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Will ARM On Windows Take Off This Year?

April 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has dropped a huge hint that we will see ARM based PCs in the shops in the fourth quarter.

Qualcomm said the first cellular laptop with Windows 10 and its ARM-based Snapdragon 835 will come by the end of the year.

Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm, said that the Snapdragon 835 will expanding into mobile PC designs running Windows 10, and it’s scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter.

Apparently Qualcomm and Microsoft are flat out getting ARM-based Windows 10 PCs to work. If they pull it off, you should get a thin-and-light device that could be used as a tablet or laptop.

Most of the design cues will come from smartphones and it is being dubbed a cellular PC by Qualcomm and Microsoft.

The device will always be connected to a cellular network with a high-speed modem, much like a smartphone. It will have other wireless connectivity features like Bluetooth 5 and possibly Wi-Gig, which are integrated into the Snapdragon 835 chipset.

The cellular PC could also have a long battery life, considering Snapdragon 835 was designed for smartphones. It will be 4K video capable with a powerful Adreno 540 GPU in the Snapdragon 835.

So far no major PC maker has yet announced an ARM-based Windows PC and we are not expecting to see a flood of the beasts. Suppliers will be cautious because ARM based Windows PCs have not worked well. Windows RT tablets were somewhat mocked.

Dell and HP have expressed interest in cellular PCs but need time to test them. HP wants to see if there’s enough demand for such a device before making a decision.

Microsoft has demonstrated Photoshop running on Snapdragon 835 but it is not clear how much other software will be out there.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Light Induced-RAM Be A Hit?

April 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

A Vancouver Island chemist has come up a light induced magnetoresistive random-access memory (LI-RAM), uses light instead of electricity to store and process data.

Natia Frank said that if the invention can be commercialised data will be easier to store.

He developed it as part of an international effort to reduce the power consumption and heat produced by modern computer processors.

Frank says the material in LI-RAM has the unusual quality of rapidly changing magnetic properties when hit with green light. According to a media release issued by UVic,

“This means that information can be processed and stored at the single molecule level, allowing for the development of universal memory — a technology that has, until now, been hypothetical.”

LI-RAM does not overheat because light does not produce much and runs much cooler, you can make designs that go much faster.

To make it even more revolutionary, the technology is also a lot greener.

The university estimates information communication technologies now use about 10 per cent of the world’s total electricity; LI-RAM would cut that energy consumption in half.

Frank is working with international electronics manufacturers to optimize and commercialize the technology, and says it could be available on the market in the next decade.

Courtesy-Fud

Bose Headphones Accused Of Spying On Users

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Bose Corp spies on its wireless headphone owners by using an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, and violates their privacy rights by selling such data without permission, a lawsuit charged.

The complaint filed by Kyle Zak in federal court in Chicago seeks an injunction to stop Bose’s “wholesale disregard” for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app from Apple Inc or Google Play stores to their smartphones.

“People should be uncomfortable with it,” Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, said in an interview. “People put headphones on their head because they think it’s private, but they can be giving out information they don’t want to share.”

Bose did not respond on Wednesday to requests for comment on the proposed class action case. The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company has said annual sales top $3.5 billion.

Zak’s lawsuit was the latest to accuse companies of trying to boost profit by quietly amassing customer information, and then selling it or using it to solicit more business.

After paying $350 for his QuietComfort 35 headphones, Zak said he took Bose’s suggestion to “get the most out of your headphones” by downloading its app, and providing his name, email address and headphone serial number in the process.

But the Illinois resident said he was surprised to learn that Bose sent “all available media information” from his smartphone to third parties such as Segment.io, whose website promises to collect customer data and “send it anywhere.”

Audio choices offer “an incredible amount of insight” into customers’ personalities, behavior, politics and religious views, citing as an example that a person who listens to Muslim prayers might “very likely” be a Muslim, the complaint said.

“Defendants’ conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights,” the complaint said.

Zak is seeking millions of dollars of damages for buyers of headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.

He also wants a halt to the data collection, which he said violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.

Dore, a partner at Edelson PC, said customers do not see the Bose app’s user service and privacy agreements when signing up, and the privacy agreement says nothing about data collection.

