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OLED Display Maker eMagin Gets $10M Boost From Apple, LG

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A small firm that produces OLED microdisplays is getting some attention from tech giants with big plans for virtual and augmented reality.

Apple, LG and Valve are making a $10 million investment in eMagin, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The Hopewell Junction, New York-based company makes microdisplays used in the military, medical and industrial fields, but it has recently turned its attention to companies building consumer headsets.

“We entered into strategic agreements with multiple Tier One consumer product companies for the design and development of microdisplays for consumer head-mounted devices and, together with these companies, negotiated with mass production manufacturers for higher volume production capabilities,” eMagin said in its filing.

The company’s flagship product is a 2K display with a resolution of 2,048 by 2,048 pixels and a 70 percent fill factor, the percentage of each pixel that can be used to gather light.

The investment, made in the form of a new stock issuance, was expected to be completed before the end of January, according to the filing.

The investment underscores the tech community’s commitment to virtual reality, which promises to transport goggle-wearing users to a computer-generated 3D environment. Augmented reality, meanwhile, overlays digital images on the real world via special headsets.

Apple amped up its AR play in January when it released its ARKit 1.5 to developers. The software, which is part of the upcoming iOS 11.3 release, will pack new features to enable richer apps, including the ability to places items on vertical walls and doors, not just horizontal surfaces like tables.

LG and Valve have also partnered on developing a VR head-mounted display.

Apple and eMagin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Is Dell Going On An Acquisition Spree

February 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Michael Dell’s private PC empire is continuing to grow, and it seems that he is not happy with what he has.

Soon after buying out all his shareholders and going private, Dell wrote a cheque for EMC and created a considerable computer outfit. But word on the street is that despite a big debt load caused by all these buy-outs, Dell wants to expand further.

The word on the Street is that Dell’s board of directors will meet later this month to consider the most significant shakeup in the company’s history since it acquired data storage provider EMC for $67 billion in 2016, the sources said.

Dell is under pressure to boost its profitability after the EMC deal failed to deliver the cost savings and performance it projected, while higher component costs and a challenging data storage market have eroded its margins.

Dell is reviewing a list of several possible acquisition targets that would boost its cash flow and expand its offerings. Dell is also considering a sale or initial public offering (IPO) of its one of its fast-growing divisions, Pivotal Software. It may consider a transaction with its majority-owned VMware which have gained more than 62 percent in the past year.

Dell also has a security unit, RSA, and a cloud platform called Boomi which could receive the IPO treatment.  Another possibility is that the company could give itself an IPO.

A bright spot in Dell’s business has been its servers, helping its total net revenue growth to $56.7 billion in the nine months from $41.6 billion a year earlier. However, the company’s operating expenses soared from $10 billion to $17.3 billion, leading to an operating loss of $3 billion, up from a $1.6 billion operating loss a year ago.

Private equity firm Silver Lake which helped bankroll Michael Dell’s $24.9 billion deal in 2013 to take the company private and owns about 18 percent of the company is believed to be wanting to cash out of the company.

A stock market listing for Dell would allow Silver Lake to gradually begin winding down its stake. What is more, an IPO of Dell, or divestiture of one or more of its assets, would help it pay down debt faster, saving it money on expensive interest payments, for which it currently pays about $2 billion annually.

Courtesy-Fud

Ford Aims For 22 Electric Vehicles By 2022

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co will significantly increase its planned investments in electric vehicles to $11 billion by 2022 and have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its model lineup, Chairman Bill Ford announced at the Detroit auto show.

The investment figure is sharply higher than a previously announced target of $4.5 billion by 2020, Ford executives said, and includes the costs of developing dedicated electric vehicle architectures. Ford’s engineering, research and development expenses for 2016, the last full year available, were $7.3 billion, up from $6.7 billion in 2015.

Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett told investors in October the automaker would slash $14 billion in costs over the next five years and shift capital investment away from sedans and internal combustion engines to develop more trucks and electric and hybrid cars.

Of the 40 electrified vehicles Ford plans for its global lineup by 2022, 16 will be fully electric and the rest will be plug-in hybrids, executives said.

“We’re all in on this and we’re taking our mainstream vehicles, our most iconic vehicles, and we’re electrifying them,” Ford told reporters. “If we want to be successful with electrification, we have to do it with vehicles that are already popular.”

