Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter spoke at the Game Monetization USA Summit in San Francisco, and once again made some bold predictions about the future of the game industry. He pulled no punches as he evaluated the current state of affairs in the business, and he had some hard advice for a number of companies.
Pachter noted that more people are playing games on more devices than ever before, but he doesn’t think the console market will be growing. “I don’t think you’re ever going to see 500 million consoles out there,” Pachter said. For lifetime sales, Pachter expects the Wii U will ultimately sell 30 million “or fewer” units, the PS4 will sell 100 to 120 million units, and the Xbox One will sell 90 to 110 million units.
“The reason Sony beats Microsoft is solely the price,” Pachter noted. “Microsoft loses the next generation unless they cut price. If Microsoft drops its price to $399, I expect the sales to be equal to the PS4.”
The lifetime sales Pachter predicts compare to current sales of the PS3 and the Xbox 360 at about 80 million units apiece, but it’s far below some estimates of hundreds of millions of next-gen consoles. “I don’t know where they get those numbers,” Pachter said. He feels that at several hundred dollars, with games costing $60 or more, consoles are just too pricey to ever sell hundreds of millions of units.
The Wii U’s performance so far Pachter characterized as “underwhelming,” but noted it’s possible “but unlikely” that exciting new titles will reinvigorate growth. He believes that Nintendo is missing a huge opportunity to bring new gamers into their brands: Nintendo should put old GameBoy Advance content on phones and tablets for free, and charge $3 to $5 for more recent titles from the DS. Pachter feels this would generate enormous revenue for Nintendo and bring millions of new fans into their brands, and give them a strong way to sell newer titles on the 3DS and Wii U that use those brands.
“I don’t know why Iwata is still employed,” Pachter said, given that he refuses to take advantage of this opportunity while the handheld market continues to shrink and the Wii U has failed so far to catch on in a big way.
Pachter is more positive on the PlayStation 4 – “Sony thrives, Nintendo doesn’t” – saying it’s impressive as a game playing device. “The graphics are phenomenal, and the huge RAM makes future innovation likely,” Pachter pointed out. He noted that the multimedia features remain unclear, but the CPU power of the PS4 allows the potential for huge improvement in the future. As for the Xbox One, Pachter noted it’s impressive as a multimedia device, and the added features of Kinect and Skype give it additional value. “We’re sticking with our prediction of a built-in TV tuner” for the Xbox One, Pachter said, which would simplify the ability of the Xbox One to control your television viewing.
“The next generation of consoles is probably the last,” Pachter said. “We expect frequent model updates instead of new consoles.” Moreover, there’s going to be renewed interest in the PC, he predicted. “I think the PC is going to make a comeback, the PC will be the hub of all this stuff,” he stated. He feels Smart TVs are a dumb idea, noting that you don’t have a smart monitor connected to your computer. He envisions there will be a number of screens around the home, perhaps controlled by a tablet, being driven by a supercomputer in your pocket that we call a smartphone.
The next generation desktop and mobile Atom is Cherry Trail in 14nm and the first parts are expected in late 2014. Intel has been working hard to accelerate the introduction of Atom parts based on the new architecture and in 2014 it will finally ship Broadwell notebook chips and Cherry Trail Atoms in the same year, both using the new 14nm node.
The Cherry View is a notebook SoC version of a chip based on new Airmont core, while Cherry Trail is the part meant for tablets. The phone version is based on Moorefield architecture and they are all expected to show up in late 2014, most likely very late Q3 2014.
The TDP should go down compared to Bay Trail platform as the new 14nm needs less voltage to hit the same speed and should produce less heat at the same time. With the 14nm shrink Intel’s new Atoms will be able to get more fanless design wins.
The significance of 14nm products for mobile phones and tablets will be in the fact that ARM alliance lead by Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek and a few other players will be struggling to get 20nm designs out of the door in 2014, and Intel can already get to a 14nm.
However, Intel still has to integrate LTE inside its mobile phone SoCs, which has traditionally been proven to be a tough task. At this time only Qualcomm has on-die LTE and its LTE enabled SoCs are under the bonnet of almost every significant ARM based high-end phone out there.
Only time will tell how successful Intel’s mobile push will be. Even with these 14nm parts, once they show up roughly a year from now, it might be really tough for Intel to get some high-volume design wins in the phone space, despite the transition to 14nm.
