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MediaTek Building Ecosystem To Power IoT

October 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek is quietly building an ecosystem to drive IoT strategy to push its System on Chip shipments across multiple devices.

The fabless chipmaker is signing partnerships with Amazon, Tinitell, Apple, and People Power.

MediaTek is starting to come out of the shadows in the West with its SoC designs. It sees the IoT as a way to push more of its chips.

It has put in a tender to buy power management outfit Richtek Technology to expand its leadership in Power Management Integrated Circuits (PMIC) to strengthen its overall capabilities for the IoT business model. The deal is expected to close in Q2 2016.

It has provided funding to People Power, a user engagement company providing apps, cloud and mobile services for IoT to further accelerate its penetration in the IoT market in both the U.S. and China, develop new IoT products based on its Fabrux and Influx software architecture

Release of two software development kits (SDKs) for Apple HomeKit, the framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user’s home.

This is on top of its partnership with Amazon for the latest devices – Amazon Fire TV is powered by MediaTek’s MT8173, a 64-bit quad-core processor and the world’s first multimedia SoC with ARM’s Cortex-A72 cores; Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets powered by MT8135, an up to 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, resulting in a fast and fluid user interface, and smooth running HD videos and high frame-rate games.

Chief Marketing Officer, Johan Lodenius said the company’s cunning plan was to innvovate widely available technology that provides integrated connectivity, while investing in and nurturing developers and the maker community to deliver practical yet innovative solutions.



Google Unveils Two New Nexus Smartphones

October 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google Inc has rolled out its new Nexus phones in its latest attempt to thwart Apple’s dominant share of the smartphone market.

The launch of the phones, the Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X, comes a day after Apple Inc reported record first-weekend sales of its new iPhones.

The Nexus 5X 16 GB model will be priced at $379, while the Nexus 6P 32 GB will cost $499, Google said at an event live-streamed on YouTube.

Apple’s 6s and 6s Plus start at $199 and $299, respectively, with a two-year service-provider contract.

Nexus devices, which typically do not sell as much as iPhones or iPads, are a way for the tech giant to showcase its latest advancements in mobile hardware and software.

Google also unveiled a tablet built entirely by the company based on its Android operating system.

The latest version of Android, dubbed Marshmallow, will be available to existing Nexus customers from next week.

The Android mobile platform is a key element in Google’s strategy to maintain revenue from online advertising as people switch from Web browser searches to smartphone apps.

The Nexus 5X is made by South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc and the Nexus 6P by China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd . Both phones feature Google’s new fingerprint sensor, Nexus Imprint, which is located on the back.

The fingerprint sensors will help quickly authorize purchases made through Android Pay, the one-touch payment app on Android devices that competes with Apple Pay.

The phones are available for pre-order on the Google Store from a number of countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan.

The Pixel C tablet will cost $499 for the 32 GB model and can be bought with a detachable keyboard, which will cost $149.

The tablet will be available in time for the holiday season on the Google Store.



AMD Goes Pro With APUs

October 1, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Troubled chipmaker AMD’s has launched its Pro APUs quietly with just one major customer so far, the maker of expensive printer ink HP.

Based on the Godaveri and Carrizo chips, AMD adds its AMD Secure Processor for corporate peace of mind. The new Pro chips include the new AMD Pro A12 chip, which runs at 3.4GHz. All of the new Pro chips are APUs, which mean that they combine both graphics as well as the CPU core. The A12 integrates 12 compute cores (4 CPU cores and 8 GPU cores), based on the Radeon R7 graphics technology running at 800MHz.

What differentiates the new PRO chips from the more conventional models are what AMD calls the AMD Secure Processor, an embedded core that enables the ARM TrustZone secure environment to run on top of the chip. Theoretically, at least, the technology should supply an added layer of security to sensitive apps.

AMD PRO A-Series mobile processors (formerly codenamed “Carrizo PRO”) are aimed at the commercial laptop market. They were made in collaboration with HP, ExactTrak, and Qualcomm. HP is set to flog a few of them in its HP EliteBooks range.

David Bennett, corporate vice president and general manager, Commercial Products, AMD said the AMD PRO processors enable performance, reliability and opportunity for today’s businesses by giving customers choice and affordability to meet their specific business needs.

The AMD PRO A-Series processors are purpose-designed for business, offering long-term value commercial enterprises can depend on including a 24-month longevity commitment, 18-month image stability, commercial-grade quality assurance and available extended OEM warranty support for up to 36 months.

