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Apple Optimistic About iPhone SE Sales

April 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Qualcomm’s Appears To Be Slowing

April 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm predicted a third-quarter profit below analysts estimates as it expects to ship fewer chips, including those for smartphones, its biggest business.

Qualcomm, whose customers include Apple and Samsung expects chip shipments to fall 13-22 percent to 175-195 million in the current quarter with its  expects 3G and 4G devices to increase to eight percent at the midpoint in this quarter, lower than its previous estimate of about 10 percent growth.

Besides slowing smartphone sales, Qualcomm is also being squeezed by competitors making chips that rival its own in price and performance, and the likes of Samsung and Apple increasingly making their own components for smartphones.

Research firm Gartner expects global smartphone sales to grow in single digits in percentage terms for the first time ever this year, while Apple in January also forecast its first revenue drop in 13 years.

The uncertainty in the smartphone business seemed to show in the company’s third-quarter revenue forecast of $5.2-$6.0 billion, which implies revenue could be between 11 percent lower and 3 percent higher than the year-ago quarter.

However, while Qualcomm’s chip business is the bigger contributor to revenue it makes most of its dosh by licensing its chip technology. But the outfit has sufferd from delays in closing licensing agreements in China, its biggest market.

Qualcomm, which has recently signed new deals with several companies including Lenovo and it was still in talks with key Chinese smartphone makers to sign agreements.

Revenue at Qualcomm’s chipmaking division and its licensing business fell, 25 percent and 12 percent respectively, in the latest quarter, dragging down total revenue for the fourth quarter in a row. However, the 19.5 percent drop, to $5.55 billion, in the three months ended March 27, was less than the nearly 23 percent drop analysts were expecting. Net income attributable to Qualcomm rose 10.5 percent to $1.16 billion, or 78 cents per share.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple To Pay Nearly $25M In Siri Patent Lawsuit Settlement

April 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has agreed to shell out $24.9 million to a patent holding firm to resolve a 5-year-old lawsuit accusing Siri of infringing one of its patents.

Apple will pay the money to Marathon Patent Group, the parent company of Texas firm Dynamic Advances, which held an exclusive license to a 2007 patent covering natural language user interfaces for enterprise databases. Marathon reported the settlement in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

In response to the settlement, Magistrate Judge David Peebles of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York dismissed a lawsuit against Apple filed by Dynamic Advances and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where the natural language technology was created.

A trial had been scheduled to begin early next month in Syracuse, New York. Dynamic Advances first filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in October 2012.

A “portion” of the settlement will go to RPI, Marathon said in its SEC filing. The company believes “other voice recognition services also infringe patents involved in the settled action,” it said in the filing.

The natural language technology covered in the patent was invented by Cheng Hsu, then a professor of decision sciences and engineering systems, and Veera Boonjing, then a doctoral student at RPI, according to an amended complaint filed in June 2013.

The patent covers “novel methods” for processing natural language, wrote lawyers for the plaintiffs. The technology gives computer and smartphone owners “the ability to input search queries or commands in language they would use in conversation with another person,” they wrote in the complaint.

Apple’s Siri voice-enabled digital assistance service encourages users to use technology that “processes natural language inputs” as claimed in the patent, the complaint said. Since the first lawsuit in 2012, “Apple has known that, or has been willfully blind to the fact that” its customers are infringing the patent, the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote.

 

 

Apple Decides To Extend iPhone Production Cut

April 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc will maintain its reduced production of iPhones in the quarter ending June in light of sluggish sales, the Nikkei business daily reported, citing parts suppliers notified of the plan.

Apple apparently does not plan to make enough of the newly launched iPhone SE model, the Nikkei report said.

The company’s shares fell 1.8 percent to $110.05. Shares of some Apple suppliers also fell following the report. Skyworks Solutions Inc was down 1.4 percent, Broadcom Ltd fell 2.4 percent while Jabil Circuit lost 1.7 percent. The Nikkei reported in January that the technology giant was expected to cut production of its iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models by about 30 percent in the quarter ended March, but production was expected to return to normal in the current quarter.

The production cut could last longer than the one it implemented in 2013, when Apple cut production orders for its cheaper iPhone 5C a month after its launch, the Nikkei said.

Apple has told parts suppliers in Japan and elsewhere that it will maintain the reduced output level in the current quarter, the Nikkei report said.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In January, Apple said it expected a fall in revenue for the quarter ending March – its first forecast for a revenue drop in 13 years – as the critical Chinese market showed signs of weakening. It also reported the slowest-ever increase in iPhone shipments.

