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Yahoo Renames Itself, To Become Altaba

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Inc has announced that it would rename itself Altaba Inc and Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer would resign from the board after the closing of its deal with Verizon Communications Inc.

Yahoo has a deal to sell its core internet business, which includes its digital advertising, email and media assets, to Verizon for $4.83 billion.

The terms of that deal could be amended – or the transaction may even be called off – after Yahoo last year disclosed two separate data breaches; one involving some 500 million customer accounts and the second involving over a billion.

 Verizon executives have said that while they see a strong strategic fit with Yahoo, they are still investigating the data breaches.

Five other Yahoo directors would also resign after the deal closes, Yahoo said in a regulatory filing on Monday.

The remaining directors will govern Altaba, a holding company whose primary assets will be a 15 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan.

The new company also named Eric Brandt chairman of the board, effective Jan. 9.

Israel’s Team8 Cybersecurity Firm Gets Microsoft, Qualcomm Funding

January 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The venture capitalists divisions of Microsoft and Qualcomm have invested in Team8, an Israeli creator of cybersecurity start-ups, as big multinational companies back Israel’s burgeoning cyber industry in the face of growing threats.

Team8, which also announced on Monday a strategic partnership with Citi to help develop its products, said the most recent investment brings its total raised to more than $92 million.

Its other investors are Cisco, AT&T, Accenture, Nokia, Singapore’s Temasek, Japan’s Mitsui, Bessemer Venture Partners, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and Marker LLC.

 While the number of attempted cyber attacks was 20,000 a week two or three years ago, that figure had now risen to 600,000-700,000, said Yoram Yaacovi, general manger of Microsoft Israel’s development center.

Israel has some 450 cyber start-ups, which receive 20 percent of global investment in the sector. Although the need for security is growing quickly, the proliferation of start-ups means that several companies compete in every subsector.

“A large part of companies created won’t get to the finish line,” Nadav Zafrir, Team8 chief executive and former commander of the Israeli army’s technology and intelligence unit 8200, told a news conference.

He said he believes Team8’s strong partners and its plan to build a portfolio of different technologies gives it an edge. Team8 confirmed that Microsoft had been an investor since last June.

“The expectation of our investors is to build independent companies that will lead their sectors,” he said.

Israel has a well established high tech industry, using skills of workers trained in the military and intelligence sectors. Tax breaks and government funding have encouraged start-ups, and also drawn in entrepreneurs from abroad.

Launched in 2014, Team8 employs 180 people in Israel, the United States, Britain and Singapore and plans to hire 100 more workers in 2017.

Two companies it created are Illusive Networks, which uses deception technology to detect attacks and has been installed at banks and retailers, and Claroty, which secures critical infrastructure sites such as oil and gas fields.

Details of two more companies it has set up will be announced this year, Zafrir said.

 

Will Apple Cut iPhone Production This Quarter?

January 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple is expected to cut back its production of iPhone devices by about 10 percent in the first financial quarter of 2017 due to slower than expected sales, according to a Nikkei daily report filed on Thursday.

The information is based on the latest number data from the company’s suppliers, which says the decreased production output is a result of slower sales in the Q4 FY2016 financial quarter ending September 24th. Yet despite a slowdown in sales, the fruit-themed toymaker still managed to top the charts in terms of overall device activations at 44 percent, while Samsung was placed second at 21 percent. The rest of the top global smartphone vendors placed below five percent, with Huawei in third at three percent.

In 2016, the company reduced iPhone production output between January and March by 30 percent due to accumulated inventory levels of the iPhone 6S at the end of the previous holiday season.

This year, the problem appears to be convincing customers that new features on the iPhone 7 and flagship iPhone 7 Plus are enough to justify a purchase at off-contract price or paying off their existing device’s installment plan. Over the past few years, carriers have pushed customers to switch from fixed upgrade cycles over to installment plans or, bringing the length of device ownership to an average of 29 months, up from the typical range of 24 to 26 months during the previous two years.

