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LG Going Totally Wi-Fi

January 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

LG says that all its products will ship with Wi-Fi connectivity from this year.

LG marketing VP David VanderWaal says that “starting this year” all of LG’s home appliances will feature “advanced Wi-Fi connectivity”.

One of the flagship appliances that will make good on this promise is the Smart Instaview Refrigerator, a webOS-powered Internet-connected fridge that among other things supports integration with Amazon’s Alexa service.

While this might be a good thing in cases of flagship devices but just sticking Wi-Fi in everything is going to create a security nightmare. After all how are LG or anyone planning to update their appliances? Most people who don’t use the Wi-Fi are never going to bother connecting to anything and that is just going to be an open port sitting waiting some hacker’s attention.

What is also a problem is that if your whole house gets a virus you are going to have a hell of a job finding out what the source was and what you are supposed to unplug.

Also, there is the small matter of some appliance makers might be a little naughty about using their smart devices to serve up ads or give audio or video recordings to law enforcement.

LG might be more likely than most to know what it is doing, but the life of a fridge or washing machine is a lot longer than a computer. Our fridge is 15 years old and works fine, what will be the state of computer security in 15 years’ time? Many are going to find that their fridge is running the security equivalent of Windows XP.

Courtesy-Fud

Israel’s Team8 Cybersecurity Firm Gets Microsoft, Qualcomm Funding

January 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The venture capitalists divisions of Microsoft and Qualcomm have invested in Team8, an Israeli creator of cybersecurity start-ups, as big multinational companies back Israel’s burgeoning cyber industry in the face of growing threats.

Team8, which also announced on Monday a strategic partnership with Citi to help develop its products, said the most recent investment brings its total raised to more than $92 million.

Its other investors are Cisco, AT&T, Accenture, Nokia, Singapore’s Temasek, Japan’s Mitsui, Bessemer Venture Partners, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and Marker LLC.

 While the number of attempted cyber attacks was 20,000 a week two or three years ago, that figure had now risen to 600,000-700,000, said Yoram Yaacovi, general manger of Microsoft Israel’s development center.

Israel has some 450 cyber start-ups, which receive 20 percent of global investment in the sector. Although the need for security is growing quickly, the proliferation of start-ups means that several companies compete in every subsector.

“A large part of companies created won’t get to the finish line,” Nadav Zafrir, Team8 chief executive and former commander of the Israeli army’s technology and intelligence unit 8200, told a news conference.

He said he believes Team8’s strong partners and its plan to build a portfolio of different technologies gives it an edge. Team8 confirmed that Microsoft had been an investor since last June.

“The expectation of our investors is to build independent companies that will lead their sectors,” he said.

Israel has a well established high tech industry, using skills of workers trained in the military and intelligence sectors. Tax breaks and government funding have encouraged start-ups, and also drawn in entrepreneurs from abroad.

Launched in 2014, Team8 employs 180 people in Israel, the United States, Britain and Singapore and plans to hire 100 more workers in 2017.

Two companies it created are Illusive Networks, which uses deception technology to detect attacks and has been installed at banks and retailers, and Claroty, which secures critical infrastructure sites such as oil and gas fields.

Details of two more companies it has set up will be announced this year, Zafrir said.

 

Faraday Future Shows Off Electric Vehicle At CES

January 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Electric vehicle start-up Faraday Future debuted in Las Vegas a prototype of a vehicle set for production next year as the China-backed company attempts to garner credibility in the crowded sector and overcome its funding challenges.

The “FF 91”, described by its designer Richard Kim as “weird-pretty”, is a luxury electric SUV Faraday executives say will be the most technologically advanced on the market when it goes into production in early 2018. Advance reservations for the car – which insiders say will retail for about $180,000 – are being taken for $5,000.

“You’re about to witness day one of a new era of mobility,” said Nick Sampson, senior vice president of engineering and research and development. “We’re going to show the first of a new species.”

 But cash shortages and a recent spate of executive departures have raised questions about the company’s prospects.

Faraday is funded and controlled by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, the chief executive officer of China’s Leshi Holdings Co Ltd, also known as LeEco, which is showing its own prototype electric car, the LeSee Pro, at CES. He is also an investor in California-based Lucid Motors, a competing electric vehicle start-up attending CES this year.

Faraday debuted at CES last year with a concept car not intended to be produced, raising eyebrows over the company’s legitimacy and Jia’s overall strategy. A cash crunch at LeEco and Faraday’s missed payments to a contractor working on its $1 billion Nevada factory have spurred more questions in recent months over Faraday’s financial situation.

