IBM and BOX have signed a global agreement to combine their strengths into a cloud powerhouse.
The star-crossed ones said in a joint statement: “The integration of IBM and Box technologies, combined with our global cloud capabilities and the ability to enrich content with analytics, will help unlock actionable insights for use across the enterprise.”
Box will bring its collaboration and productivity tools to the party, while IBM brings social, analytic, infrastructure and security services.
The move is described as a strategic alliance and will see the two companies jointly market products under a co-banner.
IBM will enable the use of Box APIs in enterprise apps and web services to make a whole new playground for developers.
The deal will see Box integrate IBM’s content management, including content capture, extraction, analytics, case management and governance. Also aboard will be Watson Analytics to study in depth the content being stored in Box.
Box will also be integrated into IBM Verse and IBM Connections to allow full integration for email and social.
IBM’s security and consulting services will be part of the deal, and the companies will work together to create mobile apps for industries under the IBM MobileFirst programme.
Finally, the APIs for Box will be enabled in Bluemix meaning that anyone working on rich apps in the cloud can make Box a part of their creation.
Box seems to be the Nick Clegg to IBM’s ham-faced posh-boy robot in this relationship, but is in fact bringing more than you’d think to the party with innovations delivered by its acquisition of 3D modelling company Verold.
What’s more, the results of these collaborations should allow another major player to join Microsoft and Google in the wars over productivity platforms.
It was announced today that Red Hat and Samsung are forming their own coalition to bring enterprise mobile out of the hands of the likes of IBM and Apple which already have a cool thing going on with MobileFirst.
“Today, we’re introducing Box for Office Online, making it easier than ever for our customers to create and manage their Word docs, PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets securely from anywhere and on any device, right from Box,” said David Still, Box’s chief of mobile products, in a post to his company’s blog.
Like the ties between Dropbox and Office Online — the latter is Microsoft’s browser-based app trio of Excel, PowerPoint and Word — Box lets customers open documents from within its service, edit and then save back to the cloud. Box users will also be able to create new Office Online documents.
Dropbox added the same functionality to its browser-based UI in April, part of a broader partnership with Microsoft that kicked off in November 2014.
Still also promised future Box moves to bring it more on par with Dropbox. “Later this year, [Box and Microsoft] intend to further collaborate on integrations with native Office clients on iOS, Android, and Windows,” Still wrote.
He did not provide a release window for updates to Box’s mobile apps.
Microsoft added Dropbox support to its Office apps on iPhone, iPad and Android late last year, and Dropbox released a Windows Phone app in January.
Box took advantage of Microsoft’s Office 365 Cloud Storage Partner Program, an initiative by the Redmond, Wash. developer to extend the influence of Office by letting third-party cloud storage services connect to Office Online and Office for iOS. Box signed up with the program in mid-February.
“By opening up Office Online, Microsoft is showing an amazing amount of proactive enablement for moving the future of work this direction,” said Box CEO Aaron Levie in a separate post.
Although Microsoft competes with both Dropbox and Box with its own OneDrive cloud storage service, the company has aggressively moved toward a more agnostic outlook, whether regarding rival platforms or competitive services.
Apple did not highlight it during the keynote address kicking off its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week, but the company will release an Android-to-iOS migration app alongside iOS 9 this fall.
The app, given the prosaic name “Move to iOS,” will help switchers defect Android for Apple’s iPhone or iPad.
“It securely transfers your contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, [browser] bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free songs and books,” Apple asserted in its iOS 9 online marketing materials.
The migration app shouldn’t come as a surprise, said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel Comtech.
“Anything vendors can do to make it as pain-free as possible for users to make [a migration] is a good thing,” Milanesi said in an email. “We are in a very saturated market and sales will come from keeping your clients loyal and engaged, and attracting customers from your competitors.”
Apple’s focus on snatching customers from Android device makers isn’t new.
In a January call with Wall Street analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook trumpeted his firm’s ability to tempt consumers to dump Android. “The current iPhone line-up experienced the highest Android switcher rate in any of the last three launches in the three previous years,” Cook said.
Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones in the three months that ended Dec. 31, 2014, a 46% improvement compared to the same period the year prior. Analysts attributed much of that growth to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that Apple started selling in September 2014, when the Cupertino, Calif. finally offered smartphones with screens in sizes previously available only from Android ODMs (original device manufacturers) such as Samsung.
iPhone sales dropped to 61.2 million units in the March 2015 quarter, but that was still a 40% year-over-year increase.