Global smartphone sales in 2016 are expected to grow at their slowest rate – in single digits in percentage terms, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

 

Will Samsung Use Iris Scanners In Phones?

April 13, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

It is looking certain that Samsung phones are getting Iris security scanners.

Iris scanning technology has been a long-standing rumour with Samsung flagships even as long ago as the Galaxy S5. However nothing actually happened and it was always rumoured as being in the next model,

Now Galaxy Club spotted a tracking entry in Zauba indicates something called an IRIS CAM has been shipped from South Korea to India. This could be indicative that Samsung is already busy testing the technology in its local R&D department.

It would be reasonable to assume that it might actually be ready in the Galaxy Note 6. Of course this could be another disappointment, but at least this time there has been paperwork seen that such a device exists.

Courtesy-Fud

 

FBI To Aid Other Agencie In Unlocking Encrypted Devices

April 5, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The FBI has promised to aid local law enforcement authorities in cracking encrypted devices, in a letter that refers to the federal agency’s success in accessing the data on an iPhone 5c running iOS 9 that was used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

The agency did not, however, explicitly promise investigators that it would deploy the same tool, said to have been developed by an outside organization, on other iPhones.

The FBI had earlier demanded in court that Apple should assist it in its attempts to crack by brute force the passcode of the iPhone used by the terrorist, without triggering an auto-erase feature that could be activated after 10 unsuccessful tries.

It changed its stance and informed the court that it was trying out a technique from an external organization that could possibly help it access the data on the phone. It later informed the court that it was able to access the data on the phone and that Apple’s help would not be required.

The FBI  did not disclose in court the method it had used to access the data and whether it was device specific or could be used on other iPhones.

The letter by the FBI to local investigators appears to be a response to requests for help from local agencies after the hack of the phone used by the San Bernardino shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook, but does not make commitments.

“We know that the absence of lawful, critical investigative tools due to the ‘Going Dark’ problem is a substantial state and local law enforcement challenge that you face daily,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by BuzzFeed News and some other news outlets. The FBI has previously said that even when law enforcement has the legal authority to intercept and access communications and information, backed by court orders, it faces a ‘Going Dark’ problem to technically access the data in motion or at rest in devices.

“As has been our longstanding policy, the FBI will of course consider any tool that might be helpful to our partners,” it added. “Please know that we will continue to do everything we can to help you consistent with our legal and policy constraints. You have our commitment that we will maintain an open dialogue with you. We are in this together.”

 

 

 

Apple Releases Developer’s Preview Of Safari For OS X

April 1, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Apple has finally released its first developer preview of Safari for OS X, saying it is following in the footsteps of other major browser makers — all of whom provide early looks at their under-construction projects — to give website designers and app creators a continuous sneak peek.

Labeled “Safari Technology Preview,” the browser can be downloaded by anyone, not just Apple registered developers, and runs alongside the production-quality Safari on OS X. The preview will be updated via the Mac App Store every two weeks.

The Safari preview, Apple said, is a “more convenient and stable way” to run a developer-grade build than WebKit’s nightly iterations. WebKit is the open-source project that feeds code to Safari, and like other browser “channels” — such as Google’s Chrome Canary or Mozilla’s Firefox Nightly — features daily updates.

Safari Technology Preview has a major advantage over WebKit’s nightlies in that the former is signed by Apple. The means it supports iCloud, which Safari uses to synchronize bookmarks and opened tabs, making it easier to bounce between preview and production versions on one or more Apple devices.

Developers also get the latest additions to Web Inspector, Apple’s tool for prototyping and debugging websites, in the preview.

Among the newest WebKit features in the initial preview were a faster JavaScript compiler and support for Content Security Policy Level 2, which protects Web apps from content injection vulnerabilities leveraged by cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.

The preview can be downloaded from Apple’s developer website. OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 or later is required. More information about the sneak peek was published on the WebKit blog.

 

 

Apple Signs Up For Google Cloud Services

March 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc recently began using Google’s cloud service while it simultaneously builds its own data centers to reduce its reliance on third-party service providers, technology news website Re/code reported, citing sources familiar with the deal.

Apple currently also uses Amazon.com Inc’s and Microsoft Corp’s cloud services, but intends to end its reliance on all its rivals in the next few years, Re/code said.

The iPhone maker is spending between $400 million and $600 million on Google’s cloud services, tech magazine CRN reported, adding that it was unclear if the range was for an annual rate or a set amount of capacity.

CRN said Apple has also significantly reduced its reliance on Amazon since signing up with Google late last year.

Apple, Amazon and Alphabet Inc-owned Google could not be reached for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

Apple said last February that it would spend a combined $3.9 billion to build three data centers in Arizona, Ireland and Denmark. The Arizona facility is planned to be a command center to manage its other data centers.

