Randhir Thakur led Intel’s big bet to take on Asian foundry giants TSMC and Samsung
Exclusive The head of Intel's revitalized contract chip manufacturing business plans to step down, The Register has learned, creating a setback for the x86 behemoth's big bet to take on Asian foundry giants TSMC and Samsung as part of its comeback plan.…
Article note: Voice Assistants/Voice Control are an attractive nuisance for tech companies, and have been into at least the 80s. They have quite limited application, and they can only be monetized by making them horrible for the user. I've been hoping the "useful subset" of simple tools that are basically handsfree basic control (dialer, calculator, media player type things) and TTS tool that can read notifications will get eaten by simple local features, and it will squeeze out the fancy "Hey, wiretap, what's a recipe for pancakes?" shit. This is a promising development in that direction.
Amazon is going through the biggest layoffs in the company's history right now, with a plan to eliminate some 10,000 jobs. One of the areas hit hardest is the Amazon Alexa voice assistant unit, which is apparently falling out of favor at the e-commerce giant. That's according to a report from Business Insider, which details "the swift downfall of the voice assistant and Amazon's larger hardware division."
Alexa has been around for 10 years and has been a trailblazing voice assistant that was copied quite a bit by Google and Apple. Alexa never managed to create an ongoing revenue stream, though, so Alexa doesn't really make any money. The Alexa division is part of the "Worldwide Digital" group along with Amazon Prime video, and Business Insider says that division lost $3 billion in just the first quarter of 2022, with "the vast majority" of the losses blamed on Alexa. That is apparently double the losses of any other division, and the report says the hardware team is on pace to lose $10 billion this year. It sounds like Amazon is tired of burning through all that cash.
A division in crisis
The BI report spoke with "a dozen current and former employees on the company's hardware team," who described "a division in crisis." Just about every plan to monetize Alexa has failed, with one former employee calling Alexa "a colossal failure of imagination," and "a wasted opportunity." This month's layoffs are the end result of years of trying to turn things around. Alexa was given a huge runway at the company, back when it was reportedly the "pet project" of former CEO Jeff Bezos. An all-hands crisis meeting took place in 2019 to try to turn the monetization problem around, but that was fruitless. By late 2019, Alexa saw a hiring freeze, and Bezos started to lose interest in the project around 2020. Of course, Amazon now has an entirely new CEO, Andy Jassy, who apparently isn't as interested in protecting Alexa.
Article note: This has been Hank Dietz's (My advisor through grad school, one of the first-causes of commodity clusters) argument for years: when clusters took over riding on economies of scale, they sucked all the air out of the field for other innovation, and we've been getting stupid making commodity clusters bigger and denser instead of investing in architectural innovation for years.
Ideas about disrupting that paradigm had more traction at SC22 than I've seen in recent years, it's nice to see reporters picked up on it.
If you thought the '80s were cool, wait for the revival
Opinion The first hints of an empire falling are only clear in retrospect. At the time they happen, they can look as if they are just part of existing trends. Crypto chaos as FTX falls apart like a giant rotting peach? The whole scene stinks. Everyone knows it, except the marks.…