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Samsung Still Facing Challenges Recovering Galaxy Note 7 Phones

December 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung’s recall of Galaxy Note7 smartphones because of exploding batteries remains a challenging task, and some users, for example, in Canada, are still not exchanging their devices for a refund or a different phone.

The South Korean company has decided to cut these phones from the network, adopting similar measures to those taken last month in New Zealand and earlier this month in Australia.

The company said Wednesday that starting Dec. 12, functional limitations on Note7 phones, including curbs on the battery charge, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disablement will be introduced in Canada.

From Dec. 15, customers still using the Note7 will no longer be able to connect to any Canadian mobile network service to make calls, use data or send text messages. Samsung said it had been able to secure nearly 90 percent of the Note7 devices that were brought into the Canadian market.

When Samsung announced in September a recall of the Note7 in tandem with Health Canada, a Canadian federal government department, it was said that about 22,000 of the recalled smartphones were sold in the country.

Samsung announced a global recall of the Note7 in early September after it found a “battery cell issue.” The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Sept. 15 announced a recall in the U.S. of about 1 million Note7 phones as it found that the lithium-ion batteries in the devices could overheat and catch fire. By Oct. 13, the CPSC expanded the recall to include replacement Note7 phones that Samsung had supplied to customers under the first recall as they too were found to have the battery problem.

The company also stopped production of the phones. It has yet to explain in detail what caused the batteries to explode. A recent report suggested that the phone design could compress the battery even during normal operation.

Samsung said on Dec. 1 that it was working with local carriers to disconnect from Dec. 15 Note7 phones that were still being used by customers in Australia. Note7 owners in the country responded well to the recall, but a small number of affected devices are still with them, the company said. Customers in New Zealand were to be disconnected from Nov. 18.

The Note7 recall has been both a public relations and financial debacle for Samsung. The company has reported that the third quarter revenue of its IT and Mobile Communications division was down 15 percent from the same period last year to 22.5 trillion Korean won (US$19.8 billion) while operating profit fell 95 percent to 100 billion won, as a result of the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note7.

Sony Plans To Release Six Smartphone Games Next Year

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

sony-smartphone-games-150x150Japan’s Sony Corp  will release as many as six mobile phone games in the next year, looking to build on its own gaming franchises success off of console rival Nintendo Co’s Pokemon GO.

The upcoming titles will free up some of Sony’s popular gaming franchises, such as Everybody’s Golf, from PlayStation consoles to make them available on Apple Inc’s  iOS and Google’s Android mobile platforms.

An aggressive push into the rapidly growing segment is seen as a necessity for Sony as its games unit has emerged as the group’s largest profit contributor following an overhaul of the group’s consumer electronics business.

Sony revealed on Wednesday a total of 10 mobile gaming titles it is working on, including those to be released in the financial year starting in April. The 10 titles include PaRappa the Rapper and Arc The Lad.

They will be available initially in Japan and eventually in other Asian countries, Tomoki Kawaguchi, executive director of Sony’s mobile gaming unit, told reporters.

The announcement comes before Nintendo debuts its game franchise Super Mario Bros on Apple’s iPhone next week.

While disappointing sales of Wii U consoles helped push Nintendo into mobile gaming, Sony has been a decisive winner in console gaming with over 40 million PlayStation 4 sales, almost double the sales of Microsoft Corp’s XBox One.

But Sony is facing the increasing threat from mobile in countries such as Japan, the world’s third largest game market where mobile gaming accounts for more than half of the $12.4 billion market, according to games research firm Newzoo.

Sony has launched some games for smartphones through its music entertainment unit but failed to fully introduce mobile gaming to its PlayStation business.

Analysts doubt Sony’s chances of major success in mobile gaming, citing a lack of powerful characters like Nintendo’s Super Mario and Donkey Kong, which have achieved widespread appeal globally.

Google Data Centers Push For 100% Renewable Energy Usage In 2017

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

google-bldg-150x150Google announced that it will be able to power all of its global data centers and corporate offices from 100% renewable energy in 2017, a goal the company has been working toward for years.

Back in 2010 Google began signing long-term contracts to purchase renewable energy directly from solar and wind farm suppliers. The company’s first contract was to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Iowa.

Last year, Google purchased another 842MW of renewable energy, nearly doubling the clean power it had purchased, which took it to 2 gigawatts (GW) of cumulative renewable power.

“Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future,” Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, stated in a blog.

Google pursued a multi-pronged approach to reach its 100% renewable energy goal, buying electricity through power purchase agreements(PPAs) that locked in contracts for carbon-free energy at a set price. The guaranteed revenue from PPAs also allowed renewable energy suppliers to invest with confidence in additional capacity, such as wind turbines and photovoltaic panels. Google also started creating more efficient facilities that would use less energy.

