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Microsoft Display Ads Business Going To AOL

July 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft Corp that it will hand over its display advertising business to AOL Inc and sell some map-generating technology to ride-hailing app company Uber, as it scales back on unprofitable operations.

The moves mean Microsoft will focus on its growing search advertising business based on its Bing search engine, and displaying maps on its Windows devices rather than generating the maps themselves.

Microsoft, which employs hundreds of people in its display ad business around the world, said those employees would be offered the chance to transfer to AOL and that it was not making any layoffs.

The world’s largest software company no longer breaks out results for its online operations, chiefly its MSN web portal and Bing, but they have lost more than $10 billion over the past five years. Chief Executive Satya Nadella has said Bing will turn a profit next fiscal year.

“Today’s news is evidence of Microsoft’s increased focus on our strengths: in this case, search and search advertising and building great content and consumer services,” saidMicrosoft in a statement.

Under a 10-year deal struck with AOL, now a unit of Verizon Communications Inc ,AOL will sell display ads on MSN, Outlook.com, Xbox, Skype and in some apps in major countries. As part of the deal, Bing will become the search engine behind web searches onAOL starting next year.

Microsoft also struck a multi-year extension to its existing deal with AppNexus, which provides the tech platform for buyers to purchase online ads.

Microsoft and Uber did not disclose financial terms of their deal, under which Uber will take over the part of Microsoft’s mapping unit that works on imagery acquisition and map data processing. Uber will offer jobs to the 100 or so Microsoft employees working in that area, according to a source familiar with the deal.

 

 

 

Yahoo Still Plagued By Sluggish Growth

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo’s share gains since November from a partnership with Mozilla may be a clue about whether the search company can gain new users through the just-announced contract to change Internet Explorer’s and Chrome’s default search through installations of Oracle’s Java.

Although the news of the Yahoo-Oracle partnership got the lion’s share of attention, CEO Marissa Mayer also used last week’s shareholder meeting to mention the Mozilla pact.

The five-year contract with Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, has boosted Yahoo’s share of the U.S. search market, but growth has stalled for the last three months, according to measurement company comScore.

On Wednesday, Mayer asserted that the Mozilla deal — negotiated last fall — was “profitable,” but didn’t provide any numbers to back that up. Neither Yahoo nor Mozilla has disclosed how much the former paid to become Firefox’s default search engine in the U.S.

By comScore’s measurement, Yahoo accounted for 12.7% of all U.S. searches in May, the same share it controlled in both March and April. Although that was 2.5 percentage points higher than in November 2014 — before Firefox began urging users to accept Yahoo as the default — and represented a six-month increase of 25%, May’s share was down from the January peak of 13%.

From all indications, Yahoo has gotten as much out of the Firefox deal as it will likely get. The flip-side is that Yahoo has hung onto most of what it grabbed from Google — Firefox’s previous default — even as Google has tried to get users to return.

For May, comScore pegged Google’s share at 64.1%, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the month prior. Microsoft’s share rose that one-tenth of a point to end May at 20.3%. Because Bing powers Yahoo’s search results, Microsoft’s technology accounted for 31.4% of all U.S. searches, still less than half Google’s 65.2%.

 

 

Samsung To Launch For Tizen OS Phones This Year

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Behemoth smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to roll out more handsets running on its own Tizen operating system later this year, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Samsung will launch several Tizen smartphones at varying prices, the person said without disclosing other specifications.

The person declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A spokeswoman for the South Korean firm declined to comment.

Samsung aims to build its own ecosystem through Tizen, which powers its smartwatches and premium television sets. But the firm needs more handsets running on the system to expand its user base and attract third-party developers, analysts say.

The company launched its first Tizen smartphone, the Z1, in India in January and has since been selling the device in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It has sold 1 million Z1s so far in India, the world’s third-biggest smartphone market.

The Z1 was the best-selling smartphone in Bangladesh in January-March, researcher Counterpoint said in a May report.

 

 

NASA, Microsoft Team Up On Holographic Glasses

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The International Space Station is going to feel a little bit more like Star Trek.

