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In-Home Tech Support Companies HelloTech, Geekatoo Merging

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Los Angeles-based startup HelloTech and rival in-home tech support company Geekatoo announced that they have merged, in a sign of consolidation in the hotly competitive on-demand sector.

HelloTech will combine its network of about 150 college students who provide on-demand tech repair to Southern California consumers with Geekatoo’s U.S. network of about 5,000 technicians, the companies said in a joint statement.

The merger connects HelloTech with Geekatoo’s national market and provides Geekatoo with more access to venture capital funding, HelloTech co-founder Richard Wolpert said in an interview.

HelloTech, which launched about a year ago, has raised $17 million from investors, while 5-year-old Geekatoo has raised close to $3 million.

“You could either use capital to expand really quickly or you could merge with a company like Geekatoo that had already spent money doing this,” said Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, which backed HelloTech.

The new company keeps the HelloTech name and will be led by Wolpert. He said the deal was a stock transaction, rather than a cash payment, but declined to provide further details.

Both companies dispatch in-home tech support within hours of a request to fix a wonky printer, install a new TV or troubleshoot WiFi problems, among other services.

HelloTech hit a few bumps last year after launching, with some negative customer feedback that its workforce of predominantly college students was unprofessional.

Wolpert said the company has worked out the glitches. HelloTech has a five-star rating on customer review site Yelp.

Geekatoo Executive Chairman Christian Shelton saw demand for tech services rising as more people add internet-connected devices – such as the smart thermostat Nest or WiFi camera Dropcam – to their homes.

The U.S. tech support industry makes about $30 billion in annual revenue, according to research by Parks Associates, a consulting firm.

“The opportunity is massive,” Wolpert said.

The company’s main competition is Geek Squad, a tech support service founded in 1994 and owned by big-box retailer Best Buy.

HelloTech targets baby boomers with disposable income to spend on new gadgets and someone to help get them up and running.

“There is enormous wealth in the baby boomer generation,” Suster said, and their “digital lives are becoming increasingly complicated.”

 

 

Apple Goes Further With Intel

May 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Intel has scored a more significant chunk of the upcoming iPhone 7 which is due to be released this year.

Digitimes deep throats claim that Intel will  supply half the modem chips for use in the new iPhones slated for launch in September 2016.

Intel will itself package the modem chips for the upcoming new iPhones, but have contracted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and tester King Yuan Electronics (KYEC) to manufacture the chips, the sources said.

Qualcomm is currently the supplier of LTE modem chips for the iPhone, but Apple has been keep to avoid focusing on one supplier. Still, the figure of half the iPhone 7′s is much more than many expected. It is a pity for Intel that the iPhone 7 is not expected to be a big seller – mostly because there is little new under the bonnet and it looks the same as the iPhone 6S.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is There A ‘For Sale’ Sign In Pandora Music’s Future?

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Corvex Management LP disclosed that it owns 9.9 percent of Pandora Media Inc and urged the internet music streaming company to consider being sold instead of pursuing a “costly and uncertain business plan.”

Corvex, a hedge fund run by Keith Meister, a protégé of billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, said it had met with the company’s management and had withdrawn a plan to replace some of its board members. However, it now believes Pandora should hire an investment bank to help the company explore its strategic options including a sale.

“We believe there is likely to be significant strategic interest in the company at a substantial premium to the company’s recent stock price,” Corvex said, adding that large internet companies, handset makers and media companies could be potential buyers.

Pandora’s shares are down more than 25 percent in 2016 and more than 45 percent year-over-year. Corvex owns about 22.7 million shares in the company, making the hedge fund Pandora’s largest shareholder.

Pandora said in response that it is in constant dialogue with shareholders and committed to achieving long-term value for them.

“Pandora has a profitable core business, combined with a strong balance sheet. We are confidently investing to fully capture the massive opportunity ahead of us,” the company said in a statement.

Oakland, California-based Pandora has faced tough competition from music-streaming rivals such as Spotify, Apple Inc , Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com and has failed to turn an annual profit as a public company.

Analysts have said Pandora, which had a market capitalization of $2.29 billion on Monday, could be an acquisition target for larger media or internet companies looking to beef up their online music offerings.

Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren, a former musician who spearheaded Pandora’s music algorithm technology, returned to the company March 28 to become CEO, squashing some investors’ hopes the company could be sold.

Westergren told Reuters on April 15, “If you want to sell a company, you don’t do that by spending half a billion on acquisitions and hiring a new CEO.”

 

 

Is Apple In A Free Fall?

May 16, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple shares are continuing to fall as more investors realise that the share price is not going to go up any more.

