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Intel’s PC Group Hit The Hardest

May 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s restructuring axe seems to be falling on its PC client division and software areas with more than 12000 jobs to go.

Our well-placed sources are confident that the PC group will be the hardest hit. This is all because the PC market has stopped growing and Intel has to find its way to new markets to supplement loss of this business.

Latest research data from IDC indicates that in 2016 PC market will decline from 275.8 million units in 2015 to 260.8 million units in 2016 and the current projections for 2017 show the PC market slightly decreasing to 257.9 million units. At its peak PC market was at 364.0 million units, but this was in 2011 when things were rosier, kids were polite to their parents, and rock stars played decent music. These times are clearly behind us and Intel knows it.

The PC group downsize is being supervised by Dr. Venkata “Murthy” Renduchintala who is Intel’s number two. He is the bloke who was paid $25 million dollars to defect from Qualcomm. Murthy has already done a high level clean up at PC client group and is believed to be thinking about dusting the top of the corporate bookshelf next.

Another team which will be pummeled is Rene James’s old software outfit. People from software services and the security division formerly known as McAfee are expected to mostly go the same way as the artist formerly known as Prince.

Murthy’s also wants to get Intel to the right course with IoT market. Marketing for that area is expected to grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020. Intel wants the piece of that cake, and perhaps a few tea and biscuits to go with it and it will be interesting to look the fight in this promising land market.

There is still no killer app to help the IoT market which defines it. IoT right now is nothing and everything.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Google Unveils A.I. Challenger To Amazon’s Alexa

May 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Alphabet’s Google Inc  introduced us to its answer to Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant along with new messaging and virtual reality products at its annual I/O developer conference on Wednesday, doubling down on artificial intelligence and machine learning as the keys to its future.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai introduced Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant, along with the tabletop speaker appliance Google Home.

He also unveiled Allo, a new messaging service that will compete with Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger products and feature a chatbot powered by the Google Assistant. Allo, like WhatsApp, will also have end-to-end encryption when it is rolled out this summer.

Amazon’s Echo, a surprise hit that has other tech giants racing to match it, uses a virtual assistant called Alexa, a cloud-based system that controls the Echo speaker and responds to voice-controlled commands by users.

Like Alexa, Google Assistant can search the internet and adjust your schedule. However, Pichai said Google Assistant can use images and other information to provide more intuitive results.

“You can be in front of this structure in Chicago and ask Google who designed this and it will understand in this context that the name of that designer is Anish Kapoor,” said Pichai, pointing toward a photo of Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture.

For Google Home, the Google Assistant merges with Chromecast and smart home devices to control televisions, thermostats and other products. Google did not offer a specific release date or pricing for Google Home, saying only that it will be available later this year.

 

 

Is There A ‘For Sale’ Sign In Pandora Music’s Future?

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Corvex Management LP disclosed that it owns 9.9 percent of Pandora Media Inc and urged the internet music streaming company to consider being sold instead of pursuing a “costly and uncertain business plan.”

Corvex, a hedge fund run by Keith Meister, a protégé of billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, said it had met with the company’s management and had withdrawn a plan to replace some of its board members. However, it now believes Pandora should hire an investment bank to help the company explore its strategic options including a sale.

“We believe there is likely to be significant strategic interest in the company at a substantial premium to the company’s recent stock price,” Corvex said, adding that large internet companies, handset makers and media companies could be potential buyers.

Pandora’s shares are down more than 25 percent in 2016 and more than 45 percent year-over-year. Corvex owns about 22.7 million shares in the company, making the hedge fund Pandora’s largest shareholder.

Pandora said in response that it is in constant dialogue with shareholders and committed to achieving long-term value for them.

“Pandora has a profitable core business, combined with a strong balance sheet. We are confidently investing to fully capture the massive opportunity ahead of us,” the company said in a statement.

Oakland, California-based Pandora has faced tough competition from music-streaming rivals such as Spotify, Apple Inc , Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com and has failed to turn an annual profit as a public company.

Analysts have said Pandora, which had a market capitalization of $2.29 billion on Monday, could be an acquisition target for larger media or internet companies looking to beef up their online music offerings.

Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren, a former musician who spearheaded Pandora’s music algorithm technology, returned to the company March 28 to become CEO, squashing some investors’ hopes the company could be sold.

