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Is The Mobile Space Drying Up?

May 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

According to Digitimes, heading into the second quarter of 2015, Taiwan touch panel makers have sudden got conservative outlooks and some are even predicting that their revenues will drop another 15-20 per cent.

he reason is that consumers don’t want game changing tablets and despite the claim that they are moving over to phablets instead the smartphone market is still pretty pants.

While Taiwan’s overall shipments are expected to grow in the second quarter, with makers expected to ship 41.579 million smartphone-use touch panels, increasing 23.5 per cent on quarter but decreasing 22.3 per cent on year. The 8.941 million tablet-use units, are up 7.2 per cent on quarter but down 15 per cent on year.

Tablet makers are hurting the most. Those who focus on the application such as TPK are expected to see a 15-20 per cent decline in revenues during the second quarter before rebounding in the second half of the year when product mixes are adjusted and new orders from customers arrive.

Young Fast Optoelectronics company chairman Pai Chih-chiang said that they were also having to face price competition and this will get worse.

Young Fast aims to reduce spending and cut costs in order to react to this trend, which arose largely due to competition from China. The company will also focus on developing larger-size products in addition to wearable solutions while increasing utilization rates, said Pai, adding it will lower its emphasis on consumer-based products.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will Intel Launch A New Version Of Thunderbolt?

May 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is just about to release a new version of Thunderbolt, just as its most major customer – Apple, has dropped the technology from its 12-inch MacBook.

Intel has hinted that it will reveal the “next generation of Thunderbolt” at a press event to be held next month at the Computex trade show in Taipei.

The latest version of Thunderbolt, version 2.0, can transfer data at speeds up to 20Mbps (bits per second), which is twice as fast as the latest USB 3.1.

Chipzilla has been working on a new chipset with more integrated components and we are expecting to see some new toys that will plug into it at the June 1 event.

Intel has been trying to speed up Thunderbolt data transfers, and has said data transfers could reach up to 50Gbps with the help of its emerging silicon photonics technology.

The driving force for a faster Thunderbolt connector could emerge with 8K video. This will appear in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 OS. Consumer electronics makers are backing the development of a new connector technology called SuperMHL, which will run through USB cables and could kill off any chance that Thunderbolt has.

Thunderbolt peripherals cost a bomb, and many PC makers have passed on the technology particularly for Windows PCs where people tend to be a little more practical. It seems that even the Apple market, where you can charge $1000 for a turd with an Apple logo on it is also shying away from Thunderbolt.

Computex will also have Intel showing off its USB Type-C 3.1, which is considered primary competition to Thunderbolt. The technology is more versatility than Thunderbolt as it can recharge laptops and be a connector for a wide variety of peripherals. The Type-C cables also look the same on both ends, so users don’t have to worry about plug orientation.

Courtesy-Fud

Tech Companies Push Senate To Pass NSA Reform Bill

May 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Reform Government Surveillance, an organization that represents technology giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft, is pushing the U.S. Senate not to delay reform of National Security Agency surveillance by extending expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.

The House of Representatives voted 338-88 last week to approve the USA Freedom Act that would, among other things, stop the controversial bulk collection of phone records of Americans by the NSA, including by placing restrictions on the search terms used to retrieve the records.

The bill has run into opposition in the Senate from some Republican members who are backing renewal of the current Section 215 of the Patriot Act that provides the legal framework for the phone data collection.

The urgency for Congress to pass legislation comes from the upcoming expiration on June 1 of certain parts of the Patriot Act, including Section 215. Under a so-called “sunset” clause, the provisions will lapse unless reauthorized in the same or modified form by legislation.

A bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month would extend the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act until 2020. To apparently buy time as pressure builds for reform, another bill has been placed on the Senate calendar to extend Section 215 and other expiring provisions in the current form up to July 31.

The technology companies said that the USA Freedom Act prevents the bulk collection of Internet metadata under various authorities, and provides for transparency about government demands for user information from technology companies, besides assuring that the appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms are in place.

 

 

Huawei Jumps Into IoT With New Operating System

May 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, known for its telecom equipment, became the latest tech giant to present its own take on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), centered on an operating system designed to allow household and business appliances to communicate with each other online.

At an event in Beijing, Huawei executives showcased its “Agile IoT” architecture, including an operating system called LiteOS to control basic devices. This marks the firm’s most significant push into a sector that has lured heavyweights from Google Inc to Intel Corp and IBM into pushing their own standards and communication protocols.