For a while now people have been buying Apple shares with the expectation that they will always go up. This always was largely based on a fantasy created by the Tame Apple Press that assumed the company would keep coming up with new technology ideas which would always be successful.

However lately Apple has not come up with any new ideas and has taken to re-issuing its old phone designs. It has also been floundering in its key Chinese market. The company’s only new idea has been for content creation through its Apple Music streaming brand. The only problem with that is that the software has been killing off user’s iTune libraries.  It has also been banned in China which means that hopes that Apple would make money there are still thwarted.

Shares of Apple dropped below $90 on Thursday for the first time since 2014 as Wall Street worried about slow demand ahead of the anticipated launch of a new iPhone later this year. Some more reasonable analysts even think that the iPhone 7 is going to be a disaster because it lacks any new tech and has the same design as the poor performing iPhone 6S

Component suppliers in Taiwan have confirmed that they have received fewer orders from Apple in the second half of 2016 than in the same period last year.

Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang saidt that investors were getting negative data points about component orders and production forecasts, and the features on the new iPhone do not seem to be a big change from the 6S.

Apple briefly relinquished its position as the world’s largest company by market capitalisation to Alphabet – oh the horror.

At the close, Apple and Google each had market values of about $495 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data. In the past year, Apple’s market capitalization has fallen by more than $200 billion. Which just goes to show this whole value thing was an illusion.

Suppliers of iPhone components also fell, with Skyworks Solutions off 4.54 percent, Broadcom down 1.95 percent and Qorvo declining 1.76 percent.

Revenue from China slumped 26 percent during the March quarter. Apple faces increasing competition from Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi and Huawei selling phones priced below $200, Rosenblatt’s Zhang said.

Last week, Dialog Semiconductor, which sells chips used in iPhones and other smartphones, cut its revenue outlook due to ongoing softness in the smartphone market.

The Tame Apple press is trying to do its best to find analysts who recommend buying the stock claiming it is too cheap.However how much should you pay for an outfit which has milked its cash cow and has nothing new on the horizon.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Do Smartphones Cause Cancer?

May 11, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

It is looking incredibly unlikely that mobile phone use is giving anyone cancer.  A long term study into the incidence of brain cancer in the Australian population between 1982 to 2013 shows no marked increase.

The study, summarized on the Conversation site looked at the prevalence of mobile phones among the population against brain cancer rates, using data from national cancer registration.

The results showed a very slight increase in brain cancer rates among males, but a stable level among females. There were significant increases in over-70s, but this problem started before 1982.

The figures should have even been higher as Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and related techniques, introduced in Australia in the late 1970s can spot brain tumors which could have otherwise remained undiagnosed.

The data matches up with other studies conducted in other countries, but in Australia all diagnosed cases of cancer have to be legally registered and this creates consistent data.

The argument that mobile phones cause cancer has been running ever since the phones first arrived. In fact the radiation levels on phones has dropped significantly over the years, just to be safe rather than sorry. However it looks like phones have had little impact on cancer statistics – at least in Australia.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will Samsung Truly Support OLED TVs Next Year?

May 6, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung has rejected a claim from the OLED Association predicting that it would reintroduce an OLED TV lineup in 2017.

President and TV Chief of Samsung Electronics, Kim Hyun-Seok, has reaffirmed that the company has no intentions to manufacture OLED TVs. But it would appear that the rumour will not die that easily.

The Korea Herald said Kim’s “tone and manner was stronger than ever,” which indicates that Samsung might have something else planned for the upcoming lineup of televisions it’s expected to showcase at CES 2017.

Samsung had been investing in OLED research, and so far has been skeptical about adopting it. It has said that the market is not ready for the emerging technology because it costs too much to make and the production process is tricky. Instead Samsung is pushing its newly-developed cadmium-free 10-bit Quantum Dot technology. It already has the manufacturing facilities in place to produce them on a larger scale. It claims that Quantum Dot outpaces current OLED TVs in terms of clarity and brightness.

What cunning plan Samsung has for next year will probably be centred around quantum dot and making sure that it comes out at a cheaper price than what it is on the market now.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Dell Technologies To Become New Name Of Combined Dell, EMC

May 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Dell’s planned $67 billion purchase of EMC will create a broad collection of businesses called Dell Technologies.

Under that banner, the pure Dell name will live on in the company’s client business, including its PCs, while its enterprise infrastructure division will be called Dell EMC, chairman and CEO Michael Dell announced on Monday at EMC World in Las Vegas.

