Bitcoin continues to surge and is on track for its longest winning streak in 18 months, as fears that Greece could exit the euro drove speculators and Greek depositors into the decentralized digital currency.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lashed out at Greece’s creditors on Tuesday as he defied a string of warnings that Europe is preparing for a “Grexit”. The debt-stricken country faces 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in repayments to the International Monetary Fund by the end of June.
Bitcoin, a web-based “cryptocurrency” invented six years ago, is not backed by or controlled by any government or central bank and floats freely, fluctuating according to user demand.
Though bitcoin’s value has previously been highly volatile, it has stabilized over the past six months and is increasingly treated as a legitimate and potentially valuable asset by major financial institutions, and even by governments such as Britain’s.
Joshua Scigala, co-founder of Vaultoro.com, a firm that holds bitcoin for its customers and allows them to exchange it for gold and vice versa, said that Greeks were buying the currency as their trust in the authorities waned. It is also unclear what currency would be used if a Grexit does occur — another potential factor driving Greek demand for bitcoin.
“Some people aren’t waiting for the government to figure out an exit plan and are doing it for themselves,” said Scigala.
“You have people worrying about their families’ wealth or their life savings, and worrying that their money might be locked up in banks … They’d rather hold money in a private asset like gold or bitcoin.”
Scigala said over the past two months, with Greece locked in talks with its creditors, the company had seen a 124 percent pick-up in inflows from Greek IP addresses – numerical labels that identify computers and other internet-enabled devices.
Bitcoin traded as high as $252.05 on the Bitstamp exchange on Tuesday, its strongest in over two months, before easing a little to $245.21, still up around 4 percent on the day. That marked its sixth straight session of gains — its best run since January 2014.
And many advertisers, analysts and investors say Twitter already has the right person for the job: not interim CEO Jack Dorsey but Adam Bain, the company’s president and head of revenue, who has emerged as an early favorite.
Twitter’s outgoing chief executive, Dick Costolo, resigned abruptly last Thursday amid pressure from investors to increase the user base and improve what’s known as direct response advertising, the most lucrative type on the microblogging site.
Those ads prompt users to take an action, such as signing up for a website or buying a product. Improving them is central to Twitter’s ability to make more money.
Before joining Twitter in 2010, Bain served as president of the Fox Audience Network where he was responsible for monetizing advertising platforms across News Corp’s web properties. At Twitter, he has helped aggressively grow the advertising platform. He holds many of the company’s most valuable relationship with advertisers and understands the media business, advertisers said, and could help redirect Twitter so it meets advertisers’ demands and makes more money.
For now, advertisers hope the management change will “light a fire” under Twitter, said Adam Epstein, chief executive of ad Marketplace, which works with search advertisers. Even though they have discussed ways to improve advertising with Twitter executives, the company has been slow to change.
“When you talk to Twitter, you can throw some great ideas on a whiteboard, but there seems to be a lack of urgency,” Epstein said.
They also hope Twitter makes the site easier to use so that more people become regular users and click on ads. Advertisers also want Twitter to provide data that allows them to gather more information on consumers.
Yahoo has been quietly axing shedloads of its services, claiming that its focus is on “search, communications and digital content” to cover a cull which is a bit like a Game of Thrones Wedding.
First to go was maps.yahoo.com (a.k.a. Yahoo Maps) at the end of June. Though maps will live on within Yahoo search and Flickr in some fashion.
Yahoo maps has been around for eight years, and probably did not get the same level of attention that Google or Microsoft managed.
Support for Yahoo Mail on the built-in Mail app on Apple devices running iOS older than Version 5 as of June 15 is also toast.
Yahoo Chief Architect Amotz Maimon said that if you use iOS 4 & earlier, you can continue to use Yahoo Mail on their Safari mobile browser at mail.yahoo.com.
Yahoo Pipes, a tool for building visually-enticing Web apps from feeds, pages and other services, will no longer by supported as of August. 30.
GeoPlanet and PlaceSpotter APIs are being retired. Media funtions which we never new existed such as Yahoo Music in France and Canada, will be axed.
Xobni email app it has acquired, along with the Yahoo toolbar on Chrome and the Yahoo People Search directory has gone the way of the dodo.