While Cook did not peg an Android-to-iOS switch rate, outsiders have. In January, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) said its polling showed that 19% of U.S. iPhone customers confirmed they had switched from an Android phone.
Apple Pay will debut in the U.K. in July, where it will initially work at 250,000 retail locations and the London transit system — with credit card support from eight major banks, according to an Apple announcement.
Some observers had expected Apple Pay to launch in Canada as well, but company executives didn’t discuss plans for Canada during the keynote address at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).
Apple Pay first launched in the U.S. last October with more than 225,000 retailers and has steadily expanded. The mobile payment service will reach 1 million locations in the U.S. by July, said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Internet services.
She said 2,500 banks now support Apple Pay in the U.S. adding that Discover cards will be supported sometime in the fall.
While 1 million locations is considered impressive, the expansion to 90% of all 12 million retail locations in the U.S. could take five to 10 years, according to banking and credit card experts. Banks are already pushing retailers to upgrade their in-store payment terminals to support smart credit cards by October, and nearly all those new terminals also support NFC payments, like Apple Pay uses. But the rollout will still take years.
As expected, Bailey announced that Apple Pay will automatically process loyalty and rewards cards. In other words, customers automatically get coupons, rewards, loyalty points and special offers from a specific retailer — or from Apple itself — applied when a purchase is made from an NFC-ready iPhone or Apple Watch.
But Apple Pay will also support some store credit cards beyond just major credit cards Visa and MasterCard. Bailey named JC Penney, Kohl’s, Fandango and BJ’s store credit cards as those that will be supported initially.
“Apple Pay automatically presents the right card” during the payment process, she noted. The improvements she described will work with the coming update called iOS9 for iPad and iPhone, as well as Apple Watch. The update is expected in the fall.
Last week it was reported how Geeknet Inc. was in the process of being bought out by retailer Hot Topic for $16 a share or $37 million in cash.
However we have just discovered that deal was squashed because Thinkgeek got a better deal from Gamestop.
GameStop offered $20 per share and Hot Topic wanted away. GameStop’s $20 per share deal also includes $37 million in cash and comes out to a total valuation of $140 million.
Geeknet must pay Hot Topic a three percent “break-up fee,” which GameStop has agreed to reimburse.
What this will mean is that ThinkGeek customers can pick up ThinkGeek merchandise in GameStop stores.
The press release also mentions the potential of offering GameStop PowerUp Rewards members “exclusive, unique and cutting edge merchandise related to their favorite entertainment.”
The deal should be concluded by the end of GameStop’s second financial quarter of 2015, which will happen in August.
At Sony’s 2015 Investor Relations Day today, Sony Computer Entertainment president and global CEO Andrew House detailed the company’s strategy for the coming year, including how it will address some shortcomings.
House began his presentation on a positive note, talking up PlayStation 4 as “the fastest selling hardware platform in our history,” showing better-than expected growth and pushing PlayStation Plus subscriptions to twice what they were in fiscal year 2013. He said the company has a competitive advantage for the moment, and laid out three ways it hopes to maintain that. In addition to next year’s launch of the Project Morpheus virtual reality headset and continued cost reduction efforts, House said the company needs quality software.
“We are working very hard to continue very strong support from third-party pubs and devs,” House said. “Our first-party lineup is a little sparse this year, so I think this places even greater emphasis on getting good third-party support.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean exclusive third-party support. To date, House said Sony has been primarily trying to get multiplatform developers to simply take advantage of features the PS4 has over the competition, like SharePlay, or maybe include extra content in the PS4 version or give players early access to add-on content. Third-party exclusives are still an option, just not a frequently used one.
“I will admit that these are, in the current publishing landscape, few and far between, but we were able to announce a full exclusive around a franchise like Street Fighter so that Street Fighter 5 is a complete exclusive for PlayStation 4,” House said, adding, “Although given publishing dynamics and development costs, those are increasingly difficult to secure.”
House also talked about the decline in Sony’s other platforms. As much as the PS4′s growth has exceeded expectations, so too has the PlayStation 3′s decline. House said the system’s price simply isn’t as competitive in the market as the PlayStation 2 and PSone were after their successors launched, and added that the shift toward more connected console experiences has also made less capable offerings less attractive.
