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T-Mobile, Sprint Edge Closer To Merger

September 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

 T-Mobile US Inc is has moved closer to agreeing on tentative terms to merge with Sprint Corp, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers.

The transaction would significantly consolidate the U.S. telecommunications market and represent the first transformative U.S. merger with significant antitrust risk to be agreed since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump in January.

The progress toward a deal also indicates that T-Mobile and Sprint believe that the U.S. antitrust enforcement environment has become more favorable since the companies abandoned their previous effort to combine in 2014 amid regulatory concerns.

The latest development in the talks between T-Mobile and Sprint comes as the telecommunications sector seeks ways to tackle investments in 5G technology that will greatly enhance wireless data transfer speeds.

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, which controls Sprint, and other Sprint shareholders will own 40 to 50 percent of the combined company, while T-Mobile majority owner Deutsche Telekom and the rest of T-Mobile shareholders will own the majority, the sources said.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son met with Trump late last year and said in February that the Japanese firm should benefit from Trump’s promised deregulation.

Once terms are finalized, due diligence by the two companies will follow and a deal is expected by the end of October, though talks may still fall through, the sources said.

T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Talks Heat Up

September 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile and Sprint are a hot topic in the world of wireless.

The nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers are in active discussions for a merger, according to a person familiar with the talks. It could take anywhere between three and five weeks before the deal might be made official, although there’s no guarantee it will go through. CNBC’s David Faber was the first to report on the talks.

A merger would mark the culmination of years of flirting between T-Mobile and Sprint. The combined company would have a shot at shaking up the industry, sizable enough to compete with larger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T. But opponents of a deal say the presence of four carriers has resulted in stiffer competition, lower prices and better deals for consumers.

Both companies have made their impact felt on the industry over the last few years. T-Mobile eliminated contracts and phone subsidies and last year led the push to bring unlimited plans back to the industry in a bigger way. Sprint introduced the concept of a phone leasing plan and this year began offering a year of its service for free.

They’ve tried to merge before. Sprint’s parent, Japanese carrier SoftBank, tried to strike a deal with T-Mobile majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom back in 2014, but dropped its attempt when the government signaled that it favored four national competitors. But with a more business-friendly White House in place, the companies are attempting to get together again.

Under the proposed deal, Deutsche Telekom would be the majority shareholder, and T-Mobile CEO John Legere would run the company with his management team. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son would have a minority stake in the combined company.

Wall Street analysts and industry players have long called for the two to combine in an effort to challenge Verizon and AT&T. A combination would mean a heftier customer base and could lead to more retail outlets across the country and greater oomph in bargaining for network equipment at a lower price.

Japanese Robot Sniffs For Smelly Feet

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Having foot odors can be a nuisance. But how do you know if your feet are slightly smelly or Hasmat-level awful?

It’s not likely you’ll want to ask a co-worker, stranger or even loved one for an honest assessment of your feet’s fumes. That’s where the new Japanese robot dog Hana-chan can be of an assistance.

The adorable robot from Next Technology has a built-in odor detection sensor in its nose that can tell whether your feet are fine or pungent.

The mini mutt — 6 inches long (about 15 centimeters) will bark if your toes are merely moderately smelly, but will fall over if your feet are rank.

The robot dog doesn’t just notify you when your feet are too noxious for words, it also sprays air freshener on your toes to help fix the situation temporarily.

A prototype of the feet-sniffing robot pooch can be found on the Next Technology website.

Next Technology plans to sell the Hana-chan robot dog in early 2018, according to Japan Times, retailing for around ¥100,000 (approximately $900, £660 or AU$1,125).

Can The Nintendo Switch Handle The Final Fantasy Game Engine

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Developers have been exploring the limitations of Nintendo Switch in order to judge whether to bring their games to the popular new platform.

Most notably, the Square Enix team behind last year’s Final Fantasy XV has been investigating whether it can bring the epic RPG to Switch – but has found that the console is unable to “bring the most out of” its proprietary Luminous Engine, DualShockers reports.