Google has signed onto 20 renewable energy projects around the world — about two-thirds of which are in the U.S. — amounting to more than $3.5 billion in clean energy investments.

Google also purchased its power through renewable energy credits, each one of which represents 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity sold separately from commodity power sources and fed into the general electrical grid.

“Over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60% and 80%, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option,” Hölzle said. “Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy.”

“Our ultimate goal is to create a world where everyone — not just Google — has access to clean energy,” he added.

Will Facebook Get Acquired By Evil Google?

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The word on the information street is that Google wants to buy Facebook. It is entirely speculative, but could have legs.

Information leaked suggests that talks are well advanced between the two companies.

Anecdotal evidence from many Facebook users suggests that talks are well advanced and the companies are already sharing experimental data, between themselves, of user data. Other sources suggest that Microsoft (Vole) is also interested in Facebook and, conversely, that Facebook is interested in buying Microsoft.

None of the companies cared enough to comment to Fudzilla at press time. 

Courtesy-Fud

Will The TeraHertz Band Help Increase Wi-Fi Speeds

December 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

teraResearchers have worked out a way to push Wi-Fi speeds to 34 Gbps using the TeraHertz band.

While greater bandwidth in the 300GHz and above band has been known for a while it is pointless because the range makes it a chocolate teapot.

Some researchers have managed to hit 100 Gbps but when it only works for a few centimetres it is not commercially viable.

Now boffins at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have got the technology to provide a great 34 Gbps speed with a decent range.

Naoto Oshimo, one of the scientists behind this latest test, said that “device performance is almost sufficient for short-distance wireless communication such as KIOSK downloads, which might be its first application”. By that they mean that they have managed 10 metres, almost OK for home use.

Oshimo believes that this technology will scale hugely in terms of the speed as well, and we could eventually be looking at topping the 1Tbps mark.

Courtesy-Fud

Mozilla’s Search Deal With Yahoo Appears To Be Paying Off

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mozilla-logo-2-150x150Mozilla has reported that revenue for 2015 was up 28% over the year before, the biggest increase in three years.

Nearly all the $421 million booked by the Mozilla Foundation came from royalty payments, the bulk of which originated, as always, from search deals that set defaults in the Firefox browser.

Mozilla Foundation is the nonprofit organization that oversees Mozilla Corp., the commercial arm which builds and maintains Firefox for personal computers and smartphones.

According to a financial statement, $417 million, or 99% of all revenue, came from royalty payments. The percentage of revenue derived from royalties has never dipped below 91% — Mozilla’s fortunes have always been tightly linked to the Firefox search deals — but 2015’s portion was the highest since 2010.

 Although Mozilla has tried to diversify its revenue sources, notably in early 2014 when it experimented with in-browser advertising, those attempts have not succeeded. Mozilla dropped the in-Firefox ad idea in December 2015, for example.

Nor has it been able to monetize mobile to any extent: Its Android and iOS versions of Firefox — the latter is actually just a wrapper around Apple’s Safari browser — have never been able to collect more than a minuscule portion of the market. Mozilla’s revenues, then, largely rely on the desktop Firefox, which runs on Windows, macOS and Linux.

Search-based revenue was approximately $410 million, representing 98% of all royalty income and 97% of Mozilla’s total revenue. The $410 million was $119 million more than in 2014, representing a 41% increase.

Mozilla was able to squeeze more out of its Firefox search deals because of two decisions it made in late 2014. First, it dumped the global arrangement it had with Google — whereby Google’s search engine was the default for virtually all copies of Firefox — and instead struck country-specific or regional deals with a dozen different search and information providers. Secondly, it negotiated a lucrative deal with Yahoo, which was made the default search provider for U.S. Firefox users.

The second deal was the more important of the two. Yahoo paid Mozilla about $375 million in 2015 — and is contracted to continue payments of that size until 2019 — or approximately $100 million more than Google laid out in 2013, the last full year of its Firefox arrangement. Other search contracts contributed $35 million to Mozilla’s coffers, Computerworldcalculated from the organization’s financial statement and tax return.

Mozilla trumpeted the change in search strategy even as it declined to point out the positive impact to its bottom line. “We decided that one global default search partner was no longer the right choice for our users or the web,” the organization said in a “State of Mozilla” report. “Instead, we adopted a more local and flexible approach by country to control our own destiny and to diversify the user experience and competitive landscape of web search globally.”

Are Smartphone Makers Conspiring Against Apple?