NASA announced that it is collaborating with Microsoft to enable astronauts onboard the orbiting space station to use the company’s virtual reality headset.

Two pairs of Microsoft’s HoloLens computerized eyeglasses are scheduled to be sent to the space station when SpaceX launches its seventh commercial resupply mission on June 28.

“HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station,” Sam Scimemi, NASA’s director of the space station program, said in a statement. “This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars.”

Microsoft unveiled HoloLens in January at a Windows 10 event where CEO Satya Nadella said the device will be the world’s first holographic computing platform. The device is designed to allow users to see high-definition holograms with surround sound. They’re also built to understand voice commands and hand gestures.

The project that NASA and Microsoft are teaming up on has been dubbed Sidekick and is focused on helping astronauts who need to perform various tasks off-Earth.

By using HoloLens, which look much like a pair of wrap-around sunglasses and are expected to ship on July 29 along with Windows 10, the astronauts should be able to perform some on-station tasks with less training and be more efficient in the work they’re doing.

NASA already has tested the devices on board NASA’s Weightless Wonder C9 jet to make sure they work as expected in gravity-free environment.

 

 

 

Yahoo Beefs Up Mobile Search

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Yahoo is beefing up its search service on mobile devices, following Google’s lead by highlighting content such as images, videos and reviews ahead of regular search results

The changes will apply to Yahoo search on the mobile web in the U.S., in browsers such as Safari and Chrome. Yahoo’s mobile app and desktop site already provide some additional content within results.

A search on the mobile web for Barack Obama, for instance, displays information about him from Wikipedia, such as his height and birth date, as well as links to news, images and YouTube videos. In one search Thursday, the videos included some curious choices, including “Barack Obama is Illuminati.”

Google already highlights a variety of content related to search queries, including news and related tweets, as well as links to other services like Maps. Microsoft’s Bing does something similar.

Because Yahoo is playing catch-up, the changes might not attract many new users, but they could help it retain people who use Yahoo for mobile searches today.

In the last quarter of 2014, mobile accounted for half of Yahoo’s search traffic in North America, up from 32 percent during the same period in 2013, according to research firm eMarketer.

 

 

HBO To Offer Episodes Of New Shows On Facebook

June 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Premium cable network HBO said it would make available the premiere episodes of two new comedy series on Facebook, underlining the growing popularity of the social networking site as a video platform.

The popularity of web videos have led to U.S. networks experiment with new platforms to attract new viewers. With about 1.44 billion monthly active users, Facebook has become a sough-after outlet for companies looking to market their products via online videos, the fastest growing category of Internet ads.

Last week, Amazon.com Inc released the pilot episode of its show “Catastrophe” for a limited time on the social media network, instead of its own Prime Instant Video streaming service.

HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc, said on Wednesday viewers would be able to access the premiere episodes of Dwayne Johnson-starrer “Ballers” and “The Brink” on Facebook for a limited period. The two new original series premiered this past Sunday.

Turner Broadcasting, another Time Warner network, said in April it granted exclusive video-on-demand rights to its Cartoon Network and Adult Swim programs to video streaming service Hulu.

On Tuesday Hulu said it would soon allow users to add CBS Corp’s TV network Showtime to their subscriptions.

 

 

Seagate Goes OneDrive

June 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Seagate has announced a tie-up with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service, offering users of Seagate Backup Plus drives 200GB of cloud storage for two years after redemption.

The offer is redeemable via the bundled Seagate Dashboard app, which also includes an interface to back up to OneDrive as well as Dropbox and Google Drive.

Seagate has also announced a new version of its 4TB Backup Plus drive, superseding the previous two-platter behemoth with a 20.5mm single-platter version.

This will be easier to carry around, and should be a bit more stable than the cross-volume edition currently in circulation.

“Seagate Technology continues to innovate at a fast pace based on the ever changing needs of its customers,” said Jingwen Li, research analyst for storage systems at IDC.

