Here's a look at top tech stories for Thursday.
Paris-based Moodstocks has been working on machine learning algorithms that automatically detect objects and scenes within images. The company will now help "build great image-recognition tools within Google."
Using artificial intelligence to help classify images is something Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) Google already has plenty of experience with: Google Photos, which launched last year, has won plaudits for its ability to automatically tag images based on content -- do a Google Photos search for "mountain" or "lake," and it'll turn up pictures within your album containing one. Google has even begun using AI to figure out a photo's location.
Separately, Google has updated Now on Tap, an AI-driven service that turns up information related to whatever is on an Android phone's screen at a given moment, to let users translate whatever text happens to be on the screen. Now on Tap can also now pull up product info by analyzing a barcode or QR code scanned by a phone's camera, and provide a set of videos related to a screen's content through a new Discover mode.
Google arguably has a healthy lead on other tech giants when it comes to AI investments. And -- as detailed in a recent Forbes cover story -- many of those investments can be applied across technologies as disparate as image analysis, text analysis, and voice recognition. Those technologies, in turn, wind up being used by many different Alphabet products and services.
Western Digital hikes guidance, discloses CFO is leaving
A little less than two months after closing its $16 billion acquisition of NAND flash memory/SSD giant SanDisk (SNDK) , and about six weeks after issuing post-acquisition guidance, Western Digital (WDC - Get Report) has hiked its second-quarter guidance above consensus estimates.
The company has also disclosed CFO Olivier Leonetti is leaving, and will be replaced by strategy chief Mark Long.
Western rose in after-hours trading on Wednesday thanks to the guidance hike, as did hard drive arch-rival Seagate (STX - Get Report) . Western didn't explain whether the hike stems from better-than-expected demand for hard drives, flash products, or a mixture of the two.
Any pickup in hard drive demand would be very welcome news for investors in Western and Seagate, each of which saw hard drive shipments drop by more than 20% annually in the first quarter and have guided for sales to fall sharply again in the second. A weak PC market and the cannibalization of hard drives by SSDs -- both within the PC market and the lucrative high-performance enterprise hard drive market -- have been weighing.
Of note: The guidance hike comes ahead of this fall's expected iPhone 7 launches. SanDisk is an iPhone flash memory supplier, and stands to benefit from Apple's reported plans to have the cheapest iPhone 7 units feature 32GB of storage, twice as much as is found in the cheapest iPhone 6S models.
Ericsson buys fiber services firm Abentel
Looking to further grow its services exposure, mobile infrastructure equipment giant Ericsson (ERIC - Get Report) is buying Abentel, a Spanish provider of fiber network deployment and maintenance services, from Spanish engineering services firm Abengoa. About 500 service professionals will be joining Ericsson as part of the deal.
Ericsson has been stung in recent quarters by a slowdown in 4G infrastructure investments, and broader weakness in telecom capital spending among carriers seeing little to no revenue growth.
The company has tried to compensate both by cutting jobs and making a string of acquisitions meant to lower its mobile infrastructure exposure. Ericsson bought video processing hardware/software firm Envivio last year for $125 million, and snapped up cloud app platform provider Apcera in 2014 for an undisclosed sum.