Huawei executives touted Agile architecture as a free and open standard that would allow hardware designers to easily make connectable devices. Aside from its operating system, Huawei also showed off fully customizable wireless equipment that could be installed in business settings.

“Standardizing infrastructure will foster the development of Internet applications, including ‘IoT’ applications,” said Huawei’s chief strategy and marketing officer William Xu.

Huawei’s latest expansion comes at a time when consumer-oriented firms such as Xiaomi Inc and Apple Inc, anticipating an explosion of Internet-connected home appliances and consumer devices, have sought to build ecosystems around their popular handsets.

Last month, Tencent Holdings Ltd unveiled its own operating system for Internet-connected devices such as TVs and watches that is open to all developers, taking on domestic rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, JD.com Inc and Xiaomi Inc in the smart hardware space.

 

Apple Bolsters Mapping Technology With Coherent Acquisition

May 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple, which has been focusing efforts on beefing up its mapping technology since ditching Google Maps in 2012, has acquired Coherent Navigation, a startup offering a high-accuracy GPS navigation service.

Coherent’s navigation system is used in the Iridium satellite network, according to the LinkedIn profile of Paul Lego, who was CEO of the company before going to work for Apple. Coherent, which was founded in 2008 and is based in the San Francisco area, counts the U.S. government as a customer and had been aiming its technology at the mining, construction, energy and agriculture industries. Coherent had fewer than 10 employees, according to its LinkedIn page, which states that the company “has ceased operations.”

Coherent joins a string of businesses Apple has purchased in recent years to beef up its mapping service. Until 2012, Apple’s mapping technology was based on Google Maps. Other mapping and location companies Apple has acquired include PlaceBase, Locationary and BroadMap.

In a statement released to the media, Apple said it occasionally purchases small companies and doesn’t discuss its acquisition plans. The timing, price and terms of the deal, which was first reportedby MacRumors, weren’t disclosed.

However, several former Coherent executives became Apple employees in recent months. Coherent CEO Paul Lego began working at Apple in January while co-founders William Bencze and Brent Ledvina joined the company in April, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Lego is on the Maps Team and Bencze and Ledvina work on location technologies.

 

 

Will Tablets Stage A Comeback?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Analyst at IDC have consulted their tarot cards and are predicting that tablets will survive in the business area.

The overall tablet market in Western Europe remained challenged in the first quarter of 2015, declining 10.5 percent on year with shipments totaling 8.5 million units. The contraction, was the result of consumers realising that tablets were a fad and had no actually use at all.

But IDC sees a feature for the technology in the commercial space with volumes increasing 51.3per cent  from the same period in 2014. This is particularly in the area of 2-in-1s which are essentially a re-incarnation of netbooks with a touch screen.

In terms of product category, the share of 2-in-1s, albeit growing, remains in single-digit territory at 5.9 per cent. Nevertheless, the popularity of these devices continued to increase among consumers as well as enterprises, driving shipments up 44.4 per cent.

Chrystelle Labesque, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing said that the fact there were no major product launches, the beginning of 2015 failed to stimulate stronger consumer demand.

“Growth opportunity, however, clearly continues to come from enterprises and professional segments. Vendors have significantly expanded their product portfolio with devices optimized for business usage. Demand for 2-in-1 devices is gathering momentum driven by improved hardware offers as well as adjusted price points that are attracting private users as well as professionals,” she said,

Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing claimed that tablet usage for professional purposes was a reality.
“Deployment is no longer limited to a few early adopting countries or businesses. Adoption is far from being mainstream but we now see companies of all sizes choosing tablets and 2-in-1s to support their normal business activities.

The UK, France, Germany, and Northern Europe countries remain at the forefront of this trend as tablet adoption has become part of mobility and digital strategies in the private as much as public sector.

Windows 10 is likely to resolve most of the infrastructure legacy and integration problems that have so far hindered tablet and 2-in-1 adoption in some existing enterprises. The growth of the commercial segment is therefore expected to continue in the coming quarters, supporting overall market volumes in 2015 and beyond.”

Android devices account for the majority of the market thanks to the large number of vendors offering tablets running on this OS. The largest vendor, Samsung, under-performed the market in the consumer segment in the first quarter of 2015, but showed strong commercial results.

The rest of the market is represented by Windows devices, which posted strong double-digit growth for the third quarter in a row.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Apple Being Dumped?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

The dumping of Apple shares by top hedge funds is continuing to gather speed and now even the Tame Apple Press  is noticing.