House also cast a dim view of the company’s handheld business. While he noted that the Vita platform remains “strong and vibrant” in Asia and Japan, his outlook for the current fiscal year included declines in the US and Europe. Additionally, he referred to the PlayStation Vita and its microconsole counterpart the PlayStation TV as “legacy platforms” when discussing a write-off of hardware components for the two.
“I would characterize 2015 as the beginning of a harvest period for the PlayStation 4 platform,” House said. “The beginning of a harvest period. That being said, we are also undertaking to invest in the future, and 2015 will also be a year of investment.”
That investment will be focused on a few areas. There’s the Morpheus, of course, as well as continued spend on original PlayStation entertainment content like the TV show Powers (which was recently greenlit for a second season). On top of that, House said Sony would be investing in the expansion of its PlayStation Vue television streaming platform and a continued re-architecture of its PlayStation Network with an eye toward increasing stability and reducing maintenance downtime.
The dumping of Apple shares by top hedge funds is continuing to gather speed and now even the Tame Apple Press is noticing.
Reuters took time out from its busy schedule of promoting Apple producst to report the surprise news that Top US hedge fund management firms, including Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors and Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management, continued to reduce or slash stakes altogether in Apple during the first quarter.
We say surprise news, but we had noticed it when it actually happened.
Coatue cut its holding of Apple by selling 1.2 million shares during the first three months of this year, but it remains the fund’s single biggest U.S. stock investment, with 7.7 million shares. Omega Advisors sold all of its 383,790 shares in Apple during the first quarter, while Rothschild Asset Management cut its stake by 107,953 to 938,693 shares, filings showed on Friday.
David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital also cut its exposure in Apple during the first quarter, slashing its stake by 1.2 million shares to 7.4 million shares.
Reuters cannot understand why the hedge funds are dumping their shares. Apple shares rose 12.7 percent in the first quarter and have continued to increase, it moaned.
But the reality is that if hedge funds listened to what fanboys wanted they would not be making the huge amounts of dosh they do. Objectively Apple’s markets have peaked, sales of Tablets have slumped, its iPhone market is stable but has no real momentum and above all it has yet to come up with a new idea.
Struggling display manufacturer Sharp, reeling from cutthroat competition in mobile phones, will push car makers to incorporate vehicle dashboards that have gestural commands, thin bezels and other next-generation features.
It’s hoping cars will be controlled, in part, through high-resolution displays that can fit any two-dimensional surface area, such as dashboard panels with rounded contours.
The company has shown off the wavy screens for cars and consoles in recent months, and has tried to woo automakers to use them. Under the firm’s new medium-term strategy, the push has taken on greater urgency.
Thin-bezel dashboard LCDs, as well as screens that can provide multiple views to different passengers in a car depending on their perspective, could prove to be a lifeline for Sharp, which hasn’t been able to command a dominant market position despite cutting-edge technology.
Sharp is an Apple supplier and is said to be a maker of iPhone 6 screens, along with Japan Display, and LG Display of South Korea.
Apple sources some of its screens from Sharp’s Kameyama plants in central Japan, which produce the maker’s flagship IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) transparent crystalline semiconductor displays. IGZO displays, which Sharp began producing for smartphones in 2013, have smaller pixels than conventional LCD screens and feature low power consumption.
Last month, Sharp showed off a 5.5-inch display with 3860 x 2160 or 4K pixel resolution, which was part of a 12.5-inch IGZO panel. But there were no immediate plans for mass production.
Sharp’s ability to generate dazzling phone graphics hasn’t saved its bottom line. The firm announced a US$1.7 billion bailout from banks this week, its second lifeline in three years, and posted a dismal earnings performance for the year to March 31 with a net loss of ¥222.3 billion ($1.8 billion). It blamed declining prices in small and medium-sized LCDs.
In contrast, Sharp sees prices for automotive and industrial automation displays as more stable because the barriers to market entry are higher due to the technological know-how that’s required. Now it needs to play for time.
Hackers from Brazil have managed to discover a new exploit for the PS4 which enables them to bypass the DRM on any software and games.
A couple of weeks ago, a number of electronic stores in Brazil had been advertising the means to copy and run a series of ripped retail games on the console.
At the time little was known about the hack back then, but information gradually began to trickle out from customers and make its way around the web. Please see below for commentary from Lancope.
Gavin Reid, VP of threat intelligence, Lancope said that Sony was playing an arms race against groups that benefit from the abilities to copy and share games.