Edelson specializes in suing technology companies over alleged privacy violations.

Are Apple Desktop PCs Sells Increasing

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

A US news station, which normally chants Apple mantras with the rest of them claimed Apple was the focus of a mini firestorm which is about as scathing as the Tame Apple Press gets.

At the centre of the problem is Apple’s aging Mac Pro desktop line which was due for a refresh to bring the rubbish bin PC into the internet age. You would think after not improving a computer for a since 2013 you could add a few improvements.
Apple decided that the best thing to do was jack up the price – after all you get what you pay for right?

Even MacWorld thought that Apple was taking the Nintendo.

But there’s nothing new about what Apple did. “The two available Mac Pro configurations aren’t new, they’re just newly priced,” MacWorld pointed out.

The entry-level $2,999 Mac Pro model now has 6 Intel Xeon processor cores –versus 4 cores on the previous configuration – with dual AMD FirePro D500 graphics chips. And the $3,999 Mac Pro gets an 8-core Intel Xeon processor with dual AMD
FirePro D700 graphics silicon. Woop!

Apple marketing VP Phil Schiller reportedly said that the Mac Pro had heat (aka “thermal”) issues that “restricted” a user’s ability to upgrade and that Apple is “sorry to disappoint customers”.

Apparently Apple had a meeting where it was claimed that Apple said it is “completely rethinking” the Mac Pro model. And, as a result, the company acknowledged “that its flashy 2013 Mac Pro redesign was a mistake”.

It has apparently taken them four years at least to have worked that out, and even longer before Apple comes up with a solution. In fact the overhaul will not happen this year.

9to5Mac insists that Apple is trying to assuage any perceived user frustration, and this is the closest thing that Jobs Mob has got to an apology.

“The very fact that Apple felt compelled to hold [Monday’s] meeting in the first place is evidence of just how much it thinks it screwed-up here. The company that has always taken the view that ‘people don’t know what they want until you show it to them’ has clearly had to face the fact that, in the pro market at least, that’s not the case.”

Courtesy-Fud

Foxconn, Apple May Team Up For Toshiba’s Memory Business

April 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple could be mulling over joining forces with its China-based supplier Foxconn to acquire a major stake in Toshiba’s semiconductor unit.

In January, Toshiba officially announced it would seek to sell a portion of its flash memory business, including the SSD business of the Storage & Electronic Device Solutions Division, to a not-yet-named buyer.

The Nikkei Asian Review has reported that Toshiba may sell a 20% stake in the memory business for between $1.77 billion and $2.65 billion, “while retaining a majority stake and keeping the new company in group earnings.”

Toshiba’s solvency and fundraising ability are presently in doubt because of a $1.9 billion accounting scandal and a huge loss related to the purchase of a U.S. nuclear plant business. The company, which invented NAND flash in the early 1980s, had been considering spinning off its semiconductor operations and selling a partial stake to Western Digital (WD) and others, as it tries to cope with a massive impairment loss in its U.S. nuclear power unit.

Neither Toshiba nor WD have confirmed a potential sale, however.

Earlier this year, Toshiba took a writedown of $6.56 billion against its struggling U.S. nuclear equipment operations and it’s hoping to rebound from that loss with a sale.

“Its financial problems were a major drag on the growth of its memory business,” Sean Yang, research director of DRAMeXchange, said in an earlier interview.

Several potential buyers have been identified in reports, including Apple, according to Bloomberg’s news service. Apple is considering investing several billion in Toshiba’s memory business, according to the report.

“It seems like they are selling the Golden Goose and keeping the money pit,” said Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective-Analysis, referring to Toshiba.

If Apple were to purchase a stake in Toshiba’s semiconductor business, it would be a departure for a company that has historically outsourced most of its parts and labor, Handy said.

“Seagate and Western Digital used to believe that vertical integration was necessary in order to compete in the SSD market, although Seagate appears to have changed its tune,” Handy said. “A captive source of supply is a good thing to have during a shortage, but can be a millstone during an oversupply.”

Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a major supplier to Apple, reportedly said it was not participating in talks after reviewing a possible deal “with interest.”