While Apple is expected to announce a significant iPhone overhaul this year with its 10th anniversary design, the company still must navigate the new service plan trends set by wireless carriers in order to get a significant number of loyal customers to maintain its profit margins.

Courtesy-Fud

SoftBank Takes $1B Stake In Satellite Startup OneWeb

December 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

softbank-150x150SoftBank Group Corp announced intentions to invest $1 billion in OneWeb Ltd, which is building a constellation of satellites to improve global broadband access, the Japanese Internet conglomerate and the U.S. startup firm said.

The investment is part of a $1.2 billion fundraising by OneWeb, with the remaining $200 million funded by its current investors.

The announcement comes after SoftBank’s founder billionaire businessman Masayoshi Son pledged a $50 billion investment in the United States in a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump this month.

 OneWeb, established in 2012, aims to provide affordable internet access “to billions of people around the world,” the company said in a statement.

Existing investors in OneWeb include Qualcomm Inc and Airbus Group.

Will Nintendo Making A Comeback In 2017?

December 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

I was prepared to write all about virtual reality once again, despite the fact that my colleague Brendan Sinclair did a fine job of it last week, but then I woke up today to see Nintendo’s appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and it got me thinking about the company’s future.

Before I dive into it, the one thing I’ll say on VR is that I’m encouraged by moves that bring about unity. With the Global Virtual Reality Association pushing for solidarity and open standards, and the discovery this week following the launch of Oculus Touch that Rift with Touch can support most SteamVR titles, developers should find it easier to target the combined (albeit still limited) installed bases of the PC VR platforms. Game makers in the VR ecosystem need all the help they can get.

Onto Nintendo, the company is quite possibly on the cusp of a major comeback after a miserable few years with its worst performing console in history, the Wii U. Watching as an excited audience witnessed Shigeru Miyamoto play the Mario theme along with The Roots, followed by Reggie Fils-Aime demoing both Super Mario Run on iPhone and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Switch reminded me that there’s still quite a lot of goodwill for Nintendo and its highly valuable IP. Now it’s up to the company to actually capitalize on that excitement. The rise of Pokemon Go, which helped jumpstart Pokemon Sun and Moon to become Nintendo’s fastest-selling titles ever in Europe and the Americas is just the start.

The NES Mini microconsole has been continually selling out at retail, feeding into nostalgia for NES classics while people eagerly await the launch of the first ever Mario game for smartphones, Super Mario Run. The game, which quickly saw 20 million people sign up to be notified about its release, will be a fascinating test for the mobile market given its $9.99 price point and for Nintendo, which hopes that both lapsed gamers and new players will come to appreciate the Italian plumber and seek out deeper and even more engaging experiences — on the Switch of course.

“Super Mario Run is going to introduce millions of more people to the fun of Mario, and it’ll become the entry point for them,” Miyamoto told The Verge. “And then the question becomes, once you’ve gone through that entry point, then what comes next? Is it a more traditional Mario experience? Is it something like the Mario Galaxy games? We’ll then have to look at what it is these new fans want from a Mario game, and we’ll continue to see Mario evolve in that way.”

Miyamoto and Nintendo may be a bit too optimistic to think that everyone who picks up Super Mario Run will want to run out and spend several hundred dollars more on a dedicated gaming platform plus software, but I’m convinced that a certain portion of the Super Mario Run audience will do just that. Another, possibly much larger, portion of that audience, however, could very well decide that Super Mario Run is fantastic and they’d simply like more experiences like that from Nintendo on smartphones. Either way, that’s great news because it means Nintendo has vastly expanded its audience.

“Frankly, I think the future is once again starting to look quite bright for Nintendo. The next critical step for the company is to absolutely get its marketing message right as it moves forward”

In a sense, the Switch will become the “niche” product for the hardcore Nintendo fan, while mobile will ultimately become where Nintendo reaches the majority of players. If the lion’s share of revenues for Nintendo begin to come from mobile, it’ll pose a very interesting question about the future of hardware like Switch, but as long as people crave in-depth games like Breath of the Wild, Nintendo will find a way to make them, regardless of platform.