Protection against modern security threats with new enterprise-class security features including Device Guard, Enterprise Data Protection, and Windows Hello biometric authentication.

The AMD PRO A-Series processors are claimed to enable greater management flexibility in a multi-vendor client environment at what AMD calls a business-friendly price.

HP EliteBook G3 705 series pair the PROs with Qualcomm’s SnapdragonTM X5 LTE modem to provide 4G connectivity and location capabilities.

Fram Akiki, senior director of product management at Qualcomm Technologies said that the closer co-operation between AMD, HP, and Qualcomm on the HP EliteBook 705 G3 Series will benefit enterprise users.

The AMD PRO A-Series mobile processors are available today through online resellers and are currently offered on HP EliteBook 705 G3 Series PCs, including HP EliteBook 725, 745 and 755

The HP EliteBook 705 G3 series with the new Pro chips inside them. The business notebook weighs 2.78 pounds and includes 12.5-inch, 14.0-inch and 15.6-inch displays.

The new Pro chips also contain features that were launched with the earlier chips, such as Heterogenous Systems Architecture (HSA 1.0) compliance to allow programmers to more easily program the CPU, as well as an integrated HEVC video decoder.


MediaTek’s Helio X20Goes Neural

October 1, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek has revealed that its latest generation 10 core processor will be targeting neural networks and tge deep learning market.

Nvidia was one of the first to go after this area and Qualcomm is wants ”in” too. There will  be a big scrap for what could be a huge market  for all of these companies.

Kevin JouSr. Vice President & CTO of MediaTek said.

“Cloud-based computing provides big data for training a neural network, but on a device deep learning enables privacy, instantaneous usability of personalized databases. It can speed up the search for the picture you want. This speeds up the search of your personal data including payments, pictures and everything else that we don’t want to have in the cloud. You can just ask Jennifer Lawrence how smart it was to have the nude pictures in the iCloud.”

Kevin has confirmed that MediaTek is developing the deep learning SDK that will support multi-corps. We have seen that company’s Core Pilot 3.0 scheduler can enable the CPU, GPU, DSP and ISP to  work together.

MediaTek’s Chairman and CEO Tsai Ming-kai said that the company has serious IoT and automotive aspirations. You need deep learning to teach a car the difference between a human printed on a piece of paper and the actual human on a street. This is a painful process, but when solved will enable self-driving cars that are promised to hit our streets by 2020, just five years from now.


Samsung Still Pursuing iPhone Users, Offers New Incentives

September 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung will rebate monthly lease and installment payments for the latest Galaxy smartphones up to $120 and will even throw in $100 more for trading in an iPhone.

The offer, however, does excludes devices sold or running on the AT&T network. But it does apparently apply to a lease or installment plan from T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon Wireless or US Cellular. The devices that are eligible are the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.

In one example, a Galaxy S6 through Verizon would require a $24 monthly payment for 24 months to pay off the device. Samsung’s offer covers those payments up to $120. The redemption period ends Oct. 9, according to online conditions.

For smartphone users switching to Galaxy from the iPhone, the $100 award will come in the form of a $100 Google Play gift card.

This isn’t the first time Samsung has attempted to lure iPhone customers. In August, Samsung offered U.S. iPhone users a 30-day test drive of a Galaxy phone for $1.

Samsung has been hot on the tail of Apple for years, and is expected to set up its own leasing program; Apple announced the iPhone Upgrade Program on Sept. 9. “If Apple does it, then it must be good enough for Samsung,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.



eBook Sales Appear To Be Falling

September 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

It is starting to look like the shift from hard content to digital content that killed off physical cds is not going to happen to books.

In the first five months of 2015, publishers’ revenues from e-books sales fell 10 per cent to $610.8 million, according to the Association of American Publishers, compared to a 2.3 per cent drop in print book sales in the fiction, nonfiction and religious categories (that the industry calls trade books.)

Anyone with common sense will tell you that the reason ebook sales are falling is because greedy publishers jacked up the price until people failed to see the point of ebooks. Ebook prices have risen and serious readers still prefer the tactile pleasure of a physical book and will choose that over a digital book for the same price.

Ebooks generated 24.9 per cent of publisher revenues between January and May, down from a peak of 26.5 per cent in the year earlier period.

Barnes & Noble reporting slight gains in comparable sales in its core book selling business after years of declines that had led many to wonder whether the largest remaining bookstore chain might suffer the same fate as Borders, which went out of business four years ago.