General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG  have already outlined aggressive plans to expand their electric vehicle offerings and target consumers who want luxury, performance and an SUV body style – or all three attributes in the same vehicle.

Mainstream automakers are reacting in part to pressure from regulators in China, Europe and California to slash carbon emissions from fossil fuels. They also are under pressure from

 Tesla Inc’s success in creating electric sedans and SUVs that inspire would-be owners to line up outside showrooms and flood the company with orders.

GM said last year it would add 20 new battery electric and fuel cell vehicles to its global lineup by 2023, financed by robust profits from traditional internal combustion engine vehicles in the United States and China.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra has promised investors the Detroit automaker will make money selling electric cars by 2021.

Volkswagen said in November it would spend $40 billion on electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by the end of 2022 – significantly more than when it announced two months earlier it would invest more than 20 billion euros on electric and self-driving cars through 2030.

Toyota is racing to commercialize a breakthrough battery technology during the first half of the 2020s with the potential to cut the cost of making electric cars.

Ford’s additional investments in electric vehicles contrasted with many of the vehicle launches at the Detroit show which featured trucks and SUVs. On Sunday evening, Daimler AG unveiled its new G-class SUV, a bulky off roader, in an abandoned movie theater in downtown Detroit once used as a set for the movie “8 Mile.”

Is Toshiba Staying In The PC Business

November 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Toshiba has said that it has not entered into talks with any company to sell its personal computer business, denying media reports that it was in negotiations to sell the unit to Taiwan’s Asustek.

To be fair, it was not the only outfit supposed to be snuffling around Tosh’s headquarters, The Nikkei business daily reported. China’s Lenovo had also expressed interest in the PC unit

Cash-strapped Toshiba has previously said it is looking to sell the PC business, a small part of the industrial conglomerate, as it races to bolster its balance sheet by the end of March to avoid a possible delisting. The PC business accounted for just 3.5 percent of Toshiba’s net revenue in April-September of $747 million and was not worth the effort.

Hit by liabilities arising from its now bankrupt US nuclear unit, Toshiba has been plunged into financial crisis and agreed in September to sell its prized chip unit, Toshiba Memory, to a group led by Bain Capital for $18 billion.

But a highly competitive and contentious auction process led to delays in deciding on the buyer and has meant that Toshiba may not obtain the necessary antitrust clearance by the end of the financial year in March. Without funds from the sale, it is likely to end the year in negative net worth for a second year in a row, putting pressure on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to delist it.

To avoid that, Toshiba is looking at raising $5.3 billion by offering new shares in a third-party allotment – and hopes to finalize the capital injection by the end of the year to allow for shareholder approval.

Toshiba repeated on Friday its stance that it was aiming to close the chip unit deal by the end of March.

It said earlier this week that it would sell its television unit to China’s Hisense Group for $115 million.

Courtesy-Fud

Ford Forms New Team Dedicated To Electric Vehicle Production

October 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co has put together a team to accelerate global development of electric vehicles, whose mission will be to “think big” and “make quicker decisions,” an executive of the company announced on Monday.

One aim of Ford’s “Team Edison” is to identify and develop electric-vehicle partnerships with other companies, including suppliers, in some markets, according to Sherif Marakby, vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification.

Global demand for electric vehicles has “a significant potential to increase” as governments implement EV mandates and quotas, Marakby said in an interview.

 He said the group will be based in the Detroit area and work with regional Ford vehicle electrification teams in China and Europe.

China, India, France and the United Kingdom all have announced plans to phase out vehicles powered by combustion engines and fossil fuels between 2030 and 2040.

Marakby said Team Edison “will look holistically at the electric vehicle market.”

“The idea is to think big, move fast and make quicker decisions” on EV production as demand increases and technology advances, he added.

Ford has not altered its previously announced plan to spend $4.5 billion over five years on electrified vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, Marakby said.

The new team will report to Ted Cannis, who has been named global director of electrification.

Is Another Palm Smartphone On The Horizon

September 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Next year TCL says it is planning to release a Palm smartphone next year – sadly without the OS which made it famous.

It was not clear what was happening to the Palm brand which has been moved out of HP-connected devices then into a limbo. LG got its paws on the Palm operating system and continues to be used (in some form or another) in LG smart TVs.