In late December, LeEco said it was in talks to secure 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) from an unidentified strategic investor.

Faraday executives would not comment on the company’s financials.

Will Twitter Be Around For All Of 2017?

December 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

It has taken a while, but we are finally getting analysts to describe situations in the way we do. Trip Chowdhry, the managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research shocked the market when he described Twitter as being “toast.”

We would have liked it better had he added Twitter was now the Norwegian Blue of the tech world but we can’t have everything.

Chowdhry’s comment followed chief technology officer, Adam Messinger, tweeted that he would leave the company and “take some time off.” Meanwhile Josh McFarland, vice president of product at Twitter, also said he was exiting the company. Both exits were announced on the same day.

Last month, Adam Bain stepped down as chief operating officer last month to be replaced by chief financial officer Anthony Noto, who has yet to be replaced. Twitter has also lost leaders from business development, media and commerce, media partnerships, human resources, and engineering this year.

Chowdhry said that many Twitter investors were foolishly building an investment thesis based on complete stupidity. The company was toast and not worth $10 a share, he added.

A $10 price tag would represent a more than 44 percent decline in the U.S. technology company’s shares on Tuesday’s closing price.

He said Twitter’s data quality was “horrible.” Many pollsters used Twitter data to predict a Hillary Clinton win in the US election but the fact that Donald Trump won shows that data quality is poor. This was because Twitter allowed too many fake users on the platform, Chowdhry claims.

“If data quality is bad, ad targeting is bad, and if ad targeting is bad, advertisers are not happy, and hence monetisation will remain challenging for Twitter,” Chowdhry said.

Twitter’s average monthly active users for the third quarter increased to 317 million, up 4 million from its second quarter, while earnings beat market expectations. The US social media giant also announced plans to lay off about 350 people, or 9 percent of its global workforce.

Courtesy-Fud

ATT Introduces A Call Protect App For Mobile Devices

December 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

call-app-tLast week, AT&T introduced a new smartphone app called Call Protect that it claims will warn subscribers before answering their phones if an incoming call could be a spam dialer.

The mobile application works by applying network-level monitoring and blocking of known spam calls using the company’s voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) network data capabilities. Since the network is IP-based, it resembles a traditional email spam filter by analyzing incoming calls and labeling them as spam. Second, the app will display an on-screen message warning users before answering their phones.

The app also features a temporary call block to manually block unwanted calls for up to 30 days. When spam calls are added to a filter list, users can select callers to block and have the numbers renewed after the filters expire.

AT&T’s VoLTE network was introduced May 2014 beginning with four states in the Midwest and is now available in 96 percent of its LTE coverage area. As such, there may be a small percentage of customers who will not be able to regularly use the Call Protect service.

In addition, a user’s smartphone also need to be compatible with HD Voice in order to use Call Protect, and should include most mid-range and higher-end devices produced during or after 2012, when mainstream LTE coverage began rolling out across the US.

Courtesy-Fud

Twitter Suffers Another Loss

December 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-logo-4-150x150Twitter Inc’s Chief Technology Officer Adam Messinger announced via a tweet on Tuesday he would be leaving the company, the latest in a string of high-profile executive departures.

Messinger had been working with Twitter for five years and became the CTO in March 2013. Prior to joining Twitter in 2011, he was vice president of development at Oracle Corp.

Engineering Vice President Ed Ho will now take over all product and engineering and report directly to Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, Recode reported, citing people familiar with the restructuring.

“We’re taking steps to streamline and flatten the organization by elevating our engineering, product and design functions, with each area now reporting directly to Jack,” a company spokesperson said in an email.

As chief technology officer, Messinger was responsible for engineering, product development, and design at the microblogging company, amid efforts to find new products and features to grow its user numbers.

San Francisco-based Twitter has faced a string of departures, including in its product team, which has had three heads in less than a year.

No one individual was essential, but the fact that they all left should be concerning, especially since Dorsey is splitting his time between Square Inc and Twitter, Wedbush Securities Inc analyst Michael Pachter said.

Twitter’s Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain left the company last month, handing over the reins to Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto.

Josh McFarland, vice president of product at Twitter, also said on Tuesday that he would leave the company to join Silicon Valley venture firm Greylock Partners.

Twitter said in October it would lay off 9 percent of its employees and shut down video app Vine to keep its costs down.

