Sprint didn’t deny the report of Marcelo’s comments. A spokesman also confirmed Friday that Sprint is “focusing on providing the best value in the market.”
According to the account of Claure’s comments, he told workers, “We’re going to change our plans to make sure every customer in America thinks twice about signing up to a competitor.” The report, which first appeared in LightReading.com, also said that “very disruptive” rate plans are coming this week.
Sprint didn’t dispute Light Reading’s report, but a spokesman said Sprint is not commenting on “any potential pricing plans before they are announced.”
The spokesman, Doug Duvall, said Marcelo held his first all-employee town hall meeting before a standing-room-only crowd. He added: “He shared his passion for his family, work and soccer team and his commitment to leading Sprint. He discussed Sprint’s challenges and pledged to get Sprint ‘back in the game’ by focusing on providing the best value in the market, completing our network build and optimizing Sprint’s cost structure.”
By confirming Sprint wants to offer the “best value in the market,” it’s pretty clear that Sprint, the third-largest U.S. carrier, will soon wage a price war with the T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier that has quickly been gaining on Sprint.
Analysts recently said Sprint’s recent “Framily plan” isn’t competitive in the market, which former CEO Dan Hesse acknowledged in late July before his departure on Monday.
The Sprint Framily plans costs $160 a month for 4GB of data, but comes with overage charges and won’t allow tethering. Meanwhile, T-Mobile has a family plan offered through September that costs $100 a month for four lines and 10GB of data, although each line is limited to 2.5GB.
Hesse had earlier described subscriber plans Sprint was testing that have tiers of data and unlimited data.
According to Light Reading, Claure also told employees that price cuts are needed because Sprint’s network isn’t at the level of performance and reach that it should be. “When you have a great network, you don’t have to compete on price,” he reportedly said. “When your network is behind, unfortunately you have to compete on value and price.”
“Final production of the current Reader model, PRS-T3, was made at the end of May,” a spokeswoman for Sony in Tokyo wrote in an email Wednesday. “The product will continue to be available until inventory supplies last, which differs by country.”
There are no plans for a successor to the device, she added.
The PRS-T3 was launched last year in 20 countries including Japan, Canada and European states, but was not released in the U.S.
Weighing 200 grams, it has a 6-inch E-ink touchscreen display, an optional night light, Wi-Fi and a battery life of six to eight weeks.
While it’s still available on Sony’s UK site for 99 pounds (US$166), it’s out of stock at Sony’s sites for France and Canada. The PRS-T3 will continue to be sold for the time being in Japan, where Sony maintains its Reader Store.
The company said earlier this year it is closing down its e-book business in North America, Europe and Australia and that users would be transferred to Kobo, owned by Japanese online shopping giant Rakuten.
Sony helped pioneer e-readers with a product it launched in Japan 10 years ago, the Librie. Developed with Philips, it was billed as the first commercial device of its kind to use E-ink’s electronic paper display technology.
Beginning with the PRS-500 Portable Reader System in 2006, Sony marketed a series of e-readers that were well received, though some reviewscomplained about its price compared to the features of cheaper rivals.
Sony Reader shipments had exceeded 800,000 units for 2010, according to IDC. But the product was never as popular as competitors from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo. By late 2012, Amazon’s Kindle reader was used by over 50 percent of e-book buyers, according to Publishers Weekly.
The market for e-readers peaked in 2011 at 26.4 million units, IDC noted last year, adding it expects only modest growth in 2014 after a period of decline. The category was expected to begin a gradual, permanent decline in 2015.
Sony also shed its Vaio PC business this year as it continues to struggle with restructuring efforts.
Sprint Corp has canceled its bid to purchase No. 4 U.S. carrier T-Mobile U.S. Inc after regulatory resistance showed no signs of softening despite months of lobbying, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The move is a rare setback for Sprint’s Japanese parent SoftBank Corp, whose billionaire founder Masayoshi Son had seen the acquisition as key to taking on U.S. market leaders AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.
Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. carrier, and T-Mobile have not ruled out consolidation in the future but concluded that a deal is unlikely to be approved at this time, the sources said. U.S. regulators have insisted that they want to keep the number of major wireless carriers at four.
“We didn’t think the opposition would be this strong,” a SoftBank executive said, but added: “The environment will definitely change”.
The failure to reach a deal could give added impetus to a rival bid for T-Mobile by French telecoms firm Iliad. Iliad made a lower bid than Sprint but is in talks with U.S. cable and satellite companies to sweeten its offer.