TCL acquired the Palm brand in 2011.

According to Android Planet TCL Marketing Manager Stefan Streit confirmed that they’ve finally gotten to a place where they can make a Palm phone.

Streit suggested that new Palm devices would be announced in early 2018. While Streit did not specify which devices would be coming, AP suggested that a smartphone and a new PalmPilot would be obvious releases.

Palm would be made for adult users, presumably those who are old enough to remember that the Palm was a brand they trusted and will see Palm as a brand new high-quality smartphone brand. Of course they will have to forget that the new Palm is a totally different machine, but if people buy brands TCL might score a win.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Has Plans To Build Housing In Silicon Valley

July 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The housing crunch in California’s Silicon Valley has gotten so bad that Facebook Inc has proposed taking homebuilding into its own hands for the first time with a plan to construct 1,500 units near its headquarters.

The growth of Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google and other tech companies has strained neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay area that were not prepared for an influx of tens of thousands of workers during the past decade. Home prices and commute times have risen.

Tech companies have responded with measures such as internet-equipped buses for employees with long commutes. Facebook has offered at least $10,000 in incentives to workers who move closer to its offices.

Those steps, though, have not reduced complaints that tech companies are making communities unaffordable, and they have mostly failed to address the area’s housing shortage.

“The problem with Silicon Valley is you don’t have enough supply to keep up with the demand,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at real estate research firm CoreLogic.

With Facebook’s construction plan, the company said it wanted to invest in Menlo Park, the city some 45 miles (72 km) south of San Francisco where it moved in 2011.

The company said it wants to build a “village” that will also have 1.75 million square feet of office space and 125,000 square feet of retail space.

“Part of our vision is to create a neighborhood center that provides long-needed community services,” John Tenanes, Facebook’s vice president for global facilities, said in a statement.

The 1,500 Facebook housing units would be open to anyone, not just employees, and 15 percent of them would be offered at below market rates, the company said.

Facebook said it expects the review process to take two years.

Alphabet has taken a smaller step, buying 300 modular apartment units for short-term employee housing, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith said in an interview that there were concerns about whether the Facebook plan would increase traffic, a subject the city’s planning department would study.

She said, though, that Facebook’s plan fits with the city’s own long-term plan for development, and that the city was excited about the additional housing.

Facebook’s Tenanes said the density of the proposed development could also entice spending on transit projects.

“The region’s failure to continue to invest in our transportation infrastructure alongside growth has led to congestion and delay,” he said.

Will HTC Ever Return To Profitability

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

HTC, the original equipment manufacturer that designs its own mobile devices and Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, has announced net losses of $66.12 million for the first quarter of 2017. The company’s latest financials are the latest in a series – it’s had eight consecutive losses over the past two years.

Like many smartphone and VR headset manufacturing companies, HTC had hoped that 2017 would turn out to be a much better year than 2016. The Taiwanese company’s earnings report for Q1 2017 gives mixed results this quarter. Revenues were $NT14.5 billion ($480.2 million), which is down 33 percent from the NT$22.2 billion ($720.7 million) it posted in Q4 2016. However, losses of NT$2 billion ($66.2 million) aren’t as bad as the NT$3.09 billion ($102.4 million) it posted the previous quarter, or about 55 percent. These are also up from NT$2.61 billion ($86.5 million) in the previous year.

HTC plans to streamline operations, reduce operating losses

In Q1 2017, HTC says it continued to realign its organizational structure to help reduce overhead expenses by nearly 20 percent. This is similar to what Sprint has been doing since October 2015, when it announced a $2.5 billion cost cutting plan to streamline company operations. HTC’s gross margins climbed to 16.3 percent versus 10.45 percent in Q4 2016, and 9.36 percent year-over-year.

The company worked to lower its operating costs to $NT12.2 billion ($403 million) from NT$13.4 billion ($444.9 million) a year earlier. Given that the company has not turned a profit in over a year, the plan is to continue lowering operating costs to reduce its operating losses. HTC launched two smartphones in the first quarter – the HTC U Ultra and the HTC U Play – but only the first device is available in the US. Then there was a report in February stating the company plans to exit the entry-level smartphone business in 2017 as it begins to focus on “high-margin” and “high-profit” devices. The company has been notorious for announcing products at its own events that aren’t necessarily in line with usual CES and MWC unveils from manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Huawei, Motorola and others. While this strategy can work well in some circumstances, it only works when people are made aware of the announcements.

