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Is Apple Being Dumped?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

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.

Courtesy-Fud

Sharp Pinning Hopes On In-car Displays

May 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

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.

 

 

Is the PS4 Open To Pirating

May 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

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.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Products Still Dominant For Enterprise Users

May 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple products are still the most popular mobile devices among enterprise users, but competitors are erasing the company’s lead, especially in the tablet market.

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.

 

 

Are Smartwatches Causing Accidents?

May 7, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

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.”

Courtesy-Fud

Is Samsung The Top Player In The Smartphone Arena?

May 1, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

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.

Courtesy-Fud

 

CurrentC Mobile Payment Service To Launch Mid-year

April 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a group of large U.S. merchants, announced it expects to launch an early version of its CurrentC mobile payment app mid-year in an unnamed, mid-sized market.

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 Projecting 70M Galaxy S6, Edge Phones To Be Sold

April 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

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 Unveils Office Touch Apps For Windows Phones

April 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

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.

 

 

Huawei Unveils P8 And P8 Max Smartphones

April 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

China’s Huawei unveiled its flagship P8 and P8 Max mobile phones, devices that stack up against the latest models from Samsung and Apple in technical specifications if not marketing budget.

The P8, which runs Google’s Android operating system, has a 5.2 inch display screen — slightly larger than the Samsung Galaxy S6, unveiled last month, and the iPhone 6 — and an eight-core 64-bit processor.

Made from a single piece of metal, the phone is thinner than its rivals, with a width of 6.4 millimeters, Huawei said at a packed global launch event in London.

Like Apple, the Chinese company also launched a super-size version, the P8 Max, which comes with a 6.8 inch screen.

Huawei, a major player in the telecoms network equipment market, ranked fourth in global smartphone sales last year, shipping 68 million units, giving it a 5.5 percent share, according to research group Gartner.

The market is dominated by Samsung and Apple, which Gartner said had combined sales of nearly 500 million units.

Industry analyst Ben Wood said the P8 ticked all the boxes on design and performance, but it had a mountain to climb to position Huawei as a premium brand.

Seeking to differentiate itself from rivals, Huawei showed it could innovate, with features such as “knuckle sense”, which can differentiate between a knuckle and a finger to select and share content.

It also optimized the devices’ cameras to take “selfies”, including an ability to adjust skin tones, a move consumer device marketing president Shao Yang said would particularly increase its appeal to fashion-conscious young women.

“Huawei didn’t do very well in the past in the female market; this is the big potential market for the P-Series,” he said in an interview after the launch.

Huawei, and fellow Chinese companies Lenovo and Xiaomi, are leading the challenge to the two big players, particularly in their home market.

 

 

Samsung Dismisses Claims Of Easily Bendable Galaxy S6

April 8, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung is not happy with recenlty published stress test that showed the Galaxy Edge S6′s frame bending and screen cracking under applied pressure, saying a smartphone wouldn’t experience such force in normal use.

The Galaxy 6S Edge bent and its screen shattered after being exposed to 110 pounds of force, according to a test conducted by SquareTrade, which sells warranties for smartphones, tablets and other electronics. Even with a shattered screen, the phone still worked. SquareTrade posted a video of the test last Thursday.

SquareTrade also tested the iPhone 6 Plus and the HTC One M9. The iPhone bent under 110 pounds of force, but the screen remained intact. The HTC device bent and became inoperable after it suffered 120 pounds of force.

On Monday, Samsung issued a statement that listed the company’s problems with SquareTrade’s test.

Samsung claimed that smartphones are rarely exposed to that much force, and that 66 pounds is the “normal force” generated when a person sits. It maintains that the Galaxy S6 Edge won’t bend at even 79 pounds of force.

Samsung also said that because SquareTrade only tested the front of the phone, the test failed to show the strength of the phone’s back. It wants SquareTrade to conduct the test again, this time subjecting both the front and back of the phone to applied force.

“We are confident that all our smartphones are not bendable under daily usage,” said Samsung, which also included a video of its Galaxy S6 phones undergoing stress tests.

 

 

Smartwatch Shipments Forecasted To Surge In 2015

April 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Smartwatch shipments will swell by an impressive 500% this year, fueled by the interest in the coming Apple Watch and its impact on other smartwatches already in the market, according to market research firm IDC.

IDC also lowered its Apple Watch forecast to 15.9 million shipments in 2015, down from 22 million, a 28% reduction. That’s partly because more details have surfaced and the sales date of April 24 was later than IDC had previously expected, according to IDC analyst Ryan Reith in an email.

