Breakfast Briefing: Samsung’s bumper profits, AI to mark student essays, Windows Phone’s real problems

Today’s technology stories include more success for Samsung, artificial intelligence to mark student essays, and the underlying reason for sluggish Windows Phone sales. Plus, the UK’s European privacy stand-off, and how to buy a camera that keeps its value.

Breakfast Briefing: Samsung's bumper profits, AI to mark student essays, Windows Phone's real problems

Samsung expects $7.7bn profits for first quarter

Smartphone giant Samsung has said it expects to make $7.7bn for the first quarter, an increase of 53% on last year and far more than investors expected – boosted by bumper sales of its handsets such as the Galaxy S and Note series. The figures are impressive, but they break a chain of five quarters of record results, Reuters reports.

Software to mark student essays

Some students consider the use of technology to cheat – with essay downloads and cut-and-paste coursework – to be part of modern life, but now teachers, too, are using tech to ease their workloads.

Academics at Harvard MIT have developed software that can mark and assess essays, with results given in seconds and students given a chance to submit again in a bid to improve grades. The AI-driven program will be offered as a free download to institutions that want to use real-time assessment, but sceptics oppose the idea.

“Let’s face the realities of automatic essay scoring,” a group opposing automation said in the New York Times. “Computers cannot ‘read.’ They cannot measure the essentials of effective written communication: accuracy, reasoning, adequacy of evidence, good sense, ethical stance, convincing argument, meaningful organization, clarity, and veracity, among others.”

The real reason for slow Windows Phone sales

ReadWrite has a look at the slow sales for Windows Phone, and has come up with a fairly basic reason for slow uptake in the face of competition from the iPhone and Android. Turns out nobody really wants it and it has only one unique selling point, which isn’t hugely popular.

“The real reason why Windows Phone has failed because there is no good reason for it to exist,” Brian Hall argues. “Microsoft has designed a smartphone operating system that might be better, maybe even much better, for those things that Microsoft is good at – such as Word, Outlook, Xbox Play. The problem is, those do not seem to be the things that smartphone users want or need.”

UK battling EU privacy regulation

The Guardian has a closer look at the UK’s attempt to block EU’s privacy plans. According to European officials, the UK is trying to water down the content of regulation and make controls such as a “right to be forgotten” optional, which Brussels claims would cause confusion.

Pro cameras hold value better than consumer models

Buying a high-end camera might cost a small fortune, but professional cameras lose their value far more slowly than consumer-level DSLRs, according to a report in Exposure Guide. Using research from eBay sale prices, the site assessed prices for two top-end cameras – Canon’s 1D X and 5D Mark III – and found they lost only 10% of their value in the six months after purchase. Consumer models, on the other hand, such as the full-frame 6D and entry-level 650D depreciated by 30% in the same time frame.

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