AWS, once a nice little side hustle for Amazon’s eCommerce business, has grown over the years into a behemoth that’s on a $27 billion run rate, one that’s still growing at around 45 percent a year. That’s a highly successful business by any measure, but as I listened to AWS executives last week at their AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, I didn’t hear a group that was content to sit still and let the growth speak for itself. Instead, I heard one that wants to dominate every area of enterprise computing.
Whether it was hardware like the new Inferentia chip and Outposts, the new on-prem servers or blockchain and a base station service for satellites, if AWS saw an opportunity they were not ceding an inch to anyone.
Last year, AWS announced an astonishing 1400 new features, and word was that they are on pace to exceed that this year. They get a lot of credit for not resting on their laurels and continuing to innovate like a much smaller company, even as they own gobs of marketshare.
The feature inflation probably can’t go on forever, but for now at least they show no signs of slowing down, as the announcements came at a furious pace once again. While they will tell you that every decision they make is about meeting customer needs, it’s clear that some of these announcements were also about answering competitive pressure.
Going after competitors harder
In the past, AWS kept criticism of competitors to a minimum maybe giving a little jab to Oracle, but this year they seemed to ratchet it up. In their keynotes, AWS CEO Andy Jassy and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels continually flogged Oracle, a competitor in the database market, but hardly a major threat as a cloud company right now.
They went right for Oracle’s market though with a new on prem system called Outposts, which allows AWS customers to operate on prem and in the cloud using a single AWS control panel or one from VMware if customers prefer. That is the kind of cloud vision that Larry Ellison might have put forth, but Jassy didn’t necessarily see it as going after Oracle or anyone else. “I don’t see Outposts as a shot across the bow of anyone. If you look at what we are doing, it’s very much informed by customers,” he told reporters at a press conference last week.
Yet AWS didn’t reserve its criticism just for Oracle. It also took aim at Microsoft, taking jabs at Microsoft SQL Server, and also announcing Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, a tool specifically designed to move Microsoft files to the AWS cloud.
Google wasn’t spared either when launching Inferentia and Elastic Inference, which put Google on notice that AWS wasn’t going to yield the AI market to Google’s TPU infrastructure. All of these tools and much more were about more than answering customer demand, they were about putting the competition on notice in every aspect of enterprise computing.
Upward growth trajectory
The cloud market is continuing to grow at a dramatic pace, and as market leader, AWS has been able to take advantage of its market dominance to this point. Jassy, echoing Google’s Diane Greene and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, says the industry as a whole is still really early in terms of cloud adoption, which means there is still plenty of marketshare left to capture.
“I think we’re just in the early stages of enterprise and public sector adoption in the US. Outside the US I would say we are 12-36 months behind. So there are a lot of mainstream enterprises that are just now starting to plan their approach to the cloud,” Jassy said.
Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy says that AWS has been using its market position to keep expanding into different areas. “AWS has the scale right now to do many things others cannot, particularly lesser players like Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud. They are trying to make a point with the thousands of new products and features they bring out. This serves as a disincentive longer-term for other players, and I believe will result in a shakeout,” he told TechCrunch.
As for the frenetic pace of innovation, Moorhead believes it can’t go on forever. “To me, the question is, when do we reach a point where 95% of the needs are met, and the innovation rate isn’t required. Every market, literally every market, reaches a point where this happens, so it’s not a matter of if but when,” he said.
Certainly areas like the AWS Ground Station announcement, showed that AWS was willing to expand beyond the conventional confines of enterprise computing and into outer space to help companies process satellite data. This ability to think beyond traditional uses of cloud computing resources shows a level of creativity that suggests there could be other untapped markets for AWS that we haven’t yet imagined.
As AWS moves into more areas of the enterprise computing stack, whether on premises or in the cloud, they are showing their desire to dominate every aspect of the enterprise computing world. Last week they demonstrated that there is no area that they are willing to surrender to anyone.
Amazon Sidewalk is coming – and not everyone will be happy
Amazon is preparing to launch Amazon Sidewalk, its localized networks for Echo, Ring, and other devices, and it looks likely to be one of the most controversial products from retail behemoth so far. Echo owners have begun being notified by Amazon that Sidewalk shared networks are launching later in the year, along with apparent confirmation that it will be turned on by default.
Sidewalk basically creates a special, separate network, hosted by so-called Sidewalk Bridge devices. That includes certain Echo and Ring models. What distinguishes them from your regular WiFi connection is that proximate Sidewalk devices can collaborate, even if they’re not necessarily your own.
Your neighbors’ Ring camera, for example, could join a local Sidewalk network. The advantage, Amazon says, is that even if your internet connection goes down, things like your Ring security system may still potentially be able to get online using a neighbor’s bandwidth. It also improves range, since Sidewalk devices can in theory fill in gaps in WiFi coverage.