The game’s director Hajime Tabata clarified that he was not saying anything negative about Nintendo’s device, merely that it was unable to support the optimised version of the high-end engine that powers the title on Xbox One and PS4. Instead, his team has been trying out Unity and Unreal Engine 4 on Switch and notes that these perform well.

Square Enix recently announced Final Fantasy XV will be heading to PC in early 2018 in full Luminous Engine-powered glory, with a simplified and cartoony Pocket Edition heading to iOS, Android and Windows 10 devices by the end of the year.

Tabata’s comments followed a tease during Gamescom that FFXV might be released for Switch in future. If so, Square Enix is more likely to port the Pocket Edition than create a brand new Nintendo-specific version.

Final Fantasy XV has been a hit for Square Enix, selling 5m units in a single day at launch. The publisher has previously said it needs 10m sales to recoup investment, so it’s understandable why the publisher might consider bringing it to more platforms.

Meanwhile, Montpellier-based developer The Game Bakers has also been speaking out about the Switch’s power.

Also talking to DualShockers about the possibility of bringing its retro shooter Furi to the console, the studio has said it “would love to make that happen” but they “would need to secure a good enough framerate first.” Furi runs at 60fps on PS4, Xbox One and PC, but the team was unclear whether this was possible on Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo’s hardware has been less powerful than that of its rivals since the launch of the Wii, which limits the ability to directly port titles from other consoles to Nintendo devices. Instead, developers have to judge whether the audience available warrants the creation of a separate version of their game or something new entirely.

With 1.5m units already sold in Japan and a strong line-up for Christmas, it may be that Nintendo Switch makes this easier for studios to justify going forward.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is Another Palm Smartphone On The Horizon

September 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Next year TCL says it is planning to release a Palm smartphone next year – sadly without the OS which made it famous.

It was not clear what was happening to the Palm brand which has been moved out of HP-connected devices then into a limbo. LG got its paws on the Palm operating system and continues to be used (in some form or another) in LG smart TVs.

TCL acquired the Palm brand in 2011.

According to Android Planet TCL Marketing Manager Stefan Streit confirmed that they’ve finally gotten to a place where they can make a Palm phone.

Streit suggested that new Palm devices would be announced in early 2018. While Streit did not specify which devices would be coming, AP suggested that a smartphone and a new PalmPilot would be obvious releases.

Palm would be made for adult users, presumably those who are old enough to remember that the Palm was a brand they trusted and will see Palm as a brand new high-quality smartphone brand. Of course they will have to forget that the new Palm is a totally different machine, but if people buy brands TCL might score a win.

Courtesy-Fud

Nissan Launches Revamped, Longer Range Leaf Electric Vehicle

September 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Nissan Motor Co Ltd has unveiled a revamped Leaf electric vehicle (EV), going head-to-head with Tesla Inc’s Model 3 and hoping to blunt criticism of limited driving ranges undermining EVs’ mass-market appeal.

The automaker said it aims to “double, even triple” annual sales of the previous incarnation, jump-starting demand in major markets such as the United States, and packing new technologies to make up for a shorter driving range than rival offerings.

“If it’s successful, the Leaf will be a major part of the portfolio of Nissan,” Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa said at a launch for the new version of the world’s best-selling battery-powered car. “EVs will no longer be a niche product.”

The car, on sale in Japan from Oct. 2 and elsewhere in early 2018, can run for 150 miles (241 kilometers) on a single charge according to U.S. regulator estimates, up from its predecessor’s 107 miles due to a bigger, 40 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery.

Prices in Japan will start from 3.15 million yen ($28,992).

 The launch comes after luxury electric car maker Tesla made its first foray into the Leaf’s more affordable price band in July with its $35,000, 220-mile Model 3. Tesla has said it has received half a million orders for the Model 3, indicating the challenge Nissan has in preserving the Leaf’s number-one rank.

Nissan, whose first Leaf was among the first mass-market EVs, has given its marquee model a sporty facelift drawing on its more mainstream designs including the Micra and Rogue, in an effort to dispel the image of EVs being only for the affluent and environment-conscious.

The mid-sized car comes equipped with Nissan’s latest automated functions including single-lane highway driving and self-parking, along with its combined accelerate and brake “e-pedal”.