On the e-reader front, about 12 million devices industries wide were sold last year, down 40% from the nearly 20 million sold in 2011.


More Anti-trust Scrutiny For Google Over Android OS

September 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has initiated a preliminary investigation into whether Google Inc utilizes its Android operating system to dominate competitors as more consumers go mobile, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The Android mobile platform is a key element in Google’s strategy to maintain revenue from online advertising as people switch from Web browser searches to smartphone apps. The FTC had previously investigated Google for allegedly breaking antitrust law in a separate case but that probe ended in a settlement.

Reuters reported in April that some technology companies had complained to the U.S. Department of Justice about Google’s anti-competitive practices and urged the regulator to investigate allegations that Google unfairly uses its Android system to hurt rivals.

The FTC and the Justice Department conferred, and decided that the FTC would take the case, one source said. The probe is in its very early stages, according to sources.

Both Google and the FTC declined comment. In a blog post in April, a top Google executive defended the way the company handles Android, saying other firms could use Android without Google but that working with Google benefits consumers by giving them a better experience with their phone.

The FTC probe focuses on Google’s requirements that its search, maps and other products be given a prominent place on handsets. The demands make it impractical for handset makers to put Google rivals on their smartphone’s home screen.

Android is the top smartphone platform with 51.6 percent U.S. market share, according to an August report from analytics from comScore. Apple is in second place with 44.1 percent.

Fairsearch, a technology trade group, said it welcomed the FTC probe, adding that Google”has used a range of anticompetitive tactics.”

“The stakes are extremely high, because Google’s behavior impacts the entire mobile ecosystem, including map and location services, and app developers,” the group said in a statement.

App makers offering alternatives to Google’s popular products, such as HERE for maps or Microsoft for search, would benefit if the Mountain View tech giant’s hold on Android is weakened, though a slow legal process means they likely will not see relief anytime soon, said analyst Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research.



T-Mobile Offering Cheapest iPhone 6s

September 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile US Inc offered the least expensive option to own the latest iPhone at $5 under the company’s trade-in plan, amid fierce competition among the top U.S. carriers ahead of Apple Inc’s highly anticipated phone launch.

Customers can get a 16 GB iPhone 6s for $5 per month without upfront payment, under an 18-month lease, in exchange of an iPhone 6, 6 Plus or Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 versions under T-Mobile’s latest plan.

They can also get a 16 GB iPhone 6s Plus for $9 per month under the plan.

Sprint Corp currently offers an iPhone 6s for $15 per month, under a 22-month lease, with its trade-in plan.

U.S. carriers are also pressured by Apple’s own financing scheme for an unlocked iPhone that gives customers the freedom to switch between carriers.

Demand for new iPhones were on pace to beat the 10 million units the previous versions logged in their first weekend last year, Apple said earlier this month.

T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere tweeted on Tuesday that iPhone 6s preorders were 30 percent higher than a year earlier.



Samsung Expected To Announce Smartphone Leasing Plan

September 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung is said to be launching its own smartphone leasing plan, following the recent lead of Apple in a long-term attempt to wrest customer control away from U.S. carriers.

“If Apple does it, then it must be good enough for Samsung,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics. “The two companies are in an intense fight and Samsung cannot let Apple have a leg up on just about anything.”

Samsung did not comment directly on any plans to set up a leasing program, but a spokeswoman did tell Computerworld, “Samsung continuously evaluates trends and assesses business growth opportunities…. We remain committed to growing our mobile business in the U.S.”

Samsung launched its newest Galaxy devices on Aug. 21: the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Note 5.

Forbes reported Sunday that Samsung may be launching its leasing program for Galaxy devices within the next several months in the U.S., quoting an unnamed industry official.

Apple announced its iPhone Upgrade Program on Sept. 9; it lets a U.S. customer select an unlocked iPhone at an Apple retail store after making an appointment.

After the Apple announcement, several financial and technology analysts declared Apple’s move as a bold one that allows savvy smartphone users to mostly bypass a carrier. Jan Dawson, an analyst at research firm Jackdaw, called Apple’s upgrade plan a game-changer.

While Apple’s distribution of installment plan phones is limited, Samsung’s “will be even more limited, unless Samsung can get some retailers to partner with for distribution,” Entner said. Samsung today sells devices through Best Buy and other U.S. retailers, but Entner said that is still a limited channel. He estimated the top four U.S. wireless carriers together have 10,000 retail outlets.