Frankly, I think the future is once again starting to look quite bright for Nintendo. The next critical step for the company is to absolutely get its marketing message right as it moves forward. All the love and excitement Nintendo engendered with the Wii was squandered with the Wii U, but now the company has a legitimate chance to see a real domino effect take place, with each piece pushing the next forward – Pokemon to Super Mario Run to Switch and Zelda, etc, etc.

What needs to happen from now through next March when the Switch launches is an all-out assault on the media; mainstream news, talk shows, social networks, and more. What Nintendo achieved with Jimmy Fallon this week was pure marketing brilliance, and it’s that sort of approach that catapulted the original Wii to stratospheric heights in 2006. The Wii didn’t succeed because IGN or GameSpot thought it was cool; it took off because everyone from The Wall Street Journal to the New York Times to Bloomberg wrote glowing things about it. Nintendo’s appearance on Fallon could perhaps be the start of a new media blitz; it needs to be if Nintendo wants to reclaim its place atop the industry.

We’ll see how the next domino piece tilts in one week when Super Mario Run launches. “This is definitely a defining moment for Nintendo,” Yoshio Osaki, president of IDG Consulting Inc, told The Wall Street Journal. “If Mario can’t get the job done, I don’t know what other character could.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Sony Plans To Release Six Smartphone Games Next Year

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

sony-smartphone-games-150x150Japan’s Sony Corp  will release as many as six mobile phone games in the next year, looking to build on its own gaming franchises success off of console rival Nintendo Co’s Pokemon GO.

The upcoming titles will free up some of Sony’s popular gaming franchises, such as Everybody’s Golf, from PlayStation consoles to make them available on Apple Inc’s  iOS and Google’s Android mobile platforms.

An aggressive push into the rapidly growing segment is seen as a necessity for Sony as its games unit has emerged as the group’s largest profit contributor following an overhaul of the group’s consumer electronics business.

Sony revealed on Wednesday a total of 10 mobile gaming titles it is working on, including those to be released in the financial year starting in April. The 10 titles include PaRappa the Rapper and Arc The Lad.

They will be available initially in Japan and eventually in other Asian countries, Tomoki Kawaguchi, executive director of Sony’s mobile gaming unit, told reporters.

The announcement comes before Nintendo debuts its game franchise Super Mario Bros on Apple’s iPhone next week.

While disappointing sales of Wii U consoles helped push Nintendo into mobile gaming, Sony has been a decisive winner in console gaming with over 40 million PlayStation 4 sales, almost double the sales of Microsoft Corp’s XBox One.

But Sony is facing the increasing threat from mobile in countries such as Japan, the world’s third largest game market where mobile gaming accounts for more than half of the $12.4 billion market, according to games research firm Newzoo.

Sony has launched some games for smartphones through its music entertainment unit but failed to fully introduce mobile gaming to its PlayStation business.

Analysts doubt Sony’s chances of major success in mobile gaming, citing a lack of powerful characters like Nintendo’s Super Mario and Donkey Kong, which have achieved widespread appeal globally.

Nissan To Offer Maintenance Alert Option For Internet-connected Cars

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

nissan-logo-150x150Nissan Motor Co will mark its first major entry into internet-connected cars by offering an option in some new vehicles that will use big data technology to notify drivers when vehicle maintenance is required.

As automakers compete fiercely to develop self-driving cars and improve the customer experience inside vehicles, Japan’s second-largest car maker said on Tuesday it will begin rolling out the service in Japan and India in 2017, followed by other countries through 2020.

With the availability of new mobility options including ride-hailing and car-sharing services threatening to cool demand for individual car ownership, automakers are looking for new ways to attract loyal drivers.

 Toyota Motor Corp, Japan’s biggest car maker, announced earlier this month that it will have a similar alerting feature in the domestic version of the upcoming Prius plug-in model.

And Ford Motor Co last month announced that by year’s end, some of its models will be able to communicate with smart home devices using Amazon’s Alexa voice service.

