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Sprint Introduces New ‘Half Off’ Rate Plan

November 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint has introduced a new simplified wireless plan offering 50% off competitors’ rates — part of an effort to lure consumers to try its faster LTE Plus network, which promises speeds of 128Mbps or more.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the costs of the new program will be more than offset by revenues from new customers. “There’s absolutely no way anybody can beat this offer,” he said during a briefing with reporters.

Sprint, the nation’s fourth largest carrier with about 59 million customers, has said it must cut up to $2 billion or more in operating expenses for the next fiscal year starting in April and will eliminate thousands of jobs to do so.

Even against that dreary backdrop, Claure said the new rate plan will bring in more customers. He didn’t indicate how many more are expected.

“There’s been a lot of skepticism on our network and the only way to convince them is to have them try,” he said. “Rest assured, we’ve done sufficient analysis and this is very accretive to Sprint” profits.

Sprint’s newest deal allows customers to take 50% off the price of most Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile rate plans. The only rate plan excluded is T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan, which costs $90 a month. Sprint will still offer a $70-a-month unlimited data plan.

Businesses are not included in the deal, a spokeswoman said.

The offer goes into effect for activations beginning this Friday, Nov. 20 until Jan. 7, 2016; the 50% off deal remains in effect until Jan. 8, 2018. Claure said that with a free tablet and a free year of service, along with the half-off pricing, “that’s the bet we’re making” to get new customers.





Japan In Hot Pursuit Of Fastest Supercomputer Title

November 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Japan is working on a new supercomputer that it hopes will be among the world’s fastest systems when released in 2020.

The computer — being developed as part of a national project called Flagship2020 — is being developed with the aim to deliver “100 times more application performance” than the current K, which is installed in Japan and is the world’s third-fastest computer, according to the Top500 list of supercomputers, released on Monday.

The supercomputer will be deployed by 2020. It is being developed by Fujitsu and Japanese research institution RIKEN, which also developed K. The current K supercomputer has 705,204 processing cores and offers 10.5 petaflops of performance.

Details about the new supercomputer will be shared at two different sessions on Tuesday at the Supercomputing 15 conference being held in Austin, Texas.

The systems will be based on the Linux OS and the use of a “6D mesh” will be considered, according to details shared on the Supercomputing 15 website.That indicates the use of a six-dimensional design, which could facilitate connections for  more simultaneous CPUs, memory and storage compared to systems today. The system will also have many storage layers, according to information on the site.

The current K is based on Fujitsu’s SPARC64 VIIIfx processors and Tofu interconnect.

The U.S., Japan and China are in a race to build the world’s fastest supercomputer. An earlier version of the K computer briefly held the title of the world’s fastest supercomputer in 2011. China’s Tianhe-2 is the world’s fastest supercomputer today, delivering peak performance of 54.9 petaflops.

Countries are rushing to develop faster computers to boast about their progress in technology, but also to boost economic, weapons and science programs.

A number of supercomputers that are faster than existing systems are on the horizon. A U.S. Department of Energy supercomputer called Aurora, due in 2019, will deliver 180 petaflops of performance. China is also planning a supercomputer of more than 100 petaflops.




Facebook To Widen Safety Check Tool Feature

November 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook’s Safety Check tool to alert friends and family about their safety was activated for the first time after the terror attack in Paris on Friday, with a large number of users reporting they had benefited from it.

But that move drew widespread criticism online that the company had been partial, as it had not activated the feature in other locations recently hit in terror attacks, notably the twin attacks in Beirut on Thursday.

The social networking company was also criticized for releasing a photo filter that allowed users to show support for the people of Paris using the colors of the French flag on their profile pictures, with some people online charging the company with double standards for not releasing similar filters for the terror attacks in Beirut and other locations. One user, Hubert Southall, offered to design filters for users, saying that Facebook “needs to include all affected nations.”

Facebook’s current travails highlight the minefields a global company can encounter as it tries to accommodate sensitivities across the countries it operates in, where users’ priorities can be different and there is often the tendency for certain groups to feel they are not important enough for a giant multinational.

In the wake of the controversy over the activation of Safety Check in Paris, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured its users that the tool would be turned on more frequently in the future during human disasters. “Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

The Safety Check tool asks users believed to be in the location of an emergency if they are safe and lets them inform their friends by clicking a button. People also can check in on users who they believe are in the emergency area. The tool was first used in a “very early version” in Tokyo during the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster and later after recent earthquakes in Afghanistan, Chile and Nepal as well as Tropical Cyclone Pam in the South Pacific and Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines.



