Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

Twitter Woes Continue, User Growth Rate Slows

July 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc’s shares continued to drop after the microblogging company said its number of monthly average users grew at the slowest pace since it went public in 2013.

“This is unacceptable and we’re not happy about it,” Jack Dorsey, who stepped in as interim chief executive on July 1, said on a call with analysts.

Twitter said it had 304 million core users in the second quarter, up from 302 million in the prior quarter.

Twitter’s struggles to increase its audience worries investors, who are focused on the company’s growth potential, and the latest figures did little to reassure them.

The data on users overshadowed the company’s second-quarter earnings and revenue, which exceeded expectations, and its bullish projections for future revenue.

Executives also made clear it would be a long process, and were candid about problems with the service.

“We do not expect to see sustained meaningful growth (in monthly active users) until we start to reach the mass market,” Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said on the call.

“We have not clearly communicated Twitter’s unique value. And as a result non-users continue to ask, ‘Why should I use Twitter?’ “Simply said, the product remains too difficult to use.”

Twitter recognizes “there is an issue that needs to be worked on,” Evercore ISI analyst Ken Sena said. “They were giving investors a sense of the challenge and I think the stock sell-off that you saw just reflected that.”

 

 

 

Cloud Services Behind Amazon’s Rising Revenue

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc’s shares surged more than 20 percent last Friday, adding more than $46 billion to the company’s market value, after strong growth in the e-commerce giant’s cloud business drove a surprise quarterly profit.

The company’s market capitalization soared to more than $270 billion, overtaking that of Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s biggest retailer.

Revenue from Amazon’s cloud operations – Amazon Web Services (AWS) – nearly doubled in the second quarter, indicating that the business was poised to drive sustainable earnings for the online retailer, Wall Street analysts said.

Operating margins at the unit jumped to 21.4 pct from 7.7 percent.

“Product sales are Amazon’s bread, but AWS is its butter,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said in a note, raising his price target on the stock by 21 percent to $700.

“They delivered a pretty large profit, we expected a loss … they exercised discipline and did not invest in new consumer electronic product launches.”

Investors have raised concerns that the company’s aggressive spending may not pay off. But strong growth in AWS and positive commentary on the Amazon Prime service allayed some worries.

Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year for speedier delivery and exclusive access to certain movies, music and Kindle books, tend to spend more than regular users of Amazon’s services.

“The scale of their distribution network is starting to generate better incremental margins,” Barclays analyst Paul Vogel said.

“That, coupled with the continued strong growth in both revenue and margins at AWS, moves us from cautious to optimistic on the next year of growth for Amazon.”

Amazon, which last reported a profit in the fourth quarter of 2014, considers AWS its main engine of growth, along with Amazon Prime and Marketplace, where the company acts as a middleman for third-party vendors.

 

 

 

Nintendo Goes AMD

July 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The last of the console makers is ready to sign up to AMD chips, according to the latest rumor

Some details are now coming to light on Nintendo’s upcoming NX console. The console will be in the shops in a year’s time, but we might know who’s building the NX’s chips.

AMD will manufacture the CPU + GPU combo, giving the outfit total control of the console market. It was pretty much a no brainer. AMD created the APUs found inside the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.  Although it is getting increasingly difficult to tell the consoles apart.

AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su, confirmed that the company had a new chip contract. Su said the deal could generate billions, but she did not identify the customer .

It now seems she was referring to the Nintendo deal, which means she is more optimistic about the products’ success than us.

The NX will be based around the Android operating system and should released some time next year. Nintendo is saying nothing about the deal at the moment.

AMD is needs more deals like this if it is going to turn around its dependence on the ever-shrinking PC market. There are only so many consoles that made every year and AMD appears to be inside them all.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Did Microsoft Drop DVD Support In Windows 10?

July 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has decided that there is no point putting Windows 10 on a DVD and insisting that people install from a Flash drive.

Windows 10 will be shipped on USB drives rather than traditional DVDs, although you might be able to find one on DVD if you ask Microsoft very nicely.

USB versions of Windows 10 Home and 10 Pro are listed for pre-order on Amazon already, running $120 and $200 respectively.

It is all fairly obvious. Most cheap PCs ship without a drive these days which has made home-made USB installation drives the only option. We can still remember the outcry when people complained about the number of floppy disks it took to install Windows 95.

Windows 98 came out on a CD drive to cut down the numbers. Now it seems that DVDs are now going the way of the dodo too.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook’s Oculus Acquires Gesture Recognition Firm Pebble

July 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Facebook’s Oculus unit announcd that it has agreed to acquire Israeli gesture recognition technology developer Pebbles Interfaces for an undisclosed amount.