“The pricing is flat, (yet) we have a full model change… You have autonomous drive technology, a new battery, new powertrain. How can this be unattractive to a young customer?” said Ivan Espinosa, vice president of global product planning.

But for all the improvements, analysts said current EV driving ranges are too short to lure a meaningful number of drivers away from conventional cars, particularly in the U.S. where gasoline prices are historically low.

“Until we see a significant improvement in range and/or economics that feed through to a rise in gasoline prices, EV buyers will be buying for environmental or altruistic reasons,” said Janet Lewis, head of Asia transportation research at Macquarie Securities. “It’s still a very, very niche market.”

In Yet Another Twist, Western Digital Agrees To Drop Bid For Toshiba

September 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

 Western Digital Corp has proposed to end its bid for Toshiba Corp’s lucrative semiconductor unit after their talks stalled, seeking instead a stronger position in the two companies’ chip joint venture, according to two knowledgeable sources.

The move may help Toshiba finally seal a deal to sell its prized unit after months of delays, providing it with funds to cover billions of dollars in liabilities linked to its failed U.S. nuclear business Westinghouse.

A consortium including Western Digital, U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co, the state-backed Innovation Network of Japan and Development Bank of Japan were previously offering around 1.9 trillion yen ($17.4 billion) for Toshiba’s chip business, according to people familiar with the talks.

 Those talks had stalled in recent weeks, however, as the two sides struggled to come to an agreement over Western Digital’s stake in the business, which the Japanese company wanted to limit in an attempt to avoid prolonged antitrust reviews, sources have said.

To help close the deal, California-based Western Digital has told Toshiba it is prepared to pull out of a consortium bidding for the business in order to address such concerns, said the sources, one with direct knowledge of the transaction and one who was briefed on this development.

In return, Western Digital is seeking to strengthen its position in the joint venture operations, they said.

Toshiba’s board is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the deal, the sources said.

Toshiba and Western Digital, which jointly invest in Toshiba’s key plant in central Japan, failed to seal a deal by a previously-planned deadline last week due to disagreement over the U.S. firm’s future stake in the business, sources have said.

Is Sony Facing Another Class Action Lawsuit

August 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

A US Federal Court has approved a class action lawsuit against Sony for ‘deceptively advertising’ its Xperia smartphones and tablets as “waterproof”. 

The lawsuit, first reported on by The Verge, alleges that Sony’s Xperia devices have been misrepresented as “waterproof” as they are not designed for or capable of ordinary underwater use and are more on the “water-resistant” level of protection.

“Sony exploited certain international water resistance ratings in order to launch a deceptive marketing campaign promoting the devices,” the lawsuit claims. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Sony’s dodgy “waterproof claims”. Back in 2015, the Japanese firm warned buyers of its Xperia Z5 that, despite having advertised the smartphone as ‘waterproof’, getting it wet could void the warranty.

The class action seeks a 12-month warranty extension for recently purchased devices or a reimbursement of up to 50 per cent off the affected device’s suggested retail price, which means owners of an Xperia Z4 Tablet, for example, could receive a $300 reimbursement.

However, The Verge notes that “this may not be the final value the company is liable to refund”, as Sony will still need to settle with the court again on 1 December and agree on final terms.

The lawsuit is also calling for Sony to make changes to its packing, labelling and advertising. 

Devices included in the class action include the Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z3 Tablet, Compact Xperia Z4 Tablet, Xperia M2 Aqua, Xperia M4 Aqua, Xperia ZR Xperia Z Ultra Xperia Z1, Z1s, Z1 Compact Xperia Z2 Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3+, Xperia Z3+ Dual, Xperia Z5, and the Xperia Z5 Compact.

The class action only applies to customers in the US. Those eligible and interested in taking part of the claim can sign up here by 30 January 2018. Affected customers will need to have a record of their interactions with Sony or they will not be eligible.

Courtesy-TheInq

New Mazda, Toyota Vehicles To Share Infotainment System

August 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Future Mazda and Toyota vehicles will share the same infotainment underpinnings as part of a joint development effort between the two automakers, Nikkei reports. Toyota first developed the Linux-based guts of its new Entune 3.0 infotainment system, but it brought in Mazda for additional streamlining because of a lack of software developers in Japan’s auto industry.