Huawei Unveils Fast-charging Battery For Smartphones

November 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Huawei has designed and developed a prototype smartphone battery that can be recharged to half its capacity in just five minutes.

The battery is based on the same lithium ion chemistry used in cellphone batteries today but gets its advantage from atoms of graphite bonded to the anode, Huawei said on Friday at an industry conference in Japan.

That change means faster charging but not at the expense of usage life or a sacrifice in the amount of energy that can be stored in each battery, it said.

It was developed by Huawei research and development subsidiary Watt Lab and the company showed off two prototypes in videos posted online.

One of the two batteries has a capacity of 3,000mAh (milliampere hours) — about equivalent to the batteries in modern smartphones — and can be charged to 48 percent of capacity in five minutes. The second has a much smaller capacity of 600mAh but reaches 68 percent of capacity in just two minutes.

The batteries have undergone repeated testing and the fast charging isn’t a one-time deal, the company said.

Huawei didn’t say when the fast charging might make its way into commercial products.

The announcement is one of a number this year that all point toward faster charging or longer battery life. Advances in battery technology have lagged other areas of technology and battery life remains a limiting factor for gadgets such as phones and larger products like electric vehicles.



Apple’s iPad Pro Goes On Sale Today

November 11, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc announced that its iPad Pro will be available to order online starting today and arrive at stores later this week.

The 12.9 inch-screen tablet, which starts at $799 but costs more than $1,000 if buyers also want a keyboard and an optional stylus, will be available in more than 40 countries, including the United States, the UK, China and Japan.

Sales of iPads have been falling for several quarters as big-screen iPhones appeal to more consumers.

Apple sold 54.86 million iPads in the year ended Sept. 26 – a drop of 19 percent from a year earlier.

Since launching iPad with a 9.7-inch screen in 2010, Apple has released a mini version in 2012 with a 7.9-inch screen.

Apple unveiled the larger iPad Pro on Sept. 9, hoping to rival Microsoft Corp’s 12-inch Surface Pro 3 in attracting business customers.

Research firm Forrester projects that sales to businesses will represent as much as 20 percent of the overall tablet market by 2018, compared to 14 percent this year, as the market grows from 218 million units to 250 million units.



Tag Heuer Joins The Smartwatch Market

November 11, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

LVMH’s Tag Heuer has become the first Swiss watchmaker to offer a “smartwatch” to customers that combines Swiss design with U.S. technology, seeking to tap a growing market for wearable devices amid flagging sales of traditional watches.

Co-developed with Google and Intel, the “Tag Heuer Connected” will cost $1,500. One thousand units are immediately available in 15 stores across the United States, with Britain, Germany, and Japan following in the coming days.

With its titanium casing, black rubber strap and digital watch hands, it is designed to look like a classical watch.

But Connected houses an Intel Atom processor beneath its touchscreen that lets wearers connect to the internet, stream music and run applications via Google’s Android Wear platform, from existing favorites such as Google Fit and Google Maps to customized lifestyle and sports apps.

The watch, which electronically tethers to a phone, responds to voice commands and finger swipes. It can give the weather, set up a calendar reminder or tell the wearer how many steps she or he has walked that day, for instance.

The Connected will compete in part against Apple Inc’s Apple Watch, which has breathed life into the smartwatch category. With prices of $350 to $17,000 it competes with some traditional luxury timepieces.

Tag Heuer Chief Executive Jean-Claude Biver described the Connected watch as a way to get new customers and warm them up to traditional watches.

“The Apple Watch will never be eternal,” Biver said at an event in New York. “Our watch will. It’s a big advantage.”

Customers can swap their smartwatch for a mechanical one at the end of a two year warranty if they pay $1,500 more, a strategy Biver said allows the company to protect its traditions and cater to younger clientele who might be tempted by Apple.




Read more at Reuters


Nintendo Pushes Smartphone Videogame Launch Into 2016

October 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s Nintendo Co announced that it is delaying the much-awaited launch of its videogame service for smartphones by a few months to March 2016, disappointing gaming fans as well as investors who drove its shares down by more than 10 percent.

Under a strategy announced by its previous chief executive, who died of cancer earlier this year, Nintendo had said it would introduce its first smartphone games by the end of 2015. Fans and investors had hoped it would include its best-selling videogame franchise Mario in the first lineup.

Chief Executive Tatsumi Kimishima, a former banker who succeeded Satoru Iwata, said the delay would help Nintendo concentrate on selling its existing consoles and game software during the year-end holiday season.