The tablets run Android 4.2, code-named Jellybean, and are listed at the company’stablet page. The list includes the $199.99 Slate 7 Extreme with a 7-inch screen, the $329.99 Slate 8 Pro with an 8-inch screen, and the $299.99 Slate 10 HD with a 10.1-inch screen.
The Slate 8 Pro offers 11.5 hours of battery and has the hardware to provide 4K video and gaming. The tablet has a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, which has a graphics processor capable of handling 4K video. The screen can display images at a 1600 x 1200 pixel resolution. An HDMI port allows the tablet to be connected to TVs for 4K video. Other features include an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 720p front camera, 16GB of internal storage and a 1GB of RAM.
The Slate 10 HD offers 10 hours of battery and is meant for Web surfing and basic multimedia use. The screen displays images at a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. It has a dual-core Marvell PXA986 ARM-based chip, 16GB of storage, a high-definition front camera and a five-megapixel back camera. Other specifications include 1GB of DRAM and a micro-SD slot.
The Slate 7 Extreme is listed at the site, but is out of stock. The tablet offers 10.5 hours of battery life, and as the product name suggests, it is meant for entertainment and high-definition video. It has a Tegra 4 chip, making it capable of processing 4K video. Other features include a 1280 x 800-pixel screen, 16GB of storage, an HDMI slot, a five-megapixel rear camera and 0.3-megapixel front camera.
The entry-level $149.99 Slate 7 Plus tablet, which is an upgrade from an earlier Slate 7 that was discontinued earlier this year, is also available. The Slate 7 Plus has 8GB of storage and an older Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Other features include a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 0.3-megapixel front camera. The tablet offers six to seven hours of battery life.
All of the tablets have Wi-Fi and micro SD slots.
Earlier this year Intel caused quite a stir when CEO Brian Krzanich announced the company’s ultimate goal is to make $99 tablets a reality. So far Intel has failed to gain much market share in the tablet space, dominated by cheaper ARM application processors and Android.
However, Bay Trail-T has a good chance to turn things around. The new chip can easily take on high-end ARM parts and in most cases, wipe the floor with them. Since it’s an x86 part, it can also be used in Windows 8.1 tablets. However, the price was a problem. Intel’s official Bay Trail-T prices range from $32 to $37, making the chips significantly more expensive than mid-range and low-end ARM parts. However, many vendors are said to be getting discounts and paying a bit less, in the $20 to $30 range.
Things may be about to change. According to Digitimes, Intel is planning to spend up to $1 billion on tablet chip subsides. The cash should sweeten the deal for vendors willing to give Intel SoCs a go. Since we are talking about relatively low average selling prices, Intel could use the cash to practically halve the prices and offer Bay Trail-T parts for as little as $10. This would make them competitive overnight, as high-end ARM SoCs like the Exynos 5 and Tegra 4 are estimated to cost well over $20.
Intel has a long tradition of overspending on marketing. A few years ago it showed Ultrabook vendors with $300 million worth of market development funding and it has a huge Core marketing program. Intel recently announced that it would start treating Atom and Core equally, hence the move would make sense. Since Core lifecycles are getting longer, Intel could simply shift some of the funding to Atom products, namely tablet parts like Bay Trail-T.
The only problem? Well the report comes from Digitimes and the site’s hit and miss track record has been on the “miss” side lately, so take it with a grain of salt.
A recent upgrade to its developer tools has reduced the amount of work required to get an Android app working on the BlackBerry 10 operating system, and changes coming in early 2014 will allow some Android apps to run directly without any changes.
BlackBerry 10 is based on a real-time operating system called QNX but has had a level of compatibility with Android since it was launched earlier this year. A “runtime” on the phones provides an environment in which Android apps can run, but not all Android features are supported.
The latest version, 10.2.1, was introduced in early November and added support for Android Jellybean 4.2.2, Bluetooth, maps through Open Street Map, sharing of content with other applications in the phone, and the spell checker.
As long as the Android features that a given app needs are supported in BlackBerry’s Android runtime, the app needs minimal repackaging to run on BlackBerry smartphones.
It’s about to get even easier.
Early next year, BlackBerry will push a software update to users that will bring the ability to directly run “.apk” Android packages on phones, with no repackaging, as long as features required by the apps are supported. That should make it easier for companies to offer Android applications to BlackBerry users.
