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Will eSport Grow To One Half Billion Dollar Market This Year?

January 28, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

According to Newzoo’s 2016 Global eSports Market Report, this year is expected to be a “pivotal” one for the eSports sector. The firm said that last year’s tally for worldwide eSports revenues came to $325 million, and this year the full eSports economy should grow 43 percent to $463 million; Newzoo said this correlates with an audience of 131 million eSports enthusiasts and another 125 million “occasional viewers who tune in mainly for the big international events.” Overall, Newzoo’s report states that global and local eSports markets should jointly generate $1.1 billion in 2019.

Looking a bit deeper, Newzoo found that investment into and advertising associated with eSports continue to grow at a rapid clip. “This year has been dominated by the amount of investors getting involved in eSports. An increasing amount of traditional media companies have become aware of the value of the eSports sphere and have launched their first eSports initiatives. With these parties getting involved, there will be an increased focus on content and media rights. All major publishers have increased their investment into the space, realizing that convergence of video, live events and the game itself are providing consumers the cross-screen entertainment they desire from their favorite franchises,” Newzoo commented.

Online advertising in particular is the fastest growing revenue segment within eSports, jumping up 99.6 percent on a global scale compared to 2014. North America is expected to lead the charge worldwide.

“In 2016, North America will strengthen its lead in terms of revenues with an anticipated $175 million generated through merchandise, event tickets, sponsorships, online advertising and media rights. A significant part of these revenues flows back to the game publisher, but across all publishers, more money is invested into the eSports economy than is directly recouped by their eSports activities,” said Newzoo’s eSports Analyst, Pieter van den Heuvel.

“China and Korea together will represent 23 percent of global esports revenues, totalling $106 million in 2016. Audience-wise, the situation is different, with Asia contributing 44 percent of global eSports enthusiasts. Growth in this region is, for a large part, fuelled by an explosive uptake in Southeast Asia.”

While eSports is certainly on a good path for growth, game companies would be wise to not get too caught up by the hype. The average annual revenue per eSports enthusiast was $2.83 in 2015 and is expected to grow to $3.53 this year, Newzoo said, but that’s still a factor four lower than a mainstream sport such as basketball, which generates revenues of $15 per fan per year.

Peter Warman, CEO at Newzoo added, “The initial buzz will settle down and the way forward on several key factors, such as regulations, content rights and involvement of traditional media, will become more clear. The collapse of MLG was a reminder that this market still has a long road to maturity and we need to be realistic about the opportunities it provides. In that respect, it is in nobody’s interest that current market estimates differ so strongly. Luckily, when zooming in on the highest market estimates of more than $700 million, the difference is explainable by an in-depth look. This estimate only differs in the revenues generated in Asia (Korea in particular), and by taking betting revenues into account. At Newzoo, we believe betting on eSports should not be mixed into direct eSports revenues as the money does not flow into the eSports economy. Similarly, sports betting is not reported in sports market reports.”


Is Apple’s Alleged 4″ iPhone Headed For Disaster

January 27, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

An analyst has cut his estimate of projected sales of the rumored new 4-inch iPhone, reportedly called the “iPhone 5se,” in half, from 18-20 million down to 10-12 million units.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo  said that the new 4-inch iPhone, as little new to offer, despite getting a lot of media attention.

“We don’t regard the product as innovative, either in terms of form factor … or hardware specs.”

Kuo said that Apple will ship 43 million units, a decline of 44 per cent quarter-over-quarter and 29 per cent year-over-year.

The smaller iPhone will likely include an all-metal design but is otherwise as silly a move as the 5c, which had a plastic body but tanked.

“We see MacBook as a stronger candidate for becoming a theme given solid growth in the business segment, as well as a potential upgrade to hit the market in 1H16,” Kuo said.

In other words Apple is starting to regress to the days when all it had was its PCs and was so desperate for money it had to borrow off Microsoft.



Is Capcom Finally Getting Into eSports?

January 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

On February 16, Street Fighter V will launch on PlayStation 4 and PC. It will not be launching to Xbox One thanks to an exclusivity deal signed with Sony. And as Capcom director of brand marketing and eSports Matt Dahlgren told recently, there are a few reasons for that.