All these seem to be reasonably useful functions which most people didn’t know about because they were on Yahoo.
For a while now, people had been wondering what the next Wii would be called, with smart money being on the Number 2. However it seems that the new console dubbed the Nintendo NX has a few surprises under the bonnet.
According to Nikkei Nintendo is planning an Android console so that game developers would be able to port their games over with relative ease.
This could also indicate that games developed for the Nintendo NX could extend to other Android-powered devices like smartphones and tablets, play nice with the console.
Games developers have been ignoring the Wii U in droves so this might actually help Nintendo get back into the race.
Android-powered consoles have appeared before but they died horribly in the market place.
There’s something genuinely surreal about sitting down to write an article about region locking in 2015. It feels archaic and almost nostalgic; I might as well be writing something about blowing into cartridge ports to get games to work, or bemoaning the long load times for cassettes. Yet here we are. Years into the era of digital distribution, long after we reached the point where it became technically harder to prevent customers from accessing games from anywhere in the world than it is to permit the same, region locking is back in the news. Thanks, Nintendo.
The focus of this week’s headlines is the Humble Bundle promotion which Nintendo is running for a number of indie titles on 3DS and Wii U. It’s a great deal for some excellent games and is raising money for a solid cause; plus it’s wonderful to see console platform holders engaging with the Humble Bundle approach, which has been so successful at bringing indie games (and other creative works) to wider audiences on the PC. It ought to be a win, win, win for Nintendo, gamers and indie developers alike.
Unfortunately, though, the bundle only works in the Americas; North America and some bits of Central and South America. Customers elsewhere are entirely locked out, a matter which has been a source of deep frustration not only to those customers, but also seemingly to Nintendo’s own staff working on the project. The result is that what ought to have been a straightforward PR win for the company has turned bittersweet; there has been more widespread news coverage of the region locking debacle in the past few days than there has been for the bundle itself.
Although this is a terrible shame for the developers involved – and I sincerely hope that Nintendo can pull its thumb out of its backside and launch an international version of the bundle in short order – no sympathy is due to Nintendo in this situation. It’s a problem entirely of the company’s own making; the firm made a deliberate and conscious decision to embrace region locking even as the internationalisation of digital distribution made that look increasingly ridiculous, and until that stubbornly backwards piece of decision making is reversed, it’s going to continue causing PR problems for the firm, not to mention genuine problems for its most devoted customers.
Remember, after all, that the rest of the gaming world has ditched region locking en masse – Sony gave it up with the PS3, even making it painless to use digital content from different regions by creating multiple accounts on the same console, while Microsoft made region locking optional on Xbox 360 (making a bit of a mess where some publishers enforced it and others didn’t) before ditching it entirely on the Xbox One. At the same time Nintendo, ever the merry contrarians, went the opposite direction, not only maintaining region locking on the Wii and Wii U, but even extending it to the 3DS – in contrast to the company’s prior handheld consoles, which had been region free.
The idiocy of a region locked handheld is staggering; these are systems which are quite simply at their best when you’re traveling, yet lo and behold, Nintendo don’t want you to buy any games if you go on holiday or on a business trip. The excuses trotted out were mealy-mouthed corporate dishonesty from start to finish; it was all about protecting customers, honest, and respecting local customs and laws. Utter tosh. Had those things been a genuine issue, they would have been an issue in the previous decades when Nintendo managed to sell handheld consoles without region locking; they would also have been an issue for Sony and Microsoft when they removed region locking from their systems.
In truth, there’s only one reason for region locking in this day and age – price control – and Nintendo’s calculation must have been that they had more to lose from the possibility, real or imagined, of people buying cheaper 3DS games from countries overseas, than they had to lose from annoying a chunk of their customer base, be they keen gamers who wanted to try out titles unlikely to be released in their regions, expats who want to play games brought from their home countries or parents who find that a game bought in the airport on the way home from holiday results not in a pacified, happy child on the flight but in an angry, upset child with a game that won’t work.