Nissan said that it would also market the device required to access the service, which can be retrofitted into existing models. In the future, 30 percent of its existing vehicles would eventually be equipped with the hardware, it said.

The new service will be enabled by a telematics control unit which will enable the automaker and its dealer network to access information about the car’s diagnostics and location, alerting the driver to any required maintenance work.

“With connectivity we can provide better information and better service offerings to our customers,” Kent O’Hara, Nissan corporate vice president and head of its global aftersales division, told reporters at a briefing.

“We’ll know what’s wrong with that vehicle, we’ll know where the vehicle is, we’ll know what parts are needed for the vehicle … and we can provide convenient service and alternative transportation options.”

He added that connectivity services and other new technologies would contribute 25 percent of the automaker’s aftersales revenues by 2022, from “low, single digits” at the moment.

 

Japan Aims For World’s Fastest Supercomputer

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

supercomputer-150x150Japan aims to construct the world’s fastest-known supercomputer in a bid to arm the country’s manufacturers with a platform for research that could help them develop and improve driverless cars, robotics and medical diagnostics.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will spend 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) on the previously unreported project, a budget breakdown shows, as part of a government policy to get back Japan’s mojo in the world of technology. The country has lost its edge in many electronic fields amid intensifying competition from South Korea and China, home to the world’s current best-performing machine.

In a move that is expected to vault Japan to the top of the supercomputing heap, its engineers will be tasked with building a machine that can make 130 quadrillion calculations per second – or 130 petaflops in scientific parlance – as early as next year, sources involved in the project told Reuters.

At that speed, Japan’s computer would be ahead of China’s Sunway Taihulight that is capable of 93 petaflops.

“As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast,” said Satoshi Sekiguchi, a director general at Japan’s ‎National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, where the computer will be built.

The push to return to the vanguard comes at a time of growing nostalgia for the heyday of Japan’s technological prowess, which has dwindled since China overtook it as the world’s second-biggest economy.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for companies, bureaucrats and the political class to work more closely together so Japan can win in robotics, batteries, renewable energy and other new and growing markets.

 

nVidia Goes Efficient Supercomputing

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

nvidia-sche GPU maker named after a Roman vengeance daemon, Nvidia has been patting itself on the back over the DGX SaturnV, which it says is the most energy efficient supercomputer of all time.

The DGX SaturnV has 63,488GB of RAM, 60,512 Intel Xeon E5-2698v4 CPU cores and 125 Nvidia DGX-1s oh and it also has 100 GPUs which should be just enough to get a game of Doom running on the extreme settings.

Nvidia claimed that the DGX SaturnV, which is the world’s 28th fastest supercomputer is 2.3x more energy efficient than the Camphore 2 system, a supercomputer of similar performance powered by Xeon Phi Knights Landing.

It has been built to run Nvidia’s AI programme and in a statement the company said it was convinced that AI could give every company a competitive advantage.

“That’s why we’ve assembled the world’s most efficient, and one of the most powerful, supercomputers to aid us in our own work,” the firm said. SaturnV helps Nvidia build its autonomous driving software that’s a key part of our Nvidia DRIVE PX 2 self-driving vehicle platform. We’re also training neural networks to understand chipset design and very large-scale integration, so our engineers can work more quickly and efficiently. Yes, we’re using GPUs to help us design GPUs. “Most importantly, SaturnV’s power will give us the ability to train and design new deep learning networks quickly,” a spokesNvidia said.

Courtesy-Fud

Is EA Skeptical On Nintendo’s Switch?

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

EA CFO Blake Jorgensen says he ‘can’t yet predict’ if people will be interested in Switch alongside their regular portable device.

His statement came at the UBS Global Technology Conference, and reported by GameSpot. He says the firm is excited about the product and committed to bringing ‘one or two’ of its biggest games IP to the platform. Based on EA’s history with Nintendo, these will likely be games from its sports catalog.

“We’re excited for Nintendo, it’s an interesting device,” Jorgensen stated. “But I can’t yet predict how broad it’s going to be, and if folk will be interested in a portable device alongside their regular portable device that they already have.”