Dahlgren called the deal “the largest strategic partnership that fighting games have ever seen,” and said it addressed several problems the publisher has had surrounding its fighting games for years.

“Basically every SKU of a game we released had its own segmented community,” he said. “No one was really able to play together and online leaderboards were always segmented, so it was very difficult to find out who would be the best online and compare everybody across the board.”

Street Fighter V should alleviate that problem as it’s only on two platforms, and gamers on each will be able to play with those on the other. Dahlgren said it will also help salt away problems that stemmed from differences between platforms. For example, the Xbox 360 version of Street Fighter IV had less input lag than the PS3 version. That fraction of a second difference between button press and action on-screen might have been unnoticeable to most casual players, but it was felt by high-level players who know the game down to the last frame of animation.

“There were varying degrees of input lag, so when those players ended up playing each other, it wasn’t necessarily on an equal playing field,” Dahlgren said. “This time around, by standardizing the platform and making everyone play together, there will be a tournament standard and everyone is on an equal playing field.”

Finally, Dahlgren said the deal with Sony will help take Street Fighter to the next level when it comes to eSports. In some ways, it’s a wonder it’s not there already.

“I think fighting games are one of the purest forms of 1v1 competition,” Dahlgren said. “A lot of the other eSports games out there are team-based, and while there’s an appeal to those, there’s something about having a single champion and having that 1v1 showdown that’s just inherently easy for people to understand.”

Street Fighter has a competitive gaming legacy longer than League of Legends or DOTA, but isn’t mentioned in the same breath as those hits on the eSports scene. In some ways, that legacy might have stymied the franchise’s growth in eSports.

“A lot of our community was really built by the fans themselves,” Dahlgren said. “Our tournament scene was built by grassroots tournament organizers, really without the help of Capcom throughout the years. And I would say a lot of those fans have been somewhat defensive [about expanding the game's appeal to new audiences]. It hasn’t been as inclusive as it could have been. With that said, I do definitely feel a shift in our community. There’s always been a talking point with our hardcore fans as to whether or not Street Fighter is an eSport, and what eSports could do for the scene. Could it potentially hurt it? There’s been all this controversy behind it.”

Even Capcom has shifted stances on how to handle Street Fighter as an eSport.

“In the past, we were actually against partnering up with any sort of corporations or companies out there that were treating eSports more like a business,” Dahlgren said. “And that has to do out of respect for some of our long-term tournament organizers… Our fear was that if we go out and partner up with companies concerned more about making a profit off the scene instead of the values that drive the community, then it could end up stomping out all these tournament organizers who are very passionate and have done so much for our franchise.”

“In the past, we were actually against partnering up with any sort of corporations or companies out there that were treating eSports more like a business.”

So instead of teaming with the MLGs or ESLs of the world, Capcom teamed with Twitch and formed its own Pro Tour in 2014. Local tournament organizers handle the logistics of the shows and retain the rights to their brands, while Capcom provides marketing support and helps with production values.

“I can’t say Capcom wouldn’t partner up with some of the other, more established eSports leagues out there,” Dahlgren said. “I do think there’s a way to make both of them exist, but our priority in the beginning was paying homage to our hardcore fans that helped build the scene, protecting them and allowing them to still have the entrepreneurial spirit to grow their own events. That comes first, before partnering with larger organizations.”

Just as Capcom’s stance toward tournaments has changed to better suit Street Fighter’s growth as an eSport, so too has the business model behind the game. The company has clearly looked at the success of many free-to-play eSports favorites and incorporated elements of them (except the whole “free-to-play” thing) into Street Fighter V. Previously, Capcom would release a core Street Fighter game, followed by annual or bi-annual updates with a handful of new fighters and balancing tweaks. Street Fighter V will have no such “Super” versions, with all new content and tweaks made to the game on a rolling basis.