In Nintendo’s defence, Satoru Iwata has recently been musing publicly about dropping region locking from the Nintendo NX, whenever that turns up. That the company is clearly planning to move down that path does rather confirm that it’s been fibbing about its motivations for region locking all along, of course, which might be why Iwata is being cautious in his statements; it’s a shame if such face-saving is the reason for Nintendo failing to keep up with industry moves in this regard, because the company is going to keep being periodically beaten with this stick until the problem is fixed.
Admittedly, there would be problems with removing region locking from its existing consoles – not least that Nintendo’s agreements with publishers probably guarantee the region locking system, so even if it could be patched out of the 3DS and Wii U with a software update, that can’t happen legally due to the contracts it would breach. What Nintendo could and should do, however, is to offer gamers a gesture of good faith on the matter by dropping region locking from all its first-party software from now on – and perhaps emulating Xbox 360 era Microsoft by making it optional for third-party publishers as well. I can envisage no legal barrier to that approach; it would earn the company enormous kudos for responding to its audience and dealing with the problem, and would cost them precisely nothing. There aren’t that many easy PR wins floating around the industry right now; Nintendo should leap on this chance to show itself to be on the customers’ side.
Wheels turn slowly in Kyoto, though, and it’s probably too much to expect the company to react in a startup-like way to the region locking issue. In some ways it’s Nintendo’s strength that it reacts slowly and thoughtfully rather than jumping on every bandwagon, but in recent years, it’s also been a weakness far too many times – and the thoroughly wonderful software that the company has been turning out in the past few years, perhaps the finest line-up it’s produced in decades, has been regularly undermined by bad decisions in marketing and positioning of its platforms, many of which can be traced to a failure to understand where the market is and where it’s moving.
Region locking isn’t the biggest problem. Fixing it would be cheap and easy but would hardly be a panacea for Nintendo’s issues – but it’s a problem that’s symptomatic, emblematic even, of the broader problems Nintendo has with putting its customers first and applying the same care and attention to its corporate aspects which it always applies to its software development. Fix a problem like this in a proactive, rapid way, and we might all start to believe that the company has what it takes to get back on top.
IBM IS bringing its QRadar Security Intelligence technology to the cloud in a bid to help companies prioritize major security threats more quickly and free up critical resources to fight cyber attacks.
The offering is available through a cloud-based software-as-a-service model, and comes with an IBM Security Managed Services option for security experts with more advanced skills.
QRadar Security Intelligence comes in the form of two services. The first is IBM Security Intelligence on Cloud, which the firm said will help organisations determine whether security-related events are simple anomalies or actual threats.
“Built as a cloud service using IBM QRadar, enterprises can quickly correlate security event data with threat information from over 500 supported data sources for devices, systems and applications,” IBM explained.
“This is complemented by more than 1,500 pre-defined reports for use cases such as compliance, vulnerability management and security incident response.”
The second service is Intelligent Log Management on Cloud designed to simplify security and compliance data collection.
This is also powered by IBM QRadar technology, and uses analytics and a hosted, multi-tenant technology to integrate with existing infrastructure, working with real-time correlation and anomaly detection capabilities.
“Through support for more than 400 platforms, security managers can also capture logs from nearly any device in their security operation,” the firm added.
IBM said that the announcement is a reaction to the findings in the 2014 IBM Cyber Index, which revealed that organisations across the world deal with an average of 91 million potential security events every year, a problem that creates huge amounts of data that needs to be stored and analysed.
The cloud software announcement arrives just after IBM posted its Q1 2015 financial results, demonstrating strong growth in the cloud.
The results showed cloud revenues up 75 percent to $3.8bn from $2.3bn in the first quarter of 2014.
However, IBM posted an overall quarterly revenue decline of 12 percent owing to the effects of the strong dollar.
Revenues were $19.6bn for Q1, a figure that would have been equal to the $22.5bn that IBM made last year were it not for the effects of the dollar and moves to divest unprofitable parts of the business.
Overall the revenue drove IBM to profits of $2.4bn for the quarter. The company said that this was down five percent on the same period last year, although at that time IBM also reported profits of $2.4bn, suggesting that the original figure was raised at some point.
When online pre-orders for Apple’s first smartwatch started on April 10, many customers were surprised to see delivery times as far out as June instead of on April 24, when the devices officially go on sale.