Reuters took time out from its busy schedule of promoting Apple producst to report the surprise news that Top US hedge fund management firms, including Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors and Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management, continued to reduce or slash stakes altogether in Apple during the first quarter.

We say surprise news, but we had noticed it when it actually happened.

Coatue cut its holding of Apple by selling 1.2 million shares during the first three months of this year, but it remains the fund’s single biggest U.S. stock investment, with 7.7 million shares. Omega Advisors sold all of its 383,790 shares in Apple during the first quarter, while Rothschild Asset Management cut its stake by 107,953 to 938,693 shares, filings showed on Friday.

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital also cut its exposure in Apple during the first quarter, slashing its stake by 1.2 million shares to 7.4 million shares.

Reuters cannot understand why the hedge funds are dumping their shares. Apple shares rose 12.7 percent in the first quarter and have continued to increase, it moaned.

But the reality is that if hedge funds listened to what fanboys wanted they would not be making the huge amounts of dosh they do. Objectively Apple’s markets have peaked, sales of Tablets have slumped, its iPhone market is stable but has no real momentum and above all it has yet to come up with a new idea.

Courtesy-Fud

Occulus To Develop Virtual Reality Headset For Windows Only

May 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Mac and Linux fans you are out of luck. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, the headset that perhaps more than any other device has ignited public interest in virtual reality, will run almost exclusively on well-appointed Windows PCs, at least in the near future.

The process that most laptops use to output video doesn’t work with the Rift, and  Oculus has temporarily halted development for hardware running Apple and Linux. That’s the takeaway from the spec informationOculus published Friday detailing what type of computer would be compatible with its headset.

Graphics cards need to be equivalent to or more powerful than the AMD Radeon R9 290 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, while the processor needs to match or exceed an Intel i5-4590 chip, the virtual-reality headset maker said in a blog post. Systems need at least 8GB of RAM, two USB 3.0 ports and must be able to handle HDMI 1.3 video output. They also need to be running at least Windows 7 with Service Pack 1.

Having common specs will simplify the development process and allow programmers to create apps and games that offer a consistent experience, said Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock in a blog post. This is important, since hardware that isn’t up to par will deliver a negative experience, he said.

The specs will stay consistent, but in theory, the cost of components that support the technology will decrease over time, allowing a broader range of PCs to work with the Rift, Binstock said.

Laptop owners who hoped to use the Rift are out of luck, at least for now. Many laptops have external video outputs connected to an integrated GPU (graphic processing units), said Binstock said. However, in those scenarios the video output is handled by “hardware and software mechanisms that can’t support the Rift,” he added.

Reviewing a laptop’s spec would not reveal this information, and Oculus is working on a method “to identify the right systems,” Binstock said.

 

CoroNet Software Detects Fake Wi-Fi Networks

May 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

An Israeli company has designed a product that it claims is capable of determing if a mobile device connects to a fake cellular base station or Wi-Fi access point, potentially protecting critical data from falling into the hands of hackers.

Two large European carriers are testing the product, which is expected to come to market in early 2016, said Dror Liwer, chief security officer and co-founder of CoroNet, based in Be’er Sheva, Israel.

CoroNet’s software addresses one type of attack that was long thought to be too expensive to conduct. It involves creating a fake base station that has a stronger signal than a real one. Mobile devices are designed to connect to the station with the strongest signal.

Once a device has connected, it’s possible for a hacker to figure out a person’s approximate location and possibly steal data or listen to calls.

Such attacks were thought to be only possible by governments and intelligence agencies, but the software needed to create a base station,OpenBTS, is open source, and the cost of the needed hardware has dropped dramatically, Liwer said.

In the U.S., there has been increasing concern over police departments using such devices, sometimes referred to as IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) catchers, without court approval.

A technically skilled person could probably build a fake cellular tower for around $350, while a non-technical person could assemble one for around $1,500, Liwer said. For enterprises with sensitive data, the lower barrier to intercepting mobile communications poses yet another risk to data.

CoroNet’s software is a lightweight agent that runs on an Android or iOS device or on a laptop. It is programmed to detect behaviors and characteristics of a base station, as well as those of Wi-Fi networks.

It turns out that fake ones leave a lot of clues that they’re probably bogus. Liwer said there are many signs that CoroNet analyzes.

 

 

 

Apple Products Still Dominant For Enterprise Users

May 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple products are still the most popular mobile devices among enterprise users, but competitors are erasing the company’s lead, especially in the tablet market.