“We are treating the game now more as a platform and a service, and are going to be continually adding new content post-launch,” Dahlgren said. “This is the first time we’re actually having our own in-game economy and in-game currency. So the more you play the game online, you’re going to generate fight money, and then you can use that fight money to earn DLC content post-launch free of charge, which is a first in our franchise. So essentially we’re looking at an approach that takes the best of both worlds. It’s not too far away from what our players really expect from a SF game, yet we get some of the benefits of continually releasing content post-launch and giving fans more of what they want to increase engagement long-term.”

Even if it’s not quite free-to-play, Street Fighter V may at least be cheaper to play. Dahlgren said that pricey arcade stick peripherals are not as essential for dedicated players as they might have seemed in the past.

“Since Street Fighter comes from an arcade heritage, a lot of people have this general belief that arcade sticks are the premier way of playing,” Dahlgren said. “I think now that the platform choice has moved more towards consoles, pad play has definitely become much more prevalent. I would believe that at launch you’re probably going to have more pad players than you actually have stick players. And in the competitive scene, we’ve seen the rise of a lot of very impressive pad players, which has pretty much shown that Street Fighter is a game that’s not necessarily dictated by the controller you play with; it’s the strategies and tactics you employ. And both of them are essentially on equal playing ground.”


Xiaomi Misses Smartphone Shipment Goals

January 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Xiaomi announced Friday it shipped over 70 million smartphones in 2015, short of an ambitious target it had announced last year, amid growing competition and high dependence on the Chinese market.

The Chinese company had forecast last year that it would sell at least 80 million phones during the year. It had sold 34.7 million handsets during the first half of the year.

Growth in smartphone sales is slowing down in China because of saturation of the market, said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. Xiaomi is also facing stiff competition from other players who have copied the company’s strategy based on online sales, content and exclusive apps, he added.

Research firm Canalys said in October that Huawei had overtaken Xiaomi as China’s top smart phone vendor in the third quarter of last year. Xiaomi fell to second place after its shipments shrank year on year. Xiaomi is under tremendous pressure to keep growing as an international player as it slows down in its key home market, the research firm added.

About 90 percent of Xiaomi’s sales have come from China, said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research. The company, which had acquired a star status because of its meteoric growth and aggressive publicity campaigns, has tried to reduce its dependence on the Chinese market, selling in other markets such as India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

But other than in China and India, its performance in markets it has entered has been lackluster, Shah said. Even in India, it is not among the top five as it faces competition from established local and foreign brands who have been quick to match Xiaomi’s online sales strategy, he added.

Xiaomi offers an app ecosystem, which has proven to be attractive in China where the Google Play store is banned, but this has not helped the company in India and other markets where Google Play is available, Shah said.




Are Investors Trying To Oust Tim Cook?

January 18, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research has called for the “completely clueless” Apple CEO Tim Cook, to be replaced.

We don’t know if Chowdhry reads Fudzilla but he appears to at the very least agree that Apple is doomed and he is blaming the man who Apple Messiah Steve Jobs handed the company over to – Tim Cook.

Apple’s shares fell hard in the second half of 2015, and is now down more than 25 per cent  from its July high and it looks like things are going to get much worse as Apples only significant product, the iPhone slumps.

But what is worrying Wall Street is that no-one in Apple appears to care. Its management appears to believe its own marketing and thinks it is an innovative company which invents new products that everyone buys. To be fair it never was, but at least its marketing could convince enough of the world that this was the case.

Wall Street sentiment has started to shift for Apple, and the shares are dangerously close to a new 52-week low after falling below $100 for the first time since August. Apple’s stock is actually at its lowest level since October 2015.

With the iPhone 6s failing and the iPhone 7 not around until the second half of the year, Jobs Mob really has nothing. The new iWatch, which is basically what the old iWatch should have been, is unlikely to sell well. Apple made a huge mistake of issuing product which was out-of-date when it arrived and with none of the health features which would have made users go “wow.” It sold few of the devices and many users questioned if they would buy another.

New services like Apple Pay and Apple Music have also not gained the expected traction thanks to the fact that there is a lot of better competition out there.

In fiscal 2015, which ended in October, Apple recorded $234 billion in total net sales. Of that figure, the iPhone tallied $155 billion, or 66 per cent. The next biggest category, the Mac computer segment, accounted for less than 10% of sales.