On Dec. 4, the company will run a series of webcasts specifically aimed at Android developers. The “BlackBerry Jam Direct Android Virtual Conference” will include speeches from BlackBerry engineers and third-party software developers.
“This event is designed to help you understand how theA BlackBerry Runtime for Android A apps 10.2.1 release supports your development efforts and helps you get your apps in front of BlackBerry users faster,” the company says on a website.
BlackBerry has attracted 130,000 apps to its BlackBerry 10 platform, but the company’s new phones haven’t managed to grab the attention of many users.
BlackBerry had a 2.8% share of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2013, according to data from IDC. That puts it behind Windows Mobile at 3.1%, Apple’s iOS at 16.6% and Android at 69.2%.
Even if it means that it will be the first to make ARM’s 64-bit chips, Intel said that it wants to expand its contract foundry work. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said he would expand his company’s small contract manufacturing business, paving the way for more chipmakers to tap into the world’s most advanced process technology.
Krzanich told analysts that he planned to step up the company’s foundry work, effectively giving Intel’s process technology to its rivals. He said that company’s who can use Intel’s leading edge and build computing capabilities that are better than anyone else’s, are good candidates for foundry service. Krzanich added that the slumping personal computer industry, Intel’s core market, was showing signs of bottoming out.
Intel also unveiled two upcoming mobile chips from its Atom line designed interchange features to create different versions of the component. A high-end version of the new chip, code named Broxton, and is due out in mid-2015. SoFIA, a low-end chip was shown as an example of Intel’s pragmatism and willingness to change how it does business. Krzanich said that in the interest of speed, SoFIA would be manufactured outside of Intel, with the goal of bringing it to market next year.
Intel will move production of SoFIA chips to its own 14 nanometer manufacturing lines, Krzanich added.
Intel has confirmed that it is working on 64-bit Bay Trail Atom chips for Android tablets, which are likely to debut in 2014.
Apple’s iPhone 5S was the first commercial mobile device to ship with a 64-bit chip, and this was quickly followed by the iPad Air. Samsung soon spoke up about its own 64-bit chip plans for 2014, and it looks like Intel is the latest to get caught up in the hype.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich told attendees at an investors meeting on Thursday that the company is working on 64-bit chips for Android, adding that it likely will release the chips after its Bay Trail 64-bit chips are released for Microsoft Windows 8.1 devices early next year.
Krzanich said that Android tablets with Bay Trail Atom 64-bit chips could become available starting at $150, according to PC World, around £95 for us Brits.
So, what might this mean for Android tablets? 64-bit chips are capable of supporting more than the 4GB of RAM that 32-bit chips are limited to, which in turn will make for more graphically intense gaming and 4K Ultra HD support.
Intel didn’t reveal when we’ll be seeing the first 64-bit Bay Trail Android tablet, but the firm usually has a large presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, so we could see the first 64-bit Android devices as early as January 2014.
Intel’s comments are part of its effort to recover from its recently stagnant PC chip sales, with the firm admitting during its investors meeting that it cannot make the same mistakes again.
Speaking to investors on Thursday, Kraznich predicted that sales of Intel based tablets will quadruple next year, to more than 40 million.
LG is investigating claims that its TVs send details about their owners’ viewing habits back to the manufacturer.
Blogger Jason Huntley detailed how his Smart TV was sending data about which channels were being watched. It appears that TVs uploaded information about the contents of devices attached to the TV, which is probably illegal. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating too.
When Huntley contacted the South Korean company he was told that by using the TV he had accepted LG’s terms and conditions so there. Huntley said details of what channels he had been watching had been sent even after a privacy setting had been changed.
He first come across the issue in October when he had begun researching how his Smart TV had been able to show his family tailored adverts on its user interface. When he looked at the TV’s menu system, he had noticed that an option called “collection of watching info” had been switched on by default.
After switching it off, he had been surprised to find evidence that unencrypted details about each channel change had still been transmitted to LG’s computer servers, but this time a flag in the data had been changed from “1″ to “0″ to indicate the user had opted out.
The Guardian has the papers, and it shows a US National Security Agency (NSA) memo that talks about how it can collect information about unsuspected UK citizens and keep hold of their data, meaning their phone communications and their email contacts. This can then be used to build up information about links between people.