Opinion: HTC U 11, Pixel shipments may return profitability for second half of 2017

The company now wants to introduce an additional four to five high margin smartphone devices over the course of the next year, starting with the long-awaited HTC U 11 that will be announced on May 16th. The device’s flagship feature, Sense Touch, is a new concept that allows using the side frame as an input method. However, it is unclear whether the HTC U 11 will be available in the second or third quarter, and whether it will be available internationally.

Within six weeks of the HTC U Ultra’s release in the US, the company slashed its price from $749 down to $599 after reviewing outlets had a hard time recommending the device over similar Android Nougat counterparts. This move did not speak well of the device’s sales, though it has been able to make some profit from Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL sales since their October debut from much higher consumer demand. Google managed to sell an estimated 552,000 units before the end of 2016, and FierceWireless reported those devices accounting for 9.5 percent of smartphone sales at Verizon in January.

Google is not expected to announce refreshed Pixel devices until later this fall, but those sales will certainly aide HTC’s path to becoming a premium-focused smartphone brand and hopefully reduce its operating losses.

Courtesy-Fud

Peugeot, nuTonomy Team Up On Self-Driving Cars

May 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

French auto maker Peugeot is teaming up with Boston, Massachusetts-based tech firm nuTonomy to test self-driving cars in Singapore.

NuTonomy’s software, sensors and computing platforms will be installed in Peugeot 3008 models as part of plans to develop the technology needed for large fleets of autonomous cars, PSA and nuTonomy said in a statement on Wednesday.

The latest PSA Group project seeks to work on “level 5” autonomous capable vehicles, which require no driver input, and will allow both companies to study how an “on-demand autonomous vehicle mobility service” performs, they said.

The combination is the latest between technology and automotive companies after Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, last month unveiled an autonomous cars development partnership with supplier Robert Bosch, while BMW has announced an alliance with chip maker Intel and Israel’s Mobileye.

Autonomous driving in urban areas requires a more radical approach to vehicle design, particularly for software and sensors, to help a car navigate inner city obstacles, said Anne Laliron, Head of the Business Lab at PSA Group.

“That is the reason we jump on the opportunity to work with nuTonomy,” Laliron told Reuters.

PSA Group will use the project to learn about what components make sense, and which suppliers are available, Laliron said.

Following the initial phase of this partnership, the companies will consider expanding their on-road AV testing initiative to other major cities.

nuTonomy, a software company founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) academics and McKinsey management consultants was the first to begin on the road testing of driverless taxi services in Singapore last year.

It raised $16 million last May in a funding round led by Highland Capital Partners and has backing from Singapore government authorities and Samsung Ventures, among others.

Self-driving Safety To Improve With New Laser Sensors By Luminar

April 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Luminar, a Silicon Valley start-up, is gearing up to begin production of its laser-based sensor for self-driving cars, a key component that would improve vehicle safety, the company said on Thursday.

Founded in 2012 by two photonics experts, Luminar has kept a low profile in the race between automakers, startups and major technology companies to roll out self-driving cars for the masses.

Luminar is ramping up a manufacturing facility in Orlando, Florida, for its first run of 10,000 Lidar sensors later this year, Chief Executive Austin Russell said in an interview.

Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, shoots out light pulses that are reflected off objects, allowing self-driving cars to “see” their environment. Many self-driving experts regard it as a crucial component, along with other sensors such as cameras and radars.

Lidar has been the subject of an ongoing trade secrets lawsuit between Alphabet Inc unit Waymo and Uber.

Waymo alleges that a former employee stole intellectual property about its Lidar system that was later copied by Uber.

Russell said Lidars for self-driving cars on the market were developed from hardware that existed before autonomous cars. Their limitations in range and resolution make them unfit for the safe rollout of self-driving cars, he noted.

Luminar addresses those shortfalls by using a 1550 nanometer wavelength that provides 50 times greater resolution and 10 times the range of the best rival Lidars, Russell said.

That means a car can “see” a black object with reflectivity of 10 percent clearly from 200 meters away, he said. By contrast, the so-called “Puck” Lidar from Velodyne, a company that makes most of the Lidar used in self-driving prototypes today, has a range of 100 meters.

