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Is The Mobile Space Drying Up?

May 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy-Fud

 

Tech Companies Push Senate To Pass NSA Reform Bill

May 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Huawei Jumps Into IoT With New Operating System

May 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Scammers Using Malware To Go After Oil Companies

May 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Scammers are running wild through British oil company networks without needing to use malware, according to Panda Security.

Hacking is not new, stealing information and data from firms is not new, but doing so without using malware is unusual.

Panda has dubbed the scam Operation Oil Tanker (PDF), which it said has made its way into systems through a socially engineered email and a lone staffer. The security firm said that antivirus systems failed to stop the attacks, but that its own demo software did.

Panda explained that a worker called Susan at a company called Black Gold Ltd was presented with an email on a Monday morning.

The email contained a 4MB attachment apparently related to the oil market which the employee clicked on and opened. While this could have been big trouble, it was not. Why? Because of Panda.

“Neither the mail server antivirus nor the antivirus on her workstation had
found anything anomalous in it. Susan double-clicked the attachment. A blank PDF opened,” the firm explained.

“1,700km away from Susan’s computer, an alarm was triggered. An unknown threat had just been detected and blocked when it tried to steal credentials from Susan’s computer and send them out.”

Panda, which was the blocker, said that there are some 250,000 malware threats a day, but that this one was special.

“There was something really unique about this threat: it didn’t use any kind of malware. That’s why we decided to call it the ‘Phantom Menace’,” it added.

Panda studied the incident, picking apart the email and its PDF and finding that it included an executable. That executable showed no suspicious behaviour, so was not picked up in regular scans. However, it ran a file called dcp.exe, which allows for file encryption.

Files are picked up at the target and sent to a remote location. Panda found files dating back to 2013, and reported that it had gone undetected for some six months. The scammer was able to use the information to fraudulently broker oil sales.

“In short, the scam works like this: the scammer contacts a broker/middleman and offers them a large amount of BLCO [Bonny Light Crude Oil], one to two million barrels, at a very competitive price,” said Panda.

“To close the deal, the buyer must pay a significant amount of money – from $50,000 to $100,000 – in advance. However, once they pay the money they
are met with the nasty surprise that there is no oil.”

Panda has contacted the Spanish National Guard with its evidence and discoveries.

The security firm said that the force has a good history in dealing with cybercrime, and has worked with Panda before. However, it added that no victims are prepared to come forward. Which does not help anyone.

Courtesy-TheInq

Asus To Offer The Zenfone 2 For $199

May 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Asus isn’t exactly known for smartphones in the U.S., but the company is trying to make a strong statement with the Zenfone 2, which packs more storage than similarly priced competitors.

The Zenfone 2, which has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, starts at $199. It will began shipping on Tuesday with Google’s Android 5.0 mobile operating system.

A model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage goes for $299, while the $199 model has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The smartphone is shipping as an unlocked device, meaning it will work with multiple carriers.

It has an Intel 64-bit Atom Z3580 processor code-named Moorefield and a PowerVR G6430 graphics processor, which is capable of handling 1080p video rendering.

The Zenfone 2 has a 5-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as two SIM slots.

Asus wants to make a mark in the U.S, and with this smartphone it hopes to find an audience, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, during a press event in New York.

The ZenFone 2 is already shipping in 15 countries worldwide. For the U.S. market, Asus has tweaked the smartphone with some new features including a better LTE modem.

Other features include 802.11ac wireless and LTE-Advanced capabilities. The device supports carrier aggregation, and LTE data transfers can touch up to 250M bps (bits per second).

This is also a big product release for Intel. The Zenfone is the second smartphone in the U.S. that uses one of its chips. It’s also Intel’s first smartphone in the U.S. with the XMM 7260 LTE modem. An Intel chip is already being used on Asus’s Padfone X Mini, which is primarily a 4.5-inch smartphone that turns into a 7-inch tablet with an accessory.

 

 

 

Apple Bolsters Mapping Technology With Coherent Acquisition

May 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Will Tablets Stage A Comeback?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy-Fud

AT&T To Offer Exclusive Content For Connected Cars

May 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T Inc is preparing to bring connected car users exclusive content such as videos and games that can be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year, AT&T’s senior vice president of emerging devices Chris Penrose said.