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Chinese smartphone vendors are so worried that Apple is strong arming AMOLED suppliers to suck supply that they have formed their own consortium to fight it.

According to Digitimes, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and BBK are worried that Apple may monopolise supplies of smartphone-use AMOLED panels from Samsung Display and other Japan-based makers in the future.

To fight against this, they are to work with the China-based flexible panel maker Royole to form a consortium for joint investment in local flexible AMOLED production in 2017. The cunning plan is better than being stuck without compotants, but might cause a few headaches as they will be effectively creating new production in an area they have little experience.   But if they are lucky they could set their own prices, in the same way that Apple twists the arms of its suppliers using its buying power.

China-based smartphone vendor BBK has established an independent subsidiary which will focus on manufacturing panels and BBK’s goal for the subsidiary is to expand its monthly capacity to at least 60,000 AMOLED panels from 2017-2019. Royole is expanding its AMOLED capacity to 45,000 units in 2017 and 2018.

Courtesy-Fud

Nokia Smartphones Poised For A Comeback

December 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

nokia-hq-150x150Nokia smartphones are gearing up for a comeback after former managers at the Finnish company licensed the handset brand from Microsoft and struck up partnerships with Google and phone manufacturer Foxconn.

Nokia was once the world’s dominant cellphone maker but missed the shift to smartphones and then chose Microsoft’s unpopular Windows operating system for its “Lumia” range.

Nokia quit smartphones in 2014 by selling its handset activities to Microsoft to focus on mobile network equipment. Microsoft continued selling Lumia smartphones under its own name but this year largely abandoned that business, too.

 HMD Global, led by Nokia veteran Arto Nummela, wants to launch its first Nokia smartphone in the early part of next year using Google’s Android operating system.

Success will require a dash for scale by stealing business from Apple, Samsung and dozens of other players in a cut-throat industry.

“Consumers may be carrying different smartphones now, but are they really in love and loyal to those brands?” said Nummela in an interview.

The Nokia consumer brand lives on as the badge on cheaper, entry-level “feature phones” sold mainly in Asia, India and Eastern Europe, though Microsoft invested little to market the name in recent years. Smartphones typically cost anywhere from ten to 30 times as much as these basic phones, which sell for as little as $20.

“For a new entrant, having an established brand provides it with an instant on-ramp,” said mobile phone analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight, who suggested that phone vendors with weaker brands should not take the new challenge lightly.

“The barriers to entry for the Android phone space are low,” said Wood. “What HMD has is the Nokia brand and management experience. The key to its success will be driving scale.”

CEO Nummela, who was once responsible for Nokia’s sales and product development, does not lack ambition.

“We want to be one of the key competitive players in the smartphone business,” he told Reuters.

HMD President Florian Seiche previously worked at Siemens, Orange, HTC and Nokia. Chief Marketing Officer Pekka Rantala is a former CEO of Rovio, the maker of the Angry Birds game, as well as a Nokia veteran.

“We are not going to skip any markets in the long term,” Seiche said, adding that HMD had already set up offices in 40 locations around the world.

Facebook Adds Popular Games To Messenger App

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

fb-messenger-app-150x150For users who enjoy the popular Facebook Messenger app, it’s game time.

The social network has rolled out a feature that allows users to play hugely popular games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders, the company’s latest attempt to get users spend more time on its messaging app.

The new feature, initially rolled out in 30 countries with 17 games, will be available on the latest versions of iOS and Android operating systems.

A user, in the midst of a conversation, can tap on a game controller icon to choose a game and start playing. The feature also allows user to challenge their friends for a game.

Facebook made Messenger a standalone app in 2014, a move that initially irked many users. The app, however, gained popularity after the company added a host of features to it.

The social network has also added instant video and payment facilities to the app.

Facebook boasts of having more than one billion users for its messaging app, making it one top three apps in the world.

Its main Facebook app is the most popular, followed by Messenger and WhatsApp, the messaging service it bought in 2014.

Intel Makes A Score With Delphi Automotive

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has signed a deal with Auto parts maker Delphi Automotive Plc and Israeli technology firm Mobileye.

The move will put Intel chips under the bonnet of their joint effort to produce self-driving vehicles by 2019.

Intel is also working with German luxury car maker BMW AG and Mobileye on self-driving technology. However so far, the chip maker has not made much of a dent in the autonomous vehicle market.

Glen De Vos, Delphi’s vice president of engineering announced that Intel will provide a “system on chip” for autonomous vehicle systems that Delphi and Mobileye are developing together.