Dell Technologies will be the only company selling everything from edge devices to core data centers and cloud infrastructure, a mission that rival HP backed away from when it split into Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc., Dell said.

He pitched the end-to-end strategy as a boon to customers who want a single partner that can do everything, letting them focus on business growth.

“You want technology made easier,” Dell said.

Dell Technologies will include all of what’s called Dell today, plus EMC’s core Information Infrastructure storage division, Pivotal, Virtustream, the partly public VMware and two security businesses: Dell’s SecureWorks and EMC’s RSA unit.

For EMC, owning a collection of semi-autonomous businesses and making them add up to something more is called federation, and it has come under attack from some investors and skeptics. On Monday, Dell called it a family and said Dell Technologies will be able to align its businesses and invest in new technologies at its own pace as a privately held company.

The acquisition is on track under its original terms and timeline, Michael Dell said. The deal still needs regulatory and shareholder approvals.

 

 

Amazon To Beef Up Alexa With Investment In TrackR

May 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc is investing between $250,000 and $500,000 in Bluetooth technology firm TrackR to expand the reach of its Alexa virtual assistant, according to a source familiar with the matter

Alexa is the cloud-based system that controls the Amazon Echo, a speaker system launched by Amazon in 2014 that has emerged as a surprise hit. “Alexa” is the name the device responds to when users make requests, such as “turn on radio.”

Amazon and TrackR declined to comment on the size of the investment.

Like Apple Inc’s  Siri and Google’s Google Now, Alexa is designed to answer questions or take other actions in response to simple voice queries.

Unlike its rivals, Amazon allows non-Amazon devices to integrate Alexa technology. The investment in TrackR came through Amazon’s $100 million “Alexa Fund,” which invests in and supports technologies that broaden Alexa’s abilities.

Santa Barbara, California-based TrackR uses Bluetooth technology to help track lost items. Users put a small chip on an item, such as a wallet or TV remote, and can order those products to make a sound through their phone so that they can be found.

If a TrackR customer loses an item out of Bluetooth reach, any TrackR user can connect to the device using the company’s network to alert the owner of the lost item.

The Alexa partnership will give the TrackR service a voice response capability and will also integrate in the other direction and enable people to find their lost items via the Echo.

“The ability to bring on more partners and realize that you are building an entire ecosystem – I think that is what was really important for us,” said Chris Herbert, who co-founded TrackR with friend Christian Smith in 2009.

TrackR raised $8.7 million last year in a Series A round led by Foundry Group.

Amazon has made roughly 15 investments so far through the Alexa Fund, including The Orange Chef, which helps connect kitchen prep devices, and Garageio, which makes a connected garage door opener.

 

Greedy Billionaire Investor Dumps Entire Apple Portfolio

May 3, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Billionaire activist investor and Apple cheerleader Carl Icahn has dumped his entire stake in Apple because he thinks the writing is on the wall for the tech company.

Icahn has been a big fan of Apple since he started investing three years ago. He has also made a fortune out of his investment.  But he said that Apple’s glory days could be over because the company has become too dependent on the whims of the Chinese government.

Icahn, who owned 45.8 million Apple shares at the end of last year, said China’s economic slowdown and worries about how China could become more prohibitive in doing business triggered his decision to exit his position entirely.

He said that there was nothing wrong with Apple’s management and it was still a great company, “but you worry a little bit, maybe more than a little, about China’s attitude.”

He said that the Chinese government could “come in and make it very difficult for Apple to sell there,” Icahn said.

Earlier this month, China shut down Apple’s iTunes movies and iBooks stores within the country, following Beijing’s introduction of regulations in March imposing strict curbs on online publishing, particularly for foreign firms.

Icahn said that Apple stock is still pretty cheap but China could be a shadow for it.  He would have to look closely at what was happening in China before he bought another Apple share.

To be fair Icahn said that he had made $2 billion off the Apple trade and got a 48 percent to 50 percent total return which is not bad.

Apple shares have now declined more than 10 percent this week.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple’s Mac Slump Continues, Sales Tumble 12%

April 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Apple revealed that it sold 4 million Macs in the March quarter, a 12% decline from the same period the year before, and a larger contraction than for the personal computer business as a whole.

The year-over-year downturn in Mac sales was the second straight down quarter, and excepting a brutal 22% drop at the end of 2012, the largest since Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007.

Analysts at IDC and Gartner earlier this month pegged the continued contraction of the PC industry at 11.5% and 9.6%, respectively. Both also missed the actual Mac number for the quarter in their forecasts for Apple, overestimating by 11% to 13%: IDC had tapped shipments at 4.5 million, while Gartner said it was 4.6 million.