Westergren told Reuters on April 15, “If you want to sell a company, you don’t do that by spending half a billion on acquisitions and hiring a new CEO.”

 

 

Photos, Links To No Longer Count In Tweet’s 140 Character Limit

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc users will soon have more flexibility in posting tweets because the company plans to discontinue including photos and links as part of its 140-character limit, according to a Bloomberg report.

The social media platform has faced stagnant user growth. Months earlier, Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said the company would simplify its product in an effort to attract new users.

“We think there’s a lot of opportunity in our product to fix some broken windows that we know are inhibiting growth,” Dorsey said during a February earnings call.

Links currently take up to 23 characters of a tweet, limiting the amount of commentary that users can offer when sharing articles or other content.

Twitter has faced stagnant user growth, and shares have fallen more than 70 percent over the past year.

Twitter declined to comment on the report.

 

Nintendo Mulls Entering The Film Business

May 17, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Movies like “Mario Kart” and “The Legend of Zelda” may possibly be making it to the big screen soon.

Nintendo Co Ltd is holding discussions with several global production companies about expanding its video content business, including making movies, said Tatsumi Kimishima, president of the Japanese videogame maker.

The move is aimed at strengthening Nintendo’s character business and expanding the global gaming population, he told the Asahi newspaper in an interview published Monday.

“We’re talking with various partners. I think we’ll be able to decide something in the not-too-distant future,” Kimishima told the Japanese daily.

Kimishima declined to say when any projects would be announced but said it would not be as far off as five years. He would not say which of Nintendo’s popular characters were being considered for use.

A Nintendo spokesman told Reuters that Kimishima’s comments referred to “video content” but did not deny the possibility of making movies.

Nintendo is diversifying its operations to counter a shrinking console business. It has entered the fast-growing mobile game segment and reached a deal with NBCUniversal to develop theme-park attractions.

In fact, Nintendo already allows film companies to use its characters through licensing agreements, such as for the “Pokemon” franchise. There was also a Hollywood live-action movie based on “Super Mario” in 1993 but it was a box office and critical bomb.

But Kimishima told the Asahi that this time, Nintendo would like to do things itself as much as possible, rather than just licensing out its content, and said it was unlikely to be live-action.

In 2014, “Super Mario” creator Shigeru Miyamoto screened a 3D short-animation film based on Nintendo’s Pikmin characters at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and in an interview with Reuters left the door open to future film projects.

 

 

Amazon Launches Video Service Similar To YouTube

May 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc debuted a service on Tuesday that allows users to post videos and earn royalties from them, setting up the world’s biggest online retailer to compete directly with Alphabet Inc’s YouTube.

The service, called Amazon Video Direct, will make the uploaded videos available to rent or own, to view free with ads, or be packaged together and offered as an add-on subscription.

Amazon will pay content creators 50 percent of the revenue earned from rental receipts or sale of the videos, according to the company’s license agreement. For ad-supported videos, the creators will get half of the net ad receipts.

Amazon’s fast-growing Prime loyalty program already offers original TV programming and access to digital entertainment products such as Prime Music and Prime Video, as well as one-hour delivery of purchases, for an annual fee of $99.

YouTube offers a free, ad-supported service as well as a $10-per-month subscription option called YouTube Red.

Amazon, though, has a long way to go to catch up with YouTube, the go-to venue for video on the internet since 2005.

“I don’t see 50 million Prime users making a huge dent in the 2 billion YouTube user ecosystem,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said in an email to Reuters.

Ivan Feinseth, at Tigress Financial Partners, said Amazon had the technological wherewithal and financial resources to be a contender in any business, but was similarly cautious.

“I don’t know if it’s going to totally disrupt YouTube, or even some of the other services, but for those that are heavy Amazon users, it will have an appeal,” he told Reuters.

Users of Amazon’s service will be able to make their videos available in United States, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Japan.

The company has also signed up several partners for the service, including Conde Nast Entertainment, the Guardian, tech blog Mashable and toy maker Mattel Inc.

Amazon has been making a concentrated push into video.

Amazon recently launched a monthly subscription to its video program for $10.99 and plans to offer its video streaming service as a standalone service for a monthly fee of $8.99.

 

The U.S. International Trade Commission Investigating 7 Smartphone Makers

May 10, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The U.S. International Trade Commission has launched an investigation into seven smartphone makers on charges of patent infringement, which could lead to a ban on the sale of certain phones imported and sold by these vendors in the country.