According to one report, Western Digital (WD) is none too happy about Toshiba’s plans to sell its memory business. WD reportedly sent a letter to Toshiba telling it the proposed sale breaches a joint-venture agreement as part of the FlashAlliance to build flash fabrication plants in Japan, which are operated by Toshiba. WD’s SanDisk holds a 49.9% share in the FlashAlliance and a Toshiba has a 50.1% share.

Any potential sale by Toshiba might be on hold for now as it deals with WD’s concerns.

If Toshiba does sell a major stake in its memory business — or the entire unit — it would do little to effect the memory market as a whole from the perspective of supply and demand, according to Handy.

“From the perspective of national security there are significant concerns that Japan will lose control of an important technology, and that it will be owned by a company from a country that has a difficult history with Japan,” Handy said, referring to China and Foxxcon. “From WD’s perspective it’s really strange, since they have a very good working relationship and understanding with Toshiba, but not necessarily with the buyer.

“I like to think of it as your spouse coming in and saying: ‘Here’s somebody new for you to be married to!’ then walking off.”

Apple Receives Go-Ahead To Test Automous Vehicles In California

April 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple Inc has been granted a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California, increasing the likelihood that it is working on self-driving car technology in a crowded arena of companies hoping to offer those cars to the masses.

The permit allows it to conduct test drives in three vehicles with six drivers, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said on Friday. The vehicles are all 2015 Lexus RX450h, according to the DMV.

Although it has never openly acknowledged it is looking into building an electric car, Apple has recruited dozens of auto experts in recent years, and the permit pulls the curtain back a bit on any possible plan.

“This does confirm what’s long been rumored: that Apple is at least toying with the idea of getting into the autonomous game in some capacity,” said Chris Theodore, president of consultancy Theodore & Associates, and a former vice president at Ford Motor Co and Chrysler.

The permit does not mean Apple is definitely building a car. “This is not necessarily automobiles as initially rumored, but software or possibly hardware associated with autonomous technology,” Theodore said.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment directly on the filing, pointing back to a statement the company made in November when it wrote to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the subject of regulating self-driving vehicles.

“The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” Apple’s director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, wrote in that five-page letter.

Apple executives have been coy about their interest in cars. Chief Executive Tim Cook has suggested that Apple wants to move beyond integration of Apple smartphones into vehicle infotainment systems.

Apple joins a growing list of traditional carmakers, technology companies, and small start ups to test drive cars in California – all vying to be the first to have commercially viable vehicles on the roads.

Companies that have been issued permits also include Alphabet Inc’s Google unit, Ford Motor Co, Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Tesla Motors Inc and General Motors Co.

Many companies have said the first cars will launch in 2020 but some experts believe it may take much longer due to regulatory challenges.

Was Apple Really Selling Bricked Phones?

April 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Australian users have a bit of a DIY mentality – like New Zealanders they can’t see the point of paying a fortune for something that they can get a mate to fix cheaper.  Normally they would only take it in to Apple if the problem cannot be fixed with masking tape and number eight fencing wire.  Apple has a huge problem with this. It makes a fortune charging fees to have its spotty blue shirts repairing things that most uses could fix with a screwdriver and WD40.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Apple thought it would be a rather super, cool, and revolutionary thing to brick iPhones which had not been repaired by its Genii. The way users would have to return the phone to be fixed.

Australia’s consumer watchdog has sued Apple claiming that the bricking happened in a software update which had cracked screens fixed by third parties and then refused to unlock them on the grounds that customers had had the devices serviced by non-Apple repairers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission told the court that consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law exist independently of any manufacturer’s warranty and are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party.

Of course Apple is not saying anything. We have no doubt that its acolytes really believe that they are saving the customers’ souls from the dangers of cheap repairs. Everyone knows that all the phones don’t really belong to the users but are given in a sacred trust to the user for large amounts of cash on the assumption that they will never touch without the blessing of the church.

The regulator said that between September 2014 and February 2016, Apple customers who downloaded software updates then connected their devices to their computers received a message saying the device “could not be restored and the device had stopped functioning”.