“Sigint [signals intelligence] policy … and the UK Liaison Office here at NSAW [NSA Washington] worked together to come up with a new policy that expands the use of incidentally collected unminimized UK data in Sigint analysis,” says the memo
“The new policy expands the previous memo issued in 2004 that only allowed the unminimizing of incidentally collected UK phone numbers for use in analysis. Now SID analysts can unminimize all incidentally collected UK contact identifiers, including IP and email addresses, fax and cell phone numbers, for use in analysis.”
The agreement has its roots in the 1946 UK/USA Signals Intelligence Agreement, which should prevent allied intelligence agencies from monitoring each other’s citizens without permission. However, it includes a caveat, which is that this can happen, as long as it is done in secret and in the best interest of nation states.
Governments reserved the right to stop behaving so polititely earlier, and “when it is in the best interests of each nation,” reports the Guardian, which has reproduced part of the memo.
“Therefore,under certain circumstances, it may be advisable and allowable to target second party persons and second party communications systems unilaterally, when it is in the best interests of the US and necessary for US national security…,” it adds.
“There are circumstances when targeting of second party persons and communications systems, with the full knowledge and co-operation of one or more second parties, is allowed when it is in the best interests of both nations.”
Japanese consumer electronics giant Panasonic Corp has plans to launch about five compact digital cameras next year, half of this year’s number, as it looks to return the business to profitability by fiscal 2014, the Nikkei reported.
Panasonic has been shifting its focus to products for businesses, such as automotive systems and housing fixtures, as it steps back from struggling operations in TVs and other consumer gadgets.
The new cameras, with features such as high-magnification zoom, will cost at least 30,000 yen ($300). Panasonic will focus on mirrorless single-lens models, the business daily said.
The company expects its digital camera business to report losses for the second straight year, Nikkei said.
Global digital camera sales will likely fall by more than 2 million units this fiscal year to about 4 million, the newspaper reported.
The Wii U gets a new system update from Nintendo. While details are a bit vague on what all the new system updates actually does, Nintendo says it “improves overall system stability” and also includes minor adjustments “to enhance the user experience”.
The update comes ahead of a planned Nintendo update for the 3DS that is scheduled to arrive next month. The 3DS update will bring the Miiverse to the 3DS as well as adds the ability to combine eShop balances on both the 3DS and Wii U systems. In addition it will add Network IDs to the 3DS to access the eShop. Apparently 3DS owners will not have to take advantage of using a NNID to combine their eShop purchases and will still be allowed to download software from the eShop without a NNID.
Rumors suggest that another system update for the Wii U is just around the corner, but will likely not arrive till early next year, unless Nintendo has a reason to release it sooner. On the software front, the Wii U is still struggling, but the recent sales boost has helped, but Nintendo needs strong sales for the Wii U this holiday season in order to help get published and developers re-engaged in developing for the console. Whispers suggest that Nintendo expects supplies of the Wii U to be plentiful this holiday season and does not foresee shortages like what has plagued the Wii consoles of the past. The problem is however that the lack of software will likely keep many buyers away.
Apps featuring indie rock band Metric, pop sensation Lady Gaga and the late John Lennon were released last week that allow fans to re-mix tracks, create music-inspired art or access rare recordings.
Toronto-based Metric’s new app, METRIC Synthetica, available on iOS devices, lets fans interact with music from the band’s new album using finger gestures to re-mix tunes and create their own music. Fans can toggle different instruments and speed up and slow down tracks, creating more of a conversation with the band.
“Music in the modern day is about a lot more than just the music itself,” said James Shaw, the lead singer of Metric and producer of the album.
“In the late 70s and 80s it was just about the record and that was it. But now it’s about being engaged in all sorts of different mediums,” he added.
Shaw said he is eager to hear the creations that others will make with his music.
“Our version will always be there. But now you can break a song down according to your own imagination and it brings depth and allows people’s imaginations to go into what the record is about and get a greater understanding of what they’re listening to,” he said.
The app is free and includes one song to re-mix. Each additional song costs 99 cents or $7.99 for 11 songs.
With Lady Gaga’s free app, ARTPOP, for iOS and Android, fans can create and share animated graphics and interact with each other. The app is a companion to Gaga’s latest album of the same name.
Another new app, John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes, follows the former Beatle’s trip to Bermuda in 1980 to record his Double Fantasy album through audio and photographs. The app, which costs $4.99 and is available for iOS devices, features music and stories from Lennon and his widow, Yoko Ono.
Thousands of YouTube users have petitioned against the forced Google+ commenting system that recently appeared on the video sharing website.