The system will first reach the public by way of the 2018 Toyota Camry, which is already on sale in the US. It should land in Mazda’s stable when the redesigned Mazda3 debuts in the near future, although that has not been officially confirmed. Nikkei claims other vehicles from these manufacturers will receive the updated platform in stages.

Now, bear in mind this doesn’t refer to the whole infotainment system, this only covers the platform off which it’s built. Mazda’s version will undoubtedly look different, and each company will be responsible for developing the features and applications that will live in each system.

Both systems, though, will be able to make use of Toyota’s new Wi-Fi hotspot, which utilizes a cellular network connection to deliver over-the-air updates and new apps without requiring the owner to provide the connection. Toyota’s hotspot can accommodate up to five devices simultaneously on the 2018 Camry.

While this new infotainment system will be rather flexible thanks to a library of available third-party apps like Slacker or Pandora, it should be noted that the system still does not support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto — or, at least it doesn’t on the 2018 Toyota Camry. Hopefully that will change with other models, but Toyota has a historical aversion to this sort of phone mirroring.

 

WannaCry Hits LG

August 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

LG has been hit with bad news, the all destroying WannaCry malware, that knocked the NHS with one punch and went on a worldwide tour of mayhem.

So how could LG have been hit by WannaCry after all this time? Well, if you listen to the security community, it was through its own stupidity.

“Reports suggest that the company had not applied all the security updates available from Microsoft. This highlights something that we already knew – many organisations are not good at applying software security updates,” said Dean Ferrando, EMEA Manager at Tripwire.

Applying available patches is one of the easiest ways to keep an organisation safe from new and emerging threats. 

“Applying available patches is one of the easiest ways to keep an organisation safe from new attacks however, the unfortunate truth is that, despite the warnings and advisories to patch and secure the systems, there will always be a system that is missed,” said Dean Ferrando, EMEA Manager at Tripwire.

“Complacency could be another reason why new outbreaks are being discovered – some companies may feel that because they were not impacted in the immediate period of time afterwards, they won’t be infected as the controls they have in place are working without checking. Conficker hit us in 2008 with a similar attack, causing an outbreak globally. Companies patched and secured their systems but months after the outbreak, Conficker was still infecting companies that hadn’t taken the necessary precautions.”

LG has not officially confirmed that it’s been struck by ‘WannaCry’ yet, and we have made efforts to contact it. According to reports, the company has had to close down some of its facilities in South Korea as it handles the infection.

Speaking to the Korean Herald the firm said that it was a ransomware attack, which does suggest a little bit o’ WannaCry.

“The problem was found to be caused by ransomware,” said a spokesperson. “There was no damage such as data encryption or asking for money, as we immediately shut down the service centre network.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Fujitsu Looking To Exit Mobile Phone Operations, Sell Unit

August 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Fujitsu Ltd is looking to sell off its mobile operations as the Japanese information technology company faces stiff competition from bigger rivals in a highly lucrative mobile phone market, the Nikkei business daily reported.

The company, which spun off its mobile phone operations into a separate company last February, has drawn interest from investment funds including Tokyo-based Polaris Capital Group and Britain’s CVC Capital Partners Ltd, as well as Chinese personal computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd, the Japanese newspaper added.

First-round bidding could open as soon as September, and is expected to bring offers in the tens of billions of yen (hundreds of millions of dollars), Nikkei reported.

Tokyo-based Fujitsu would stop developing and manufacturing mobile phones, but looks to keep a minority stake in the business and keep its mobile phone brand alive, the report said.

Japan Advances GPS Ambitions With Latest Satellite Launch

August 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Japan has launched an H-2A rocket carrying a geo-positioning satellite into orbit after a week-long delay, according to an announcement by the government.

The launch of Japan’s third geo-positioning satellite is part of its plan to build a version of the U.S. global positioning system (GPS) to offer location information used for auto-piloting and possible national security purposes.

The government postponed the launch a week ago because of a technical glitch.