The hack originates from a Russian website and has been pushed into the public by Brasilian retailers. The hack isn’t necessarily a jailbreak for the PS4, nor is it really a homebrew technique.
What they did was use a retail PS4, with several games installed on it, with it’s entire game database and operating system (including NAN/BIOS). This was then dumped onto a hacked PS4 via Raspberry Pi.
The entire process costs about $100 to $150 to install 10 games and $15 per additional game.
“Open source groups like Homebrew with more altruistic motivations of extending the functionality of the console alongside groups selling modified consoles specifically to play copied games and of course the resell of the games themselves at fraction of the actuals costs. This has happened historically with all of the major consoles. It would be highly unlikely not to continue with the PS4,” he said.
Those are the findings from enterprise mobility management vendor Good Technology, which issued a report that measured mobile device activations among its business customers. Good says its technology serves more than 6,200 companies.
In the first quarter of 2015, 72 percent of all smartphones activated globally ran iOS. Compared to 2014′s fourth quarter, that’s a 1 percent decrease. Android device activations, meanwhile, reached 26 percent, increasing 1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014. Windows Phone activations remained steady at 1 percent, the same as the previous six quarters, said the report.
Apple lost significant ground in the tablet market. In the first quarter of 2015, iPads had an 81 percent market share in activations, down from 92 percent in the year-ago quarter, according to the report. Tablets running Android and Windows increased their market share to 15 percent and 4 percent, respectively. According to Good, Microsoft Surface devices, which Microsoft manufactures, as well as Windows tablets sold by third-party makers, were both in demand.
The iPhone 6 was the most popular smartphone for businesses, comprising 26 percent of all smartphone activations in the first quarter of 2015. The Samsung 5 was the most activated Android smartphone. Together, 28 of the top 30 selling smartphones came from either Apple or Samsung, the report said.
The industries with the most iOS activations were education (83 percent), the public sector (80 percent) and financial services (76 percent), the report said. Android activation was prevalent in the tech (47 percent) and energy (44 percent) industries.
Windows device activations, meanwhile, stood out in the retail and entertainment and media markets. In retail, Windows tablets claimed a 5 percent market share while in the media and entertainment industry, 7 percent of device activations were for Windows Phone.
Apple’s latest nice looking over priced junkware is getting it into a spot of legal bother.
A lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court against Apple (but also Samsung, Google, and Microsoft) demands that the companies bankroll a billion dollar programme to educate drivers about the dangers of using smartwatches while driving.
The Coalition Against Distracted Driving(CADD)’a Stephen Joseph filed the complaint on April 18.
Joseph is “acting in this case in the public interest” while recognizing “potential injury to himself caused by the possibility of being hit by a driver who cannot see the road because he or she is using a smartphone or smartwatch,” the suit states.
Driving while using smartphones is dangerous and smartwatches can be more dangerous, reports the lawsuit.
Looking at notifications from smartwatches “creates a far greater distraction than smartphones” because it is more difficult to ignore notifications, given that the device is strapped to one’s wrist, the suit states. The temptation to view the notifications is “irresistible” and while looking at smartwatch “the road becomes invisible to the driver.”
The $1 billion cost of a national education program, “is a tiny fraction of profits that defendants receive from the sale of smartphones and smartwatches,” the suit states.
The suit argues that smartwatches with smartphones are nuisance while driving and the companies fail to issue warnings. A new ruling found that nuisance cases could be brought “to make such criminal activity … less likely through the imposition of operating conditions.”
Samsung Electronics is winning the Smartphone war, despite what you might be reading in the mainstream press.
According to the company it expects earnings to rise in the second quarter after posting its highest profit in three quarters in January-March, boosted by strong demand for its new Galaxy S6 flagship smartphones.
To make matters even more cheery for Samsung, researcher Strategy Analytics saying the South Korean giant overtook Apple as the world’s top smartphone maker in the first quarter.
Samsung Vice President Park Jin-young “Galaxy S6 sales have been going as well as expected, while demand for the Galaxy S6 edge have been better than anticipated. “
The firm reported a January-March operating profit of $5.64 billion and promised that earnings for April-June should continue to rise, thanks to the two Galaxy S6 models which are breaking the company’s sales records.
There had been some fears that Galaxy S6 phones might not be selling, but it turned out that this was just a rumor.
Analysts have been agreeing that Samsung is winning because there is nothing else out there that can match it. Daewoo Securities analyst Jonathan Hwang said there was nothing within the current Android camp that could stand as an alternative to Samsung’s high-end smartphones.
