 50% price increases! Tesla also says that now, it is sending out updated agreements, and will do the jobs in the order of updated agreement receipt. In other words, agree right away, or lose you spot in line!
Facebook spent more than a lot of CEOs get paid per year on Mark Zuckerberg’s security last year. Theverge.com reports that an SEC filing shows the company dropped a princely $23 million last year for its CEO. The filing showed that protection for Zuck and his family increased in 2020 primarily due to COVID-19 travel protocols, and increased security during the run up to the US election. Zuck also got an extra $10 million in compensation to go towards other security costs. This year, Facebook says they may offer personal security to non-employee directors from time to time as well, particularly in the aftermath of the attack attack on the US Capitol January 6th.