“The year-end is traditionally our peak season for sales,” told a packed news conference, when asked about the delay. “This way, we’d be able to introduce our new applications after the holiday season is over.”

He avoided commenting on whether Mario would come to smartphones, instead introducing a new social networking service-style application called “Miitomo” which would be available in March.

The news knocked Nintendo’s shares down more than 10 percent in morning trade, erasing earlier gains. DeNA Co, Nintendo’s mobile gaming partner, fell as much as 19 percent.

Kimishima must avoid cannibalizing traditional console sales at the same time as pushing aggressively into the rapidly growing mobile gaming segment. On Wednesday, Nintendo reported a weaker-than-expected operating profit for the July-September quarter on tepid sales of game software.

“This (move into mobile gaming) is a sea change for them and there may be some growing pains like this along the way,” said Gavin Parry, managing director of Hong Kong-based brokerage Parry International Trade.

Former CEO Iwata, credited with broadening the appeal of videogames, died of cancer in July just months after deciding to enter mobile gaming despite years of resisting investor calls for such a move.




Honda Announces New Version Of Hydrogen Fueled Car

October 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Honda Motor Co. unveiled a new version of its hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) that can travel up to 400 miles and refuel in just three minutes.

The new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell’s drive train technology is about one-tenth the cost of Honda’s previous FCV the FCX Clarity. The fuel-cell technology is also smaller than in the previous vehicle. Pricing for the vehicle was not released.

“The fuel cell stack for this model was downsized by 33% compared to the previous version of the fuel cell stack and yet an output of more than 100 [kilowatts or kW],” Honda said in a statement.

The new smaller fuel cell stack is about a 60% power output improvement over the previous model, Honda added.

The new Clarity four-door sedan will have a maximum output of 130kW of power for fast pickup and offers “excellent quietness at the same time.”

The car was announced Wednesday at the Tokyo Motor Show.

The car carries a 70MP a high-pressure hydrogen storage tank providing a cruising range of more than 700 kilometers — the top-class cruising range among all FCV (70 MP a is the equivalent of 10,153 pounds per square inch of pressure).

The fuel cell power train was also made as compact as a typical V6 engine. The smaller engine means more room for passengers and their cargo. The technology can also be fitted into a variety of other Honda vehicles.

“This power train layout enabled a full cabin package that seats five adults comfortably,” Honda stated.

Honda, Toyota and Nissan all announced earlier this year that they would increase efforts to produce more hydrogen FCVs and said they will work together to build more fueling stations to support them.





Sony To Acquire Toshiba’s Sensor Business

October 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Toshiba Corp is offload its image sensor business to Sony Corp for around 20 billion yen ($164.68 million) as part of a restructuring plan laid out earlier this year, sources with knowledge of the deal said on Saturday.

Toshiba, whose businesses range from laptops to nuclear power, is undergoing a restructuring after revelations this year that it overstated earnings by $1.3 billion going back to fiscal 2008/09.

Image sensors, which are used in digital cameras and smartphones, are part of Toshiba’s system LSI semiconductor business. Toshiba plans to sell its image sensor manufacturing plant in Oita, southern Japan, and pull out of the sensor business altogether, said the sources, who declined to be identified.

The sale is likely to be finalized soon, the sources said.

Toshiba is considering several options for its system LSI semiconductor business and its discrete semiconductor business and that debate is ongoing, a Toshiba official said when contacted.

An official from Sony declined to comment.

Masashi Muromachi, who became Toshiba’s CEO following the accounting scandal, has promised to restructure lower-margin businesses.

The deal for the image sensor business would be the beginning of the restructuring, Nikkei reported earlier on Saturday.

Sony is already a dominant player in the image sensor market, with its products used in phones made by China’s Xiaomi and India’s Micromax Informatix Ltd.



Sharp Electronics Introduces Smartphone That Learns

October 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

With smartphones getting more elaborate, one might think that there’s little left to wow consumers. But Japan’s Sharp Corporation have brought us RoBoHoN, a robot smartphone that employs facial recognition and a two-inch touchscreen embedded in its back for making calls, sending texts, and surfing the web.

It was displayed at the recent CEATEC technology show on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Shaped like a humanoid communication robot, RoBoHoN is 19 centimeters tall and weighs around 390 grams. In addition to its smartphone functions, RoBoHoN can also dance and talk with people.

“We wanted to make a phone that felt closer to a user’s life than the normal telephone. That idea led us to this humanoid robot phone,” said Sharp representative Kuniyuki Maruyama.