“With features such as OneDrive cloud storage, and the new 4TB capacity, the Seagate Backup Plus family addresses the growing need for data storage and backup with flexible data access and simple data management in the personal storage market.”

The updated 4TB version will arrive next month at $239, while the existing 500GB to 2TB options are already available starting at $79.99. Desktop versions stretch up to an 8TB version at $359.99.

After a frantic morning of registering the Seagate drives in the office to no avail, we confirmed with Seagate that, in fact, the offer is back-dated only to drives manufactured after January 2015, so loyal customers don’t need to get all excited.

Microsoft opened up its API for OneDrive in February to make it easier for manufacturers to integrate.

More recently the firm opened up the API for Microsoft Office so that other cloud storage providers can integrate their own offerings directly, blowing the productivity market wide open.

Courtesy-TheInq

Facebook Allowing Users Without An Account To Use Messenger

June 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc has begun allowing users without an account to sign up for its Messenger app with a phone number, the social media company said on Wednesday, in another move to broaden the app’s reach and make it a standalone platform.

Earlier this year, Facebook opened up Messenger to developers, and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to connect users directly with retailers, restaurants and other businesses.

With the latest update, users will be prompted by an option that says “Not on Facebook?” when they open the app. They can then sign up with their name, phone number and a photo.

The mobile messaging service, which has 600 million users, has added a number of new features in recent months, including games and video calling.

Facebook’s flagship social network has 1.4 billion users.

 

 

 

Ford Creates Global Team To Focus On Self-driving Cars

June 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co is finally ramping up its efforts to roll out self-driving cars, according to company executives.

The U.S. automaker will expand advanced safety technology, including automatic braking, across its global vehicle lineup over the next five years, they said. Such systems, the precursors of fully autonomous vehicles, enable hands-free operation of cars under certain conditions by automating such basic functions as steering, braking and throttle.

Ford has lagged behind competitors, notably General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors Inc, which have all announced plans to begin offering semi-automated driving systems over the next 18 months.

On Tuesday, Ford said it had created a global team to develop self-driving vehicles, with 29-year company veteran Randy Visintainer as director.

The move elevates a low-key research effort to a higher-profile advanced engineering project, and signals Chief Executive Mark Fields’ intent to accelerate Ford’s presence in the area.

“During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup (and) continue to increase automated driving capability,” Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief, said Tuesday in Palo Alto, California.

Nair said the move is “another step closer to production” of fully autonomous vehicles. He declined to say when such vehicles would reach the market, but other companies have targeted 2020.

Much of the engineering development work will take place at Ford’s recently opened research and innovation center in Palo Alto in northern California’s Silicon Valley, where the company expects to have 125 employees by year-end.

More than a dozen global automakers and suppliers have teamed up with tech startups and established companies in the area to develop advanced safety and self-driving systems.

Automatic braking and pedestrian detection, which are available on Ford’s Mondeo sedan in Europe, will debut next year on one of its U.S. vehicles and in most Ford products globally by 2019.

A key supplier of pedestrian-detection technology is Mobileye NV, which is working with Ford, GM, Tesla and other automakers to bring such advanced safety systems to market.

 

 

Google Launches Free Streaming Music Service

June 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Inc has unveiled a free version of its music streaming service, as it sought to upstage the debut of Apple Inc’s rival service next week.

Google Play Music has offered a $9.99 per month subscription service for two years but Tuesday’s launch is the first free version of the streaming service. It is available online and will be available on Android and iOS by the end of the week, Elias Roman, Google product manager, said.

Apple said earlier this month it would launch a music streaming service on June 30 for $9.99 per month along with a $14.99 per month family plan, with a free three-month trial.

As with other streaming services, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, Google Play Music curates playlists. Users can tailor playlists based on genre, artist or even activity, such as hosting a pool party or “having fun at work.”

“We believe this is a play that will expose a lot of people to the service,” Roman said in an interview.

Unlike Google’s subscription music service, the free service will carry ads, be unavailable offline and exclude certain songs.

Roman said millions of people look at Google Play Music each month but are not ready to pay for a subscription. By offering a free version of the service, he said, the search engine hopes more people will be compelled to pay for an upgraded version.