UK-based Delphi is talking with established automakers and new or niche vehicle companies, such as manufacturers of commercial vehicles, interested in automating vehicles, De Vos said.

The system Delphi and Mobileye are developing would likely come to market first in a commercial vehicle operating in a limited area, such as an airport shuttle or a ride-hailing service, DeVos said.

Delphi is testing its autonomous driving technology in vehicles in Singapore. By the end of this year, Delphi hopes to choose a city in the United States to launch a test fleet of self-driving cars during 2017, De Vos said. The company is also looking for test site in a European city.

Courtesy-Fud

AT&T Launches New Video Streaming Service

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

directv-now-150x147If you’re looking ditch cable TV, a new video streaming service from AT&T will be available starting today.

DirecTV Now is a flexible pay-as-you-go streaming service that starts at US$35 per month. DirectTV’s conventional satellite service is the foundation, but the content will be streamed over the internet.

Traditionally, users needed a two-year commitment and credit check to get DirecTV, but those requirements are not needed for the new service. The streaming service will work on the Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices, as well as mobile devices with Android and iOS and PCs.

There are four pricing bundles, AT&T said at a press event in New York City. Users will be able to get more than 60 channels for $35, more than 80 for $50, more than 100 for $60, and more than 120 for $70. As an introductory promotion, AT&T will offer 100 channels for $35.

The programming lineup includes Disney channels, ESPN, AMC, Turner Broadcasting, NBC Universal, Fox, and many more channels. HBO and Cinemax can be added for $5 each. A deal to add CBS and Showtime is being negotiated.

NFL Sunday Ticket won’t be available with the service, but AT&T is also negotiating to add the service. NFL content will still be available on the games broadcast on NBC, Fox, and ESPN. When CBS is added, its NFL games will be available, too.

AT&T also plans to add a cloud DVR service in the coming years. Subscribers will be able to watch two streams simultaneously on separate devices.

The interface is key to the success of a streaming TV service. DirecTV Now will be able to track the programs users are watching and provide recommendations based on categories. The content is categorized as TV shows, movies, and networks. The interface will list shows people are watching, and users will be able to search content.

DirecTV Now is the third major streaming TV option after Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Dish’s Sling TV. It’s competitive on price with PlayStation Vue, which starts at $40, but not as cheap as Sling, which has fewer channels for $20.

For AT&T, DirecTV Now is a big deal and a new way to deliver programming. It’s also a way to say goodbye to the ubiquitous DirecTV satellite receivers.

“This is the foundation for how we’ll do things in the future,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group.

Will Smartphone Production Rise In 2017?

November 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Next year, smartphone production volume is expected to grow by 4.5 percent to reach 1.4 billion units, according to the latest market forecast.

Global market research firm TrendForce says the double-digit growth in smartphone shipments that once took place in previous years is not expected to happen in 2017, as smartphone manufacturers currently face innovation hurdles and a shortage of new useful applications.

The report says that around 45 percent of all smartphones produced this year belong to Chinese brands, or 634 million units, mainly owing to growth from Oppo and Vivo shipments. However, these vendors may face flat growth in 2017 as their sales efforts now hinge on developing foreign market presence. This will require obtaining necessary IP and the support of local wireless companies or risk of being confined to home markets.

Apple and Samsung attempt to salvage sales this year

Meanwhile in the US, Apple is expected to post an 11.5 percent annual decline in iPhone volume production for 2016 as sales become sluggish over an iterative product design that has some customers prolonging their smartphone upgrade cycles. Samsung has also made an effort to salvage its Galaxy S7 device from the eyes of the public by promoting a new ‘glossy black’ color option, similar to the iPhone 7 ‘Jet Black’ color option that has attracted the most sales among retailers. The report notes that these manufacturers and other international brands are facing noticeable shipment shortages that constrain growth in the market’s overall volume production.

AMOLED smartphone market to reach 28 percent next year

The forecast says that consumers now expect noteworthy advances in mobile display technology next year because market leader Apple did not equip its latest iPhone 7 with an AMOLED panel design.

Samsung currently enjoys a monopoly over small-size AMOLED panel supplies, which limits the ability of other manufacturers to offer the technology in their own devices. TrendForce predicts that the panels will have a 28 percent adoption rate in 2017, followed by a 40 percent adoption rate in 2018 after LG Display begins to manufacture and supply its own small-size AMOLED panels.