Of course, to do that, Amazon needs to grab some of your internet bandwidth to share. What’s likely to prove divisive is that Amazon will turn Sidewalk on by default, its email to registered users confirmed today. If they don’t want to have their internet connection shared in part, they’ll have to manually turn it off.
“The maximum bandwidth of a Sidewalk Bridge to the Sidewalk server is 80Kbps, which is about 1/40th of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high definition video,” Amazon says. “Today, when you share your Bridge’s connection with Sidewalk, total monthly data used by Sidewalk, per account, is capped at 500MB, which is equivalent to streaming about 10 minutes of high definition video.”
While Sidewalk isn’t active as a feature yet, you can already turn it off in the Amazon Alexa app. That switch is found at More > Settings > Account Settings > Amazon Sidewalk.
Sidewalk is designed so that users don’t actually know what other devices are connected to the network, or indeed what network their own devices are linked with. “Information transferred over Sidewalk Bridges is encrypted and Bridge customers are not able to see that Sidewalk-enabled devices are connected to their Bridge,” Amazon explains. “Customers who own Sidewalk-enabled devices will know they are connected to Sidewalk but will not be able to identify which Bridge they are connected to.”
Of course, for Sidewalk to fully work as Amazon hopes – with the potential down the line, when the networks are sufficiently established, to do things like localized device-finding and more – it needs as many Echo and Ring owners to opt-in as possible.
Nonetheless, it’s likely to raise concerns among both users and security advocates alike. Having a second network running, which has access to your home internet, and which you have only marginal control over seems like a recipe for potential disaster. Even if all works as planned, it requires trusting Amazon to do all the management and security necessary. That may well be a bigger ask than even Echo and Ring owners can stomach.
Moto E7 serves up a 48MP camera and a solid battery on a budget
Motorola today revealed the Moto E7, which is the latest in its line of budget devices. Like many of the budget phones Motorola has released throughout the years, the main focus here seems to be on the camera. In fact, Motorola says in its announcement today that smartphone users deserve “an incredible camera system that delivers gorgeous results,” regardless of their budget.
So, does the camera array on the back of the Moto E7 deliver that? That’s ultimately for users to decide, but the phone does come equipped with a 48MP main shooter which has been paired with a 2MP macro lens. Motorola says that the camera has been outfitted with its Quad Pixel tech for better low-light shooting, which is bolstered further by Night Vision mode.
In looking at the specifications that Motorola shared today, the Moto E7 doesn’t seem all that different from the Moto E7 Plus we saw earlier in the year. The Android 10-based Moto E7 is equipped with a 6.5-inch Max Vision HD+ display with a 20:9 aspect ratio, which is nothing to write home about but will get the job done for a budget handset.
One major draw might be the battery, which clocks in at 4,000mAh. Since the Moto E7 uses an octa-core MediaTek Helio G25 CPU and a low-resolution display, that battery can probably last a long time. Motorola, for its part, says that the battery can go for 36 hours on a full charge, so budget-minded customers looking to get a lot of mileage out of their phone’s battery might find a lot to love here.
Obviously, though, this is a budget device by pretty much every definition of the phrase, so we’re not expecting a whole lot. Those expectations extend to price as well, with the Motorola giving the E7 a price tag of €119.99. We’ll see the Moto E7 launch first in “select European countries” before spreading to select countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia in the weeks to come. We’ll let you know if the E7 eventually makes its way stateside, so stay tuned for more.
Xiaomi foldable smartphone could comes with a pop up camera
Xiaomi has been working hard on folding smartphone prototypes filing patents that show off potential designs for folding devices coming in the future. A new Xiaomi folding smartphone design has turned up that ditches the thick bezels or notches on the screen featured on smartphones for sensors and cameras. Instead, this folding device uses a pop-up camera.
Xiaomi’s design is neither the first to fold nor the first to have a pop-up camera, but it’s interesting to see the two features combined in a single device. The design patent was filed with The Hague International Design System on September 25, 2020. The application was published on November 20, 2020. Like most other folding smartphones, it folds in half to create a smaller and more pocketable device.
In the renderings, the front screen is small at 4.6-inches and has thick bezels. When the phone is opened, it has a large screen of unspecified size. Considering the smaller front screen is said to be 4.6-inches, the assumption would be that the large main screen is somewhere in the 7 to 8-inch realm, but again that is unclear. Unlike other folding smartphone designs from the company, this new design ditches the band located to the screen’s side for sensors and cameras seen in past designs.
The pop-up camera design allows it to act as the front selfie camera with two lenses, and there are three cameras on the back of the device. Specifications for the camera system are unknown at this time. On the right side of the smartphone are a pair of buttons with one for volume and another on-off button.
The left side has the SIM card slot with a microphone on the top and bottom. The USB-C port and speaker are on the bottom of the phone. We hope this design makes it to production in the future.
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