Samsung’s chips business remained the top earner thanks in part to surging orders from smartphone makers including Samsung itself. The company said it expected robust chip sales to continue in the April-June period.
Samsung also warned that the typical industry pattern of a stronger second half may not be as pronounced this year due to risks like the weaker euro and emerging market currencies.
The group unveiled CurrentC in September, saying it had already launched the payment service by that time in private pilot mode in select, unnamed locations, with plans for regional and national rollouts in 2015. MCX wasn’t more specific, other than saying that would take place “mid-year” in an email to Computerworld.
“The market will be determined based on a number of factors, including retail support, infrastructure and consumer population,” Scott Rankin, chief operating officer at MCX said in the email.
The group’s 62 members include Walmart, Best Buy, and CVS; together they control more than $1 trillion in payments annually.
MCX has long been considered a threat to Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other mobile payment systems, partly because of the size and buying power of its customers. Analysts have predicted that MCX will offer alternatives to loading credit or debit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express on the CurrentC app so that merchants can avoid the 2% or greater swipe fees they pay to banks for every purchase.
Critics of the MCX approach have noted that without the largest credit and debit cards, retail customers might be borrowing credit from the retailers themselves or simply using CurrentC to transfer funds from their personal bank accounts or Pay Pal. Visa, MasterCard and American Express together control more than 80% of all U.S. credit card transactions.
At one point last year, MCX members CVS and Rite Aid stopped taking payments from Apple Pay and other recently-installed NFC-enabled systems. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay all use NFC payments, relying on a chip inside newer phones and devices such as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S as well as the new Apple Watch.
Most analysts had predicted MCX would rely on QR codes to activate in-store payments or some technology other than NFC.
In its email on Monday, Rankin said it is “protocol-agnostic” and works in test mode across QR code, Bluetooth and others. “We are in market today with multiple technologies and not opposed to using NFC in the future,” he said.
Samsung has recently described the first week of Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge sales as “impressive” and predicted overall sales for both devices will break a record, passing 70 million globally for both.
That projection, offered by an unnamed Samsung executive in a recent Korea Times report from Seoul, would be welcome, indeed, after the company’s problems selling the Galaxy S5.
A Samsung spokeswoman could not immediately confirm the sales estimate. Both phones went on sale April 10 in the U.S. and other major markets.
The 70 million in sales for both phones would compare to reported sales of 70 million for each of the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 phones. The Galaxy S5′s sales fell 40% below expectations, as measured last November, leading to an executive shakeup.
Samsung has been using the Edge device as a kind of promotion for both phones, which are reportedly sold to carriers in a ratio deal: When a carrier buys 10 Galaxy S6 phones to resell, the carrier gets the right to buy five Edge phones to resell.
The Edge is the first smartphone with two curved front display edges on either side, something Samsung expected would be a crowd pleaser. Some reports have said there were a record high 20 million pre-orders for both new phones and that some retailers sold out within a day of availability.
Samsung is apparently seeing good early sales despite user complaints of a problem with the auto-rotate feature on some Edge devices. Some images and apps remain stuck in the portrait mode (vertical) and won’t rotate as they should to landscape mode (horizontal), according to dozens of users in forums.
Samsung and U.S. carriers have offered no public explanation for the problem or its fix, nor have they said how many units are affected. Some customers have returned an Edge device only to have a second one fail. Sprint referred all queries on the matter to Samsung, while Verizon and AT&T have not commented.
Microsoft Corp has finally rolled out a long-awaited suite of touch-friendly Office apps that allow Windows phone users to work on Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents on their phones with touch commands and to transfer them easily between devices.
Test versions of what Microsoft is calling its Office Universal apps are available to download immediately and full versions will be available by the end of the month, Microsoft said.
Many Office users have waited months for Microsoft to introduce the apps, which adapt their look and commands to the device being used, whether Windows Phone or tablet.
Microsoft, in a departure from tradition, has already released similar touch-friendly Office apps for Apple Inc’s iPad and iPhone, and for tablets running Google Inc’s Android.
The company’s reasoning was that those popular devices, which have dominated mobile computing, represented a bigger and more lucrative market for its Office products than its own Windows mobile devices.
Basic functions are free for everyone, but for advanced editing features, users must pay for a subscription to Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Office.
Microsoft is set to release a new version of Office for desktop PCs, and a new version of Windows, later this year.