On Wednesday, Apple notified some buyers that they would not have to wait so long after all.
“Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on the available supply and the order in which they were received,” Apple said in a statement.
An Apple spokesman declined to say how soon the company would ship the watches or how many customers would be affected.
The Cupertino, California company previously predicted that demand would exceed supply at product launch. It has not said how many watches its customers have pre-ordered.
In a note to clients on Wednesday, FDR analyst Daniel Ives estimated Apple would take over 2 million pre-orders for the watch and ship 20 million of them in 2015.
“The longer-term consumer adoption curve for the Apple Watch remains a major ‘hot button’ question among tech investors as broad customer feedback is yet to be seen,” Ives wrote.
The Internet company has hired advisers to help it evaluate options for the stake, Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer told investors on a conference call on Tuesday. It will not be included in the planned spin-off of its stake in China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, she said.
Investors have been urging Mayer to monetize the Yahoo Japan stake separately, after she announced plans to spin off the Alibaba stake in January, which could be worth $40 billion.
The advisers will help Yahoo “determine the most promising opportunities to maximize value” for the Yahoo Japan stake, said Mayer.
But Wall Street remained broadly cautious about the plan.
“They are taking the slow train, stressing the process,” said Colin Gillis, an analyst BGC Partners, who warned that a deal, if any, could be a long way down the line. “Engaging advisers doesn’t mean spinning it out.”
Yahoo owns about 35 percent of Yahoo Japan Corp, which has a market value of almost $25 billion on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Japanese internet company SoftBank Corp is the biggest shareholder, with about 36 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Last month Yahoo shareholder Starboard Value LP said the Alibaba spin-off was a “good first step” but urged Yahoo to also spin off its Yahoo Japan stake in a tax-efficient manner. Starboard did not reply to a request for comment.
The last processor released was Poulson that was pretty advanced for its time, but is now getting so old that parts of the chip are haunted.
The Itanium 9500 series processors were designed for scalability in mind and targeted at the HPC market and Intel has been pretty quiet about a replacement.
KitGuru cornered an Intel suit and asked them if they were planning to can it completely, but the suit denied it.
“Intel remains committed to the Intel Itanium product line and to the delivery of the next-generation Intel Itanium processor, code named ‘Kittson’. [It] will be manufactured on Intel’s 32nm process technology and will be socket compatible with the existing Itanium 9300/9500 platforms, providing customers with performance improvements, investment protection, and a seamless upgrade path for existing systems,” the spokesman said.
Hang on a minute. Kittson was originally supposed to be on the 22nm process, so the downgrade to 32nm is a bit of a shock.
The only one still trying to flog the Itanium ecosystem is HP. However, HP is in process of transitioning to the x86-64 ecosystem as well, and once it does that, there will be virtually no demand.
Intel has also made it very clear that they have not announced any product after Kittson – which means Kittson will be the end of that branch of the evolutionary tree.
It is sad really IA64 was interesting and had some legs for businesses taking them away from x86 land. It just seems that it was a Betamax.
The move comes after Samsung opted to use its own Exynos processors for the recently launched flagship Galaxy S6 devices instead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, prompting the U.S. firm to cut is financial outlook for the year.
Samsung and Qualcomm declined to comment on Re/code’s report. The report, dated April 20, did not say whether Qualcomm was looking at other manufacturers for the 820 processor besides Samsung.
The report suggests gathering momentum for Samsung’s system chips business, which investors and analysts expect will swing to profit this year. That could be negative for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), which analysts say has gotten the bulk of Qualcomm’s orders for high-end chips.
Samsung’s 14-nanometer manufacturing technology gives the firm an edge over rivals such as TSMC, as smaller chips are more energy-efficient and deliver better performance. Investors and analysts say the superior technology will lead to more outside orders for Samsung’s contract manufacturing business and further boost earnings.
Media reports say Samsung will make processors for Apple Inc’s new iPhones expected to launch later this year, and the firm also recently added Nvidia Corp as a contract manufacturing client.
Activist investor Jana Partners is urging Qualcomm Inc to consider spinning off its chip unit from its patent-licensing business to boost the chipmaker’s sagging stock price, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a quarterly letter that will be sent to Jana investors on Monday.