Apple engaged in “misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to consumers” about its software updates and customers’ rights to have their products repaired by the company, the commission said.

As well as fines, the ACCC said it was seeking injunctions, declarations, compliance program orders, corrective notices, and costs.

Courtesy-Fud

With The Pitfalls Samsung Still Very Profitable

April 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Samsung is better than Apple at making money. Sure, it might not have margins as good as the fruity cargo cult, it might not make as much cash, but it appears to be unstoppable.

How many companies can have the majority of the press against them, produce a phone which caught fire, has its Vice Chairman and several executives locked up for corruption, and still make a pile of dosh which eclipses the sun?

Samsung Electronics is reporting record earnings thanks mostly to its chip division and the quarters ahead could be even better if its newest smartphone, Galaxy S8, is a success.

Samsung is seeing a boom in memory chips and a sudden spike in demand from smartphones and servers.

Shares of Samsung, Asia’s biggest company by market capitalization and the world’s largest memory chip maker is near record highs after gaining nearly 17 percent so far this year, on top of the 43 percent surge in 2016.

Now Wall Street is expecting Samsung’s January-March operating profit to have risen 41 percent from a year earlier to $8.44 billion. This is Samsungs’ highest profit since the third quarter of 2013.

The Galaxy S8 is out from April 21 so the most analysts are predicting even greater profits in the second quarter.

Analysts expect tight supply conditions for memory chips to continue this year, particularly in NAND flash chips used for long-term data storage, keeping Samsung’s margins padded. That leaves the mobile division as the key earnings variable, they said.

It is starting to look like the Note 7 fiasco only delayed Samsung’s march to dominance and the S8 will help Samsung regain its lead over Apple.

If you think all this is par for the course, imagine that if the press hated Apple, Tim Cook was locked up for cutting an illegal deal over a golf course with President Trump and the iPhone 7 caught fire,  It is unlikely that Apple would recover, let alone make record profits. 

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung’s Bixby Digital Voice Assistant Being Delayed

April 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung’s highly promoted Bixby voice assistant will not be available for the Galaxy S8 smartphone on April 21, as previously announced.

The company released a statement that said Bixby will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 “later in the spring.” Samsung didn’t explain the delay.

The Bixby will join a pack of artificial intelligence assistants that includes Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant that are changing the way people interact with their devices.

Some U.S.-based reviewers and analysts had noticed that the Bixby feature wasn’t fully demonstrated when the S8 was announced March 29.

Also, some news reports said Bixby encountered voice recognition problems in English compared to its performance with the Korean language.

The shipment delay applies only to the voice feature in Bixby, while Samsung said other key features of Bixby, like Vision, Home and Reminder will be available in the global launch of Galaxy S8 on April 21.

Samsung went out of its way to promote Bixby well in advance of the Galaxy S8 launch. It was announced in a blog on March 20, nine days before the phone’s launch, by Injong Rhee, executive vice president of software and services for Samsung Electronics.

Rhee pointed out a physical button on the side of the phone that would activate Bixby, differentiating it from Alexa or  Siri and others that are activated by a spoken trigger word. Bixby would offer a “deeper experience” than some others, including support for touch commands. Also, Bixby is designed to know the current state of an app to allow users to carry out work in progress without further explanation. Rhee said the Bixby interface is “much more natural and easier to use.”

Bixby was already two years behind those digital assistants as well as Google Assistant, analysts said. “Bixby is going to be playing catch up,” said Gartner analyst Werner Goertz in March.

One analyst forgave the Bixby delay. “I commend Samsung for trying to get it right rather than just launching and hoping for the best,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.

“It’s never a good idea to put out less than great software on a consumer device. So in this case, if Samsung can delay a few weeks and get a better product, it makes sense to do so. That said, voice recognition generally is not all that easy to do. It’s not just the recognition software itself, but the whole voice chain that has to be tailored. That includes everything from the microphone through the audio channel on the phone to the recognition algorithms and the user interface. If they tested and it wasn’t at their expected level of accuracy, then it’s better to get it right than to get it out fast.”

Can Apple Succeed Without Imagination?

