Biz Break: Boston Dynamics’ days with Google appear done

Top Of The Order: 

Domo Arigato, Boston Dynamics: Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has its fingers in a lot of things. There’s Google itself, the Android operating system, Nexus phones and tablets, driverless cars and a whole bunch of other things that are commonly called “moonshots.”

But perhaps robotics aren’t going to be part of that universe any more.

After a little more than two years since Google acquired Boston Dynamics, Alphabet has reportedly decided to get out of the robotics game, and is putting the business up for sale. A report from Bloomberg cited sources close to Google as saying that the corporate Powers That Be have determined a marketable robot from Boston Dynamics just isn’t feasible in the next few years, and the company is looking to find a buyer for the business. And Boston Dynamics officials being reluctant to work with Google’s engineers in California and Japan apparently didn’t help the situation, either.

Supposedly, Toyota Motor’s Toyota Research Institute and Amazon are interested acquiring Boston Dynamics. Maybe one of them will the one to bring us closer to the world of robots that the band Styx forecast more than 30 years?

Middle Innings:

The Internet Of (Not All) Things: Intel has spent the last few years working on partnerships to put its chips into products beyond the company’s longtime, bread-and-butter PC and server businesses. It’s all part of the company’s embrace of the Internet of Things.

One of those things will not be a virtual reality headset. At least not one with the Intel name on it.

At the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) late Wednesday, Kim Pallister, director of Intel’s VR Center of Excellence, said the world’s largest semiconductor maker has no plans to make a VR headset of its own. Pallister said that, instead, Intel will continue to work with developers and device makers to put its chips into those companies products, and promote its RealSense 3D depth-sensing technology.

It might make sense for Intel to stay with its current course, as its smaller rival, AMD, already has a big lead in the VR market for graphics processors.

Are You Wearing A Wearable, Yet?: If not, you probably will soon. Technology research firm IDC said Thursday that it expects worldwide shipments of wearables to reach 110 million devices by the end of 2016. That would represent an increase of more than 38 percent from a year ago.

In a research report, IDC said that while smartwatches such as the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices get a lot of attention in the public’s eye, sales of smartwatches will only make up a quarter of the wearables sold this year. Jitesh Ubrani, an IDC analyst, said that an area of growth is in what is called “smarter watches,” or watches that have fitness or sleep-tracking technology built in, but don’t run apps, and are made by long-time, traditional watchmakers.

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley tech stocks did Thursday…

Movin’ On Up: WageWorks, AMD and Aemetis each saw their shares rise more than 6 percent. GoPro and Pandora Media, which have had wild stock-price swings in recent weeks, both rose more than 5 percent on the day.

In The Red: Depomed shares fell more than 6 percent, and 8×8, Align Technology, Medivation and Intuitive Surgical also closed in the red.

The SV150 Index of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies edged up by 0.2 percent to 1,581.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index also rose just 0.2 percent, and ended the day at 4,774.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added almost 1 percent to close at 17,481.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index  rose 0.7 percent to 2,040.

Quote Of The Day: “Guinness Is Good For You” — Longtime advertising slogan for Ireland’s Guinness. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Slainte!

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Photo: Screenshot from Boston Dynamics video of Atlas, its humanoid robot.


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