SoftBank Takes $1B Stake In Satellite Startup OneWeb

December 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

softbank-150x150SoftBank Group Corp announced intentions to invest $1 billion in OneWeb Ltd, which is building a constellation of satellites to improve global broadband access, the Japanese Internet conglomerate and the U.S. startup firm said.

The investment is part of a $1.2 billion fundraising by OneWeb, with the remaining $200 million funded by its current investors.

The announcement comes after SoftBank’s founder billionaire businessman Masayoshi Son pledged a $50 billion investment in the United States in a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump this month.

 OneWeb, established in 2012, aims to provide affordable internet access “to billions of people around the world,” the company said in a statement.

Existing investors in OneWeb include Qualcomm Inc and Airbus Group.

Smartphone-based Bank Number26 Expanding

December 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

number26-bank-150x150Mobile phone only bank Number26 is now offering its services in 17 countries in the euro zone, expanding from a smaller core of European markets it entered a year ago, it said on Tuesday.

The Berlin-based company is backed by Li Ka-shing, one of Asia’s richest men and Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, along with other investors including Berlin’s Earlybird Ventures and Zurich-based Red Alpine.

The company, which received its own banking license from German financial regulator Bafin this year, offers online accounts for cash withdrawals, savings and insurance services that users manage on their mobile phones.

 It currently counts 200,000 customers in 8 countries.

Without the expense of branches or legacy computer infrastructure and by relying on selective outsourcing, mobile-first banks can challenge established banks by promising lower lending rates and higher rates on savings.

Established banks have responded by plowing more money into upgrading their own computer systems, rolling out mobile apps of their own, closing retail bank branches and investing in fintech startups.

N26, which first launched in 2015 in Germany and Austria, then moved into Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Ireland and Slovakia, is now adding the Benelux countries, the Baltics, Finland, Portugal and Slovenia.

“We have built Europe’s most modern mobile bank,” Number26 Chief Executive and co-founder Valentin Stalf said in a presentation at the TechCrunch Disrupt London conference.

“We are getting closer to building a truly European bank.”

Oracle To Acquire Cloud Infrastructure Provider Dyn

November 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

oracle-logoOracle plans to purchase internet performance and DNS provider Dyn in an effort to boost its cloud-based offerings as well as challenge infrastructure and platform service leaders like Amazon and Microsoft.

Dyn, in the news last month when it was targeted in a massive distributed denial-of-service attack, operates a global network that makes 40 billion traffic optimization decisions each day for more than 3,500 enterprise customers, including Netflix and Twitter.

Dyn monitors and optimizes internet applications and cloud services with the goal of delivering faster access and reduced page-load times. Dyn’s services will give Oracle a one-stop shop for enterprise customers looking for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Oracle said in a press release Monday.

Oracle has made an aggressive play in the cloud in recent months, with Executive Chairman Larry Ellison promising in September to give Amazon’s AWS “serious competition.” Some observers have questioned whether the company can catch up to Amazon and Microsoft, however.

Oracle has invested heavily in its cloud platform and has ambitions to be a market leader, but its strength right now lies in cloud support of its own applications, said Paul Miller, a senior analyst at Forrester.

“Oracle’s cloud makes most sense to customers already heavily invested in Oracle’s ecosystem of tools and applications,” Miller said.

Many existing Oracle customers also have a big investment in their own data centers, and that isn’t likely to change for several years, Miller added. So Oracle “mostly tells a hybrid cloud story in which some workloads run in public clouds, and others run on a customer’s premises, in a customer’s chosen co-location facility, or wherever,” he said.

In the hybrid service model, the Dyn acquisition makes sense, Miller said. Dyn’s network optimization services can help Oracle speed up its own network traffic and help the company and its customers “optimize the flow of data between Oracle’s data centers and a customer’s own facilities,” he added. “That optimization makes data flow faster and also saves everyone money.”

Customers should keep an eye on Oracle, he said.

“With a clear commitment to public cloud platforms and a strong history of success, clients would be foolish to write off this provider,” Forrester said in a report last month. “For those already invested in Oracle’s platform and applications, there may be no better choice.”

Oracle declined to comment on the acquisition and didn’t release terms of the deal.

 

Dell Profits Take A Hit

November 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

It has been rumored that Dell is working on a PC class x86 Windows smartphone, but it looks like a picture has finally tipped up, just as the project was abandoned.

Evan Blass has found a snap of what appears to be the PC phone that Dell was supposed to be shipping with an Intel processor. Some thought it was Microsoft’s much-anticipated Surface Phone but it turned out that it was Dell’s rather cool, but abandoned project.