The announcement was made in a blog posted by Oculus.

Israel’s Calcalist financial news website said the deal was worth tens of millions of dollars.

While other companies pioneering the virtual reality field focus on full-body movement, Pebbles’ technology detects and tracks hand movement. It is aimed primarily at gamers but also has applications for TV, computers, or smartphone operation while driving.

Recently Pebbles integrated its technology with Oculus glasses, which translate finger gestures into virtual movement through a camera mounted on the glass frame, Calcalist said.

Investors in Pebbles include Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi, Israeli venture capital fund Giza and U.S. storage firm SanDisk, Calcalist said.

 

 

Microsoft Will Provide Windows 10 Updates For 2-4 Years

July 10, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has provided more information about how long it will provide updates for Windows 10, saying in a PowerPoint presentation that free refreshes will last between two and four years.

The Redmond, Wash. company revealed the timeline in a slide deck it posted on its investors website June 26. The presentation offered up additional information about Microsoft’s planned revenue deferrals for Windows 10, which the company first talked about in May.

“Revenue allocated is deferred and recognized on a straight-line basis over the estimated period the software upgrades are expected to be provided by estimated device life,” the most pertinent slide stated. “[The estimated device life] can range from two to four years.”

Microsoft will determine the device lifetime — and thus the support stretch — by “customer type.”

Although details remain skimpy on the upgrade lifetimes Microsoft plans for Windows 10, the two-to-four-year span was the first time the firm named their lengths.

Microsoft has repeatedly said that the free updates and upgrades for Windows 10 would be tied to what it has called the “supported lifetime of the device.” It debuted that phrase in January, when it announced Windows 10′s name and afree upgrade for consumers and some businesses from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 for one year following the new OS’s official release.

The free post-launch updates and upgrades, which will include new features and changes to the user interface (UI), are key to Microsoft’s strategy to transform the operating system into a service.

“With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft will provide new features and functionality over time,” another slide in the short PowerPoint presentation said. “We will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device. We think of Windows as a Service – continuous updates over time.”

 

 

Uber Wants Tesla’s Self-driving Cars

July 10, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

If Tesla can make half a million cars by 2020, then Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will purchase them all for his service, according to venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson.

Jurvetson, a Tesla board member and partner in the VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, was speaking at the recent Top 10 Tech Trends dinner, put on by the Churchill Club, when he relayed a conversation he’d had with Kalanick about his hopes for “robocars” and the future.

“Travis recently told me that in 2020, if Telsa’s are autonomous, he’d want to buy all of them. He said all 500,000 of estimated 2020 production, I’d want them all,” Jurvetson said. “But he couldn’t get a return call from Elon.”

Computerworld attempted to contact Uber but had not received a reply at the time of this story’s posting.

Telsa CEO Elon Musk has set his sites on putting a self-driving car on the road by 2020, but he hasn’t publicly stated the number that would be produced in that year.

Jurvetson said autonomous vehicles will be so compelling that their adoption by commercial and consumer markets is inevitable.

“I’m not saying you’re all going to have robocars. But, for those of us who have a chance to be in one, there’ll be one of those epiphanies. You’ll never go back,” Jurvetson said. “I’ve been in these vehicles… several times, several different types… I’d trust my kids with them.”

Jurvetson’s remarks were first reported by Forbes.

Initially, Jurvetson said, autonomous vehicles will drive at slower speeds — 25 mph or less in urban settings — but they will offer unprecedented fuel and time efficiency.

 

 

 

Greek Crisis Driving Bitcoin Surge

June 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

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.

 

 

Twitter Under Pressure To Please Advertisers

June 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc’s next CEO will face a big challenge as the social media site seeks to appease Wall Street after last week’s management shakeup – helping disaffected advertisers connect with users.

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.

 

Is Yahoo Axing Services?

June 8, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

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.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Nintendo Move To Android?

June 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

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.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Region Locking Cost Nintendo In The Long Run?

June 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

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.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

IBM Taking QRadar To The Cloud

April 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

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.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Some Apple Watches To Arrive Ahead Of Schedule

April 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Some Apple Watch buyers who were told that they would have to wait until June to receive their new gadgets will get them sooner, according to a statement made by Apple.

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.

 

Yahoo Looking To Unload Japanese Unit

April 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Inc announced it is exploring unloading in its stake in Yahoo Japan Corp, which could be worth almost $9 billion before tax, news that boosted Yahoo’s stock price.

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.