Major U.S. carriers have mostly been quiet about the Apple announcement, and didn’t respond to questions about Samsung’s expected launch of a leasing plan.



Adobe Releases Another Patch For Flash

September 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Adobe has released a Flash patch package that really deserves your attention.

This is the latest salvo from the firm, and the advice so far is to drop everything and apply it immediately. Out-of-band releases are always interesting, and the suggestion is that the fix is a rush job to deal with some particularly nasty threats.

“If you’re running Adobe Flash on your Windows, Mac or Linux computer – it’s time, once again, to make sure that you’re running the latest version of the software. Adobe has issued a security patch for the Flash Player tackling critical security holes that could allow a malicious hacker to gain access to your computer, infect it with malware and steal your data,” said security guru Graham Cluley.

“Most of the nearly two dozen vulnerabilities patched in Adobe’s latest update could be exploited to execute malicious code on victims’ computers, and relate to buffer overflow flaws, memory corruption and stack corruption. Windows and Mac users are advised to update at the earliest opportunity.”

Adobe also urges users to get their skates on in its official announcement, saying that some of the Flash issues are critical.

“Adobe has released security updates for Adobe Flash Player,” it says. “These updates address critical vulnerabilities that could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.”

Adobe Flash is less Flash Gordon and more Gordon Bennett these days. People have fallen out of love with the web software and it is increasingly gaining pariah status.


Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Announces Mobile Carrier Service

September 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Xiaomi Inc, China’s dominant smartphone maker, has announced two prepaid wireless plans to mark its debut as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) competing against China’s national carriers.

MVNOs, which purchase network capacity from large carriers and resell mobile plans under their own branding, have failed to gain traction in China, where three state-owned giants dominate the telecoms industry.

But as China’s most popular handset brand, Xiaomi’s foray into the sector could finally kickstart the MVNO industry and provide a boost for Chinese telecom regulators who have sought for years to introduce market competition against the trio of state-owned carriers often criticised for their poor profitability and perceived bloat.

Xiaomi’s new wireless business, called Mi Mobile, will offer voice and data services and utilize either the China Unicom or China Telecom networks.

The launch comes less than six months after Google Inc announced it would launch an MVNO service in the United States called “Fi” that piggybacks off Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks.

There have been rumours that Apple is similarly mulling an MVNO business, although the iPhone maker has not disclosed any plans.



Are the iPhone 6s Sales Really Off The Chart?

September 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

The Apple Press has been flat out claiming that the iPhone 6S is doing really well, based on the word of Apple CEO Tim Cook – however one analyst is unconvinced.

Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest has warned his clients that demand for the iPhone 6S may be meaningfully lower than last year’s model.

Hargreaves of Pacific Crest based his figures on Google search volume, device shipments availability, and third-party surveys.

He added that a lack of quantitative statements from Apple and the wireless carriers all point to weak iPhone demand.

Hargreaves is one of the top analysts on Wall Street. His picks average a 33 percent one-year return with a 70 percent success rate and he is ranked in the top 1 percent of all analysts, according to

“Apple’s statement appears to be a statement on supply. Relative to demand, the preponderance of data points suggests that demand for the iPhone 6s is lower than it was for the iPhone 6, possibly meaningfully so. This includes Google search data, device shipment times, third-party surveys, a lack of comments from carriers, and a lack of quantitative comment on pre-orders in Apple’s statement.”

iPhone 6S search volume is 75 percent below last year’s iPhone 6 and 25 percent lower than even the iPhone 5S according to Google Trends, said Hargreaves.

Needless to say the Tame Apple Press is furious. Fortune Magazine said it was amazing that the analyst referred to Google Search data as a way of calling BS on Tim Cook statement. After all Apple always tells the truth and never lies to its users.

However saner investment hacks who normally believe in Apple agree that Hargreaves is onto something.

It highlights fears in Wall Street that Apple relies too much in the Iphone. Weaker sales send a signal to the market that the company has lost its innovative bent and is beginning to lose its “cool factor,” it could also signal the end of Job’s Mob’s marvellous run as a growth stock.



Apple Drops iCloud Storage Plan Prices

September 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

For the second time in as many years, Apple dropped prices for its expanded iCloud storage plans, putting costs in line with rivals like Google, Microsoft and Dropbox.

Apple announced changes to iCloud extra storage pricing earlier this month at the event where it unveiled new iPhones, the larger iPad Pro and a revamped Apple TV.