The commission said it is looking into devices from a group of mainly Asian companies, including Lenovo and its Motorola subsidiary, Samsung Electronics, ZTE, Sony, LG Electronics, HTC and BlackBerry.

The complaint was filed against these companies by Creative Technology of Singapore and its U.S. subsidiary Creative Labs of Milpitas, California, on March 24.

Known for its Sound Blaster sound cards for PC audio, Creative has charged these companies with infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,928,433 entitled “Automatic Hierarchical Categorization of Music by Metadata,” which claims various methods for accessing different types of data, such as music or video files, on a portable media player.

Apple is said to be one of the licensees of the patent, and in 2006, Apple paid Creative $100 million for a nonexclusive license, according to Creative’s complaint. Creative had earlier that year asked the ITC to block the sale of Apple’s iPod devices for allegedly infringing the same patent.

Among the alleged infringing products named in the complaint are Samsung’s Galaxy S6 smartphone and other Samsung phones containing either the Google Play Music app (version 5.9.l854R.l904527), or the Samsung Music app (version 6.0.1508051449), which were installed on the phones prior to import.

The products at issue in the investigation are smartphones, “with the capability of playing stored media files selected by a user from a hierarchical display,” the ITC said in a statement Thursday.

If it finds infringement after investigation, the ITC can place a ban on the sale of products by these vendors, under a limited exclusion order requested by the complainant. The ITC cautioned that the launch of an investigation did not imply a decision on the merits of the case. It will set a target date for completion of the investigation within 45 days of its institution.

 

 

YouTube Working On An Online TV service

May 6, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Alphabet Inc’s YouTube is developing a paid subscription service called Unplugged that would offer customers a bundle of cable TV channels streamed over the Internet, Bloomberg reported.

The project is slated to debut as soon as 2017, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the plan.

YouTube has discussed these plans with most media companies, including Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal, Viacom Inc, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc and CBS Corp, but has yet to secure any rights, according to Bloomberg.

Comcast, Twenty-First Century Fox and Viacom could not immediately be reached for comment.

Alphabet and CBS declined to comment on the story.

YouTube already offers a $9.99-a-month subscription service called YouTube Red in the United States that allows viewers to watch videos without interruption from advertisements.

 

Intel’s Core i7 Kaby Lake Leaked

May 6, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

On Monday, a SiSoft benchmarking software leak revealed some performance numbers for Intel’s upcoming Core i7 7700K CPU, based on third-generation 14nm Kaby Lake architecture.

According to the results, the Core i7 7700K is a quad-core chip running at 3.60GHz (up to 4.2GHz Turbo) and features eight threads, 8MB of L3 cache, and includes integrated graphics with 24 execution units and the same 1,150MHz clockspeed as the Core i7 6700K (Intel HD Graphics 530, GT2, 24 units).

Running at the 4.20GHz Turbo clock frequency in Windows 10 x64 (and perhaps using an engineering sample), the benchmarks show 118.71 GOPS (giga-operations per second) across eight threads, 313.84 megapixels per-second in the multimedia test, 35.30 GOPS in the Microsoft .NET arithmetic benchmark, 5.59GB/s cryptographic performance, 23.2 nanoseconds DDR4 latency, and 37.41 megapixels per-second GPU performance.

This particular chip is the successor to Intel’s Skylake-based Core i7 6700K, the company’s top quad-core option for Socket LGA 1151, which launched in Q3 2015 at a 4.0GHz base frequency (4.2GHz Turbo), eight threads, 8MB L3 cache and a 91W TDP at $349 MSRP.

Intel’s Core i7 7700K is likely to become the company’s new LGA 1151 unlocked flagship between now and Q3 of next year when it unveils its 10-nanometer Cannonlake lineup (see: Intel’s updated Moore’s Law development model). Meanwhile, most brand vendors will likely start shipping Kaby Lake CPUs between July and October 2016.

Kaby Lake desktop CPUs like the Core i7 7700K will retain full compatibility with existing Intel Z170 motherboards, but the company will also offer a newer 200-series chipset built on LGA 1151 with a few more I/O-side improvements. The chipset is said to include up to 24 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes (up from 20), six native SATA III 6Gbps ports and ten USB 3.0 ports.