“With the success of the third satellite, we have made another step closer for having signals from four satellites in the future,” Masaji Matsuyama, minister in charge of space policy, said in a statement.

The government plans to launch a fourth satellite by the end of the year to start offering highly precise position information by next April.

Japan plans to boost the number of its geo-positioning satellites to seven by 2023, making its system independently operational even if the U.S. GPS becomes unavailable for some reason, a government official said previously.

The satellite was manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric Corp and was blasted into orbit by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

Is The Server DRAM Supply Drying Up

August 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Server DRAM revenue from Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and Micron Technology rose by 30 percent sequentially in the second quarter as the tight supply of DRAM chips continued to lift average selling prices, according to market watcher DRAMeXchange. The firm expects server DRAM supply to remain tight throughout the remainder of 2017.

Despite product mix adjustments, suppliers had trouble meeting the various growing demands of the DRAM market, said DRAMeXchange, a unit of market research firm TrendForce that tracks memory chip pricing.

DRAMeXchange analyst Mark Liu said that thanks to the increase in the average memory density of server systems, as evidenced by the adoption of high-density 32GB RDIMMs and 64GB LRDIMMs in this year’s first half, the profit margin of server DRAM surged.

DRAMeXchange said it expects the penetration rate of DDR4 2666MHz modules to rise in the second half of this year due to the introduction of servers based on Intel’s Purley platform.

Samsung, the leading memory supplier and the leader in server DRAM market share, saw its second quarter server DRAM revenue rise by 36.5 percent sequentially to reach nearly $2 billion, DRAMeXchange said. Samsung continues to benefit from a commanding lead in the overall DRAM market and an overall lead in manufacturing technology.

Courtesy-Fud

Sprint Showing Signs Of Life, Subscriber Growth

August 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint Corp managed to generate a quarterly profit for the first time in three years as the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier slashed costs and added subscribers.

Shares rose 3.3 percent to $8.24 in premarket trading.

Sprint said it cut expenses by about $370 million in the quarter and that it expects an additional $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion of year-over-year reductions in fiscal 2017.

The company, majority owned by Japan’s SoftBank Corp, said net income was $206 million, or 5 cents per share in the first quarter ended June 30, compared to a loss of $302 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net operating revenue was $8.16 billion, up from $8.01 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected a net loss of 1 cent per share on revenue of $8.11 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sprint added 88,000 subscribers who pay a monthly phone bill, the industry’s most valuable customers, compared to 173,000 net additions in the year-earlier period.

Charter Communications Squash Sprint Acquisition Rumors

August 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. cable operator Charter Communications Inc has denied interest in buying U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp, leaving the latter’s majority owner, SoftBank Group Corp, pondering how to orchestrate a merger.

A merger of Charter and Sprint would create a telecommunications powerhouse, providing a one-stop shop for customers looking for internet and mobile phone services, and giving the combined company a stronger footing in creating the infrastructure required for so-called 5G wireless technology.

SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son is considering making an acquisition offer for Charter, which has a market capitalization of $101 billion and another $60 billion in debt, as early as this week, a person familiar with the matter said on Sunday, in what would be by far the Japanese telecommunications conglomerate’s biggest ever deal.

SoftBank remains interested in merging Sprint with T-Mobile US Inc, another U.S. wireless carrier controlled by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG, with which Sprint held deal negotiations earlier this year, the source added.

The source asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. SoftBank declined to comment.

“We understand why a deal is attractive for SoftBank, but Charter has no interest in acquiring Sprint,” a Charter spokesman said in an emailed statement on Sunday. He declined to comment on whether Charter would entertain a bid from SoftBank and at what price.

Sprint and T-Mobile could not be immediately reached for comment.

SoftBank’s potential bid for Charter would follow the conclusion of two months of negotiations with Charter and larger cable peer Comcast Corp over Sprint potentially serving as their mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), allowing them to use its network to offer wireless services.

“We have a very good MVNO relationship with Verizon Communications Inc and intend to launch wireless services to cable customers next year,” the Charter spokesman said.

SoftBank’s interest in Charter also shows it is looking for alternatives to strengthen its negotiating hand in Sprint’s negotiations with T-Mobile, analysts said.

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