What’s more, the iPhone’s share of Apple’s revenue has only grown. In 2014, the smartphone was worth 56 per cent of sales and in 2013 just 53 per cent. That means the iPhone is more important than ever before.

So a huge cut in iPhone production means the beginning of Apple doom and this really is all Tim Cook’s fault, at least according to Chowdhry.

To be fair to Cook, Chowdhry is not the best commentator on things Applish. In the past he made a couple of silly comments about how Apple would only be saved if it put out an iWatch. Cook himself cannot he held entirely responsible either. He inherited a company which was built around taking something that had been widely rejected, marketing the hell out of it and convincing people they really wanted it. It worked when you had an archetypal snake oil salesman like Steve Jobs. But also Jobs had it easy. There were some interesting products to choose from.

To save itself Apple needs to spend a lot of its cash pile researching real innovations and getting them to market. Its managers need to lose their smugness and behave like a real company rather than a self-obsessed cult.

I have no doubt that they will fail to do this completely, simply because the reality distortion field around Apple will continue to tell it that it is “super, cool, and innovative” long after they have had to sell their Spaceship HQ to keep afloat.  Hell, if we could see this two or three years ago we can’t understand why Cook and his chronies couldn’t.



Qualcomm Has A Snapdragon For Cars

January 8, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has told the assorted throngs at CES about a new Snapdragon 820 Automotive family of products. It will come in two flavours – a standard 820A and an 820Am that adds an LTE modem.

The chip is designed for in-car navigation and infotainment systems running QNX, Linux, and Android.  It has wireless capabilities and can connected to your phone.  The LTE version will link to the Internet.

They can manage multiple displays to run the screen in your dashboard  and an infotainment screen in the back seat. It also offers support for high-resolution 4K displays for when some company inevitably decides to cram a high-res, high-density screen into one of its cars.

The 820A chips are close cousins ofthe the Snapdragon 820 SoCs that will start shipping in phones later this year and use Qualcomm’s custom-made 64-bit Kryo CPU cores, an Adreno 530 GPU, a  Hexagon 680 DSP all cooked up with a 14nm manufacturing process. They will also use the Snapdragon X12 LTE which can manage 600Mbps down and  150Mbps up when the wind is behind it and it is going downhill. There are all the usual 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other features.

Qualcomm said that it used a “modular approach” in designing the chip, which  means that the cars infotainment system can be upgraded with hardware and software updates, thereby enabling vehicles to be easily upgraded with the latest technology.

Car makers could theoretically swap out the chip or the entire package without needing to worry about software changes. Qualcomm specifically mentions upgrading LTE connectivity over the lifetime of the car to keep up with the capabilities of cellular networks.

Qualcomm says the 820A family will begin sampling in Q1 of 2016.



Why Is Apple Tanking?

January 7, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Wall Street’s love affair with the fruity cargo cult is definitely slipping as the cocaine nose jobs wake up to the fact that the company is unlikely to hold its historically high earnings.

Shares of Apple have fallen to their lowest since August on Monday following recent fears that no one is buying the newish iPhone and indications that Chinese sales were also going to slump.

After its iWatch failed to take off, Jobs’ Mob has been out of ideas and with no new products in the offing has been forced to lean on China sales and the iPhone to keep its record sales figures. With the bottom cut out of these, Apple is looking vulnerable.

At one point Apple was down 3 percent and weighed more than any other stock on US. The Tame Apple Press is doing its best to claim that there is nothing to worry about. Reuters pointed out that Apple’s rival Samsung is also predicting a pants 2016. However Samsung has other products to fall back on, where as Apple is dependent on just one.

Jobs’ Mob is expected to try and resolve its woes in the short term by issuing the new iPhone early. It already inflated the sales for its iPhone 6S by starting sales in China at the same time as the US rather than delaying them until the next quarter.

However it can only do that so much and Wall Street is clearly wise to it. Shares of Apple are down about 23 percent from April. The belief is that things will be tight next year and fewer will replace their smartphones.

Everyone knows now that Wall Street’s iPhone 6S estimates were too high and a third of analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters have trimmed their estimates for Apple.