April 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Imagination Technologies, the leading graphics processing unit supplier for Apple, issued a press statement on Monday saying that the fruit-themed gadget maker will no longer use the group’s intellectual property in new products manufactured 15 months to two years from now.

The development is a major hurdle for Imagination, the British chip designer that has provided PowerVR graphics processors for iPhones, iPads, iPods, Apple TVs and Apple Watches since 2007. The company’s partnership with Apple accounted for roughly half of its annual revenues, in addition to the royalties it had been receiving on account of iPhone and iPad devices. Those royalties, which totaled £60.7 million ($75.8 million) for the year ending April 2016 and £65 million ($81.2 million) for 2017, are set to expire roughly 15 months to two years from now, before Q2 2019.

Apple currently holds more than an eight percent share in Imagination, and become a key investor in mid-2009 after raising its stake to 10 percent. At one point last year, Apple was in the process of holding “advanced acquisition talks” but ultimately decided against a full takeover, according to the Financial Times. Following the talks, Chinese state-owned company Tsinghua then took a three percent stake in the British company.

Last February, Imagination also announced that longtime CEO Hossein Yassaie would be stepping down as part of a major business restructuring operation. This was followed by across-the-board operating cuts by £15 million over the next year into April 2017 – including £2 million from its PowerVR product series.

In its press release on Monday, Imagination states that Apple “has not presented any evidence” to claim that it will no longer require [Imagination technologies], “without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information. This evidence has been requested by Imagination but Apple has declined to provide it”.

Imagination: Alternative GPU designs will be impossible without patent infringement

In a serious call against disparagement, the British-based R&D company believes that Apple will not be able to produce any substantive GPU alternatives on its own without violating its patents, intellectual property and confidential information. But with a determination to take its mobile graphics in-house, Apple still confidently insists it has an A-series alternative underway for the next generation of product announcements scheduled for 2018.

The original iPhone featured a low-power ARM RISC CPU with assistance from a PowerVR MBX directly descended from Imagination’s Dreamcast GPU. Nine years later, the iPhone 7 came with a custom six-core PowerVR 7X6 GT7600 Plus with OpenCL 2 support and accelerated computer vision technologies.

Apple has already taken several key employees

Imagination’s rebuttals have not appeared without legitimate grievance, however. Back in October, it was revealed that at least 25 of its employees and management personnel jumped ship to Apple over the past two years. Names include notable ex-COO John Metcalfe, Senior Design Manager Dave Roberts, VP of Hardware Engineering Johnathan Redshaw, and Senior Software Engineering Manager Benjamin Bowman – who is now a GPU architect for the Cupertino company. While the list of grievances prior to today’s breakup is not against the law, it is considered a serious exodus of raw talent that is evidently justified in Imagination’s disconcerted press statement.

Following the statement, Imagination shares plunged by nearly 70 percent, leading to its insistence that it has reason to go to court with the Cupertino company if it finds enough evidence to present a case. This decade, several GPU vendors have taken SoC vendors to court, including Nvidia with Samsung and Qualcomm, and an ongoing AMD case against LG, MediaTek, Sigma and Vizio.

Apple, however, has chosen to remain silent when asked for evidence that its in-house technologies would not violate existing patents. The question is whether Apple will choose to license any needed patents – from Imagination or others – or if it is not talking because GPU development is a lot more competitive now that programs aren’t tied to a specific architecture.

As AnandTech notes, there hasn’t been a new major GPU vendor in nearly a decade aside from Qualcomm’s acquisition of ATI’s Imageon brand (now Adreno) in 2009. It will be interesting to see how this development unfolds and the precautions Apple will need to take in hiding technical details of any upcoming graphics developments. Imagination, on the other hand, now has to work much harder in making up for lost revenues and may have some related announcements over the next few weeks.

Courtesy-Fud

Foxconn Said To Be Preparing To Offer $27B For Toshiba’s Chip Business

April 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer made famous as the maker of iPhones and iPads for Apple, is rumored to be preparing a $27 billion bid to acquire Toshiba’s computer chip assets.