Even with that reduction, the Apple Watch will account for 62% of the smartwatch market in 2015, Reith said. IDC had expected the 22 million in Apple Watch shipments for this year in a forecast conducted last August, well before the shipment date and other details were announced at Apple’s Spring Forward event on March 9, Reith said.

A February forecast by CCS Insight put potential Apple Watch sales at 20 million in 2015. Apple Watch goes on sale April 24, starting at $349, but some gold-encased models will start at $10,000. Apple will begin taking pre-orders April 10.

IDC grouped the Apple Watch with Motorola’s Moto 360, several Samsung Gear watches and others under a category it calls smart wearables, or devices capable of running third-party apps. For all of 2015, IDC said 25.7 million smart wearables will ship, up 511% from the 4.2 million shipped in 2014.

The IDC smartwatch forecast is much lower than a recent prediction by Gartner, which says 40 million smartwatches will ship in 2015, up from about 5 million in 2014.

 

 

Apple Holding Discussions With Broadcasters To Launch TV Service

March 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc’s frequently mentioned TV service may soon become a reality as the iPhone maker is having discussions with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks this fall, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The service would have about 25 channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox, and be available across all devices powered by Apple’s iOS operating system, including iPhones, iPads and Apple TV set-top boxes, the newspaper said.

Apple has been talking to Walt Disney Co, CBS Corp, and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc and other media companies to offer a “skinny” bundle with well-known channels like CBS, ESPN and FX, leaving out the many smaller networks in the standard cable TV package, the Journal said.

Apple, which is aiming to price the new service at about $30 to $40 a month, plans to announce the service in June and launch it in September, the newspaper said.

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said the company does not comment on rumor and speculation. Fox and CBS declined to comment.

Several media companies are considering joining streaming-only services, or launching their own like HBO and CBS, to attract young people who do not subscribe to traditional pay TV packages. But programmers also fear the packages could become so popular that they undercut current, more profitable deals with cable companies.

In January, Dish Network Corp unveiled its long-anticipated video streaming service, named Sling TV, targeted at younger consumers who shun pricey cable and satellite subscriptions.

 

Apple Watch Seen Challenging For App Developers

March 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Many software developers agree that it’s a challenge to come up with a “killer app” for Apple Inc’s Watch – few have seen the product and the software is still in test mode.

While app makers are passionate about developing for the Apple Watch, some are skeptical about the prospects of coming up with a big idea for the little computer on a wrist that hits stores on April 24, said Markiyan Matsekh, product manager at software engineering firm Eleks.

A killer app that grabs consumers’ attention will be key to the success of the Apple Watch and could spawn new companies, as the iPhone did. The photo-sharing app Instagram grew into a $1 billion business bought by Facebook Inc, and Snapchat has gone from a mobile messaging app to a company valued at $19 billion.

Apple has blocked some features, such as the gyroscope and accelerometer, on the development kit, and the watch simulator cannot test all functions, developers said. Apple declined to comment on why developers cannot access certain features.

“The limitations are discouraging,” said Matsekh, who helped develop a Watch app to control a Tesla Model S without involvement from the electric carmaker.

App designer Mark Rabo believes Apple is spurring creativity though restraint.

The challenge he believes is “not trying to take a phone app and cram it into a Watch.”

Rabo is developing an app called “Revere,” that ties notes to calendars. The Watch will recognize the wearer is walking into a meeting and pull up previously dictated notes about the attendees, for instance.

Apple listed about 40 apps on its website as it unveiled its smartwatch on Monday with “thousands” more in the works, it said.

 

 

Apple Tops Samsung In Global Phone Sales

March 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc sold the most number of smartphones globally in the fourth quarter, beating out Samsung Electronics Co Ltd  for the first time since 2011, according to research firm Gartner.

Apple sold 74.83 million smartphones to end users worldwide, ahead of the 73.03 million phones sold by Samsung, according to Gartner’s report.

The success of big-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus drove Apple’s sales in its first quarter ended Dec. 27. The company reported a profit of $18 billion for the period, the biggest ever reported by a public company, according to S&P analyst Howard Silverblatt.

Apple’s smartphones sales jumped about 49 percent in the fourth quarter, according to Gartner. In contrast, Samsung, the market dominator since 2011, recorded a nearly 12 percent fall.

In January, the company posted its fifth consecutive quarter of earnings decline in the mobile division.

“Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Besides losing market share to the costlier iPhones, the Korean company has been battling low-cost Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi and Huawei .

Samsung unveiled its new range of slim-bodied Galaxy S smartphones just recently, made from aircraft-grade metal.