In the wake of the failed talks, Sprint will appoint a new CEO – Marcelo Claure, founder of mobile phone distributor Brightstar Corp which was acquired by SoftBank last year, a separate person with knowledge of the matter said. Claure, who has won a string of awards for entrepreneurship, joined Sprint’s board in January.
He will replace Dan Hesse who has been CEO of Sprint since 2007. Hesse led a rip-and-replace overhaul to modernize Sprint’s network but it caused cellular sites to go black and the company to hemorrhage subscribers.
Sources declined to be identified as the matter has not been disclosed by the companies publicly. Representatives for Sprint and SoftBank declined a request for comment. T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Japanese company, which already supplies batteries for Tesla, said it was analyzing the demand for batteries before deciding on an amount to invest in the joint venture. It had earlier said it would invest in stages and that any expenditure this year would be small.
“We have not yet decided exactly how much we will invest and when,” said Chief Financial Officer Hideaki Kawai.
“However, Tesla is a very important partner to us and discussions are continuing. We need to look very carefully at auto demand and respond appropriately so of course that means taking a step-by-step approach to investment,” he added.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday that Panasonic would initially invest around 20 to 30 billion yen ($200-300 million) into the factory and would ultimately invest about $1 billion.
Demand for batteries from the U.S. premium eco-car maker has been a boon for Panasonic as it tries to expand its business as an industrial supplier, especially to the auto sector, and reduce its reliance on volatile consumer markets.
Under the agreement, Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land while Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the equipment, machinery and other manufacturing tools, they said in a joint statement.
Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has said that he expected Panasonic to become the main partner in the Gigafactory, which the company says will be able, when fully operational in 2020, to make more lithium-ion batteries in a year than were produced worldwide in 2013. It is currently looking at three new sites to locate the plant.
Finland, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea and the U.S. had wireless broadband penetration of more than 100 percent as of December 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday. That means there was more than one wireless broadband subscription per person, usually because consumers have more than one mobile device that can go online. The U.S. just barely crossed the bar, while Finland led the group with more than 123 percent penetration.
Across all 37 OECD countries, wireless broadband penetration rose to 72.4 percent as total subscriptions grew 14.6 percent. The group spans North America, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Israel, Mexico and Chile. It’s sometimes treated as a barometer of the developed world.
Wired broadband subscriptions also grew in 2013, reaching an average of 27 percent penetration. That means there was just over one wired subscription per four people: Wired broadband services, such as cable and DSL (digital subscriber line), typically are shared. Switzerland led in that category with 44.9 percent penetration, followed by the Netherlands and Denmark. The U.S. had just under 30 wired subscriptions per 100 people, while Turkey came in last with just over 11.
DSL still makes up a majority of wired broadband subscriptions, at 51.5 percent, followed by cable with 31.2 percent. Fiber-optic grew to a 16.7 percent share, gradually replacing DSL services. Fiber more than doubled its share of the market in the U.K. and also gained strongly in Spain, Turkey and France. While those countries still have relatively low fiber penetration, Japan and Korea continued to lead the OECD for that technology. Nearly 70 percent of all wired broadband in Japan goes over fiber, and almost 65 percent in Korea.
The OECD has compiled some of its broadband statistics on a portal page. For all the technologies it tracks, the group uses a generous definition of broadband as a service capable of at least 256K bits per second downstream.
Sony Corp said that it has plans to invest 35 billion yen ($345 million) to increase production of image sensors for smartphones and tablets, as the company courts handset makers to get more orders for front-facing camera sensors, used to take selfies.
The Japanese firm said it will increase production of stacked CMOS sensors at two factories on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, while completing work on a factory in northwestern Japan it bought from Renesas Electronics Corp for a total investment of 35 billion yen.
Sony, which currently supplies image sensors for the main camera in Apple Inc’s iPhone said the investment will allow it to raise production by 13 percent to 68,000 wafers a month by August 2015, a step closer to its mid-term goal of 75,000.
Imaging sensors are an area of strength for Sony, which leads the market ahead of Omnivision Technologies Inc, whose sensors are mostly used in front-facing smartphone modules that typically have lower specifications than the main rear camera.
Sony told Reuters in March that it was looking to supply more sensors for front-facing cameras as smartphone makers were looking to improve their quality in response to consumers taking more ‘selfies’, or self-portraits, as well as video calls.