Google’s forced Google+ commenting system first appeared on Youtube earlier this month in a bid to stop anonymous commenters from trolling about videos, and no doubt add more subscribers to Google’s not-so-popular social network.
It seems that Google’s plan has backfired somewhat, however. A petition has been launched calling for the new Youtube commenting system, which means users need a Google+ account to comment on videos on the website, to be reverted back to what it was before.
At the time of publication, the petition has over 113,000 signatures.
The petition reads, “Google is forcing us to make Google+ accounts and invading our social life to comment on a youtube video and trying to take away our anonymous profile. They are also trying to censor us unless we share the same worldview as they do.”
This online petition isn’t the only place that angry Youtube users are voicing their opinions on the revamped service. On the Youtube blog, where word of the new Google+ commenting was first announced, there are almost 2,000 comments from people who were not very pleased with the news.
One not very happy customer wrote, “Great, now I can’t laugh at the idiocy of trolls, converse in intelligent conversations, positively criticize, and not have to be forced to have Google+ to do anything. Seriously Google, shove this new comment system up your rear end.”
Another person who wasn’t pleased with the new commenting system is Youtube co-founder Jawed Karim, who broke the eight-year silence on his personal account to ask, “Why the fuck do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?”
App counts recorded by MetroStore Scanner showed that after five months of double-digit growth in the Windows Store’s app count, gains decelerated in August, September and October to single digits, ranging from 3% to just under 5%.
In June, for example, developers added more than 19,000 new apps to the Windows Store. The number fell to about 12,000 in July but plunged to 5,400 in August and fell further in September, to 5,100 new apps.
The Windows Store gained 7,300 new apps in October.
Sameer Singh, an analyst who covers mobile technology at Tech-Thoughts, thought he knew the reason for the slump in the app count growth.
“Most Windows 8 devices are bought as PCs, not tablets,” said Singh in a Monday post to his website. “Slapping a tablet interface or a touchscreen onto a PC doesn’t address this problem. Most users would spend very limited time in the Metro interface and switch back to [the] desktop for the jobs they needed the PC to accomplish.”
Developers may be sitting on new apps, waiting to publish them closer to the holiday sales season — which in the U.S. unofficially kicks off on Nov. 29, Black Friday — and contributing to the sluggish gains. MetroStore Scanner’s data hinted at the possibility. So far this month, an average of 245 new apps have been added to the store, slightly more than October’s average of 236. But the tracking site logged 512 new apps for today, more than double the monthly average.
And Windows Store’s grow has stalled before, only to pick up in later months. After an early explosion in late 2012, new app gains slowed in January and February, then began climbing in March.
Intel launched its Bay Trail-M ultra low voltage processors for netbooks and mobile devices over the weekend. According to CPU World the new mobile CPUs, branded this time as Celeron and Pentium, can manage twice the CPU performance, and up to three times faster graphics.
They do all that while using the same amount of juice as their “Cedar Trail” predecessors. Most chips have higher clock speeds than N2805, N2810 and N2910 SKUs and come with Burst Performance technology. They can operate at a higher maximum operating temperature which makes them easier to cool. Finally, in addition to 4 N28xx/N29xx Celerons Intel also released Pentium N2920.
Then there are new dual-core Bay Trail-M microprocessors like the Celeron N2806, N2815 and N2820 which can operate at frequencies from 1.6 GHz to 2.13 GHz, when going downhill had the wind is behind them. They also have the maximum burst speed ranging from 2 GHz to 2.39 GHz. The processors come with 1 MB L2 cache, Ivy Bridge graphics clocked at 311 MHz and up to 756 MHz, and support for DDR3L-1066 memory. The N2806 has 4.5 Watt TDP while the N2815 and N2820 have 7.5 Watt TDP. All of the Celeron N28xx processors are priced at $132.
Two new quad-core microprocessors are Celeron N2920 and Pentium N3520. The CPUs have 2 MB L2 cache, and run at 1.86 GHz and 2.17 GHz respectively, with burst frequencies reaching 2 GHz and 2.42 GHz. Both parts integrate Ivy Bridge graphics, that can be clocked as high as 854 MHz. The Celeron can deal with DDR3L-1066 memory, and the Pentium supports 1333 MHz memory data rate. They fit into 7.5 Watt power envelope. The official prices of Celeron N2920 and Pentium N3520 are $132 and $180.