He continued: “In their announcement they announced that we’ll be supporting with a game or two on that new platform. We haven’t yet announced what game, but you should assume that it’s one of our bigger games we’ve been involved with.”

It is clearly positive for Nintendo that EA is showing support for its next machine after it abandoned publishing efforts on Wii U shortly after the machine launched. The company’s Wii U line-up included ports of Need for Speed and Mass Effect 3.

Nintendo proudly boasted a strong Switch third-party line-up, with the likes of Activision, Capcom, Warner Bros, Sega, Take-Two, Codemasters, Konami, From Software, Square Enix, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Bandai Namco, Platinum, Level-5, GameTrust and Atlas already signed on to support the device.

If Nintendo hopes to maintain this level of third-party support, it will need a significantly stronger start for Switch than it achieved with its Wii U console. It’s not clear what the launch line-up for Switch will be, with reports suggesting that the highly anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will miss the console’s release window. Other games shown during Nintendo’s Switch reveal, although not confirmed titles, included Mario Kart, a new Mario platformer, Skyrim and Splatoon.

More details on the Switch launch is scheduled for January, with the machine due to launch in March.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will Google Be Able To Stop Proprietary USB-C?

November 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

0-fast-chargingEarlier last week, we wrote that 28W fast-charging has made its rounds into the smartphone market with companies such as Qualcomm and Huawei preparing new USB-C charging accessories to charge devices between 55 and 70 percent in under 30 minutes.

Now, Google is telling the entire Android ecosystem of manufacturers that it does not want anyone to be using so-called “fast charging” technology on any Android devices, according to the latest Android Compatibility Definition document posted to its site. This includes proprietary technologies such as Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, which is already used on a handful of devices, and OnePlus Dash Charge. The reasoning is that these and similar methods require licensing a piece of hardware onto the device or charging cable, which makes them incompatible with USB-C equipped desktops and notebooks using the USB Power Delivery standard developed by USB-IF.

Android Compatibility Definition document (via source.android.com)

Under the “USB Peripheral Mode” section, the paper says that USB Type-C devices are strongly recommended not to support “proprietary charging methods that modify Vbus voltage beyond default levels or alter sink/source roles” as this can cause operational issues with devices supporting standard USB Power Delivery methods.

Not every chipset compatible with the same voltages

There are currently a few proprietary charging standards that operate using varying voltage levels, and this is the kind of situation the company wants to avoid as the Android platform moves ahead. With different manufacturers allowing devices to be charged at varying voltages with different USB-C cable modifications and wire gauges, there is no way to guarantee that a given SoC will be able to handle a USB-C charger that was not made specifically for the device.

Many Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0 capable devices from ASUS, HP, HTC, LeEco, LG, Xaiomi and others use an approach called INOV (Intelligent Negotiation for Optimum Voltage) that adjusts voltage between 3.2V and 20V in 200mV increments, drawing less current as the battery charges up. On the other hand, OnePlus Dash Charge features voltage and current regulating circuitry inside the charger, which pulls heat away from the phone’s CPU and GPU and results in less performance throttling while charging.

Google only recommends USB Power Delivery standard

Currently, the USB Power Delivery standard already supports fast-charging, and this is used in Google’s own Pixel and Pixel XL. While the Nexus 6 supports Quick Charge 2.0, it appears the company has moved away from the technology and now suggests using the more unified USB-PD standard as it can ensure a more utopian vision where all Android device owners, PC owners and notebook owners are charging using the same cables within the same voltage specifications on the same standard interface.

Courtesy-Fud

Who Is Nintendo’s Switch Target Audience?

November 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima has asserted that the company’s new console does not represent a shift in the way it sees its audience. “As the name implies, we’re switching a lot of things,” he told Bloomberg, “but we have no interest in switching our customers.”

The Switch debuted in a promotional video that had a distinct lack of families and children, two groups with which Nintendo is closely associated. It also featured footage from core-facing franchises like The Elder Scrolls and NBA 2K, despite neither being confirmed for the console when it launches in March next year.