Toshiba is most commonly recognized for making NAND flash and memory chips, with all of its factories in Japan. However, chip manufacturing in Japan has slipped as rivals in South Korea and China gain in strength.

The news of the potential offer was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Foxconn is the latest of a number of companies, including SK Hynix and equity investor Silver Lake, interested in acquiring Toshiba’s chip assets.

An acquisition by Foxconn would give Toshiba the scale it needs to advance in the manufacturing of memory and storage. Toshiba is lagging behind Samsung, especially in storage, and hasn’t advanced its manufacturing processes as quickly.

Toshiba storage products can be purchased directly, but it also supplies and makes flash products for other hardware companies. The divestiture of its manufacturing assets could have an impact on SanDisk, which is a part of Toshiba.

In February, Toshiba said it was looking to sell its memory business. The need to sell the assets amplified after its Westinghouse Electric nuclear power unit filed for bankruptcy in late March. Overall, Toshiba is expecting a decline in revenue and profits this financial year.

Foxconn, on the other hand, is gathering up assets around the world, with factories in North America, Asia, Europe, and South America. Foxconn last year targeted another major Japanese company — Sharp — and it acquired a majority stake.

Japan still remains a technology powerhouse despite the dwindling of manufacturing assets. But last year, Japanese company SoftBank acquired ARM Holdings, which provides chip designs that go into many mobile devices.

PC, Mobile Device Prices Expected To Rise This Year

April 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

If you plan to purchase a new PC or mobile device this year, you’ll likely spend more cash than in previous years. Prices are trending upwards, and expensive devices are in demand.

On average, the price of PCs and phones will go up by 2 percent this year, Gartner said in a research report released on Thursday. The calculations are based on U.S. dollars and average market sizes.

Breaking down those numbers, PC prices are expected to go up 1.4 percent this year, while mobile phone prices will go up 4.3 percent.

The price increases are largely due to the rising prices of components. Also, more users are upgrading to more expensive and feature-rich mobile handsets.

The days of users preferring to buy the cheapest products are gone, said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

Buyers are less price sensitive and are instead buying devices “that suit their lifestyles,” Atwal said.

Gartner’s forecast is in line with a projection in February by Lenovo’s chief operating officer, Gianfranco Lanci, who said PC prices would go up this year due to a shortage of DRAM, SSDs, batteries and LCDs.

The cost of components like NAND flash have doubled since June, Gartner said.

The overall cost of purchasing components is going up. Moreover, millennials are willing to spend more on devices.

This year is expected to be big for smartphones. Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 smartphones, and Apple is expected to launch its 10th anniversary iPhone later this year. Premium-priced smartphones will go up by roughly 4 percent, Gartner said.

Android phones will suffer the most from the price increases. In emerging markets like China and India, Android phones are popular because of their affordability, but prices are also going up in those countries.

High-end Android smartphones offer more differentiation on features than generic low-end phones, giving a reason for buyers to spend a bit more to upgrade.

A good barometer for mobile phone pricing is the Chinese market. Global pricing of Chinese-branded smartphones will go up to RMB 2,000 (US$290) by the end of this year from RMB 1,700 (US$246) at the end of last year, analyst firm Trendforce said last month. That’s partly because NAND flash supply is tightening.

According to Gartner, smartphone shipments worldwide this year will total 1.9 billion units, up from 1.89 billion last year.

The PC market has slowed and is being driven by high-priced gaming PCs and 2-in-1s. Buyers of those PCs are willing to spend more money on their computers.

That trend is changing the types of computers shipped by PC makers, which are focused on selling higher-priced products that can deliver larger profit margins.

Low-end laptops and desktops will remain available, but PC makers like Dell and HP are slimming down those offerings. Low-cost laptops like Chromebooks typically have aging components, little storage, low-resolution webcams and limited memory.

Gartner estimates 426 million computing devices, including PCs and tablets, will ship this year, dropping from 439 million last year. PC shipments will total 265 million this year, dropping from 270 million last year. Shipment of tablet devices like the iPad will total 161 million, dropping from 169 million last year, the analyst group predicted.