The robot is also programmed to learn from interacting with users and thus become smarter, by accumulating users’ data in its cloud system.

“Because the robot will learn about the user through the daily life they share together, I think it will offer people a much happier life,” said Maruyama.

To answer a phone call, users must press the button on the robot’s back screen and hold it to their cheek. The speaker is placed inside the robot’s mouth.

Visitors to CEATEC were impressed. “It is capable of various things, such as responding to your speech. There are many kinds of way to use it. I think this is really a new idea that we have never seen before,” said Naigi.

“I saw it on Twitter first, and then came to see the real thing. It’s smaller than I thought and it’s really cute,” added Miwako Tang.

RoBoHoN can also project images onto any surface from short distances with its in-built forehead projector and even call a cab for its user.

Sharp says the robot phone is expected to be available in Japan in the first half of 2016.



Is Canon Betting Its Future On IoT?

October 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Technology

Canon has announced that it is joining the raft of technology companies attempting to take on the Internet of Things (IoT) through what it is calling the ‘Imaging of Things’.

Speaking at the firm’s EXPO 2015 event in Paris on Tuesday, Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai talked up the firm’s global vision for the future as the IoT becomes more pervasive.

“Canon is showing how the world of imaging is expanding rapidly in the age of the IoT,” said Mitarai.

“In the future nearly everything will be connected through smart devices. These rely on built-in cameras or sensors and the data they generate. As a result, Canon predicts that the IoT will largely depend on the ‘Imaging of Things’.”

To take on this future, Mitarai plans to overhaul Canon’s business structure to build a network of smaller Canon companies and thus create an “ecosystem of innovation”.

The CEO said that these companies have been designed to “harness innovation and creative talents from across the regions”, and will include more investment in what Canon does but on a more local level in different regions across the world, as opposed to all of the innovation being created in Tokyo, as it is at the moment.

This will allow “regional independence and international collaboration [to be] put into practice”, Mitarai said.

In this new “network of companies”, Mitarai explained that each regional headquarters will manage local R&D and manufacturing, as well as service and support customised to its market.

In Europe, the smaller Canon companies will focus on printing and network video surveillance, and the firm has already brought in specialists in these business areas such as Océ, Axis and Milestone Systems.

Mitarai said that, along with its global reputation for cameras, this will make Canon the largest printing and network video surveillance company in the world.

On a B2B level, the move is also about helping other firms build new competitive advantages and improve services for their own customers.

“We are changing our own operation model and go to market structure to build more expertise in these areas and connect with our customers,” said Jeppe Frandsen, head of the Production Printing Group at Canon Europe.

“Our customers are changing so we are now looking at a way customers are changing to what their customers want – new ways to do business together.”

Canon’s EXPO 2015 event was also an opportunity for the company to show off many of the latest projects from its R&D centre in Tokyo for the first time in Europe.

These tie in with the firm’s new focus as it launches smaller companies in more regional areas, and include a range of innovative practices such as responding to society’s monitoring needs, 3D printing as part of a partnership with 3D Systems in Europe, and graphic arts via investment in digital print technologies.



Panasonic Announces World’s Most Powerful Solar Panel

October 8, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Panasonic’s Eco Solutions division has announced the launch of what it is calling the most powerful photovoltaic panel in the world.

The new prototype solar panel has a solar energy conversion efficiency of 22.5% on a commercial-sized module. The prototype was built using solar cells based on mass-production technology, Panasonic said.

Last year, Panasonic announced it had achieved a photovoltaic cell efficiency rating of 25.6%.

“This new record on module-level efficiency adds to the 25.6% efficiency record achieved last year at cell-level. The new panel efficiency record demonstrates once again Panasonic’s…ongoing commitment to move the needle in advanced solar technology,” Daniel Roca, senior business developer at Panasonic Eco Solutions Europe, said in a statement.

The latest advance, in theory, allows Panasonic to squeak past SolarCity as having the most efficient solar panel in the world. SolarCity announced last week that it had achieved an efficiency rating of 22.04% in panels that it will begin manufacturing this month.

However, Panasonic’s solar panels are based on “thin-layer” solar cells, which are more expensive to produce than the standard solar cells being used by SolarCity.

Panasonic was also unable to give a date for when its panels would be used in commercial solar panels. However, it did say it’s planning for a mid- to late-2016 release time.

The new solar panel test results were confirmed by the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Panasonic said.

