In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology and life science news:
- The Pentagon is backing a new high-tech innovation institute to be announced today in Silicon Valley
- Facebook tops 1 billion users in a day for the first time
- Amgen wins OK for new cholesterol drug
- Apple ships 3.6 million smartwatches in second quarter
- Google rebuffs the EU in anti-trust fight
- Pentagon funding new high-tech venture
Defense Secretary Ash Carter is announcing that the Pentagon will fund a new venture to develop cutting-edge electronics and sensors that can flex and stretch and could be built into clothing or the skins of ships and aircraft.
The high-tech investment could lead to wearable health monitors that could be built into military uniforms or used to assist the elderly. Or it could foster thin, bendable sensors that could be tucked into cracks or crevices on weapons, ships or bridges where bulky wiring could never fit. The sensors could telegraph structural problems or trigger repair alerts.
Carter plans to lay out the details for the newly created high-tech innovation institute in a speech Friday in California’s Silicon Valley.
- For the first time, 1 billion people used Facebook in a day
For the first time, a billion people used Facebook in a single day on Monday.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg marked the occasion with a post on his Facebook page, saying that one out of seven people on Earth logged in to the social network to connect with their friends and family.
The 1 billion figure is different from the daily user numbers Facebook discloses each quarter when it reports its financial results. Those are the average number of daily users, counted over a 30-day period. Facebook had 968 million daily active users in June.
Overall, Facebook has nearly 1.5 billion users who log in at least once a month. It hit the1 billion user milestone in October 2012. Most people on Facebook live outside the U.S. and Canada.
- Amgen wins approval for second biotech cholesterol drug
Amgen Inc. has won approval for the second medicine in a new class of biotech drugs that reduce artery-clogging cholesterol more than older statin drugs that have been used for decades.
The drug Repatha could eventually help millions of Americans who face increased risks of heart disease because they cannot control their cholesterol with existing drugs. But concerns about the injectable medication’s price tag and long-term benefits will likely limit its use in the near term.
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it approved the drug for two groups of patients. First, for patients with extremely high levels of bad cholesterol due to an inherited disorder. Second, for patients with a history of heart attack and stroke who are not able to control their cholesterol levels with older drugs.
- New estimate: Apple shipped 3.6 million watches last quarter
A new report estimates Apple shipped 3.6 million watches in the last quarter — more than some analysts have estimated and enough to change the competitive landscape for fitness bands and other wearable gadgets.
Apple shipped enough units of its new smartwatch to nearly overtake market leader FitBit in the last quarter, according to analysts at International Data Corp. Their report warns that traditional fitness bands may be losing popularity to smartwatches and other devices that offer more features.
“People want to get more out of their devices,” said IDC’s Ramon Llamas in an interview. “It’s kind of like the way smartphones overtook basic phones.”
Consumer response to the Apple Watch has been the subject of intense speculation since the new gadget went on sale this spring. While Apple is known for making popular gadgets, the watch represents a new category of products for the company. Critics have questioned whether it’s useful enough for consumers to need or want one on their wrist.
Apple has not revealed how many watches it has sold at prices that start at $350, with luxury models selling for $10,000 or more. After the company issued its last financial report, in which Apple lumped watch sales into a broader category it calls “other products,” many analysts estimated Apple sold between 2 million and 3 million watches during the quarter that ended in June.
- Google rejects EU anti-trust allegations as flawed
Google rejected on Thursday a complaint by Europe’s competition watchdog that the Internet giant is abusing its dominance in Web searches to promote its own products.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, alleged in April that Google has improperly favored its shopping comparison service in its own search results, in a high-stakes case that could lead to billions of euros in fines.
Google Senior Vice President Kent Walker said in a blog post that the commission’s conclusions “are wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics.”
Google said it submitted a rebuttal of the European Commission’s case of around 150 pages with economic, data and legal analysis to back up its position.
The commission aims to ensure fair competition in the 28-nation European Union and it is concerned about Google’s dominant market position. The company processes about 90 percent of the searches in the EU, compared to 66 percent in the U.S.
Critics contend that online consumers are unable to see compelling alternatives from other merchants who either refuse or can’t afford to pay to be catapulted into a high spot in Google’s shopping rankings. Google charges merchants to be in its shopping results, unlike its general index that logs links from all websites.