For fiscal 2016, Apple is now expected, on average, to grow revenue by under 4 percent, a far cry from the 28 percent revenue expansion it achieved in the fiscal year that ended last September.



Will The Smartphone Market Grow in 2016?

January 6, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Consumer research has revealed that people are content with smartphones, but worried about their security and unwilling to jump from model to model.

We don’t make the research rules. It is Accenture that provides us with the latest word on the street about smartphones in a report about consumer technology and its peaks and troughs.

The Igniting Growth in Consumer Technology report looked at smartphones as part of wider consumer device use. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the hook here, and Accenture found that a kind of malaise is setting in, and that people are lethargic when it comes to shifting pocket pals and platforms because of perceived problems.

This is not bad news for people, but it does cast a dark shadow over the industry. Accenture reckons that people are less inclined to spend their cash on smartphones, smartwatches, TVs and tablets because they are more aware of security problems.

“The slowdown in the consumer technology market is irrefutable, serious and global,” said Sami Luukkonen, global managing director for Accenture’s electronics and high tech group.

“The market is not about the glitzy gadgets anymore. Rather, it’s about providing secure, innovative and practical digital services and more open collaboration. As device demand tapers off, the industry needs to make a sharp turn toward providing innovative, value-added services that consumers are able to use with confidence.”

Even smartwatches, which Apple only recently started flogging, are likely to remain on shelves. Lukkonen blames the IoT for the decline in willingness to invest, warning that this is unlikely to change while insecurity abounds.

The survey found that almost two thirds of consumers believe they own devices that can be hacked, and around a quarter plan to not adopt, or stop using, such technologies.

“Despite all its promise, the IoT market has revealed itself to be a double-edged sword. The market opportunity is enormous, but security and ease-of-use concerns are hindering its near- and long-term potential,” Luukkonen added.

“Companies should consider getting serious about ecosystems, sharing data and creating integrated services across multiple companies, such as building a connected home through an integrated home security camera, thermostat and door lock.

“Until the promise of the IoT meets consumers’ expectations, the IoT market will remain more promise than profit and do little to reinvigorate the overall digital consumer market.”



Is Qualcomm Dropping Kryo?

January 5, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Blog site Fudzilla has confirmed that the Kryo core might be the last custom developed CPU core from Qualcomm, at least for now.

The next generation SoC from Qualcomm, let’s call it Snapdragon 8×0, will use ARM Cortex cores. Our industry sources are confident that company’s leadership has put a great deal of pressure on Qualcomm QTI to reduce the cost of R&D and custom CPU core costs an arm and a leg. Using Cortex Cores is cheaper than developing a custom ARM based CPU such as Kyro.

Creating a custom ARM based CPU core is intensive too and Qualcom still has to build a Modem, GPU, DSP, camera ISP, Video processing unit as well connectivity inside of the SoC to provide the differentiating factor to the competition. It just appears that the Core itself probably does not need looking at.

But the move will hardly help Qualcomm compete in hostile and aggressive mobile SoC manufacturers’ competition.

Apple and Samsung have their own CPU cores. Huawei uses Cortex architecture but has its own SoCs for the 100 million phones it sold this year. These are businesses that are either very hard or impossible for Qualcomm QTI SoCs to get. Every Samsung SoC manufactured and sold in Samsung phones is one less for Qualcomm.

MediaTek might be the winner in this case, as MediaTek makes rather unique processors that are designed to compete well against those who use close-to-reference Cortex ARM solutions. MediaTek is the only deca core in three cluster architecture but we still have to see it in action before we pronounce anyone winner or loser.

Qualcomm will have to focus on its strengths of its late 2016 successor to Snapdragon 810. The strengths of Qualcomm lay in superior modem performance and a great Adreno GPU. However they will lose an advantage of a custom core that might bring a bigger difference from the competition.

This is certainly not something we expected but it is happening.



Apple Pay To Debut In China

December 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has announced it has partnered with China UnionPay, the state-run company that is the country’s only bank-card issuer, to bring Apple Pay to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“China is an extremely important market for Apple and with China UnionPay and support from 15 of China’s leading banks, users will soon have a convenient, private and secure payment experience,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s top executive for the Cupertino, Calif. company’s mobile point-of-sale payment service, said in a Friday statement.