Amazon To Refund Parents Over Kid’s In-app Purchases

April 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Parents with children who racked up bills, sometimes huge, through in-app purchases will receive some or all of that money back. Amazon could have to refund more than $70 million to affected consumers, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC and Amazon have agreed to end their legal battle over whether the U.S. company unlawfully charged its customers for the purchases.

A year ago, a court found that Amazon had.

The company’s app store can be downloaded to Android devices and it runs on certain Kindle tablets. However, parents had complained that Amazon’s system had made it all too easy for their children to buy virtual items in the apps, without their consent.

Both the FTC and Amazon had filed appeals related to the case, but on Tuesday, they dropped them. That opens the way for the refund process to begin shortly, according to the FTC.

More than $70 million in in-app charges made from 2011 to 2016 may be eligible for refunds, the U.S. regulator said.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, so it’s unclear how the company will reimburse its customers. Amazon had taken a 30 percent cut from the in-app purchases, according to the FTC.

In 2014, Apple and Google settled similar cases over in-app purchases with the FTC, which resulted in a combined $51 million in refunds to customers.

In Apple’s case, the company emailed and sent postcards to every customer who might have been affected. Apple eventually received 37,000 claims, and made refunds to them all.

Apple To Drop Imagination Technologies, Takes GPU Design In-house

April 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple will soon discontinue using intellectual property from Imagination Technologies Group for graphics processing units for its iPhone and other devices, as it is developing a separate, independent graphics design for its products, the chip technology company said Monday.

But the U.K. company is not giving up without a fight as it doubts Apple can develop a brand new GPU without infringing Imagination’s intellectual property.

Apple held an 8.5 percent share of the issued share capital of Imagination as of April 30 last year. The iPhone maker said in a filing in March last year that it had discussions with Imagination about a possible acquisition, though it did not have plans to make an offer at that time. Apple is Imagination’s largest customer and it described the iPhone maker as “essential to the business of the Group” in its annual report for 2016.

The iPhone 7 currently has graphics based on the Rogue architecture from Imagination, which was announced in 2010. Since then Imagination has announced Furian, a new PowerVR graphics architecture as an upgrade.

Imagination said Monday it had supplied under a licensing agreement the technology and the intellectual property that is the basis of GPUs in Apple’s iPhones, iPads, iPods, watches and TVs. The firm said it had been informed by Apple that it will no longer use Imagination’s intellectual property in new products in 15 months to two years time.

Imagination has raised doubts whether Apple can develop a brand new GPU architecture from basics without infringing the U.K. company’s intellectual property rights.

“Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information,” Imagination said. The company said it had requested evidence but Apple had declined to provide it.

Apple declined to comment on Imagination’s statement.

The iPhone vendor’s notification has led Imagination to discuss with Apple alternative commercial arrangements for the current license and royalty agreement, Imagination said.

Shares of the chip technology company fell by over 60 percent in early trading in London.

Google Calendar Makes Its Debut On the iPad

March 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google’s Calendar app is finally making a long-awaited arrival on a new device: Apple’s iPad. You read that right: Until Wednesday, the tech titan hadn’t optimized its marquee calendar application to run on Apple’s tablets.

The app provides users with a view of their calendars that are shared with them through Google’s service. In addition, they get a handful of features Apple’s native calendar app doesn’t have, like the ability to more easily find time and space for a meeting with other people inside their organizations.

Making iPad users wait for a native Calendar app is hardly a surprise coming from Google, considering that it’s the company behind Android, and frequently ships new features first to apps for devices running its mobile operating system.

That’s not to say Google Calendar was completely unavailable for iPad users for the past several years. The iPhone app for Calendar could run on Apple’s tablets, but it wasn’t optimized for use on those devices.

The move is a part of Google’s continuing push to make its G Suite productivity services useful to as broad a set of people as possible. Google is working aggressively to get customers to switch to its productivity suite from their current systems, which in many cases, revolve around Microsoft Office. Microsoft offers its own calendar app for the iPad in the form of Outlook for iOS, which has supported Apple’s tablet since its launch in 2015.

Google has more iOS-specific features planned, including a Today widget that will let users see their upcoming events in an iPad’s Notification Center, according to a blog post by Calendar product manager Sharon Stovezky.

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