“It’s no different than being able to hook onto a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere and get access to content you already subscribe to and get unique content that you could only get in the back of the vehicle,” Penrose said.

AT&T has signed up eight automaker partners, including General Motors Co, Audi AG and Ford Motor Co, to hook up cars with Internet access. The goal is to offer free or paid content exclusively for connected car users and sell more data, Penrose said in a recent interview.

AT&T is talking to its auto industry partners and content companies to bring new content like “special” shows or gaming levels on phones and tablets in connected cars, Penrose said. This would be in addition to subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix that users can already stream on mobile devices.

Most Americans already own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning to connected cars and devices for growth. Besides being the essential pipes that deliver data, telecom players such as AT&T are looking to extract revenue from content.

GM has begun testing new content on its OnStar in-vehicle service best known for connecting drivers to live operators for directions or emergency help.

The subscription-based service, which also sells data to drivers, has special offers and some exclusive content on apps such as Famigo, an educational app for kids, and TumblebooksTV, a children’s digital books app. It also has retail partnerships with Dunkin’ Donuts and travel booking site Priceline.com for location-based deals.

AT&T is exploring business models that include revenue share for data, content and advertising with automakers, content and retail partners, Penrose said without sharing specific details.

AT&T is working with automakers to design a landing page or a portal for users to log in to access content, get vehicle service updates and buy data, he said.

 

 

Is Apple Being Dumped?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy-Fud

Bing Follows Google In Favoring Mobile-Friendly Sites

May 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft is changing how it ranks Bing search results for mobile users, prioritizing sites that display better on smaller screens to accommodate the increased use of mobile search.

The changes, announced Thursday, come less than a month after Google started prioritizing mobile-optimized sites in its search results. Both companies are looking to attract more users by providing a better search experience on smartphones and tablets.

Microsoft said it expects to roll out the changes in the coming months. Sites that display well on smaller screens will also be flagged with a new “mobile friendly” tag.

In the U.S. last year, Bing had roughly 6 percent of the mobile search market, compared with Google’s 83 percent, according to figures from StatCounter.

The changes don’t mean mobile-optimized sites will necessarily appear at the top of results. “You can always expect to see the most relevant results for a search query ranked higher, even if some of them are not mobile friendly,” Microsoft said.

It considers a variety of elements to decide which sites display best on smartphones and tablets. For example, sites with large navigational elements that are spaced well apart will be prioritized, as well as sites that don’t require a lot of zooming and lateral scrolling. Bing will also favor sites with mobile-compatible content. That means pages with Flash content, which doesn’t work well on iOS devices, might get demoted.

Microsoft highlighted Fandango’s mobile site as one that will be prioritized under the changes, more so than Movies.com.

The company has also developed a tool to help webmasters assess the mobile friendliness of their sites. It will be made available in a few weeks.

 

 

 

 

Qualcomm Has A Plethora Of Automobile Modems

May 19, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm had an IoT event in San Francisco yesterday and the company wanted to talk a bit more about IoT, also known as Internet of Things. They started off with a catchy phrase – Internet of Hype to Internet of Everything.

Dave Aberle said that up to a billion dollars in revenue is coming from the non-mobile market. More than 10 pecent of Qualcomm revenue will come from the non-headset market. They call this market Internet of Everything, but we believe that not all of that market should be called IoT.

IoT is not just the wearable market; it is car modems, connected speakers, action cameras, some smart SanDisk storage solutions, home automation kit and more.  Aberle mentioned that Qualcomm has 40 car design wins in the market with 15 different OEMs. We saw some names including Audi on the slide, but the list of obviously much longer.

Qualcomm is the leader in connected car and 4G LTE market, while Nvidia is the leader in Infotainment car systems, having some huge customers behind it, including the Volkswagen Group.

Qualcomm wants to expand its presence in IoT, including automotive solutions, and we expect more IoT designs from them in the near future.

Courtesy-Fud

Google To Ad ‘Buy’ Button To Mobile Search Results

May 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google will add a “buy” button in its search results on mobile devices in the coming weeks, according to a report last Friday in the Wall Street Journal, a move that could give online shoppers an easier way to buy products on small screens.

The change might also give consumers an alternative to mobile apps from companies like Amazon and eBay, though it might jeopardize retailers’ ability to directly market to their customers.

The buy button will appear on Google’s search results pages when people search for certain products on mobile devices, said the report, which cited unnamed sources. If users click on the buttons, they’ll be taken to another Google page where they can choose among sizes and colors, select shipping options and complete the purchase, the report said.

Google reportedly will let shoppers enter their payment information just once, store it, and automatically load it for future purchases on Google’s shopping pages.

The products will still be provided and sold by the retailer and not by Google. Macy’s is in talks with Google to take part in the launch of the button, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

Representatives of Google and Macy’s did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

The buttons will accompany only sponsored search results, not regular results driven by Google’s basic search algorithm, the report said. At first they will only appear with a small percentage of Google’s search traffic.

Over time, the buttons could help Google expand its search service beyond information and links to also encompass an online storefront.

 

 

Is The DRAM Market Gaining Traction?

May 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

DRAM market conditions will be better in the third quarter of 2015, recovering from the bad first half of the year, according to Inotera.

Inotera chairman Charles Kau said that it was unclear if DRAM prices will stop falling and rebound in the third quarter.

Inotera on May 11 signed a $508 million five-year syndicated loan agreement with a consortium of local banks in Taiwan in the hope of getting a bit of flexibility until things pick up.
The outfit was not thinking of flogging any of the family silver, but plans to start distributing dividends to shareholders in 2016, Kau noted.

In 2014, non-PC DRAM products accounted for 60 per cent of Inotera’s total revenues. The company will continue to improve its product mix in 2015, while making progress in the transition to 20nm process technology.

Kau told Digitimes that Inotera http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20150512PD219.html plans to have 80 per cent of its total production capacity to be built using a newer 20nm node by the end of 2015.

Meanwhile it is not planning any big capital expenditure, he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Sally Beauty Holdings Confirms Second Data Breach

May 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Sally Beauty Holdings has confirmed that hackers breached its payment systems and stole customer card data again. About a year ago the retail chain suffered a similar intrusion.

The company launched an investigation in early May after receiving reports of unusual activity involving payment cards used at some of its stores. While it now has sufficient evidence to confirm an illegal intrusion, the company declined to comment on the breach’s scope until the forensics investigation is complete.

Sally Beauty is one of the largest retailers of beauty products in the U.S. and has over 4,500 stores.

In March last year, the company said hackers stole up to 25,000 customer records containing payment card data. According to the company’s annual report for 2014, attackers managed to install malware on some of its point-of-sale systems and captured “track 2″ card data.

Track 2 refers to one of the data tracks encoded on a card’s magnetic stripe. It contains the card’s number and expiration date and can be used by criminals to clone it.

“There can be no assurances that we will not suffer another cyber-attack or data security breach in the future and, if we do, whether our physical, technical and procedural safeguards will adequately protect us against such attacks and breaches,” the company said in its report.

The compromise of point-of-sale systems with memory-scraping malware has resulted in some of the largest card breaches over the past two years. The technique was used to steal 56 million payment card records from Home Depot last year and 40 million from Target in late 2013.

 

 

Verizon And Sprint Ordered To Issue Refunds For Cramming

May 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

If you are a current or former Verizon or Sprint customer, then you should review your bill to see if you ever received questionable charges from third-parties that you did not authorize or for services you did not receive. It’s a practice known as mobile “cramming” and all the big wireless carriers have been found guilty of billing customers for unauthorized third-party premium text message services. Ringtones are but one example of Premium Short Messaging Services (PSMS) which customers did not authorize but wireless carriers still billed for such third-party services.

FTC and FCC announced, “Verizon Wireless will pay $90 million and Sprint Corporation will pay $68 million to settle investigations that revealed the companies billed customers millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party premium text messaging services.”

“For too long, consumers have been charged on their phone bills for things they did not buy,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “We call these fraudulent charges ‘cramming,’ and with today’s agreements we are calling them history for Verizon and Sprint customers.”

According to the FCC, the wireless carriers must now “obtain informed consent” before allowing third-party charges and those charges must be “clearly and conspicuously” identified on phone bills. Additionally, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau requires Verizon and Sprint to “offer a free service for customers to block all third-party charges.”

You have until December 31, 2015 to submit a claim to Verizon and Sprint.