Apple had been on an extended streak of besting the PC average, with sometimes-impressive gains during the four-years-and-counting slump of the overall market. But the March quarter’s results put an end to the years-long run, which the Cupertino, Calif. company often touted.

Neither CEO Tim Cook or CFO Luca Maestri mentioned the end of the streak in Tuesday’s earnings call with Wall Street.

“It was a challenging quarter for personal computer sales across the industry,” said Maestri, stating the obvious.

Cook said that Mac sales “met our sell-in expectations” and added that he remained optimistic about Apple’s computer business, a sentiment a CEO is duty-bound to share. “We’re confident in our Mac business and our ability to continue to innovate and gain share in that area,” Cook said.

But Mac-generated revenue for the quarter was $5.1 billion, 9% lower than the same period in 2015, and the smallest amount recorded for the line in almost three years.

Macs accounted for 10.1% of Apple’s total revenue of $50.1 billion, but the computer group slipped to No. 3 on the company’s list, behind — by a country mile — the iPhone (accounting for 65% of all revenue) and, for the first time, the relatively new Services category, which contributed 11.8% of all incoming dollars.

 

 

 

Is Nintendo Making A Mistaking With The NX?

April 29, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo has confirmed that its next-gen console, the Nintendo NX, will launch in March 2017.

Causing many to screw up their Christmas lists, the company told shareholders during its earnings call on Tuesday: “For our dedicated video game platform business, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed ‘NX’ with a brand-new concept. NX will be launched in March 2017 globally.”

Probably also causing some to cancel a trip to Los Angeles, Nintendo said that the NX will not be demonstrated at the upcoming E3 video games conference in June, despite speculation that Sony plans to show off its so-called PlayStation 4.5 console.

Nintendo’s keynote at the games show will focus instead on the next Legend of Zelda game, which will launch simultaneously on the Wii U and Nintendo NX in 2017. Rumour has it that Smash Bros 4, Splatoon and Super Mario Maker are all set to receive an NX makeover too.

A launch is now less than a year away, but we still don’t know much about the Nintendo NX, which Nintendo confirmed this week is just a codename for the incoming console. However, rumour claims that it will arrive as a hybrid between a home console and a mobile games console to sit alongside the New Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo president and CEO Tatsumi Kimishima reiterated in December last year that the company is “not building the next version of Wii or Wii U” and that the device will be something “unique and different”.

News of the Nintendo NX’s launch date no doubt came as the firm looked to play down the fact that its profits fell 61 per cent year over year. Worked, didn’t it?

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Apple Optimistic About iPhone SE Sales

April 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

After experiencing its first-ever drop in iPhone sales, Apple Inc sought to reassure investors by saying its latest and cheapest model was in strong demand after being launched in late March. Some retailers and suppliers in Asia aren’t so sure.

In a Reuters survey of 10 retailers in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, seven – including four Apple Stores – reported solid early demand, but three third-party retailers said sales were weak. Two suppliers of components for Apple phones, including the new iPhone SE, said they were seeing lower orders.

“I’ve been dealing with iPhones for five to six years now. This current quarter for Apple feels weak,” said an executive at a Taiwan-based company whose components are used in iPhones including the SE model, which markets for $399. “Our current shipment situation for Apple is not like the last two years. There are more iPhone models, but the total volume of iPhones is falling.”

Such a mixed outlook from Greater China, its most important market after the United States and generator of a quarter of the company’s revenue, could be a major cause of concern for Apple.

The company’s revenue from the region, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, dropped 26 percent in the March quarter, making it the weakest region in the world.

“iPhone is still popular but sales have dropped because… there’s no new model and the SE is similar to 5C. So it doesn’t sell well,” said Zhu You Peng, a salesman at Apple product reseller Xiongyu in Shenzhen. The 5C was Apple’s last attempt to produce a cheaper phone, back in 2013.

Zhu said it sold around 300 iPhones per month last year but the number has dropped to around 100-200 this year.

That view contrasts with upbeat comments about the phone from Apple’s Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri on Tuesday.

“The situation right now around the world is that we are supply-constrained,” he told Reuters, referring to the iPhone SE. “The demand has been very, very strong.”

The iPhone SEs are sold out in Apple’s own stores in mainland China and customers have to wait about three weeks to get the product delivered by Apple, according to Apple’s websites. The size of the original supplies to the stores is unclear.

 

 

 

Netflix International Subscriber Growth Slows

April 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Streaming video service Netflix Inc forecast U.S. and international subscriptions would grow at a slower pace than Wall Street expected this quarter, causing its stock price to tumble by 8 percent earlier in the week.