Those are the findings from enterprise mobility management vendor Good Technology, which issued a report that measured mobile device activations among its business customers. Good says its technology serves more than 6,200 companies.

In the first quarter of 2015, 72 percent of all smartphones activated globally ran iOS. Compared to 2014′s fourth quarter, that’s a 1 percent decrease. Android device activations, meanwhile, reached 26 percent, increasing 1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014. Windows Phone activations remained steady at 1 percent, the same as the previous six quarters, said the report.

Apple lost significant ground in the tablet market. In the first quarter of 2015, iPads had an 81 percent market share in activations, down from 92 percent in the year-ago quarter, according to the report. Tablets running Android and Windows increased their market share to 15 percent and 4 percent, respectively. According to Good, Microsoft Surface devices, which Microsoft manufactures, as well as Windows tablets sold by third-party makers, were both in demand.

The iPhone 6 was the most popular smartphone for businesses, comprising 26 percent of all smartphone activations in the first quarter of 2015. The Samsung 5 was the most activated Android smartphone. Together, 28 of the top 30 selling smartphones came from either Apple or Samsung, the report said.

The industries with the most iOS activations were education (83 percent), the public sector (80 percent) and financial services (76 percent), the report said. Android activation was prevalent in the tech (47 percent) and energy (44 percent) industries.

Windows device activations, meanwhile, stood out in the retail and entertainment and media markets. In retail, Windows tablets claimed a 5 percent market share while in the media and entertainment industry, 7 percent of device activations were for Windows Phone.

 

 

AT&T To Offer Its First Branded Tablet

May 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T is gearing up to offer its first branded tablet, even though global shipments of the devices are beginning to wane.

The Trek HD tablet will be available from the company as of Tuesday for as low as $49.99 with a two-year mobile contract. Buyers can also choose to pay a total sum of $200 over 20 months.

AT&T already offers a host of tablets from companies including Apple, Samsung, LG, Asus and others. The Trek HD would be its cheapest model outside of the refurbished LG G Pad 7.0, refurbished Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 and new Asus MemoPad 7 tablets, which are offered for free as part of its mobile contract plans.

The Trek HD, which has an 8-in. screen and Android 5.0, code-named Lollipop. The tablet offers eight hours of battery life.

AT&T considers it to be an entry-level tablet. The device runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, which also has an integrated LTE modem. Other features include 16GB of storage, a micro-SD slot, a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera.

 

 

 

Hallmark Launches First eCard App

May 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Hallmark, one of the world’s oldest and best-known greeting card companies, launched its first Hallmark eCard app for the iPhone and iPad last week.

The new app, which will eventually make it to Android devices, isn’t just about ecards. It’s part of a broader mission within the Hallmark eCard division to help users connect more deeply through mobile devices and social networks than they do today, said Dan Kessler, general manager of Hallmark eCards.

“We’re talking about depth versus breadth” of social communications, Kessler said an interview. “If you post ‘Happy Birthday’ on somebody’s Facebook wall, at the end of the day you’re really just a number, a little red number at the top of somebody’s Facebook page. What we’re trying to provide artistically and technologically is a way to communicate more deeply.”

Facebook, WhatsApp and other social networks often provide social interactions without much meaning, he said.

“We’re entering a golden age for the greetings business,” Kessler said. “There’s an ongoing backlash against soulless communicating, and people are going back to a time of where it matters to say ‘Happy Birthday.’ I could just write it on somebody’s wall or [instead] send a card or an ecard.”

Kessler’s description of a ‘golden age’ might be an exaggeration. Still, there’s little question that mobile devices are opening a big door for ecards, said Natasha Rankin, executive director of the Greeting Card Association in Washington, which has 150 members, including Hallmark and American Greetings as its largest members.

“As with every company, Hallmark is recognizing wisely that to stay relevant, expanding into mobile is essential,” Rankin said in an interview. “There’s definitely an expansion toward leveraging technology.”

Ecards are still relatively small compared to paper cards, with about $274 million in revenues for U.S. ecard companies, according to the analyst firm IBISWorld.

 

 

 

Microsoft Expans Sneak Peek Of Windows 10

May 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft rolled out a broader-based public preview of Office 2016 for Windows, expanding on the March sneak peek that was available only to subscribers of select business-grade Office 365 plans.

The new desktop suite includes Access, Excel, Lync, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher and Word. It can be downloaded and installed by any consumer, whether they currently have an Office edition or Office 365 subscription or not, and by business workers whose companies subscribe to an eligible Office 365 plan that has Pro Plus as part of the deal.