Jana, one of Qualcomm’s largest shareholders, is also calling on the company to cut costs, accelerate stock buybacks and make changes to its executive pay structure, financial reporting and board of directors, the newspaper said.
Qualcomm said last month it would buy back up to $15 billion of shares and raise its quarterly dividend. The company also said it would continue to return at least 75 percent of its free cash flow to shareholders annually.
In the letter, Jana said the buyback is a positive step but Qualcomm needs to do more to capitalize on its strong position in the chip market. It said Qualcomm’s chip business is essentially worthless at the company’s present market value, the Journal reported.
While the majority of Qualcomm’s revenue comes from selling so-called baseband chips that enable phones to communicate with carrier networks, most of its profit comes from licensing patents for its widespread CDMA cellphone technology.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm’s longtime customer Samsung Electronics Co opted to use an internally developed processor for its new Galaxy S6 smartphone rather than Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon mobile chip.
Jana executives and Qualcomm’s management have held private discussions since late last year, the Journal said, citing a person familiar with the conversations. In the letter, Jana described the talks as constructive.
Nintendo has formed a comprehensive new alliance with DeNA that will make every one of the company’s famous IPs available for mobile development.
The bedrock of the deal is a dual stock purchase, with each company buying ¥22 billion ($181 million) of the other’s treasury shares. That’s equivalent to 10 per cent of DeNA’s stock, and 1.24 per cent of Nintendo. The payments will complete on April 2, 2015.
What this will ultimately mean for the consumer is Nintendo IP on mobile, “extending Nintendo’s reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide.” There will be no ports of existing Nintendo games, according to information released today, but, “all Nintendo IP will be eligible for development and exploration by the alliance.” That includes the “iconic characters” that the company has guarded for so long.
No details on the business model that these games and apps will be released under were offered, though Nintendo may well be reluctant to adopt free-to-play at first. The information provided to the press emphasised the “premium” experiences Nintendo currently offers on platforms like Wii U and 3DS. Admittedly, that could be interpreted in either direction.
However, Nintendo and DeNA are planning an online membership service that will span Nintendo consoles, PC and smart devices. That will launch in the autumn this year.
This marks a significant change in strategy for Nintendo, which has been the subject of reports about plans to take its famous IPs to mobile for at least a year. Indeed, the company has denied the suggestion on several occasions, even as it indicated that it did have plans to make mobile a part of its core strategy in other ways.
Analysts have been offering their reflections on the deal, with the response from most being largely positive.
“Nintendo’s decision to partner with DeNA is a recognition of the importance of the games app audience to the future of its business,” said IHS head of gaming Piers Harding-Rolls. “Not only is there significant revenue to be made directly from smartphone and tablet consumers for Nintendo, app ecosystems are also very important in reaching new customers to make them aware of the Nintendo brand and to drive a new and broader audience to its dedicated console business. Last year IHS data shows that games apps were worth $26 billion in consumer spending globally, with handheld console games worth only 13 per cent of that total at $3.3 billion.
“The Nintendo-DeNA alliance is a good fit and offers up a number of important synergies for two companies that are no longer leaders in their respective segments.
“DeNA remains one of the leading mobile games company’s in Japan and, we believe, shares cultural similarities with Nintendo, especially across its most popular big-brand content. The alliance gives Nintendo access to a large audience in its home market, which remains very important to its overall financial performance. Japanese consumers spend significantly more per capita on mobile games than in any other country and it remains the biggest market for both smartphone and handheld gaming. While the partnership gives Nintendo immediate potential to grow its domestic revenues through this audience, gaining access to DeNA’s mobile expertise is important too to realise this potential.
“This alliance makes commercial sense on many levels – the main challenge will be knitting together the cultures of both companies and aligning the speed of development and iteration that is needed in the mobile space with Nintendo’s more patient and systematic approach to games content production. How the new games are monetised may also provide a challenge considering the general differences in models used in retail for Nintendo and through in-app purchases for DeNA.”
In a livestreamed press conference regarding the DeNA deal, Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata reassured those in attendance that the company was still committed to “dedicated video game systems” as its core business. To do that, he confirmed that the company was working on a new console, codenamed “NX”.