Specifications of the cancelled phone are thin on the ground, but the fact it had a x86 processor suggests that it would be the most powerful smartphone in history.

It would have run Windows 10 Mobile which already supports Intel X86 processors and Vole’s Continuum feature could have taken advantage of the beefy specs. Continuum feature works with the HP Elite x3. It means that the x3 can have a full desktop experience by virtue of connecting an external display, a dedicated keyboard and a mouse.

Now if Dell had got all this to go on a mobile with Continuum it would mean a perfect desktop on a phone. There would be no need for a separate laptop, because all you would need is a laptop dock.

It is not clear why Dell walked away from what would have changed everything in the mobile world. It might have been that it would have been because it could have killed its PC business, but it is also possible that Chipzilla shafted the project with its cancellation of Intel’s low-end segment as a restructuring move in May.

Either way it is rather sad.

Courtesy-Fud

Tesla Doubles Power In Updated Battery System

November 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

tesla-powerwall-2-150x150Before an  announcement of a new rooftop shingle solar power system, Tesla unveiled the second iteration of its commercial lithium-ion battery storage system — the Powerpack 2.

The Powerpack 2 doubles the power capacity over the original Powerpack from 100 kilowatt hours (kWh) to 200kWh.

Powerpack 2 is also now matched with a new inverter, designed by Tesla and manufactured at the Gigafactory.

The original Powerpack contained 16 individual battery pods, each with an isolated DC-AC converter. The “pod” architecture and onboard power electronics allowed for individual units to be easily swapped out, Tesla said.

Tesla is betting on solar and battery storage systems, having partnered with Panasonic to manufacture batteries in its Gigafactory outside Reno, Nev., and having announced its intent to acquire SolarCity, the nation’s largest residential rooftop solar installer.

Research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) forecasts massive growth in the energy storage market, first in utilities, then in corporations seeking to reduce their overhead costs.

The “Global Energy Storage Forecast, 2016-2024” shows that the annual investment in energy storage systems will increase six-fold to $8.2 billion in 2024.

The Powerpack 2 is a redesigned and reengineered system that integrates a bi-directional inverter without a transformer that, while doubling the electricity capacity, keeps the same system footprint as the original.

Tesla’s new inverter, which is the electronic device that changes direct current (DC) electricity coming from solar photovoltaic panels to usable alternating current (AC), is modular; uses updated power electronics that offer better performance; delivers 99% peak efficiency; and responds faster to commands.

The improvements in the Tesla inverter contribute to a higher power density per square foot. The inverter can operate in grid-tied or off-grid (behind the meter) applications, and can switch between both conditions.

“It is the lowest cost, highest efficiency and highest power density utility-scale inverter on the market,” Tesla stated in a blog posting. “It also significantly simplifies the installation process of the entire Powerpack system by integrating a number of previously independent components into the inverter itself.”

The original Powerpack system retailed for $25,000 each. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the Powerpack can scale infinitely, even powering small cities.

The full price of the Powerpack 2 will be available on Tesla’s website and will combine the battery, inverters and cabling/site support hardware.

Will LG See Black Next Quarter?

November 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Troubled phone maker LG has seen its third quarter operating profit fall 3.7 percent from a year earlier.

Once again, its bottom line is being dragged down by a record quarterly loss for its mobile division. The outfit said in a regulatory filing its July-September profit was $248 million which was pretty much the misery it predicted earlier this year. Revenue for the quarter dropped 5.7 percent.

LG’s mobile division reported its worst-ever quarterly operating loss of $382.17 billion, its sixth straight quarter in the red, offsetting a record $334.21 profit for the telly division.

LG said its fourth quarter profit would be weaker than the third quarter’s due to higher promotional expenses and weaker earnings for its appliances business due to seasonal weakness.

The company is a bit of a tragedy because it makes rather good mobile products but for some reason can’t get a lucky break. Its TV business is doing well too.

Courtesy-Fud

Toyota Takes Stake In Car-sharing Company Getaround

October 31, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

toyota-logo-150x150Toyota Motor Corp on Friday announced that it has invested in U.S. car-sharing firm Getaround, a move that comes as global automakers seek to shore up their presence in new technology sectors amid growing competition from transport startups.

The world’s biggest-selling automaker confirmed in an email to Reuters that it has invested in the San Francisco-based start-up through its investment fund, Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, but declined to offer further details.