Russell said four companies, including automakers and technology firms which he did not identify, were testing their products on prototype driverless cars.

Russell said manufacturers should focus on perfecting Lidar’s capabilities instead of lowering prices to make self-driving cars more affordable for the public.

“As price comes down, performance comes down with it,” he said.

Is Facebook Really Trying To Compete Against Nintendo’s Switch?

April 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

In a move that positions the social giant against video platforms like Twitch and YouTube, Facebook today has announced that people can now live broadcast from a PC or laptop – something that was only possible via mobile devices since last year. More importantly to the game industry and the world of online influencers, this expansion of Facebook Live also extends to live streaming of PC software.

“If you’re a gamer, this new feature makes it easier than ever to stream your PC gameplay to friends and followers and engage with them while you play,” the company stated. “If you’re giving your friends or followers a tutorial or how-to guide, you can incorporate on-screen graphics, titles, and overlays. Or if you’re an artist, you can go live and switch seamlessly between cameras as you narrate the process.”

It’ll be interesting to see how much of the market Facebook will be able to wrangle away from rivals Google (YouTube) and Amazon (Twitch) as the rise of streaming and influencers continues. It’ll also be important for developers to keep a close eye on how Facebook Live streaming fares, as it could be another valuable marketing tool – for both AAAs and indies, as Innervate consultant Becky Taylor observed during the Game Developers Conference.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Intel Shows Off Optane SSD

March 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Over the weekend, Intel pushed ahead with the release of its first consumer and enterprise SSD based on 3D XPoint technology, with latency rates roughly one hundred times lower than NAND flash alternatives that have dominated the market since 2007.

The first Optane-branded storage device is called the Optane SSD DC P4800X, which the company says is designed to be used either as high-performance storage or as a caching device in data centers. The card features a capacity of 375GB, with latency of under 10 microseconds (10µs), along with 550,000 random 4K reads, 500,000 random 4K writes, and an overall endurance rating of 12.3 petabytes written (PBW).

3D XPoint memory is about 100 times lower latency than NAND flash, sits right under DRAM (faster), but really puts some pressure on the data center market in terms of access times and endurance ratings. Intel claims that the low latency and high endurance can yield between eight and 40 times faster responses under large workloads, especially for database applications, while consistently outperforming NAND-based technologies.

Originally, the company’s plan was to release 16GB and 32GB Optane storage products under the Intel Optane Memory 8000p series. These units were capable of reaching up to 300,000 random 4K reads and 120,000 random 4K writes, and up to 1,600MB/s sequential reads and 500MB/s sequential writes. The release date for these smaller configurations is currently unknown but are still scheduled for release sometime later this year.

The first noticeable benefit to using Optane as a storage product for enterprise users is the option to significantly upgrade the overall capacity of onboard RAM. For instance, Intel’s dual-socket Xeon systems can support up to 3TB of DRAM but are able to accommodate an additional 24TB of Optane storage. Quad-socket systems, on the other hand, can accommodate 12TB of DRAM and an additional 48TB of Optane storage.

Not cheap – $1,520 at launch, compatible with Kaby Lake

The Intel Optane P4800X 375GB PCI-E add-in card will initially be a very application-specific product for “creative professionals” and enterprise users who need low-latency caching at every point in their systems – from onboard CPU cache, to storage, to DRAM. The other usage model will be for enterprise users who need substantially more memory available to their systems, even at a slightly higher latency cost. The company will initially release the 375GB PCI-E model at $1,520 with limited availability, followed by 375GB and 750GB U.2 models in Q2, and a 1.5TB PCI-E add-in card in the second half of the year.

We expect these modules to be compatible with current Z270 chipsets along with upcoming X299 chipsets due in fall.

Optane DIMMs come next year

This year, Intel is sticking to Optane products in the PCI-Express form factor, but next year plans to make the technology more flexible to performance and enterprise users in the form of individual Optane DIMMs. Pricing and spec options on such modules has yet to be discussed, though the technology available in both formats is expected to significantly boost applications that require large amounts of raw memory consumption.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook VR Ambitions Threatened By Fight With ZeniMax Media

March 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc’s big ambitions in the ever expanding virtual reality industry could be threatened by a court order that would prevent it from using critical software code another company is laying claims to, according to legal and industry experts.

