Business Briefs – May 17, 2017

Target Locked In Game of Shipping Tag With Wal-Mart, Amazon

NEW YORK (AP) – Target, Wal-Mart and Amazon are locked in a game of shipping tag, each trying to adjust their free threshold and other shipping strategies to a level that can lure shoppers away from one another. Target has been testing new services but it has a long way to go to catch up to its rivals.

Google Unveils Latest Tech Tricks As Computers Get Smarter

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) – Google’s computer programs are gaining a better understanding of the world, and now it wants them to handle more of the decision-making for the billions of people who use its services.

CEO Sundar Pichai and other top executives brought Google’s audacious ambition into sharper focus Wednesday at an annual conference attended by more than 7,000 developers who design apps to work with its wide array of digital services.

Among other things, Google unveiled new ways for its massive network of computers to identify images, as well as recommend, share, and organize photos. It also is launching an attempt to make its voice-controlled digital assistant more proactive and visual while expanding its audience to Apple’s iPhone, where it will try to outwit an older peer, Siri.

The push marks another step toward infusing nearly all of Google’s products with some semblance of artificial intelligence — the concept of writing software that enables computers to gradually learn to think more like humans.

Apple, Qualcomm Spat Intensifies; Manufacturers Drawn In

SAN DIEGO& (AP) – Manufacturers that build Apple’s iPhone and iPad are being drawn in to an escalating dispute between the tech giant and the chipmaker Qualcomm.

Qualcomm said Wednesday that it has filed a breach of contract complaint against Apple manufacturers who it says have been pressured by Apple not to pay royalties to Qualcomm for technology that it says it owns.

Qualcomm Inc. has filed suit against FIH Mobile Ltd. and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Pegatron Corp., Wistron Corp. and Compal Electronics Inc. It has filed a separate claim against Cupertino, California-based Apple, for interfering with the license agreements between Qualcomm and the manufacturers.

Last month Apple Inc. began refusing to pay any royalties for some of the technology in the iPhone and is fighting Qualcomm in court. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has also filed a lawsuit alleging that Qualcomm has been imposing unfair licensing terms on manufacturers.

San Diego-based Qualcomm depends on licensing fees for a large portion of its revenue.

Business, Leisure Travelers Ponder Flying Without Lap

NEW YORK (AP) – International air travelers might soon rediscover magazines, paperbacks and playing cards.

Airline passengers have become hooked on their laptops and tablets to get work done or just kill time during long flights. But U.S. aviation-security officials appear determined to ban large electronic devices in the cabin of flights from Europe.

Business travelers are worried about lost productivity, laptops in checked baggage being stolen or damaged, or even leaving the machine home if their employer won’t let them check it on a plane. Parents are pondering how to keep children occupied.

Business travelers are keenly interested in the outcome.

Michael McCormick, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association, said he believes the threat identified by security officials is real, but the laptop ban will hurt business travel, at least in the short term.