Although the Cupertino, Calif., company did not boost the amount of free storage space — as Computerworld speculated it might — and instead continued to provide just 5GB of iCloud space gratis, it bumped up the $0.99 per month plan from 20GB to 50GB, lowered the price of the 200GB plan by 25% to $2.99 monthly, and halved the 1TB plan’s price to $9.99.

Apple also ditched last year’s 500GB plan, which had cost $9.99 monthly.

The new prices are in line with the competition; in one case, Apple’s was lower.

Google, for example, hands out 15GB of cloud-based Google Drive storage for free — triple Apple’s allowance — and charges $1.99 monthly for 100GB and $9.99 each month for 1TB. The smaller-sized plan is 33% more per gigabyte than Apple’s 200GB deal, and Google’s 1TB plan is priced the same as Apple’s.

Microsoft also gives away 15GB. Additional storage costs $1.99 monthly for 100GB — the same price as Google Drive — while 200GB runs $3.99 per month, 33% higher than Apple’s same-sized plan.

Microsoft does not sell a separate 1TB OneDrive plan but instead directs customers to Office 365 Personal, the one-user subscription to the Office application suite. As part of the subscription, customers are given 1TB of OneDrive space. Office 365 Personal costs $6.99 monthly or $69.99 annually.




Users Reporting Problems Upgrading To Apple’s iOS 9

September 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple has officially released iOS 9, but in the first hour users reported that they were unable to grab the 1GB download.

“Software Update Failed,” the message read on iPhones and iPads. “An error occurred downloading iOS 9.”Computerworld confirmed the problem, initially seeing it on multiple iOS 8 devices. But after several subsequent attempts, the download successfully started about an hour after Apple issued the upgrade.

Similar reports of early problems were posted on Apple’s own support forums and elsewhere on the Internet. “Not a very helpful error,” wrote someone identified as “yanic” on the former.

Others countered with snark. “Strangely, this is not a ‘limited time offer,’ said “stedman 1″ on the same thread, likely referring to Microsoft’s Windows 10 free upgrade offer, which is valid for one year. “The software will be available tomorrow, and the next day, and next week.”

Some advice ended up being more helpful. “You are facing an overloaded server which is pretty typical of the first day a software revision comes out,” contended “Ralph Landry1″ on a different discussion thread.

Several iPhone owners who had said that they were unable to download iOS 9 returned to the same forum threads to report they had gotten the upgrade later.

Apple’s track record with iOS releases has been mixed. Last year’s iOS 8 roll-out seemingly started off smoothly — there were few initial complaints about getting the upgrade — but many soon griped that 8′s large size forced them to wipe apps and content from their devices before they could install the new OS.
iOS 9′s size and the free space requirements for installation were both reduced to address that problem of last year. The free space demand for iOS 9 fell to 1.3GB to 1.8GB from last year’s 4.5GB to 5GB.

Researcher Sees Explosive Growth In Smartwaches Ahead

September 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Smart wrist devices such as the Apple Watch are still a very tiny piece of the wearables market today, but that’s set to change in a big way over the next few years.

So predicts market researcher IDC, which published a new report suggesting that there’s explosive growth in store for the wearables market, driven largely by an expanding list of smartwatch vendors, devices, experiences and price points.

“More vendors are getting into this segment, setting the stage for more selection and ultimately more volumes,” said Ramon Llamas, IDC’s research manager for wearables. “Potential buyers — wary of what is currently available — will most likely be more interested once the second- and third-generation devices come to market with improved hardware and applications.”

Wearable device shipments overall will reach more than 76 million units this year, up a whopping 164% from the 29 million units shipped in 2014, according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. By 2019, worldwide shipments will surpass 173 million units, the researcher predicts, for a five-year compound annual growth rate of almost 23%.

It’s really smart wearables — as opposed to what IDC calls “basic” ones such as fitness trackers — where things will get interesting, though.

Smart devices currently account for only about a third of the total market, but that’s expected to change in 2018.

“Smart wearables will quickly move from a smartphone accessory primarily focused on notifications to a more advanced wearable computer capable of doing more processing on its own,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC.

Driving the category is smart wristwear capable of running third-party applications. That includes not just the Apple Watch but also Motorola’s Moto 360, Samsung’s Gear S-series and Pebble’s Time, for example.

Looking ahead, devices will increasingly be differentiated by the operating systems that run them as well as the available applications, IDC said.