Google has also been pushing to gain share in the fast-growing market. In November, the company appointed industry veteran Diane Greene to run its cloud business.

Last month, Google signed a deal to provide cloud services for online music streaming platform Spotify.

 

 

Does The Snapdragon Processor Have a Security Risk?

March 18, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Security experts at Trend Micro have discovered a vulnerability in Qualcomm Snapdragon-produced SoC (system on a chip) devices which has highlighted a few worries about the internet of things.

The vulnerability is for older Snapdragons which are no longer in line for security updates, but the same chips are used in IoT devices. The vulnerability makes it possible for an attacker to gain root access to the hardware.

Trend Micro’s Noah Gamer said that a large portion of the population already doesn’t see the point of updating their systems, and this only pertains to the few Internet-connected devices in their homes.

“An IoT future, where almost every device in the home will have a connection, is only going to compound this problem further. Add in the fact that some of these devices will be designed to be cheap and ‘essentially disposable’ and it’s easy to see why many people worry about the security of the IoT. SoCs like the ones developed by Snapdragon are already making their rounds in IoT devices including certain wearables. If the industry can’t find a way to effectively patch these vulnerabilities, there could be massive repercussions.

He said that backing a smartphone by exploiting a vulnerability is one thing, but as the IoT infiltrates further and deeper into our lives, the long arm of attackers could reach even further and have even more disastrous consequences.

The difficulty here is that the IoT going to need to have a system in place ensuring these devices are safe for public use with security updates.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple Ties With Samsung For Top Smartphone Rank

March 15, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The iPhone 6 has sold so well that Apple tied with Samsung for the top position in the smartphone market in the fourth quarter, eliminating the gap with its South Korean competitor.

Both Apple and Samsung shipped 74.5 million smartphones during the period, each claiming close to 20 percent share of the market, research firm Strategy Analytics said.

It’s a big change from a year ago, when Apple’s iPhone 5s only helped the company gain a 17.6 percent share of the market, as opposed to Samsung’s near 30 percent share.

The data from Strategy Analytics comes a few days after Apple reported huge profits of $18 billion made in last year’s fourth quarter, from record sales of its new smartphone.

“Demand for iPhone has been staggering, shattering our high expectation,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an earnings call.

He added that the smaller iPhone 6 was the better selling of the two models, but that some markets preferred the bigger iPhone 6 Plus. Although the U.S. still remains the company’s largest market, China was another major contributor to the phone’s sales in the quarter, with sales in the market up by over 100 percent year over year.

Samsung isn’t faring as well in the smartphone market. It is losing market share at the high-end to the iPhone 6, and at the mid-tier and low-end range to products from Chinese vendors Huawei and Xiaomi.

“Samsung may soon have to consider taking over rivals, such as Blackberry, in order to revitalize growth this year,” Strategy Analytics said in a statement. But for the whole year 2014, Samsung still remained the top smartphone vendor, with a 24.7 percent share, followed by Apple, which had a 15 percent share.

Trailing far behind the two players is third place Lenovo, which acquired Motorola Mobility from Google last year. By buying the U.S. handset maker, Lenovo’s market share in the fourth quarter reached 6.5 percent.

Huawei was in fourth place during the quarter, with a 6.3 percent share.

 

 

Samsung Boasts Galaxy S7 Phone Pre-orders Exceeded Expectations

March 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Tech behemoth Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has experienced stronger-than-expected preorders for its new flagship Galaxy S7 smartphones launching this week, a senior company executive said on Thursday.

Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung’s handsets business, did not give a figure or disclose sales targets during a press briefing for the phones, which go on sale in South Korea and other markets on Friday.

But he said Samsung expects the S7s to help revive sales in China, the world’s top smartphone market where researchers say the Korean firm is lagging its competitors.

The Galaxy S7s offer incremental upgrades, leading some analysts to predict sales in the first year will be weaker than last year’s Galaxy S6s.

 

Qualcomm’s SnapDragon 820 Wins Major Benchmark Test

March 9, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AnTuTu benchmark  has just released the top 10 rankings for the  smartphone chips of 2016 and revealed that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 is the boss.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor won the first place by scoring 136,383, which is nearly 4000 points higher than that of Apple A9, which came in second. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 is being used in many flagship devices this year including the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, the LG G5 and the Xiaomi Mi5.

The GPU benchmark ranking also puts the Qulacomm Snapdragon 820 on top of the list.