Cue is right about China being an important market forApple: In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the Greater China region — the PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan — was responsible for 25% of Apple’s total revenue, second only to the Americas. More importantly, Greater China accounted for most of Apple’s growth. In the most recently-reported quarter, the region’s revenue jumped 99% over the same period in 2014.

Apple Pay works on the latest iPhone models — including last year’s iPhone 6 and this year’s 6S — and relies on near-field communication (NFC) to let users tap their smartphones on check-out point-of-sale readers to authorize payment. The Apple Watch can also make Apple Pay payments when paired with an iPhone 5 or later.

Today’s announcement built on the existing relationship between Apple and China UnionPay: In November 2014, the two firms struck a deal that allowed UnionPay-issued credit and debit cards to pay for digital goods on the App Store.

Apple Pay will roll out to UnionPay cardholders in the PRC “as soon as early 2016,” Apple said, although the timeline may be uncertain as the service requires regulatory approval. Last month, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), citing unnamed sources, said that Apple Pay would launch in China as early as February.



Apple Shutters Twitter Data Analzying Service Topsy

December 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple Inc has decided to shutter its Topsy Labs unit, which specialized in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics, and the move prompted an outcry from many of its users.

The website for the platform currently directs users to an Apple support page. On Tuesday night, Topsy sent out its last tweet from its ‏@Topsy account: “We’ve searched our last tweet.”

Apple acquired Topsy in December 2013 for more than $200 million, an unusual purchase for a hardware-focused company that has made few forays into social networking. An Apple spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

San Francisco-based Topsy was one of Twitter’s early partners, enjoying direct access to the messaging service’s billions of tweets over several years. It has indexed them all to make them readily and rapidly searchable.

“What the heck! Gone too soon,” wrote Twitter user Doyan Wilfred (@ThinkDoyan) on Wednesday.

Adrian Parker (@adrianparker), another Twitter user, wrote: “Heartbreak. Topsy was my secret Twitter weapon (Tweapon?)”

Former employees of Topsy also took to social media to express their sadness.

“RIP (rest in peace) Topsy” Rishab Aiyer Ghosh (@r2g2), one of the four founders of the company, tweeted on Tuesday night.

Topsy employee Paul Gerard Porter (@paul_g_porter) tweeted: “What an incredible run we had – I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Topsy team #endofanera.”

Before the Topsy acquisition, Apple’s main effort in social media had revolved around Ping, a music-centered social sharing network that was at one point integrated into the company’s iTunes app. The service, which lets users post music tracks they liked to a news feed, did not catch on and was shut down.


Qualcomm Shows Off 24 Core CPU For Servers

December 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm announced a plan to send its 24-core server CPU to clients a year after first announced the project’s existence.

Qualcomm announced that has set up a company in China to promote and sell these new CPUs, which could be the move into the server based CPU market.

So far there is little technical detail out there. Qualcomm has not announced a model number or name for the product and will only say it is thinking of adding more cores to its non-revealed product later.

The new CPU is the sort thing that Big Data mining and machine learning wants. It is a specialist field that few CPU manufactures have shown much interest, unless you count Intel’s Hard Day’s Knight range.  Qualcomm is also interested in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence so this sort of chip will be at hope in that sort of world – with Google as a potentially big customer.

Qualcomm hints that its 24-core CPU has been verified to work in visualization scenarios, such as running VM software and supporting Linux.

It is also running around building strategic partnerships with companies such as Xilinx and Mallanox Technologies, which would facilitate a quick entry into the mainstream server marketplace.



EA Goes Competitive Gaming

December 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Electronic Arts is the latest publisher to add a dedicated eSports group to its business, as CEO Andrew Wilson today announced the formation of the EA Competitive Gaming Division.

“As the latest step in our journey to put our players first, this group will enable global eSports competitions in our biggest franchises including FIFA, Madden NFL, Battlefield and more,” Wilson said, adding, “EA’s CGD will seek to build a best-in-class program to centralize our efforts with new events, as well as the infrastructure to bring you the world’s preeminent EA competitive experiences.”