At DisplayWeek 2016 in San Francisco, Samsung unveiled a foldable 5.7-inch AMOLED display to be used in an upcoming “foldable” Galaxy smartphone lineup. Back in December 2015, we reported that the company will start using OLED screens for iPhones starting in 2018 and is expected to order them from Samsung and LG.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Web Services Cut Storage Prices Again

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

aws-150x150Amazon Web Services announced another round of price cuts  and simplified what customers pay for its storage products. The company’s popular Simple Storage Service (S3) has had its six pricing tiers cut down to three, along with a corresponding price cut of roughly 16 percent to 25 percent.

Glacier, AWS’s storage service for data that doesn’t need to be accessed frequently, now has a trio of retrieval options. Companies can have quicker access to their data if they pay more or get cheaper access if they’re willing to wait. Glacier users also get a 43 percent price cut.

These updates come a week before AWS’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, where the public cloud provider is expected to unveil a suite of new services and offerings. Storage is one of the key services that Amazon offers, because other services — including its Elastic Compute Cloud — rely on AWS storage.

S3 customers will automatically see their bills shrink in December, based on a set of price cuts that are laid out in Amazon’s blog post announcing the changes. Roughly speaking, users will be paying 2 cents to 2.5 cents per gigabyte stored, down from about 2.75 cents to 4 cents per gigabyte.

When Amazon introduced Glacier, users were charged on a sliding scale based on how much they stored in the service and the rate at which they accessed it. That made pricing confusing, to say the least. Now, users can pay for one of three retrieval options.

Standard retrieval is what Glacier already provides: Users get their data back in 3 to 5 hours and pay 1 cent per GB retrieved and 5 cents per 1,000 requests. When people need rapid access to their data, they can use Expedited retrieval, which costs 3 cents per GB and 1 cent per request. That increase in price usually gets users their data back within 5 minutes, though it will sometimes take longer during periods of peak load.

Finally, for slow, budget-conscious applications, customers can use Bulk retrieval, which lets them pay a quarter of a cent per GB, plus 2.5 cents per 1,000 requests. In exchange, they’ll get their data back between five and 12 hours later.

The news comes a few weeks after Google announced its own revamped storage offerings, including a new Coldline tier designed to compete with Glacier. One thing that sets Google’s storage offerings apart is that all tiers let users access the information within milliseconds. However, Google’s cheapest storage is still more expensive than Amazon’s cheapest tier.

Is HTC Jumping Out Of The Smartphone Business?

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Troubled maker of smartphones HTC has denied rumours that it could be about to flog off its smartphone business.

The rumours had been picked up  largely because HTC has not been doing very well, the company was not Apple and the Tame Apple Press does love to pretend that only Jobs’ Mob makes money from smartphones.
Now according to the Taiwanese media HTC has denied those rumors and is refusing to ever speak of it again. So to make up for this lack of a quote the Tame Apple Press has continued to rubbish HTC and implied that it really is going to flog off its smartphonebusiness but “the official stance”  is that isn’t.” Apparently, HTC’s alternative is to go into VR – yeah that will sort it out.

We feel sorry for HTC because it generally makes good gear, has Google’s Pixel as a contract, but does not seem to get a lucky break.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Set To Acquire Qwiklabs

November 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

qwiklabs-150x150Google is planning on purchasing Qwiklabs, a firm that helps individuals learn how to use public cloud services to run applications without operating a data center.

It’s a helpful move for Google, which is trying to expand the use of its cloud platform and stands to gain when developers and IT professionals get a handle on making applications run in the cloud. The company will create tools to help get people up to speed on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and G Suite productivity service, said Jason Martin, the director of professional services for Google Cloud, in a blog post.

But there’s a wrinkle to the acquisition : Qwiklabs’s existing portfolio is entirely focused on educating people about offerings from Amazon Web Services, including Alexa skills. For the time being, those offerings will still be available.

“We plan to continue to offer lab learning credits and subscriptions for sale on Qwiklabs.com,” Qwiklabs CEO Enis Konuk said in a blog post. “Owners of existing credits and subscriptions continue to enjoy the same access to our library of hands-on labs. Our partners who deliver instructor-led training sessions and events can continue to do so.”

A Google representative declined to comment on future plans for Qwiklabs’ product base. This isn’t the first time the tech titan has bought an AWS-focused cloud company, though.

In 2014, Google acquired Stackdriver, a service designed to help users manage the performance of their cloud compute resources. At the time, it only worked with AWS. Now, it handles both AWS and GCP workloads. Google Cloud chief Diane Greene has said on multiple occasions that she’s a supporter of multi-cloud deployments, so it’s possible Qwiklabs’ offerings will continue in the same vein.

Amazon will likely have to find a new education partner to fill Qwiklabs’ void. In September, the cloud provider announced it would give customers on its Enterprise Support Plan free Qwiklabs credits.

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