Video game publisher ZeniMax Media Inc has requested that a Dallas federal judge issue an order barring Facebook unit Oculus from using or distributing the disputed code, part of the software development kit that Oculus provides to outside companies creating games for its Rift VR headset.

A decision is likely a few months away, but intellectual property lawyers said ZeniMax has a decent chance of getting the order, which would mean Facebook faces a tough choice between paying a possibly hefty settlement or fighting on at risk of jeopardizing its position in the sector.

For now, Facebook is fighting on. Oculus spokeswoman Tera Randall said last Thursday the company would challenge a $500 million jury verdict on Feb. 1 against Oculus and its co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe for infringing ZeniMax’s copyrighted code and violating a non-disclosure agreement.

Randall said Oculus would possibly file an appeal that would “allow us to put this litigation behind us.”

An injunction would require Oculus, which Facebook acquired for $3 billion in 2014, to stop distributing the code to developers or selling those games that use it.

Such a court order “would put a huge stumbling block in front” of Oculus, said Stephanie Llamas, an analyst with gaming market research firm SuperData. It would offer the company’s rivals in the new market, which include HTC, Sony Corp, Alphabet Inc and others an “important opportunity for them to become first movers.”

Sales of the Rift itself would not be barred, but Llamas, said a lack of available titles could hinder Facebook’s offering relative to HTC’s Vive headset and Sony’s Playstation VR.

That market is relatively small at the moment – sales of VR hardware and software totaled $2.7 billion in 2016 – and mainly limited to gaming. But Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has predicted the technology “will become a part of daily life for billions of people,” revolutionizing social media, entertainment and medicine.

SuperData says the VR market will be worth $37 billion by 2020. Likewise, investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald last year issued a report predicting VR would account for 10 percent of Facebook revenue in four years’ time.

Snapchat Wants In On Hardware Development Too

February 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc hit the roads of London on Monday promoting its initial public offering with a daring proposition: that it can build hot-selling hardware gadgets and ad-friendly software features fast enough to stay one step ahead of Facebook.

No longer just a purveyor of a smartphone app for disappearing messages, Snap has hired hundreds of hardware engineers, built a secretive product development lab and scoured the landscape for acquisitions as it pursues its newly stated ambition to be “a camera company.”

These efforts, which are aimed at developing hardware and so-called augmented reality technologies, are central to the strategy of a company that is seeking a valuation of up to $22 billion in its early March IPO despite heavy losses and the specter of stiff competition for advertising dollars with a far-larger Facebook.

It is a big gamble and the odds against Snap are long.

There is little precedent for a company with its roots in software and social networking succeeding in the notoriously difficult consumer hardware business. Few U.S. firms aside from Apple have made big profits on hardware, and camera and wearable gadget makers have much lower valuations than Snap is seeking. Once-hot camera start-up GoPro  is a cautionary tale: its stock sits 61 percent below its 2014 IPO price.

More broadly, creating new products and features that have mass-market appeal and cannot be readily mimicked is a huge challenge, analysts say.

“It’s worrisome,” said Paul Meeks, chief investment officer at Sloy, Dahl & Holst, which manages more than $1 billion in assets. “Snapchat is going to have to continue to be really innovative and distinctive. It’s going to be very tough to trump Facebook.”

Snap declined to comment for this story.

Snap first signaled its new focus with the September reveal of Spectacles, funky sunglasses with an embedded video camera for posting to the Snapchat app. The company spent $184 million on research and development last year, nearly half its revenue.

 

Is Facebook’s Oculus Losing Steam?

February 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Facebook is closing around 200 of its 500 Oculus Rift virtual-reality demo stations at Best Buy locations across the US.

Apparently the move is because of poor “store performance” which is spin for the fact that few people are even trying the technology out.

Business Insider claims it is common for them to go days without giving a single demonstration.

Oculus spokeswoman Andrea Schubert insisted that the closings were due to “seasonal changes”.

“You can still request Rift demos at hundreds of Best Buy stores in the US and Canada. We still believe the best way to learn about VR is through a live demo,” she enthused.

Best Buy said stores that no longer offer demos will continue to sell the Oculus Rift headset and accompanying touch controllers. But it apparently interests in the headsets dried up after Christmas.

Another worker from California said that Oculus software bugs would often render his demo headsets unusable.

Courtesy-Fud

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