Wilson said the CGD will foster competition and community around EA’s games, creating official tournaments and live broadcasts to entertain millions.

Leading up the new CGD will be Peter Moore, who will step down from his role as chief operating officer of EA at the end of the fiscal year to assume a new role as executive vice president and chief competition officer. Moore is well acquainted with EA’s key competitive gaming franchises like FIFA and Madden; prior to assuming his current role in 2011, Moore spent almost four years as president of EA Sports. An EA representative said the company has not yet announced a successor to Moore in the COO position, with details on those plans to come in the weeks and months ahead.

Moore seems excited to lead a burgeoning field for EA. “As a longtime champion of competitive gaming, bringing this to life at EA is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me,” he said in a tweet. He also told IGN that this is something that EA has been thinking about for some time.

“We’re already very engaged with our development teams around the world to make sure our games have got modes that lend themselves very well to competitive gaming, built-in from the get-go. Not as something that’s put in as an add-on mode or a last-minute afterthought,” he explained.

“Prior to the formation of this division, conversations have been had, not just within the last few weeks but in the last couple years, about how we’ve got games that are coming to market in FY17, FY18, and FY19, and making darn sure that if you’re in a genre that lends itself to competitive gaming, you better have those modes built in.”

Wilson also named Todd Sitrin as the division’s senior vice president and general manager. Sitrin started with the company 14 years ago, leading product marketing at EA Tiburon for projects like Madden NFL and NASCAR Racing. Over the next decade, he worked his way up to senior vice president of marketing for all EA Sports, and has spent the last few years overseeing global marketing and product marketing for EA as a whole.

EA is by no means the only traditional publisher to identify an opportunity in the eSports market. In October, Activision Blizzard established its own eSports division. Unlike EA, Activision Blizzard looked outside its own walls for leadership of the group, tapping former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and MLG co-founder Mike Sepso to handle the new division.

Does Doubling RAM Help Smartphones?

December 4, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Word on the street is that smartphones are going to start getting 8GB of Ram from next year.

While tech pundits are getting all moist about the idea, the question is “why on earth do you need 8GB of Ram in smartphone?” is not getting answered.

Next year we are certain to see 2016 flagships sporting 6-8GB of RAM, according to sources in China.

Chinese analyst Pan Jiutang suggest that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 830 system on chip (SoC) can support these higher levels or RAM, so it shouldn’t be a problem for manufacturers to implement.

However this does appear to be a hardware spec which is not required. At the moment smartphones are running the same clock speed as computers from about seven years ago. True the graphics requirement is greater, but the software pressure on the hardware is not great.

Many people can run their new PCs with a fairly comfortable 4GB of Ram and 8GB is only required for power users. For everything that I have said about Apple, the outfit has a more pragmatic attitude to RAM. iPhones have always had less RAM than their Android competitors and managed to do rather well.

Increased RAM will just look good on the spec sheet. It will, for a number of years, be pretty much useless.

But what is a worry is that the existence of high ram machines might encourage developers to be lazy and rely on it. At the moment, with most machines running 1GB, they have to be damn careful.


Will Microsoft Debut A Lumia Business Phone Next Year?

November 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft surprised the world when its new phone range failed to contain anything to interest business users – now it seems it is prepared to remedy that.

Microsoft promised that its Lumia range would cover the low end, business and enthusiast segments but while the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 650 should cover the low-end segment as well nothing has turned up for business users.

This was odd, given that business users want phones that play nice with their networks, something that Redmond should do much better than Google or Apple.

Microsoft’s CFO Amy Hood told the UBS Global Technology Conference that business versions of the Lumia were coming. She said:

“We launched a Lumia 950 and a 950 XL. They’re premium products, at the premium end of the market, made for Windows fans. And we’ll have a business phone, as well.”

There were no details, but we have been hearing rumours of a Surface phone being sighted on benchmarks. It was thought that his would be a Microsoft flagship, but with the launch of the Lumia 950/950 XL, it is possible that this Surface phone could be aimed at the business user. The word Surface matches nicely with Microsoft’s Surface Pro branding.