“As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand new concept under the development codename NX,” he said.
“It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project but we hope to share more information with you next year.”
IBM has announced the availability of OpenPower servers as part of the firm’s SoftLayer bare metal cloud offering.
OpenPower, a collaborative foundation run by IBM in conjunction with Google and Nvidia, offers a more open approach to IBM’s Power architecture, and a more liberal licence for the code, in return for shared wisdom from member organisations.
Working in conjunction with Tyan and Mellanox Technologies, both partners in the foundation, the bare metal servers are designed to help organisations easily and quickly extend infrastructure in a customized manner.
“The new OpenPower-based bare metal servers make it easy for users to take advantage of one of the industry’s most powerful and open server architectures,” said Sonny Fulkerson, CIO at SoftLayer.
“The offering allows SoftLayer to deliver a higher level of performance, predictability and dependability not always possible in virtualised cloud environments.”
Initially, servers will run Linux applications and will be based on the IBM Power8 architecture in the same mold as IBM Power system servers.
This will later expand to the Power ecosystem and then to independent software vendors that support Linux on Power application development, and are migrating applications from x86 to the Power architecture.
OpenPower servers are based on open source technology that extends right down to the silicon level, and can allow highly customised servers ranging from physical to cloud, or even hybrid.
Power systems are already installed in SoftLayer’s Dallas data centre, and there are plans to expand to data centres throughout the world. The system was first rolled out in 2014 as part of the Watson portfolio.
Prices will be announced when general availability arrives in the second quarter.
Sony Corp hopes to increase operating profit 25-fold within three years by growing its camera sensors and PlayStation units, its chief executive said, laying out a strategy that could see the company exit the ultra competitive TV and smartphone markets.
CEO Kazuo Hirai said on Wednesday the Japanese consumer electronics firm would no longer pursue sales growth in areas such as smartphones where its has suffered competition from cheaper Asian rivals as well as industry leaders like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.
Sony would instead focus its spending on more profitable businesses such as camera sensors, videogames and entertainment as it seeks to return to growth after forecasting for this financial year its sixth net loss in seven years.
“The strategy starting from the next business year will be about generating profit and investing for growth,” Hirai told a briefing, adding that Sony’s units would be given greater autonomy to make their own business decisions.
Asked about the TV and mobile phone units, Hirai said he would not “rule out considering an exit strategy”, Sony’s clearest statement to date about the possibility of selling or finding partners for these struggling units.
Sony is in the midst of a restructuring that has so far seen it sell off its personal computer division and spin off the TV business. It has also axed thousands of jobs.
Sony shares have risen more than 80 percent over the past year as investors applauded the restructuring, which accelerated since Hirai appointed Kenichiro Yoshida as his chief strategy officer in late 2013.
Samsung’s components businesses is finding itself under pressure to pick up the slack and secure external customers for chips and display panels and might even start flogging them to rival mobile companies.
According to Reuters the reason for this is that the Smartphone industry is tanking and the only one making any money out of it is Apple — and even it is suffering a bit.
Samsung Display has begun supplying organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels to Chinese smartphone makers Lenovo, Coolpad, Oppo Electronics and Vivo Electronics.
The subsidiary says it’s on the lookout for more clients, aiming to have half its total revenue by 2017 from sales to outside customers, up from just over a third in 2013.
Industry experts think that external clients account for around a fifth of Samsung Display’s sales of smaller smartphone and tablet panels compared to about 50 percent for large panels for TVs, underscoring a need for more mobile clients.
Samsung was not interested in overseas sales when Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S devices were selling well, but suddenly it is trying to push into new pastures.
Samsung’s systems chips business is also trying to grow its customer base . It lost a $1 billion last year on declining sales of Galaxy smartphones and the loss of a contract to supply the processor for Apple Inc’s iPhone 6.
Samsung’s next Galaxy S smartphone is widely expected to be powered by its own Exynos processor.
The outfit is in talks with third-party customers about supplying its Exynos mobile processors. Samsung is likely to win back the Apple contract and supply the majority of mobile processors for the next iPhone.