According to Kimishima, however, Nintendo has no intention of “just going after a certain age group. Depending on the kind of software that comes out, families and kids will be able to play too.” The prominent use of games like Skyrim was to communicate with groups who “will grasp it right away,” referring to the console’s ability to be used as a handheld or connected to a television. “For families and kids,” he added, “we want them to understand by actually experiencing it.”

“Our core philosophy is that we want to increase the number of gamers at all ages, and there’s no change to that. So we have no intention to lean just towards core gamers. But to communicate our new idea, when you think about who will understand it first, naturally it will be people who really understand games. To communicate that as quickly as possible, we focused on those folks who really understand games.”

Kimishima placed the Switch in the context of a plan to “revitalize” Nintendo, which he devised along with creative lead Shigeru Miyamoto and tech led Genyo Takeda three years ago. Console hardware was one aspect, smartphone software another, and making better use of the company’s enviable IP stable another.

“Now the critical period is finally here,” he said. “From the end of this fiscal period and into the next one is when we actually show the product and deliver it to our customers.

“Our revenue has fallen for eight straight years. What we aim for is to increase the number of people who play games. We want to deliver all kinds of new surprises to our customers, and it is through their support that our revenue increases. That’s the end result. But if that result doesn’t show, that means we weren’t able to deliver. Next year is when we see the result.”

Kimishima also described the Switch’s detachable controllers are “add-on hardware” or “accessories,” and that we “can assume that there will be a wider array.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Nissan, Renault Targets 2020 To Introduce Autonomous Vehicles

October 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

nissan-and-renault-150x150The Renault-Nissan Alliance has put together a new 300-person division for the purpose of releasing at least 10 vehicles with “significant” autonomous driving capabilities by 2020.

Nissan and Renault’s new Mobility Division will focus on the development of software, cloud engineering and big data analytics for connected-car technologies.

In 2018, Nissan said it expects to unveil a “multiple-lane control” application that can autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes during highway driving. Two years later, it plans to add the capability for a vehicle to navigate city driving and intersections without driver intervention.

The new autonomous models will be released in the U.S., Japan, Europe and China.

In September, the Renault-Nissan Alliance acquired French software company Sylph to accelerate the expansion of its connected vehicle and mobility services programs.

Also in September, the carmakers penned a multiyear agreement with Microsoft to develop next-generation connected services for self-driving cars that will be enabled through Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

The carmakers said they will also focus on promoting “social acceptance” of autonomous vehicles between now and when they begin to launch them in 2018. Educating the public will “allow consumers as well as involved governments, groups and other agencies, the time to consider the benefits of the new technologies.

“There must be a huge change in government and society,” Nissan stated in a blog. “Once autonomous drive technology reaches a certain level of technological advance, decisions must be made on driving infrastructure and laws to ultimately change society’s mindset.”

While autonomous development announcements are far from new, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is unusual in that past autonomous vehicle efforts have not been taken on solely by automakers, according to research firm IDC.

Artificial intelligence and connected technology are a major focus among some carmakers, who see it as the basis for future human-machine interface development in autonomous vehicles.

Last year, Toyota Motor Corp. spent $1 billion to create an artificial intelligence division. Toyota’s Research Institute is being led by Gill Pratt, who joined Toyota from DARPA, where he ran the Robotics Challenge, an event that promoted work on robots that can work with humans.

Without A Touchscreen Is Nintendo’s Switch DoA?

October 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-switchNow that Nintendo has finally teased the world with its Switch hardware reveal, everyone of course wants to know more and bigger questions about Nintendo’s strategy have become top of mind.  Analysts have brought up a number of potential issues facing Nintendo as it moves forward. Most importantly, who is Nintendo really targeting with its new product and how is the company positioning the Switch against powerful consoles like next year’s Xbox Scorpio or this year’s PS4 Pro?