Courtesy-Fud

 

VeVo Hits 17 Billion While Calling Goof The Devil

May 3, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Vevo might be the new MTV for millennials, who might not know MTV that played music a few decades ago. Vevo CEO Erik Huggers had an interview at a Hunter Walk blog talking about YouTube, subscription base and the future.

Vevo CEO, ex Intel and ex BBC executive Erik Huggers mentioned that the Vevo will get a subscription based service but for the time being the company will stay with add supported content. Huggers first worked first on the iBBC player and later at Intel OnCue, then Verizon before getting the Vevo CEO.

The company has announced a new Apple TV, iOS and Android applications for people who like to watch the content on the TV console or their tablets and phones. Huggers mentioned that Vevo was getting 17 billion unique views per month. He said that if you are musician you will prefer Spotify for audio streaming and Vevo to YouTube, and here is why.

Peter Mensch, the manager of bands including Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse  told a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the music business:

“YouTube, they’re the devil. We don’t get paid at all.”

The BBC quoted him saying that YouTube was killing the record industry.

There is now way you can say it better than this, Mensch obviously knows what he is talking about. When we dug a bit deeper into the issue, bands have issues with complete albums being uploaded to YouTube. The big bands don’t get paid at all, at least according to Peter Mensch.

Vevo might turn its back to YouTube, despite its current business model where the company uses YouTube to distribute its videos. We see a big change coming. Artists are obviously not happy as people are ripping their stuff and not paying.

Online publishing was an area where big mistakes were made 20 + years ago. Online magazines usually rely on marketing, same as YouTube, but it seems that YouTube, Facebook and other big social based website make a lot of money and giving YouTubers and artists pennies.

Huggers believes Vevo can offer a tailored experience which is personalised for individuals who love music videos via various channels including Apple TV or mobile applications. Imagine if Vevo starts offering exclusive concert footage of your favourite bands, this would probably be worth of a few bucks a month, wouldn’t it?

Courtesy-Fud

 

Samsung Scores With Apple

May 2, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

After five years, it seems that Apple is back to loving Samsung’s NAND flash memory again.

According to ETNews, Samsung will be back inside the iPhone 7 after five years.  While many thought that the reason that Apple pulled Samsung out of the iPhone 6s was pettiness over the trademark battle over who invented the rounded rectangle, it turns out that Apple’s wanted electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding requirements or special coatings on the memory packages.

Apple was looking to individually shield more parts inside its devices so it could dispense with discrete metal shielding components, which could ultimately save on logic board space and allow more room. At the time Samsung’s use of ball grid array (BGA) packaging put it at a disadvantage to competing products that use land grid array (LGA) package contacts, which allow the package to sit flush with the printed circuit board.

Samsung’s existing sputter coat EMI shielding technologies were insufficient for Apple’s performance requirements, becuase of the shielding gaps created by the raised BGA contacts. However new, cheaper spray techniques for ultra-thin coats of metal shielding has changed all that.  Also Samsungs 3D V-NAND memories offering up to 256 Gb densities on the market currently.

Samsung is also set to start supplying Apple with OLED panels for future iPhones. All up it means that a big chunk of your iPhone is a Samsung. Still you get what you pay for. Anyway, with the acception of Foxconn, being an Apple supplier is a kiss of death in the long term. Maybe Apple thought it was better to score its revenge on Samsung by making it a partner.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Intel’s Updated USB Type-C Designed To Replace Headphone Jacks

April 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Intel this week unveiled plans to make an upgraded USB Type-C connector that would enable audio input and output, potentially replacing the long-standard 3.5 millimeter headphone jack used in today’s electronic devices.

Intel, which revealed its plans during a lecture at its Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in Shenzhen, China, also believes USB Type-C would simplify connections of multi-channel audio equipment to various devices.

Unlike the traditional 3.5mm analogue audio jack, a USB Type-C interface could charge a device in addition to transmitting sound and data. For example, it could transfer health and fitness data from a mobile device.

The USB Type-C connectors are reversible, so orientation isn’t an issue when plugging something into a device. The USB 3.1 Gen1 specification offers up to 5Gbps of data throughput; the Gen2 specification offers up to 10Gbps.

USB Type-C cables and connectors would replace the last analog receptacles on computers and mobile devices. Intel’s strategy was first reported by AnandTech.

In Intel’s presentation, it described USB C-Type connectors as being able to support both analog and digital musical content. But the upgraded connector would “promote” a changeover from analog to digital as users would see “improved digital headset features.”