The latter range from Office 365 Enterprise’s E3 and E4 plans and Office 365 Education’s E3 and E4, to Office 365 Government’s E3 and E4. Some plans, such as Office 365 Business, are not eligible for this preview but will be opened to the beta later, Microsoft said.

“Since March, we’ve shared some glimpses of what’s to come in Office 2016,” Jared Spataro, the Office marketing group’s general manager, said in a blogpost. “Today, we’d like to give a more holistic view of what customers at home and work can expect in the next release.”

The March preview Spataro referred to was available only to a subset of Office 365 subscribers, and followed the release of a broader-based preview of Office 2016 for Mac weeks earlier. Because the latter was open to anyone two months before the Windows version’s audience was expanded today, it looks likely that Office 2016 for OS X will debut in final form before the Windows edition.

Microsoft said that Office 2016 for Windows would ship in the fall, the same timetable executives had shared earlier.

In a FAQ, Microsoft listed the requirements for running the preview, which include Windows 7 and later, and reminded potential testers that they had to uninstall Office 2013 before shifting to the preview. The two editions cannot be run side by side, as can the beta of Office 2016 on the Mac with the older Office 2011.

As is Microsoft’s practice for previews, support for Office 2016 remains self-serve, primarily at a peer-to-peer discussion forum.

Microsoft has not yet revealed the pricing of Office 2016 — on either Windows or OS X — nor its retail strategy for selling the suite outside Office 365 subscriptions.

 

 

 

GE Partners With Qualcomm, Apple In LED Lights Venture

May 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

General Electric Co announced partnerning up with Qualcomm Inc and Apple Inc as it uses digital technology and the growing appetite for data to reinvigorate its 130-year-old lighting business.

With chipmaker Qualcomm, GE is offering retailers a way to connect with shoppers’ smartphones through technology embedded in LED light bulbs, the company said. One use of the “indoor positioning” technology could be to transmit customized coupons to shoppers depending on their store location.

GE also said it will produce an LED bulb compatible with Apple’s yet-to-launch connected-device platform HomeKit. The bulb can change colors to align with the natural rhythms of the body.

The tie-ups underscore GE’s plans to dive into the emerging and increasingly competitive market for connected lighting that integrates with smart devices.

While GE sees an opportunity in selling energy-efficient LED bulbs, it will seek to use sensors and other technology embedded in LEDs to the advantage of consumers, businesses and cities, said Beth Comstock, who leads GE Business Innovations.

Services offered by GE stand to provide revenue that could offset pressure should the LED bulb business become more commoditized.

“There’s now a data stream from light that is going to create opportunity to be more productive,” said Comstock, in her first interview about the lighting strategy since September, when the unit became part of GE’s innovations division.

Some analysts have speculated the U.S. conglomerate will divest lighting after deciding last year to sell its appliances segment and moves by Siemens and Philips to hive off lighting units. GE Lighting totaled about $2.5 billion in revenue last year, 2.3 percent of the company’s overall industrial sales.

Comstock said lighting fits smoothly with GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt’s desire to marry software and analytics with GE’s various industrial equipment, which GE calls the “Industrial Internet.”

“LEDs plus software, it helps GE continue its Industrial Internet expansion and I think the lighting business has a big role in GE’s future because of that,” Comstock said.

 

 

 

Sumsung Finally Updates Tizen

May 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung has been updating its operating system which sounds like a sneeze – Tizen.

Samsung users of the Z1 mostly in India and Bangladesh have noticed a new update provided this week marks the beginning of a new chapter for Tizen.
The over-the-air (OTA) update was 16.1MB and normally would not have been a big deal but it seems to bring Samsung’s Tizen-powered smartphone to Z130HDDU0BOD8.

OK the update does not do much, but it does prove that keeping Tizen running fast and smooth is at the forefront of Samsung’s plans.

Samsung bought the update having rolled out the Tizen store globally, with 182 new countries added to the list of Tizen store-accessible locations (Netherlands, UK, US, France, Russia, Australia, Malaysia, Serbia, Croatia, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa, UAE, and others).

Global Z1 users can access the Tizen store and free apps, they cannot access paid apps at the moment.

The expectation is that Samsung prepping its Tizen store for a global rollout, and will start to roll out Tizen-powered devices worldwide in the months to come.

This brave new world might arrive with a Z2 or perhaps some more Tizen based smartphones.

Courtesy-Fud