“Nintendo’s Switch reveal trailer unveiled a product positioning which aims to defend against the increasingly robust encroachment of the smartphone and tablet gaming opportunity yet still appeal to traditional console gamers that are looking for a big-screen gaming solution in the home. It has designed the Switch to deliver a flexible solution to cover multiple types of usage, but must avoid delivering a substandard experience by trying to be all things to all users,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at IHS, which is now forecasting that Switch will sell 2.85 million units globally next March when it launches.

“Interestingly, the Switch reveal trailer was squarely targeted at young adults, which suggests that Nintendo is refocusing its early marketing on more traditional console gamers and those that also increasingly like gaming on the move. To build success with these buyers the offering must include third-party titles that are supported on other platforms,” Harding-Rolls continued. “Nintendo looks to have killed off its motion controllers with the Switch and opted for a more traditional form of gaming experience. This suggests the company is serious about getting third-party publishers to support the platform with multi-platform titles. Potentially, this will help Nintendo’s ambition to target young adult gamers.”

Third-party support does seem to be better already. Wii U had a list of just 21 publishers and developers at its launch while Switch has close to 50. Support, of course, is something that’s always in flux, but it’s crucial for Nintendo to get its messaging right with consumers if it wants to maintain that support from third parties. “They need a proper message. Right now I am concerned they are pitching it as just another tablet with controllers,” said DFC Intelligence’s David Cole.

“Nintendo’s ability to market a clear use case message to the audience [will be key]. Nintendo failed to do this with the Wii U and paid the price,” added Harding-Rolls.

SuperData’s Joost van Dreunen believes Nintendo needs to do a better job in defining its audience. “I have my reservations with regards to the breadth of the audience it targets. The Switch will likely be most popular among a younger audience: its functionality is uniquely geared toward pre-teens and teenagers. While the device seems much less like a toy than we’re used to from Nintendo, its features like backseat multi-player and the ability to have several people play using a single piece of the controller target Nintendo’s traditional audience. The reveal video makes a lot more sense to me if you swap out all the adults in it with kids,” he noted.

It’s clear that the widespread adoption of gaming on smartphones has had an impact on Nintendo, and indeed the company is pushing out its own mobile titles like Super Mario Run this holiday, but will that approach truly serve as a stepping stone to the Switch, or will it ultimately cannibalize Nintendo’s new hardware?

Dr. Serkan Toto, an analyst who specializes in the mobile market in Asia, remains skeptical. “Sorry, but is a portable/home console approach really that innovative in 2016? I am most concerned about the target group of the device: who else but die-hard Nintendo fans will buy the Switch? The Switch lacks a killer feature, and I think it will be very difficult for Nintendo to win back the casual gamers that are mostly on mobile now,” he commented. “In Japan, for example, the mobile gaming sector is already 2-3 times bigger than consoles. Even the PS4 struggles over here. It’s going to be a huge challenge to try to reverse that trend.”

So will Super Mario Run make a difference? “I find it very difficult to picture a scenario where a critical number of mobile, free-to-play users converts to console and buy hard- and software for several hundred dollars upfront. Different markets, very difficult to bridge,” Toto continued.

As ever, the biggest factor in the Switch launch and its chances for success could be its price. “Price pretty much depends on specs, and success depends on both price and specs. If the specs are close to PS4, I think they can price around the same ($249), and at most $299. If specs are weaker, price could be lower,” noted Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter.

“Assuming they are close to PS4, they are making porting of games easy for developers (and inexpensive), and I think they will get a lot of third party support. If the specs are weaker, porting will be costly and less likely to occur. So my ‘prediction’ is that if specs and pricing are similar to PS4, the Switch will get a lot of third party support and will be immensely successful. If specs are weaker or if pricing is too high, sales will suffer because of lack of third-party support or because of uncompetitive pricing.”

Analysts agreed that $299 really is the highest Nintendo could acceptably go. “They must find a way to release the Switch at US$299 to stand a chance, that’s the threshold,” said Toto. “It’s not impossible by offering the device in multiple versions, i.e. without the home dock. ‘Hardcore’ video game fans can, at US$299, already get fantastic devices from Sony and Microsoft. The portable gaming use case, at scale, has been taken over by smart devices.”