The top three performers on the GPU list aret he same as the CPU list, with the Snapdragon 820 (Adreno 530 GPU) at the top, the Apple A9 (PowerVR GT7600) in second place and Samsung’s Exynos 8890 (Mali-T880 MP12) following a bit far behind at third position. The Kirin 950 (Mali-T880 MP4), drops to eight place on the GPU list while being fourth on the CPU list.

AnTuTu is a widely followed benchmark and is an industry standard by technology companies and hardware review sites. It tests all aspects of a device, including UX, GPU, RAM, CPU, I/O and individually and gives a relevant score.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Following Complaints, Amazon To Restore Encryption To Tablets

March 7, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc announced it plans to add back an encryption feature on its Fire tablets after customers and privacy advocates criticized the company for quietly removing the security option when it released its latest operating system.

“We will return the option for full-disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring,” company spokeswoman Robin Handaly told Reuters via email on Saturday.

Amazon’s decision to drop encryption from the Fire operating system came to light late this week. The company said it had removed the feature in a version of its Fire OS that began shipping in the fall because few customers used it.

On-device encryption scrambles data so that the device can be accessed only if the user enters the correct password. Well-known cryptologist Bruce Schneier called Amazon’s removal of the feature “stupid” and was among many who publicly urged the company to restore it.

Apple Inc’s APPL.O legal battle over U.S. government demands that the iPhone maker help unlock an encrypted phone used by San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook has created unprecedented attention on encryption.

Amazon.com this week signed on to a court brief urging a federal judge to side with Apple.

 

Samsung Shows Off Water-resistant Galaxy S7 Edge Smartphone

February 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Days before its official debut at Mobile World Congress on Feb. 21, an online Samsung video shows water-resistant and wireless charging features of the next-generation flagship Galaxy S7 Edge, the sister of the Galaxy S7 smartphone running Android.

Such pre-show leaks and pre-show announcements are clearly designed to stir up public and press interest, analysts said. That’s because of the basic similarities among Android devices and the stiff competition from multiple vendors to show off their unique features to buyers amid slowing growth in the smartphone market.

Samsung Indonesia posted a YouTube video on Feb. 12 of the Galaxy S7 Edge that depicts the device as water-resistant and capable of wireless charging. An official Galaxy website includes the same video.

In the Samsung video, Dellie Threesyadinda, a star Indonesian archer, is shown lifting the S7 Edge from a wireless charging pad and using it with a wirelessly paired Gear S2 round-faced smartwatch — before running through a forest as rain pours down on the device.

So far, Apple has achieved enviable profit success with an assist from its iPhone models, but Samsung is still the biggest maker of smartphones globally; both Samsung and second-place Apple are feeling pressure from Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi, also in the top five.

Official pricing and availability haven’t been announced for the upcoming smartphones. However, analysts and various leaker websites expect the S7 to cost about the same or even 10% less than the $700 price for the S6 launched a year ago. The S7 Edge is still expected to cost $100 more.

As with the other Galaxy models, all the U.S. carriers will ship the newest S7 and S7 Edge devices; Gizmodo and others have predicted a March 11 shipment date.

Samsung fans have noticed that the S7 and S7 Edge will look very similar to the S6 and S6 Edge, although slimmer. The S7 Edge will reportedly get a 3,600mAh hour battery, allowing 17 hours of continuous vide playback time, according to the International Business Times and others.

 

Apple Pay Arrives In China This Week

February 17, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc’sApple Pay mobile payment system will makes its debut in China from Feb. 18 for Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) customers, bank representatives said in social media posted on Tuesday.

The technology giant had previously said the system would launch in China in early 2016, making it Apple Pay’s fifth country as it accelerates development of a planned new revenue stream. ICBC is China’s biggest lender by assets.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on ICBC’s posts on the projected launch. The lender is set to be joined by a raft of peers: Apple’s China website lists 19 Chinese lenders as official Apple Pay partners, and state media reported two other lenders will also go live with the service from Feb. 18.

Greater China is Apple’s second-largest market by revenue, but the company faces an uphill battle to match that prowess quickly in mobile payments.

Apple Pay’s beginnings have been less than auspicious in other markets, including scepticism from retailers in its home market. But in China, Apple Pay’s issue will be how to compete with dominant and entrenched players, serving shoppers well used to paying for goods and services with their handsets.

China is the world’s biggest smartphone market. By the end of 2015, 358 million people, more than the population of the United States, had already taken to paying by mobile phone, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

Dominating those payments are China’s two biggest Internet companies: social networking and gaming firm Tencent Holdings Ltd and e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, through its Internet finance affiliate Ant Financial Services Group.

Tencent operates WeChat Payment, while Ant Financial runs Alipay.