Earlier on Friday, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported that Getaround was believed to have received around $10 million from the fund.

Established last year, the fund which also includes Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) as an investor, also invests in artificial intelligence and robotics.

Getaround has been operating its on-demand car-sharing service in San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., and other U.S. cities since 2013. It claims to have more than 200,000 members.

Automakers have been scrambling to partner with tech firms to head off competition from self-driving cars and car sharing services that threaten to eventually trim demand for car ownership.

Toyota’s investment follows similar moves this year by other automakers who have partnered with car sharing service providers, including General Motors Co and Lyft Inc, and Volkswagen and Israel’s Gett.

Toyota already has a partnership with Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], through which the automaker leases vehicles to Uber drivers, and plans to work with the ride-hailing service to accelerate mobile technology research.

Microsoft’s Cloud Business Continues To Be A Success Story

October 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

microsoft-building-150x150Microsoft’s continued investment in the cloud paid dividends once again over the past quarter, as strong growth from Azure and Office 365 offset declines in the PC market.

The company announced on Thursday that its quarterly revenue for the three-month period ending in September was flat overall at $20.5 billion. The company’s net profit was down 4 percent year-over-year from $4.9 billion to $4.7 billion.

Those results were driven by quarterly revenue from the company’s Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes Azure and Windows Server, and its Productivity and Business Processes segment, which includes Office 365 and Dynamics. Intelligent Cloud revenue grew 8 percent year-over-year to $6.4 billion, while Productivity and Business Processes segment revenue grew 6 percent to $6.7 billion.

It’s another positive sign for the cloud-focused strategy that the company adopted under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella.

Azure revenue grew by 116 percent year over year, and Microsoft revealed for the first time that its profit margin from its cloud platform is 49 percent. The company continues to keep the exact revenue and profit numbers from its public cloud platform under wraps, however.

Office 365 commercial revenue grew 51 percent year-over-year. Microsoft reported it now has more than 85 million commercial monthly active users of its cloud-based productivity suite as a service offering.

Surface sales were another bright spot for Microsoft. The company’s line of tablets and laptops brought in $926 million over the past quarter, compared to $672 million during the same period in 2015. Phone revenue continued to drag the company down for another quarter, however — revenue from that division dropped by 72 percent year-over-year.

Microsoft’s non-GAAP results of $22.3 billion in revenue and earnings of $0.76 a share blew past analyst expectations for the quarter. The consensus of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was an expected $21.7 billion in revenue and earnings of $0.68 a share. Investors rejoiced at the news, sending the company’s stock to an all-time high above $60 per share, beating a previous high set in 1999.

 

Tesla To Get Into Ride-sharing Business

October 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

tesla-motors-logo-150x150Tesla Motors Inc has plans to introduce a ride share services program and will announce details next year, the luxury electric vehicle maker said on its website, a service first outlined by Chief Executive Elon Musk in his master plan in July.

News of the Tesla Network was in a disclaimer about the self-driving functionality on new Model S vehicles. Musk said last week Tesla is building new vehicles with the necessary hardware to eventually enable full autonomy, although the software is not yet ready.

“Please note that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year,” read the disclaimer.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for more detail.

Car makers have rushed to invest in so-called mobility services, hoping to capture the potential trillions of dollars in revenue from selling both vehicles and such on-demand services, while carving out a stake in the industry dominated by Uber.

Barclays analyst Brian Johnson wrote in a note to investors on Thursday that although a Tesla Network could “excite the market” over its potential earnings stream, it was a costly proposition.

“While we think ride-sharing/hailing is the future of mass-market mobility, we have some financial concerns with the idea of an OEM-owned fleet,” Johnson wrote.

Venture capitalists and corporate investors had poured nearly $28 billion into the ride services sector in the past decade as of June, according to a Reuters analysis.

General Motors has made the biggest bet, investing $500 million in Lyft in January. GM’s upcoming electric Chevrolet Bolt was designed expressly with car sharing in mind, executives have told Reuters.

Money-losing Tesla lacks the deep pockets of GM, and ride services companies like Uber and Lyft burn billions of dollars in price wars to secure regional dominance, as occurred with Uber in China before it ceded to local rival Didi Chuxing.

In his “Master Plan, Part Deux” in July, Musk outlined a system in which a Tesla owner could add a car to a shared Tesla fleet using a phone app, allowing it to “generate income for you” and lower the cost of ownership.

Musk said that in cities where car ownership is lower, Tesla would operate its own fleet.

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