Ted Cohen, managing partner of TAG Strategic, a digital entertainment consultancy, said the timing of Google’s launch was strategic.

“It’s a smart time to do it with all the attention around Apple,” Cohen said. “If they did it absent the Apple service, it wouldn’t be the same story.”

Google declined to say how many subscribers it has but said they more than doubled in 2014 from the previous year. But rivals Pandora, Spotify and Beats Music had far more mobile downloads than Google Play Music in 2014, according to data from analytics firm App Annie

.

 

Oracle To Extends Cloud Offerings, Takes On Amazon

June 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Oracle Corp founder and Executive Chairman Larry Ellison announced that his database company is expanding its cloud-computing offerings, bringing Oracle into more direct competition with Amazon.com Inc.

“We’re prepared to compete with Amazon.com on price,” said Ellison in a webcast presentation, after announcing that Oracle would offer online storage and capability for customers to run their applications entirely in Oracle’s cloud.

The expansion is a major new step for Oracle, which is shifting its traditional database and customer relationship management businesses to the cloud.

“This is a really big deal,” said Ellison, who stepped aside in 2014 as chief executive of the company.

Amazon Web Services is the market leader in providing cloud computing capability to customers, followed by Microsoft Corp’s Azure service and International Business Machines Corp.

Oracle, which calls its cloud offering the Oracle Cloud Platform, will provide a cost-effective alternative to Amazon, said Ellison.

“Our new archive storage service goes head-to-head with Amazon Glacier and it’s one-tenth their price,” said Ellison. Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment.

Oracle’s cloud business is growing quickly, running at a rate of about $2.3 billion a year in revenue, based on last quarter’s figures.

By comparison, Amazon and Microsoft get about $6.3 billion each in cloud revenue per year.

 

 

Google Seeking Testers For Jump Virtual Reality Video Camera

June 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

If you’re an aspiring virtual reality content producer, Google is looking to give you a chance to test the Jump camera system it developed for recording video to be used in VR environments.

Individuals that are interested in trying their hand at capturing 360-degree video with Jump can fill out a form Google posted on Monday that asks basic biographical questions as well as details on how they would use the system.

Google didn’t say how many “select creators” it would chose, but those who are picked will be able to start using the 16-camera rig this summer.

Google seems especially interested in people with creative backgrounds. The jobs that people can select in the form’s occupation section include filmmaker, director, artist and production staff — but there is an “other” section that allows write-ins if none of the above apply.

There’s also a section where applicants can explain why they want to test Jump — and “awesome answers might put you at the top of the list,” Google said.

Google worked with GoPro to build Jump, which has 16 of the company’s Hero4 cameras attached to a circular frame. Jump’s price and availability weren’t provided when the rig was shown at Google’s I/O developer’s conference in May. However, given that a Hero4 camera retails for approximately US$500, initial Jump buyers will likely have deep pockets.

The first videos created with Jump will appear on YouTube this summer, Google said at I/O. People will be able to experience them via the Google Cardboard viewer.

 

 

The Linux Foundation Donates To Open Source Security

June 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Linux Foundations Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) has announced a $500,000 investment in three projects designed to improve the open source technology’s security and services.

The project will fund the ReproducibleBuilds, Fuzzing Project and False­Positive­Free Testing initiatives.

The $200,000 ReproducibleBuilds funding aims to help Debian developers Holger Levsen and Jérémy Bobbio’s attempts to improve the Debian and Fedora operating systems’ security by letting developers independently verify the authenticity of binary distributions.

The feature will help people working on the systems to avoid introducing flaws during the build process and reduce unneeded variations in distribution code.

The $60,000 Fuzzing Project investment will aid security researcher Hanno Böck’s efforts to coordinate and improve the fuzzing software testing technique that identifies security problems in software or computer systems.

It has been used successfully to find flaws in high-profile technologies including GnuPG and OpenSSL.