Netflix said it expected to add about 500,000 customers in the United States in the second quarter that ends in June, compared with Wall Street targets of 586,000, according to FactSet StreetAccount. The forecast includes a “modest impact” from the beginning of a price increase for its monthly movie and TV subscription service, the company said.

The company known for its original shows including “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” said it expected to add about 2 million subscribers in markets outside the United States, versus analyst expectations of 3.5 million, according to FactSet. It also reported results for the first quarter, when subscriptions outpaced its own target.

Netflix is prone to large stock price swings as investors bet on the possible success of its mission to redefine television viewing around the world.

The company’s long-term results depend in large part on how fast and profitably it expands. Netflix has launched in almost every country in the world, at a substantial cost, and now faces the task of adapting the service to different markets and cultures as competitors also rush in.

In January, Netflix went live in more than 130 countries, a huge global push by Chief Executive Reed Hastings to counter slowing growth in the United States.

Initial sign-ups were limited in some countries because the service at this point offers only English-language content and does not accept all of the local payment options.

 

 

Intel To Cut 12,000 Jobs As PC Market Slowdown Continues

April 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Intel Corp announced that it will eliminate up to 12,000 jobs globally, or 11 percent of its workforce, as it refocuses its business towards making microchips that power data centers and Internet connected devices and away from the declining personal computer industry it helped found.

Tech companies including the former Hewlett Packard Co and Microsoft Corp have reorganized in the face of the PC industry decline. Many new tech users around the world turn to mobile phones for their computing needs, and corporations increasingly rely on big machines rather than desktop models to run their businesses. Global personal computer shipments fell 11.5 percent in the first quarter, tech research company IDC said on Monday.

Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, lowered its revenue forecast for the year. It now expects revenue to rise in mid-single digits, down from its previous forecast of mid- to high-single digits.

Most of Intel’s factories are in the United States, although it did not identify where cuts would be focused geographically. It said it would record a pretax restructuring charge of $1.2 billion in the second quarter and expected annual savings of $1.4 billion per year starting mid-2017.

The company also said Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith will move to a new role leading sales, manufacturing and operations. Intel said it would begin a formal search process for a new CFO.

Smith said that Intel now expects the PC market to decline by a percentage in the high single digits in 2016 versus a prior forecast of a mid single-digit decline. Declines in China and other emerging markets are also leading to greater than anticipated reductions in worldwide PC supply chain inventory, Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich said on a conference call.

 

 

Britain’s Daily Mail Said To Be Bidding For Yahoo

April 12, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Britain’s Daily Mail is holding discussions with potential partners to mount a joint bid for Yahoo’s internet assets, eyeing a plan to acquire the troubled U.S. Internet pioneer to help boost advertising revenues from the Mail’s globally popular online news site.

The parent company of the British newspaper, the Daily Mail & General Trust, said on Monday that it was in early stage discussions with several parties about a possible bid for Yahoo, confirming a Wall Street Journal report it had approached private equity buyers to team up.

“We have been in discussions with a number of parties who are potential bidders,” a spokeswoman for DailyMail.com said in an emailed statement, declining to name the private equity firms or give any financial details.

DailyMail.com and MailOnline are the celebrity-focused news websites of the right-leaning London-based Daily Mail newspaper. Globally the websites attract 14 million visitors a day, putting them among the world’s most popular English language news sites.

Buying Yahoo’s assets – which range from search and email to news, sports, photos and other properties – would expand DailyMail.com’s reach and improve its digital ad revenues, which for its 2015 financial year came in at 73 million pounds ($104 million), a tenth of the company’s overall annual turnover.

Liberum analyst Ian Whittaker said a deal with Yahoo would be positive for the company, helping it sell more U.S. advertising and reducing its dependence on shrinking advertising sales from its newspaper business in Britain.

“The U.S. has been the main driver of digital growth for Daily Mail & General Trust, whilst traffic has grown well they haven’t quite monetized this traffic as successfully as they would have liked,” Whittaker said.

Daily Mail & General Trust PLC’s  potential bid could take one of two forms, according to the WSJ report, citing people familiar with the matter. In one scenario, a private-equity partner would acquire Yahoo’s core web business, with the Mail taking over the news and media properties.

In the other scenario, the private-equity firm would acquire Yahoo’s core web business and merge its media and news properties with the Mail’s online operations. The merged units would form a new company that would be run by the Mail and give a larger equity stake to the Mail’s parent company than under the first scenario, the report said.

Bids for Yahoo are due on April 18, in an auction which is likely to be hotly-contested.