The 72-cell, 270-watt prototype solar module incorporates “newly developed enhanced technology” that will eventually be scaled to volume production, Panasonic said.



Has Sony Lost The Handheld Gaming Market?

October 6, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Sony’s Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida was only stating the obvious when he told the audience at EGX that the “climate is not healthy” for a successor to the company’s struggling handheld console, the PlayStation Vita, but sometimes even the obvious makes for an interesting statement, depending upon who’s stating it.

The likelihood of another handheld console from Sony turning up in the foreseeable future is considered to be incredibly low by almost everyone, and it’s notable that there’s never been so much as a whisper about what such a successor might look like or comprise; it’s so vanishingly unlikely to come to pass, why even bother speculating on what might be? Yet for commentators and analysts to dismiss the notion of Sony carrying on in handheld is one thing; for such a senior figure at the company to seemingly join in that dismissal is another. The final step of the long and strange handheld journey which Sony started with the announcement of the PSP’s development all the way back in 2003 won’t come until the Vita reaches its official end-of-life, but Yoshida’s statement is the moment when we learned for certain that the company itself reckons the handheld market is past saving.

It’s not that there’s any lack of affection for the Vita within Sony, including Yoshida himself, whose Twitter feed confirms that he is an avid player of the system. Even as weak sales have essentially rendered AAA development for the Vita financially unsustainable, the firm has done a great job of turning it into one of the platforms of choice for break-out indie hits, and much of the success of the PS4 as a platform for indie games can be traced back to the sterling work Sony’s team did on building relationships and services for indies on the Vita. For that alone, it’s a shame that the console will apparently be the last of its line; there are some games that simply work better on handhelds than on home consoles, and some developers who are more comfortable working within the limitations of handheld systems.

Yoshida is right, though; mobile phones are the handheld killer. They may not be as good at controlling the kind of games that the PSP and Vita excelled at, but mobile devices are more powerful, more frequently updated, carried everywhere and heavily subsidised by networks for most users. Buttons and sticks make for wonderful game controllers, as Yoshida noted, but when the competition has a great multi-touch screen and accelerometer, a processor faster than most laptops only a few years ago, and is replaced every couple of years with a better model, the best set of buttons and sticks on earth just can’t compete for most consumers. Even if Sony could release a Vita 2 tomorrow which leapfrogged the iPhone 6S, within a year Apple, Samsung and others would be back out in front.

That’s not to say that this battle can’t be won. Nintendo has still managed to shift a dramatic number of 3DS consoles despite the advent of the smartphone era – though in typically Nintendo style, it chose not to play the competition at their own game, favouring a continuation of the DS’ odd form-factor, a 3D screen and a low-cost, low-power chipset over an arms race with smartphones (and, indeed, with the Vita). Crucially, Nintendo also pumped out high quality software on the 3DS at a breathtaking pace, at one point coming close to having a must-buy title on the system every month. Nintendo’s advantage, as ever, is its software – and at least in part, its longevity in the handheld market is down to the family-friendly nature of that software, which has made the 3DS popular with kids, who usually (at least in Japan, the 3DS’ best performing market) do not carry smartphones and generally can’t engage with F2P-style transactions even if they do. Vita, by comparison, aimed itself at a more adult market which has now become saturated with phones and tablets.

So; is that the end of Sony’s handheld adventure? Trounced by Nintendo twice over, first with the DS’ incredibly surprising (if utterly obvious in hindsight) dominance over the PSP, then with the 3DS’ success over the Vita, Sony nonetheless carved out an impressive little market for the PSP, at least. Vita has failed to replicate that success, despite being an excellent piece of hardware, and 12 years after news of the PSP first reached gamers’ eager ears, it looks like that failure and the shifting sands of the market mean Sony’s ready to bail out of handhelds. With the stunning success of PS4 and the upcoming PlayStation VR launch keeping the company busy, there’s seemingly neither time, nor inclination, nor resources to try to drive a comeback for the Vita – and any such effort would be swimming against the tide anyway.

I would not go so far as to say that Sony is dropping out of handheld and portable gaming entirely, though. I think it’s interesting, in the context of Yoshida’s comments, to note what the company did at TGS last month – where a large stand directly facing the main PlayStation booth was entirely devoted to the Sony Xperia range of phones and tablets, and more specifically to demonstrating their prowess when it comes to interacting with a PS4. The devices can be hooked up to a PS4 controller and used for remote play on the console; it’s an excellent play experience, actually significantly better in some games than using the Vita (whose controls do not perfectly map to the controller). I use my Vita to do simple tasks in Final Fantasy XIV on my PS4 while the TV is in use, but it wouldn’t be up to the task of more complex battles or dungeons; I’d happily do those on an Xperia device with a proper controller, though.