Of the total investment, 9 billion yen will be spent this year, which will come out of the 65 billion yen capex budget for semiconductors announced in May. The remaining 26 billion yen will be spent in the first half of the fiscal year starting next March.
Lenovo on Friday said it would continue selling sub-10-in. Windows tablets in the U.S., backing away from statements it made the day before, when it said it was pulling the ThinkPad 8 from the North American market and had discontinued offering a model of the Miix 2.
“We will continue to bring new Windows devices to market across different screen sizes, including a new 8-inch tablet and 10-inch tablet coming this holiday,” Lenovo said in a press release published on its website Friday.
“Our model mix changes as per customer demand, and although we are no longer selling ThinkPad 8 in the U.S., and we have sold out of Miix 8-inch, we are not getting out of the small-screen Windows tablet business as was reported by the media (emphasis in original),” the statement continued.
On Thursday, the IDG News Service — like Computerworld, owned and operated by IDG – reported the withdrawal of the ThinkPad 8 and the 8-in. Miix from the U.S. market. The ThinkPad 8 had debuted in January at prices starting at $449, and the similarly-sized Miix had launched in October 2013.
Lenovo told IDG News that it was diverting remaining stocks of the ThinkPad 8 to other countries, including Brazil, China, and Japan, where demand was stronger for smaller Windows 8.1-powered tablets.
The China-based company, which has made impressive gains in the global market — it was the world’s largest personal computer seller during the second quarter, ahead of Hewlett-Packard and Dell, according to IDC — did not say exactly when it would return with an 8-in. device. If it begins selling the unnamed device in October, typical of OEMs that seed the channel then for the holiday sales season, it will have been absent from the market for two or more months.
The electronics giant’s FeliCa Networks subsidiary is modifying its FeliCa contactless card technology, widely used in Japan for public transit and e-money payments, for wearables.
The company is designing a low-power chip that could be used in wearables such as smartwatches and smart bands, giving them contactless e-money or transit functions or access to restricted areas.
That would allow users to board a train or bus simply by waving a smartwatch near a chip reader, eliminating the need for a separate smart card.
“The wearables field is just beginning so we’re considering what users will want with this functionality as well as what degree of compactness and power savings it will have,” a spokeswoman for FeliCa Networks said.
The company is also developing FeliCa smartcards with small LCD screens and a touch interface that can display information when users swipe their fingers across the cards.
This “interactive FeliCa card,” still in the prototype stage, can show the remaining balance of money stored in the card, for instance, or payment history.
While about 45 million Android smartphones in Japan have had the FeliCa chip since 2012, iPhones do not support it. The LCD smart card could link with iPhones via Bluetooth so users could check their balances on their phones.
FeliCa Networks hopes to introduce the LCD smartcards in the year to April 2016.
One in two people in Japan has a mobile phone with NFC FeliCa phone functions, according to FeliCa Networks.
The company has shipped more than 236 million of its Mobile FeliCa chips as of December 2013, while Suica, a FeliCa-based smartcard for railways in the Tokyo area, can be used in 230,000 stores.
The company looked at the top 50 free apps in Google’s Play Store and then searched Google’s app store and others to see if fake versions existed. It found fake versions existed for 77 percent of the apps. The fake apps are often made to look like the real ones and have the same functions, but carry a dangerous extra payload.
“We’ve been tracking the activity of malicious or high-risk apps for nearly five years,” said JD Sherry, vice president of technology and solutions at Trend Micro. “The potential for people to slip things past the gate and appear legitimate is much easier.”
Tokyo-based Trend Micro, which makes antivirus and antimalware software that guard against such risks, said it cataloged 890,482 fake apps in a survey conducted in April this year. More than half were judged to be malicious of which 59,185 were aggressive adware and 394,263 were malware.
The most common type of fake app purports to be antivirus software — targeting users who think they are protecting themselves from such problems. In some cases, the apps ask users to approve administrator privileges, which allow the app wider access to the phone’s software and data and make it more difficult to remove.
While many of the fake apps exist on forums or third-party app stores where security is either weaker than Google’s Play Store or nonexistent, fake apps can also invade the official Google store.
“A more recent example of a rogue antivirus app known as “Virus Shield” received a 4.7-star rating after being downloaded more than 10,000 times, mostly with the aid of bots,” Trend Micro said in its report.
Cheekily, scammers charged $3.99 for the fake app, which promised to prevent harmful apps from being installed. It was removed by Google after a few days, but not before it fooled thousands of users and even became a “top new paid app” in the Play Store. Trend said it was “perplexing” how the app achieved “top” status.
Attackers sometimes play on hype for apps.
When the “Flappy Bird” game was taken off the Play Store, fake versions appeared, some of which sent premium text messages. And before BlackBerry released its BBM messenger app for Android, a number of fake versions appeared that were downloaded more than 100,000 times.
Trend Micro’s report was published on the same day Google said it had formed a security team to go after so-called “zero-day” exploits in software that allow attackers to target users before software companies issue patches.
Sherry said he thought Google’s announcement was “ironic” considering the large number of problems Trend Micro found in Google’s own backyard.
Word on the street is that Redmond is releasing a smartwatch in the autumn. Another deep throat also told Tom’s Hardware claims that will be in October, which is the suspected launch date of the Apple iWatch. Microsoft’s watch looks vaguely interesting. It will have 11 sensors and will apparently not be much like any of the LG or Samsung smart watches which have been released.
The position of the screen is said to be on the inside of the wrist rather than the outside like a normal watch and more like a Nike Fuelband. What is more interesting is that the watch will have open APIs and cross platform capability, which will mean that it can talk to Android phones. This will make it a lot more flexible than Apple’s closed source model and will mean that Apple will depend on its marketing to make the watch popular. Not that it has done it any harm so far.
Apple convinced the world that Microsoft’s keyboardless netbooks were the way forward when there was an Apple logo on them and people were convinced they had been invented by Steve Jobs.
Sony Corp believes its TV division will swing into the black this financial year after a decade in the red, even if it falls short of its volume sales target, the head of the newly independent division said on Monday.
Masashi Imamura told a media round table that the TV business, which will become a separate subsidiary of Sony Corp on July 1, had reduced fixed costs during the last financial year, and profitability was now in sight.
He said Sony this year would be able to absorb the impact of any fluctuations in emerging market currencies, a factor he blamed for the unit’s failure to make a profit last year.
Sony has forecast an 18.5 percent rise in TV sales to 16 million units this year from 13.5 million units a year ago, an increase that analysts said was well above the industry’s average growth forecasts.
Imamura said the sales target was achievable, but added that the TV business would still turn a profit even if sales fell short of this goal.
Sony’s TV division will be split off from the parent company on Tuesday, a move aimed at boosting transparency and accountability in a bid to achieve and maintain profitability.
Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai said at a corporate strategy meeting last month that the company had not ruled out an equity tie-up for the TV business, which is to be known as Sony Visual Products Inc, although nothing had been decided on the matter.
Sony’s TV business has seen relatively rapid turnover at the top over the past decade with six different chiefs, although Imamura has had the longest tenure, serving since August 2011.
Sony’s shares are down 8 percent so far this year, in line with the benchmark Nikkei average’s 7 percent drop.
Taiwan’s Quanta will begin mass production of Apple’s first smartwatches from July, in time for an October launch, several sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal on Friday also cited sources saying Quanta would manufacture the device.
One of the sources told Reuters on Thursday that Apple expects to ship 50 million units of the so-called iWatch within the first year of the product’s release, although these types of initial estimates can be subject to change.
The smartwatch will come with a slightly rectangular display that likely measures 2.5 inches diagonally, the source added. The watch-face will protrude slightly from the band, creating an arched shape, and feature a touch interface and wireless charging capabilities, according to the source.
Another source told Reuters that LG Display Co Ltd is the exclusive supplier of the screen for the gadget’s initial batch of production.
The iWatch will also contain a sensor that monitors a user’s pulse. Singapore-based imaging and sensor maker Heptagon is on the supplier list for that feature, two sources said on Thursday.
Apple’s smartwatch will follow similar devices by Samsung, Sony Corp, Motorola and LG Electronics Inc – gadgets that tech watchers say have not been appealing or user-friendly enough for mass adoption.
But the market is growing fast. Data firm IDC estimates that worldwide shipments of wearable computing devices, including smartwatches, will triple this year over 2013.
Tango, the popular mobile messaging app, said that it has reached agreements with media companies including AOL and Vevo to distribute content in a new effort to differentiate itself in the hotly contested mobile messaging sector.
Tango said its 200 million users worldwide will be able to browse new “Channels” for entertainment, news, sports and other categories to discover articles, videos and songs. Content providers so far include music streaming service Spotify, AOL properties including the Huffington Post and Dailymotion, the video repository.
For Tango, the media partnerships are critical for its ambitions to become an online media hub – and a differentiating feature from other messaging services such as Whatsapp, the startup acquired by Facebook Inc in a $19 billion deal this year.
Whatsapp, for instance, has focused exclusively on improving its text-based messaging service, while China’s Tencent Holdings service WeChat touts the games it offers.
Tango co-founder Eric Setton said having unique and rich content would provide a unique draw for users. At the same time, Tango’s messaging service provided the ideal platform to distribute content for media companies, he argued.
“People realize that less and less time is spent on Web browsers, and all of the rest of the time is in apps,” Setton said in an interview. “We have a role to play here, in the distribution of content and the discovery of content because content producers need a way to get into bigger and bigger apps.”
Facebook’s Whatsapp acquisition in February – the largest in history for a venture-backed company – cast a spotlight squarely on the promise and potential value of mobile messaging apps.
Tokyo-based Line Corp, one of Asia’s fastest growing messaging services, is considering an initial public offering this year, according to media reports.
Tango has been watched closely in Silicon Valley circles particularly after it received an investment exceeding $200 million from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in March, effectively cementing its ties to the Chinese e-commerce giant.
It has developed a SIM card that can wirelessly connect smartphones and tablets to networks and the Internet simply by waving one’s hand. The card can also transmit a user’s number and other info, separating connectivity from mobile devices themselves.
Unveiled Tuesday, DoCoMo announced a pocket-sized prototype of the technology that it’s calling Portable SIM. Subscriber identities can be instantly transmitted to mobile devices with the prototype. That means users don’t have to physically insert SIM cards into phones as they do now.
Aside from linking to phones or tablets via Bluetooth and NFC, the SIM contains a user’s phone number, usernames and passwords. DoCoMo said it’s the world’s first SIM-based authentication device that can provide wireless network access.
The prototype, currently 8 cm long, 4 cm wide and weighing 20 grams, will be shrunk so it can fit into a bracelet-style wearable computer, DoCoMo said. Earlier this year, the carrier announced a health-monitoring wristband and smart clothing.
In a series of demonstrations at DoCoMo headquarters in Tokyo, a staffer held the prototype Portable SIM near a SIM-less phone. By linking the two through an app, the phone could receive a call to the number registered on the Portable SIM.
The process, which took a few seconds, was then repeated with a different SIM-less phone.
In another demo, the Portable SIM was used to link different phone numbers to the same phone — first a number for personal use, and then one for business. The idea is that the same smartphone could be used with different phone numbers in the SIM depending on the time of day, and each number would also trigger certain apps or other custom settings.
“We were considering what comes next after the smartphone and we zeroed in on what functions were essential to customers,” Akira Shibutani, manager of the Advanced Technology Group at DoCoMo’s Communication Device Development Department, said in a briefing on the device. “We felt that this boiled down to authentication.”
The SIM might also be used to connect to other devices too, including PCs, in-car information systems, public phones or bathroom scales. Travelers, for instance, could leave their smartphone at home but get online by waving their Portable SIM in front of a hotel TV, he said.
Cyber crime costs the global economy about $445 billion every year, with the damage to business from the theft of intellectual property exceeding the $160 billion loss to individuals from hacking, according to a recent study.
The report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said cyber crime was a growth industry that damaged trade, competitiveness and innovation.
A conservative estimate would be $375 billion in losses, while the maximum could be as much as $575 billion, said the study, sponsored by security software company McAfee.
“Cyber crime is a tax on innovation and slows the pace of global innovation by reducing the rate of return to innovators and investors,” Jim Lewis of CSIS said in a statement.
“For developed countries, cyber crime has serious implications for employment.”
The world’s biggest economies bore the brunt of the losses, the research found, with the toll on the United States, China, Japan and Germany reaching $200 billion a year in total.
Losses connected to personal information, such as stolen credit card data, was put at up to $150 billion.
About 40 million people in the United States, roughly 15 percent of the population, has had personal information stolen by hackers, it said, while high-profile breaches affected 54 million people in Turkey, 16 million in Germany and more than 20 million in China.
McAfee, owned by Intel Corp, said improved international collaboration was beginning to show results in reducing cyber crime, for example in the takedown last week of a crime ring that infected hundreds of thousands of computers known by the name of its master software, Gameover Zeus.