The final $192,000 False­Positive­Free Testing funding will go to Pascal Cuoq, chief scientist and co-­founder of TrustInSoft, in his attempts to build an open source TIS Interpreter that will reduce false positive TIS Analyser threat detections.

The overall funding will be overseen by Linux security expert Emily Ratliff, who expects the initiative to centralise the open source community’s security efforts.

“I’m excited to join the Linux Foundation and work on the CII because improving the security of critical open source infrastructure is a bigger problem than any one company can tackle on its own,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to working with CII members to more aggressively support underfunded projects and work to change the way the industry protects and fortifies open source software.”

The funding follows the discovery of several critical bugs in widely used open source technologies, one of the biggest of which was Heartbleed.

Heartbleed is a flaw in the OpenSSL implementation of the TLS protocol used by open source web servers such as Apache and Nginx, which host around 66 percent of all sites.

The funding is one of many initiatives launched by the Linux Foundation designed to stop future Heartbleed-level flaws. The Linux Foundation announced an open audit of openSSL’s security in March.

Courtesy-TheInq

SoftBank’s Personal Robot With Emotions Already Sold Out

June 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Any lingering doubt about whether people were excited to get their own personal robot has been removed.

SoftBank Robotics Corp., an international company based in Japan, put 1,000 personal robots, priced at $1,600, on sale last Saturday. Within one minute, they were sold out. Customers also must pay a $120 per month cloud connection fee and and monthly insurance of $80.

It was the first time that SoftBank had allowed people to put in orders for the robot, dubbed Pepper.

There has been high interest in the robot’s launch because its creators say Pepper not only can read and respond to human emotions but it will have its own emotions. According to SoftBank, the robot can autonomously generate emotions by processing information from its cameras and sensors.

SoftBank said more sales will be announced next month.

“With this emotion function, Pepper’s emotions are influenced by people’s facial expressions and words, as well as his surroundings, which in turn affects Pepper’s words and actions,” the company said in a statement. “For example, Pepper is at ease when he is around people he knows, happy when he is praised, and gets scared when the lights go down.”

The robot is designed to raise its voice or can sigh depending on its emotions at the moment. Pepper also will show its emotions – based on different colors and motions – on a chest display.

The robot also has an ecosystem of more than 200 apps.

Last week, SoftBank announced a deal to team deal to team with Foxconn Technology Group, an Apple manufacturer, and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to build and sell robots for the home and enterprise worldwide.

SoftBank will retain 60% of its company but for an investment of $118 million U.S. each, both Foxconn and Alibaba will receive 20 percent stakes in the robotics maker.

 

 

 

Apple Watch Expected To Dominate Smartwatch Market

June 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Watch is expected to capture nearly two-thirds of the smartwatch market for all of 2015, according to a new forecast from market research firm IDC.

IDC had said two weeks ago that Apple will ship to retailers about 21 million Apple Watches in 2015. That’s in the mid-range of other analyst forecasts of 15 million to 30 million for the new device.

Then last week IDC said that all smartwatches and a small number of other smart wearables will total 33.1 million shipments in 2015, putting Apple Watch at 63% of that total. Smart wearables are defined by IDC as devices capable of running third party apps, such as Apple Watch and Android Wear watches like the Moto 360.

The IDC prediction comes amidst some other striking analyst forecasts for the Apple Watch, but also amid questions about the overall value of smartwatches.

Financial analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald recently declared the Apple Watch will “prove to be the best selling product in Apple’s history (within the first 12 months.)” Various estimates say it took one day of pre-orders to sell 1 million Apple Watches, while it took Apple 74 days to sell 1 million iPhones and 28 days to sell 1 million iPads.

Research firm Slice Intelligence told Reuters that about 2.8 million Apple Watches were sold through mid-June, nearly two months after the device first went on sale. Apple hasn’t reported how many Apple Watches it has sold and is not expected to separately report that number in the future. Slice gets its insights by mining e-mail receipts. The entry-level Apple Watch costs $349 and is the most popular in sales, Slice said.

About 20% of Apple Watch customers are also buying a spare watch band, with the entry-level sports band selling for $49, Slice noted.