A USB Type-C connector that supports audio feeds would also enable new form-factors, improve user experience and “provide a future path for USB technologies,” Intel said in the presentation.

 

 

 

Is Nintendo Making A Mistaking With The NX?

April 29, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo has confirmed that its next-gen console, the Nintendo NX, will launch in March 2017.

Causing many to screw up their Christmas lists, the company told shareholders during its earnings call on Tuesday: “For our dedicated video game platform business, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed ‘NX’ with a brand-new concept. NX will be launched in March 2017 globally.”

Probably also causing some to cancel a trip to Los Angeles, Nintendo said that the NX will not be demonstrated at the upcoming E3 video games conference in June, despite speculation that Sony plans to show off its so-called PlayStation 4.5 console.

Nintendo’s keynote at the games show will focus instead on the next Legend of Zelda game, which will launch simultaneously on the Wii U and Nintendo NX in 2017. Rumour has it that Smash Bros 4, Splatoon and Super Mario Maker are all set to receive an NX makeover too.

A launch is now less than a year away, but we still don’t know much about the Nintendo NX, which Nintendo confirmed this week is just a codename for the incoming console. However, rumour claims that it will arrive as a hybrid between a home console and a mobile games console to sit alongside the New Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo president and CEO Tatsumi Kimishima reiterated in December last year that the company is “not building the next version of Wii or Wii U” and that the device will be something “unique and different”.

News of the Nintendo NX’s launch date no doubt came as the firm looked to play down the fact that its profits fell 61 per cent year over year. Worked, didn’t it?

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Twitter Troubles Continue, Misses Revenue Estimates

April 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Twitter Inc  disappointed investors once again with first-quarter results that revealed stagnant revenue growth as the microblogging service struggles to grab new users amid efforts to improve its complicated interface with several new features.

Twitter’s user base grew modestly to 310 million monthly active users in the quarter ended March 31 from 305 million in the fourth quarter, above analysts’ expectations. But investors were let down by the revenue miss since outlining a turnaround plan.

“It’s obvious Twitter is having trouble,” said Arvind Bhatia, analyst with CRT Capital. “It’s not growing anywhere close to where people expected a while back.”

On a call with analysts, executives said advertisers, especially in Europe, held back spending ahead of major events, including the Olympics and the European Champions League. They also said users were spending more time watching and sharing video, but that advertisers’ budgets had not yet shifted from legacy advertising products such as promoted tweets.

Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said Twitter’s long-term goal was to have “millions of advertisers like our competitors.” Facebook Inc has more than 3 million advertisers.

Twitter has struggled with stagnant user growth as its complex interface makes it less attractive to new users.

As part of its turnaround plan, the company has emphasized its live offerings, including live commentary and video streaming through its Periscope app, to attract new users. But it faces fierce competition from Facebook Inc  which has recently ramped up its live video product, Facebook Live.

Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said that talent recruitment was a top priority for the year, especially on the engineering and product teams. Twitter lost several top executives earlier this year and has since added two new board members and a new chief marketing officer.

The company forecast revenue of $590 million to $610 million for the second quarter. Analysts on average were expecting $677.57 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

First-quarter revenue rose 36 percent from a year earlier to $594.5 million, but widely missed the average analyst estimate of $607.8 million.

 

 

T-Mobile Revenue Up, Continues Attracting New Customers

April 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile US Inc reported a better-than-expected 10.6 percent rise in quarterly revenue and raised its forecast for customer additions in 2016 as popular discounts aided the No.3 U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers attract more business.

T-Mobile has been offering cheaper leasing plans and free music and video streaming to lure customers away from larger rivals Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.

T-Mobile, controlled by Deutsche Telekom, said it added 2.2 million customers on a net basis in the first quarter ended March 31.

That easily topped the average analyst estimate of 1.72 million, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

The company said it expected to add 3.2 million to 3.6 million postpaid customers on a net basis in 2016, compared with its previous forecast of 2.4 million to 3.4 million.

T-Mobile’s 10.6 percent jump in quarterly revenue to $8.6 billion suggested its strategy to boost revenue was working. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $8.43 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In comparison, market leader Verizon’s operating revenue rose just 0.6 percent to $32.17 billion.

AT&T is scheduled to report results later on Tuesday.

T-Mobile reported net income of $479 million, or 56 cents per share, for the first quarter, compared with a loss of $63 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier.