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Huawei’s Smartphones Gaining Ground, Sees 62% Rise In Devices Shipped

July 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Huawei Technologies shipped 62% more smartphones in the first half of 2014 than the same period last year, with sales to some countries outside its home turf doubling or even tripling.

It shipped smartphone 34.3 million units, boosted by sales of flagship phones the Ascend Mate 2 and the Ascend P7, it said on Tuesday. In the second quarter alone it shipped 20.6 million units, an 85% year-over-year increase.

Much of that growth is coming from emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, where its smartphone shipments are doubling or even tripling compared to the previous year, the company added.

Other Chinese vendors are also reporting booming smartphone sales, but Huawei ships a higher proportion of its production to foreign markets, said Melissa Chau, an analyst with research firm IDC.

“It has the most number of shipments outside of China, roughly 40%,” she estimated. “If you look at Lenovo, ZTE, or Xiaomi, they are nowhere near that.”

In this year’s second quarter, Huawei will hold on to its ranking as the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor, behind leader Samsung Electronics and second place Apple, Chau added.

In foreign markets, Huawei is driving growth by selling low-end models, while flagship products such as the Ascend P7 find most of their buyers in mainland China, Chau said.

Huawei has ambitions to rival Apple and Samsung in the smartphone arena, so is spending more on marketing and raising brand awareness. But its market share in this year’s first quarter was only 4.7%, still far away from second place Apple, which had a 15.2% share.

“They are making some progress, but they are still not anywhere near being a super top-tier player,” Chau said. Android smartphones are also becoming commoditized, which risks dampening Huawei’s attempts to stand out from the rest of the competition, she added.

 

Facebook To Mandate Messenger App For Mobile Chat

July 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

If you like to send messages via Facebook when you’re on the move, be prepared to download a new app.

Facebook has confirmed that it will be deleting the messaging feature from its mobile app over the next few days, and requiring people to use its standalone Messenger app instead.

The change follows through on a plan announced in April and for now affects Facebook’s mobile app on iOS and Android. You’ll be able to send and receive messages on the desktop as before.

“In the next few days, we’re continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they’ll need to download the Messenger app,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in an email.

The company’s goal is to make Messenger the best mobile service for messaging, she said, and avoid any confusion that might arise from having two mobile products for the same thing.

The move may also greatly increase the number of people who use Facebook Messenger.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the company’s earnings call last week that Facebook was looking to turn Messenger into an important business.

Messenger has more than 200 million monthly active users — just under a fifth of Facebook’s total user base. As well as sending text messages, it can handle Internet-based voice calls, group chat, and exchanging photos and short videos.

Facebook started the switch to Messenger a few months ago in a handful of countries, mostly in Europe, and the results have been positive, it said.

Still, it’s unclear how the change will sit with people who’ve grown accustomed to using the main Facebook app for messaging. You’ll still be notified in the Facebook app when you receive a message, but you’ll have to open Messenger to view it and respond.

Facebook says the change will help improve the performance of both the apps over time. It’s already working to improve Messenger; the company recently hired former PayPal president David Marcus as part of a push to build new capabilities for Messenger, possibly including payments.

 

 

OkCupid Admits Experimenting On Customers

July 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

OkCupid, a top U.S. dating website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said, weeks after Facebook Inc similarly admitted to misleading users in a psychological study.

“When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are,” co-founder Christian Rudder wrote in a blog post. “Even when they should be wrong for each other.”

Conversely, couples told they were bad matches, even when OkCupid’s algorithm showed the opposite, were less likely to exchange four messages. Exchanging four messages is an OkCupid measure for gauging romantic interest.

In the post, titled “We Experiment on Human Beings!” Rudder explained the tests helped the company refine its product. He did not respond to an email asking how many users were tested.

“Most ideas are bad,” he wrote. “Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”

An IAC spokeswoman said OkCupid planned to continue with the experiments, which are known in the business as A/B testing.

But experimenting on users without their consent could cost the company credibility, said Irina Raicu, director of the Internet ethics program at Santa Clara University.

“They are messing with emotions and with communications,” she said. “That’s different than other things we are A/B tested about.”

The experiment drew heavy criticism online. In a tweet, University of Pennsylvania computer scientist Matt Blaze suggested a few new clauses for online user licensing agreements:“We reserve the right to induce despair” and “You agree that there will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.”

 

 

The Pirate Bay Goes To Smartphones?

July 30, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

The Pirate Bay, the self-styled “world’s most resilient torrent site”, has released a mobile version of its website for the first time.

The Mobile Bay taps into the increasing storage capacity of mobile devices and the growing number of uncapped 4G data plans.

Offering millions of uploaded torrents from blockbuster movies and TV shows, cracked software packages and pornography, the vast majority of its content is considered illegal in almost every country of the world, leading to a global game of cat and mouse as the outfit adapts to stay online.

Up to now, the only version of the website has been the desktop version which simply resizes, however a spokesperson for The Pirate Bay admitted to Torrentfreak that “the normal version of the site renders like crap on a mobile device”.

The mobile website appears not to have been blocked by UK ISPs as yet, as we were able to access it this afternoon. It has all the functionality of the regular website but with a mobile friendly page format.

Unfortunately, that includes the many adverts for casinos, clandestine video websites and other nasties that manifest as pop-unders on the desktop version.

The Pirate Bay already has its own web browser for the desktop, an adapted version of Firefox that uses privacy tool Tor, and a number of unofficial web browsing apps exist for The Pirate Bay in mobile app stores.

Peter Sunde, a co-founder of the Swedish torrent tracker was recently arrested after being on the run for eight years, having been convicted of aiding copyright infringement in 2009.

Courtesy-TheInq

Phone-unlocking Bill Moves One Step Closer To Law

July 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A bill that allows consumers to unlock their mobile phones for use on other carriers passed its last hurdle in Congress last week, opening the way for it to become law once it is signed by President Barack Obama.

Senate Bill 517 overturns a January 2013 decision by the Library of Congress that ruled the unlocking of phones by consumers fell afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It had previously been permitted under an exception to the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, which are generally aimed at cracking of digital rights management technology.

Cellphones and smartphones are typically supplied to consumers with a software lock that restricts their use to a single wireless carrier. Removing that lock — the process of “unlocking” the phone — means it can be used on the networks of competing carriers. In the U.S., this is most often done with handsets that work on the AT&T or T-Mobile networks, which share a common technology, but is also popular with consumers who want to take their phones overseas and use foreign networks rather than roaming services.

The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act has made fast progress through Congress. It was passed by the Senate on July 16, just a week after it was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and on Friday by unanimous vote in the House of Representatives. It now waits to be signed into law.

In addition to making the unlocking process legal under copyright law, the bill also directs the librarian of Congress to determine whether other portable devices with wireless capability, such as tablets, should be eligible for unlocking.

“It took 19 months of activism and advocacy, but we’re finally very close to consumers regaining the right to unlock the phones they’ve legally bought,” said Sina Khanifar, who organized an online petition that kicked off the push to have the Library of Congress decision overturned. The petition attracted more than 114,000 signatures on the White House’s “We The People” site.

“I’m looking forward to seeing this bill finally become law — it’s been a long road against powerful, entrenched interests — but it’s great to see citizen advocacy work,” he said in a statement.

 

Bose Sues Beats Over Patent Infringement

July 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Headphone maker Bose has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against rival Beats Electronics, which Apple recently agreed to purchase in a US$3 billion deal.

In its complaint, Bose alleges that the “active noise cancellation” system in Beats Studio and Studio Wireless headphones infringes on five of its patents that relate to digital audio processing, compression and noise cancellation technology.

They are U.S. patents 6,717,537; 8,073,150; 8,073,151; 8,054,992; and 8,345,888.

In addition to the suit, which was filed in Delaware, the company also lodged a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking the trade court to ban Beats from importing the headphones into the U.S.

Companies are increasingly filing lawsuits with the ITC in addition to the domestic court system in the hopes an import injunction will provide extra leverage when it comes to negotiations over alleged infringement.

The lawsuit comes just under two months after the Apple deal was announced. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of September, and it’s unknown if the lawsuit could change that schedule or the acquisition price.

Apple and Beats did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

 

Amazon To Offer 3D Printing

July 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and other items from third-party vendors using a new personalization option on its website.

Most of the more than 200 items available on the company’s new 3D printed products store, which was rolled out on Monday, can be customized using a new feature that allows users to rotate and change the item they are viewing.

Before it is printed by one of Amazon’s sellers, users can customize a product like as a bobble head figure by changing its skin and eye color, hair style and outfit, Amazon said.

“The customization is something we’re keenly interested in,” said Petra Schindler-Carter, director for Amazon marketplace sales, speaking in an interview. “We’ll always look for new applications for that.”

Amazon, which has more than 240 million users, has expanded its marketplaces division to include new areas such as fine art and wine. It is part of Amazon’s larger investment into new areas like mobile services and original content that led to its larger-than-expected second-quarter loss last week.

The new printing option taps into a broader “Maker movement” among tech entrepreneurs in northern California, and to some extent Europe, that is focused on customizing 3D objects rather than development software or mobile applications.

3D printers have gained in popularity on Amazon Supply, a wholesale site for businesses. That interest led Amazon to offer customers an 3D print option, Schindler-Carter said.

 

goTenna Debuts Personal Antenna In Case Of Disasters

July 28, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A Brooklyn-based startup called goTenna has developed a portable antenna that will come to the rescue when cellular service is unavailable.

The portable antenna connects to a smartphone via a Bluetooth Low Energy link. Once connected, users with either an iOS or Android app can then send text messages through the antenna. (The recipient must also have a goTenna, and consequently the product is sold in pairs.)

The device uses the 151MHz-154MHz frequencies, with range depending on location. In a densely populated place like Manhattan, that range could be less than a mile. In more open spaces, up to 50 miles is possible. The antenna, which takes a USB-delivered charge, will store messages and hold them until a connection can be made.

Businesses employ a range of backup communications technologies, including long-range satellite phones and ham radios, as well as shorter range walkie-talkies. The goTenna could serve as an alternative to a walkie-talkie — and even offers some advantages over other options. For example, its messages are encrypted and private, a separate device isn’t needed, and people can use the goTenna system with their smartphone interface.

The goTenna also has the ability to “shout” a message by delivering it to all goTenna users who have opted in to receive a broadcast.

“That fact that we are totally decentralized means that in many ways it can be a backup to your backup,” said goTenna CEO Daniela Perdomo, who co-founded the company with her brother, Jorge Perdomo, goTenna’s CTO.

In addition to using goTenna as an emergency tool, Perdomo said people could use the technology as a means of communicating while they’re traveling, when they’re taking part in outdoor recreation activities, or when they’re involved in any type of situation that requires private communication. The antenna uses a Lithium-ion battery and is estimated to last two to three days with normal use, or as long as 30 hours if it’s on continuously.

Perdomo said the outages created by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 prompted her to imagine ways smartphones could be made to directly communicate with other phones.

The goTenna will ship in late fall, but a pair of the devices can be preordered for $149.99.

 

 

 

Verizon To Begin Slowing Down Data Speeds For Unlimited Subscribers

July 28, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communication Inc’s high speed wireless customers who have the company’s legacy unlimited data plans may begin experiencing slower speeds starting Oct. 1, the company said on Friday.

The announcement comes as wireless carriers attempt to shift data-hungry subscribers onto tiered plans, which charge customers for individual data packages.

Verizon will slow services for the top 5 percent of data users who are on unlimited plans in places where the network is experiencing high demand, the company announced on its website.

The policy will impact customers who consume more than 4.7 gigabytes in a single billing period who are on unlimited plans and who have fulfilled their minimum contract terms and are subscribing to service on a month-to-month basis.

Users might experience slower speeds when streaming high-definition video or during real-time online gaming, the company said.

Customers on the company’s tiered data plans will not be affected.

The policy is currently in effect for unlimited subscribers on the 3G network, but will be expanded to its 4G, higher speed network in October.

Verizon stopped offering unlimited data plans in 2012.

 

 

Dell, BlackBerry Downplay Apple-IBM Alliance

July 28, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

IBM Corp’s recent move to team up with Apple Inc to sell iPhones and iPads loaded with corporate applications has excited investors in both companies, but two rivals say they are unfazed for now.

Top executives at Dell and BlackBerry Ltd scoffed at the threat posed by the alliance, arguing the tie-up is unlikely to derail the efforts of their own companies to re-invent themselves.

“I do not think that we take the Apple-IBM tie-up terribly seriously. I think it just made a good press release,” John Swainson, who heads Dell’s global software business, said in an interview with Reuters in Toronto last week.

PC maker Dell and smartphone maker BlackBerry are in the midst of reshaping their companies around software and services, as the needs of their big corporate clients morph.

Swainson, who spent over two decades in senior roles at IBM, said, “I have some trouble understanding how IBM reps are going to really help Apple very much in terms of introducing devices into their accounts. I mean candidly, they weren’t very good at doing it when it was IBM-logoed products, so I do not get how introducing Apple-logoed stuff is going to be much better.”

While conceding that Apple products hold more allure, Swainson said they lack the depth of security features that many large business clients like banks covet.

IBM and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen similarly downplayed the threat of the alliance in an interview with the Financial Times, likening the tie-up to when “two elephants start dancing.”

 

 

Is The Wii-U Making A Comeback?

July 28, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

A new survey commissioned by IHS in partnership with Gamer Network has shown that E3 gave a huge boost to the number of people interested in buying a Wii U, with purchasing intent growing by 50 per cent over the course of the event.

Around one thousand core gamers were surveyed on various purchase intentions before and after the LA show, revealing that, whilst Nintendo’s platform started out with the lowest number of people looking at buying it, it saw the biggest benefit from the show’s exposure. 20 per cent of respondents now intend to buy the machine, equal to those who are looking at an Xbox One, which saw a seven per cent increase in popularity.

Sony’s PS4, a clear leader going in to E3, lost ground to its competitors, sinking below 30 per cent of respondents.

In terms of anticipated games, consumers are champing at the bit for 2015′s third-party releases, with Warner’s Arkham Knight leading the charge with an incredible 60 per cent of those surveyed intending to buy the game for at least one platform. Gamers are slightly less excited for 2014′s titles, but Activision’s Destiny is the narrow leader for this year, edging out AC: Unity and GTA V with just under 50 per cent. Both Battlefield Hardline and CoD: Advanced Warfare are lagging behind slightly.

As might be expected, purchasing intent is higher amongst first-party exclusives for current platform owners. On PS4, Uncharted 4 was the most popular game both before and after E3 with 76 per cent of PS4 owners expected to buy it. On Xbox One, it’s Halo which pays the piper, garnering support from 77 per cent of One owners. Over on the Wii U and amazing 89 per cent of owners expect to buy the new Zelda game when it’s released. None of these platform-exclusive heavy hitters will land until 2015 at the earliest, which IHS predicts will increase pre-Christmas reliance on multi-platform games for Microsoft, Sony and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo.

“Although there are other exclusive titles coming in 2014 or already available,” the report reads, “none hold the influence that these leading titles have in terms of selling console hardware, with the exception of Mario Kart 8 for Wii U. As a result, the success of console sales this holiday shopping season will depend more heavily on the total value and content proposition including exclusive content offered by multi-platform games rather than a single, very influential system-selling exclusive. This factor will impact the marketing strategies of the platform holders as we move into 2014′s main shopping season.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Oracle Goes DaaS

July 28, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has launched a service to deliver data from the cloud collected from multiple sources in order to drive business intelligence and decision-making.

Initially the firm is delivering products using data from marketing and social media, letting enterprise customers use this information for business benefit without having to worry about its source or management.

Oracle’s Data as a Service (DaaS) is a suite of offerings that are intended to provide data that can simply be plugged into any relevant application the customer requires. It is being delivered as part of the Oracle Cloud, alongside the firm’s existing infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) offerings.

The first offerings are Oracle DaaS for Marketing, giving users access to a vast array of anonymised user-level data gathered from many sources; and Oracle DaaS for Social, which delivers enriched social media data providing intelligence on customers, competitors and market trends.

According to Oracle Data Cloud GM Omar Tawakol, the service enables customers to separate their own data from existing application siloes, enrich it with data from external sources, and then feed it into a variety of different applications to drive more informed decisions.

Takawol said the platform is based on Oracle’s leading data products, combined with assets Oracle gained through its acquisition of data marketing firm BlueKai earlier this year.

“We believe this is the next revolution in how applications can become more useful, by being enriched with data not just from that application itself, but from others within the enterprise and from outside the boundaries of the organisation itself,” he said.

But Oracle’s proposition is more than just providing a raw data feed for customers to subscribe to: the firm claims that it can deliver cleaned-up data to comply with data-protection and privacy regulations across the globe, and can also aggregate social data by identifying the same users across different social networks.

In effect, Oracle appears to be offering a service similar to the US government’s PRISM intelligence-gathering platform, but intended for business intelligence and marketing purposes.

Speaking at Oracle’s launch event, Ovum analyst Tom Pringle said that the timing is right for such DaaS offerings to come to market, but warned that it is early days for this kind of service and that potential pitfalls lay in the way, such as privacy concerns.

“Data has moved out of the IT department and into the boardroom, so it is now front and centre for organisations around the world. As more and more business processes have shifted into becoming online services, DaaS becomes a natural extension of that,” he said.

But privacy and legal rights are “growing in the public consciousness”, Pringle said, and warned that any misstep over use of harvested public data could pose a “danger to the reputation” of the business involved.

“It’s still early days for what is basically an entirely new category of service, and what path it will take is not clear,” he said.

Oracle DaaS for Marketing is available now in a new subscription model, while Oracle DaaS for Social currently has limited availability, the firm said. Oracle did not specify pricing for the new services, and had not responded to requests from The INQUIRER at the time of writing.

Courtesy-TheInq

Ultra High Def TV Sales Being Hampered By Steep Prices

July 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Ultra high-definition televisions (UHD TVs) have made minor gains in the flat-panel market because prices remain too high, according to a new report from IHS Technology.

Among the top 13 LCD display brands worldwide, the share of UHD TV shipments reached just 5% in May, up from 4% in April, 3% in March and 2% in February, according to IHS.

While UHD TV share has grown by 1 percentage point for each of the last three months, growth hasn’t budged much since September, when the market was already at the 2% level.

The top 13 UHD TV brands account for more than 75% of total LCD TV shipments and represent more than 90% of overall UHD LCD TV shipments.

UHD TV shipments this year are projected to grow to 14.5 million units, up from just 2 million in 2013, as global brands deploy aggressive marketing efforts and roll out new models, according to IHS.

Flat-panel televisions overall amounted to 18.1 million units in May, down 6.4% from April but up 7% from the same time a year ago. Of the total, LCD TVs — including UHD sets – accounted for 17.4 million units, with plasma TVs making up the remainder at 708,000 units.

“Growth in this year’s global UHD TV market is a reflection of plans among TV makers, especially the Chinese, to increase sales. And expansion in UHD TV volume is mostly scheduled for the second half this year,” Jusy Hong, an IHS principal analyst for consumer devices, said in a statement.

UHD TVs have much higher resolution than conventional HD sets, but the dazzling images come at a steep trade-off: their prices can be several times those of LCD TVs.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts the CES conference, buyers still pay north of $50,000 for a 105-in. UHD-TV, while the average price for a 55-in. UHD-TV this year will be around $2,750. By 2017, that price is expected to drop to $1,850.

That compares to 1080p high-definition TVs (HDTVs) today that run anywhere from $700 to around $1,700 for a 55-in. model.

 

 

 

Sprint Teams Up With Google To Sell Business Apps

July 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Sprint announced a partnership with Google to offer the Google Apps for Business cloud service, noting that customers of the service won’t have to use Sprint’s wireless network or Android devices.

The partnership helps move Sprint well beyond it’s role as a basic wireless carrier for businesses to one that will bolster basic Google cloud service and access to Google apps with Sprint’s own hands-on professional consulting, much of it free.

The announcement comes amid widespread reports that Sprint is in discussions to buy T-Mobile and just weeks after a six-month study of wireless carrier network performance found Sprint didn’t finish first among national carriers in any of 125 U.S. cities.

Sprint’s resale of Google Apps for Business kicks off officially on Aug. 18. Sprint will charge businesses the same rate that Google does — with pricing starting at $5 per month per worker for access to a variety of apps such as Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs, or $10 a month per user per month for Google Apps access with unlimited cloud storage, and other services.

In addition, Sprint will offer its new Google Apps for Business customers a number of free services, including consulting on mobile deployment strategy, project management and cloud help-desk support (with all cloud servers under the ownership of Google). Sprint will charge for certain professional services, such as creating single sign-on capability or domain services. Pricing for those services, in addition to the standard Google Apps for Business costs, will be announced closer to launch.

Sprint’s John Tudhope, director of marketing for enterprise services, said Sprint’s Google Apps for Business customers won’t need to be Sprint wireless customers to get the new service.

 

 

 

Device Financing Plan Weighs On AT&T’s Revenue

July 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T Inc’s quarterly revenue rose a weaker than expected 1.6 percent as cheaper service plans offered to customers who forgo subsidized cellular phones made a dent in profit margins.

Faced with mounting pressure from competitors, AT&T has unbundled service and device charges, and cut its family data plan and shared value plan prices as it tries to attract customers in a nearly saturated market.

“What we saw happen throughout the second quarter were very aggressive promotions by our competitors but all the while our churn decreased,” Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T mobility, told Reuters.

“We are confident that what we saw in Q2 was part of the transition we had to make to go from service to equipment revenue in NEXT,” he said, referring to a pricing plan that allows customers to pay directly for their devices in exchange for lower service pricing.

The plan has resulted in a lower average revenue per user, but higher equipment revenue, as customers take on the majority of the burden of paying for their devices.

Wireless service revenue decreased 1.4 percent in the second quarter, while equipment revenue grew 44.8 percent.

AT&T expects two-thirds of its customers to be on the plan by the end of the year.

“AT&T has quite aggressively moved its existing base of customers in contract to the new plan. It is a fairly predictable shift and over time it should be a positive one for AT&T, but it has an unpleasant short-term impact on results, said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.”

Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said on a conference call with analysts that Brazil’s antitrust regulator has approved the company’s $48.5 billion bid for DirecTV, which has a significant foothold in Latin America. The deal has been reviewed by state regulators but is under review by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission.

The company maintained its free cash flow guidance of around $11 billion for 2014, exceeding the $9.6 billion it needs to meet its dividend target, which some investors have worried could be unsustainable.

The No. 2 U.S. mobile provider said on Wednesday that excluding items it earned 62 cents per share, one penny less than Wall Street expectations, according to Thomson Reuters .