SuperData’s van Dreunen added that a high profile bundle, like Zelda, which we know is a launch title, could play an important role in incentivizing consumers. “I’m hoping they’ll keep it under $300, ideally bundled with a Zelda or Mario Kart. Anything over that will severely limit its market potential,” he said.

Harding-Rolls sees $300 as the max as well, commenting, “The reveal suggests it is competing more significantly with traditional home consoles, but with the edge of mobility. Pricing will need to be competitive in this context and anything over $300 may not be a convincing proposition.” He pointed to similarities with Nvidia’s Shield as evidence that Nintendo may very well end up in that price range.

“The new console shares a number of design, positioning and component similarities with Nvidia’s Shield tablet. As such it is likely that Switch will be capable of displaying 4K video content and judging by the pricing of the original Shield tablet is likely to sit in the $250-$300 range,” he said.

Excitement is currently sky high for the Switch. In fact, as noted by Bloomberg yesterday, right after Nintendo said it would unveil the console, its shares climbed almost 5% leading to a market value gain of $1 billion (the stock is up 3.34% as of this writing today). The company’s stock is up more than 50% in 2016 in large part because of its embrace of smartphone gaming, but how Nintendo balances its portfolio and its message on mobile and Switch will be fascinating to watch in the next 6-12 months and it will reveal a lot about the future of the firm.

Courtesy-GI.Biz

Can Google Sell 4 Million Overpriced Pixels By Years End?

October 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-over-pixelAccording to new estimates from Digitimes Research, the recently announced Google Pixel smartphone is expected to reach 3 to 4 million shipments in the second half of this year, giving a 10 percent increase in HTC’s total smartphone shipments from the first half.

Google’s latest Pixel and Pixel XL devices come in 5-inch and 5.2-inch display sizes and feature a quad-core Snapdragon 821 processor, a 12.3-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front camera and look very similar to Apple’s iPhone from an aesthetic perspective. Pricing is also very similar, as the Pixel starts at $649 for 32GB and the Pixel XL starts at $769, while the iPhone 7 is also $649 for 32GB and the iPhone 7 Plus is $769 for 32GB.

Performance similar to Snapdragon 820 devices

Recently, the performance of the latest Snapdragon 821-powered flagship Android devices has become a recent site of investigation, When averaging the top eight Geekbench 4.0.1 scores sorted by multi-core performance, the results show the Pixel and Pixel XL receiving scores of around 1,603 single-core and 4,106 multi-core, still lower on average than the iPhone 6S (2,506 / 4,320). Meanwhile, the A10-powered iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus manage scores of around 3,473 single-core and 5,707 multi-core.

For the most part, the Pixel and Pixel XL seem more in line with the HTC 10 (1,745 / 3,961) and LG G5 (1,699 / 4,108), both of which feature the Snapdragon 820 with 2.15GHz high-performance cores and 1.6GHz power-efficient cores. The Snapdragon 821 features two 2.4GHz high-performance cores and two 2GHz power-efficient cores, meaning Google’s Pixel smartphones should be at least 10 percent faster than these devices, but this does not seem to be the case in this benchmarking utility for now.

Battery life is another story entirely, and this is where the Snapdragon 821 shows improvement over Snapdragon 820 devices including the previous Nexus 5X and 6P. Internet browsing over LTE improves by 60.2 percent over the Nexus 5X and 30 percent over the 6P, while talk time improves about 30 percent over the Nexus 5X and 13 percent over the 6P, according to a list compiled independently by Reddit user TyGamer125.

Pixel, Pixel XL will be 40 to 50 percent of HTC shipments

Meanwhile, Google’s launch of the HTC-manufactured Pixel smartphones is projected to increase HTC’s total handset shipments to around 6.5 and 7 million units by the end of the year, up from between 5.8 and 6.1 million units in the first half.

According to Luke Lin, a senior analyst at Digitimes Research, Pixel shipments should account for around 40 to 50 percent of HTC’s total smartphone shipments in the second half of this year.

Courtesy-Fud

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