Remember when the Vita launched and much of the buzz Sony tried to create was about how it was going to interact with the PS4? That functionality, a key selling point of the Vita, is now on Xperia, and it’s even better than it was on the devoted handheld. Sony’s phones also play Android games well and will undoubtedly be well-optimized for PlayStation Now, which means that full-strength console games will be playable on them. In short, though the Vita may be the last dedicated handheld to carry the Sony brand, the company has come a long way towards putting the core functions of Vita into its other devices. It’s not abandoning handheld gaming; it’s just trying to evolve its approach to match what handheld gaming has become.

It’s not a perfect solution. Not everyone has or wants an Xperia device – Japan is the best performing market for Sony phones and even here, Apple is absolutely dominant, with iPhones holding more than half of the market share for smartphones. If Sony is being clever, though, it will recognize that the success of the PS4 is a great basis from which to build smartphone success; if the Xperia devices can massively improve the user experience of the PS4, many owners of those devices may well consider a switch, if not to a new phone then at least to one of the Xperia tablets. It might also be worth the company’s time to think a little about the controllers people will hook up to the Xperia to play games; I love the PS4 controller, but it’s bulky to carry in a bag, let alone a pocket. If the firm is serious about its phones and tablets filling the handheld gap, a more svelte controller designed specifically for Xperia (but still recognizably and functionally a PS4 pad) would be an interesting and worthwhile addition to the line-up.

Nonetheless, what’s happening with Xperia – in terms of remote play, PS Now, and so on – is an interesting look at how consoles and smartphones might co-exist in the near future. The broad assumption that smart devices will kill off consoles doesn’t show any sign of coming true; PS4 and Xbox One are doing far, far better than PS3 and Xbox 360 did, and while the AAA market is struggling a little with its margins, the rapid rise of very high quality indie titles to fill the gap left by the decline of mid-range games in the previous generation means the software market is healthier than it’s been for years. If consoles aren’t going away, then we need to be thinking about how they’ll interact with smart devices – and if that’s what Sony’s doing with Xperia and PlayStation, it’s a strategy that could pay off handsomely down the line.

DRAM Prices Appear To Be Falling Fast

October 6, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Beancounters from DRAM Exchange have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked out that sales of DRAM for notebooks and PCs suffered a downturn in September.

Analyst VP Avril Wu said that notebook shipments in the third quarter didn’t reach expectations, with the Windows 10 free upgrade hitting potential sales of new notebooks.

She added that sales of smartphones and servers were not much chop either and this eroded the margins of DRAM suppliers.

“If the global economy continues to stagnate, the end market will not generate the demand needed to effectively consume the new DRAM chips produced on advanced processes,” she muttered.

After shuffling her Tarot cards and chewing on a laurel leaf she predicted that prices will continue decline in the first half of next year in a way which is even worse than 2015.

Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron rule the DRAM market and they are moving production of the chips to 17 nanometres, meaning higher densities and better power efficiency next year. If the figures are this pants it will make their investment in the technology pretty wasted.


Sprint Says More Job Cuts Likely

October 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint will likely further reduce its 31,000-person workforce as part of up to $2.5 billion in cost cuts in the next six months, a company spokesman said Friday.

“It’s likely some jobs will be impacted by this [cost-cutting] process, but it’s premature to talk about details,” said Sprint spokesman David Tovar in a telephone interview on Friday.

In addition to 31,000 workers, the company also employs about 30,000 contractor employees, he said. Sprint, with 57.7 million customers, fell to the nation’s fourth largest wireless carrier in August, behind T-Mobile.

The cost-cutting plan of $2 billion to $2.5 billion was described in an internal memo to employees, sent by new chief financial officer Tarek Robbiati. “We just want to make sure employees know what’s happening,” he said.

Robbiati’s memo was first reported by The Wall Street Journal last week.

The memo was distributed a few days after Sprint said it would not participate in an auction of low-frequency wireless spectrum. But Tovar contended that the two announcements are not connected with any sudden changes in Sprint’s long-term restructuring plan, which CEO Marcelo Claure has described many times since taking over a year ago.

“We have plenty of spectrum, the most of any other U.S. company, and we don’t need to participate in the auction,” Tovar added. “We’re going full speed ahead on our network plan and the decision not to participate in the auction has nothing to do with what you’re hearing about cost reductions.”