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Toshiba Wants Nearly $9B For Memory Chip Business

February 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Japan’s Toshiba Corp wished to receive at least 1 trillion yen ($8.8 billion) by selling most of its flash memory chip business, seeking to create a buffer for any fresh financial problems, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The beleaguered conglomerate was pressured to abandon an initial plan to sell just under 20 percent by its main creditor banks which are worried about potential writedowns that may come on top of $6.3 billion hit to its U.S. nuclear unit, financial sources also said.

Toshiba said last week it is now prepared to sell a majority stake or even all of its chip business, the world’s biggest NAND chip producer after Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, also rocked by the emergence of fresh problems at its Westinghouse unit that have delayed the release of earnings.

The company has not decided on the size of the stake to be sold, preferring to focus on the amount that can be raised but would like to retain a one-third holding as that would give it a degree of control over the business, the source with direct knowledge said.

Its willingness to relinquish so much of the unit underscores not only the depths of its financial woes but also resignation on the part of management to becoming a much smaller company.

The sale “is the best and the only way Toshiba can raise a large amount of funds and wipe out concerns about its credit risk,” said the source, adding that the sale should be completed by the end of March next year.

It wants to restart the sale process as soon as possible and may sell to multiple buyers rather than one bidder with interest already received from investment funds, other chipmakers and client companies, he also said.

A separate person with knowledge of the matter said Toshiba will outline terms of the sale by the end of February, conduct a first round of bids in March and aim to have chosen a preferred bidder or bidders by the end of May. The person also said Toshiba valued the chips business at around 1.5 trillion yen.

A Toshiba spokeswoman said the company cannot comment on the specifics of the sale process. Sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

AT&T Has Plans For IoT Network Later This Year

February 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T is accelerating its planned debuted of LTE-M, an IoT network that’s already being used to track shipping containers and pallets, monitor water use and connect fleets to the internet.

The carrier said Tuesday it will have nationwide LTE-M coverage in the U.S. by the middle of this year, six months ahead of schedule. Previously, AT&T had said LTE-M would cover the U.S. by year’s end.

That means everywhere in the country that AT&T has an LTE network, it will also offer LTE-M. By the end of the year, it will have LTE-M across Mexico too, creating a broad coverage area for businesses that operate on both sides of the border.

LTE-M is one of several LPWANs (low-power, wide-area networks) that are emerging to link sensors and other devices to the internet of things. It’s not as fast as the LTE that smartphones use, but it’s designed to allow for longer battery life, lower cost, smaller parts and better coverage. LTE-M has a top speed of around 1Mbps (bits per second) upstream and downstream and a range of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles), including better penetration through walls.

AT&T is part of a wave of mobile operators considering or rolling out LTE-M. Others include Orange in France and SoftBank in Japan. AT&T launched its first commercial trial of LTE-M last October in San Ramon, California, and has since opened another in Columbus, Ohio.

Several companies are already using the network for enterprise and consumer applications, AT&T said. They include Capstone Metering, a supplier of wireless water meters; RM2, which makes storage pallets with sensors for monitoring inventory; and PepsiCo, which is using LTE-M to collect usage data from soda fountains. Consumers can dispense their own blends of soda from these fountains, and PepsiCo uses sensors to keep the fountains stocked and learn what blends are popular.

There are already several emerging LPWAN systems from mobile operators and other service providers. The growing LoRaWAN, Sigfox and Ingenu technologies come from outside the traditional mobile industry.

LTE-M and another technology, NB-IoT, are based on LTE and are designed to run over carriers’ licensed spectrum. They may be the best options for enterprises concerned about interference and security, Ovum analyst Daryl Schoolar said.

 

Is The Nintendo Switch Finally Going Unreal?

February 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Nintendo, is finally getting around to embracing third party development tools including the Unreal Engine.

Nintendo has always had trouble getting third-party developers to make games for its consoles, but the Switch is supposed to show off a new image for the former playing card maker.

Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto has announced that Nintendo engineers have been learning how to use third-party apps and especially the Unreal Engine.

The Switch, like the Wii U, supports the Unreal Engine but has not been particularly enthusiastic about it.

Nintendo’s Shinya Takahashi said Nintendo now wants to develop an environment where “a variety of different third-party developers are able to easily develop compatible software”.

Miyamoto also suggested that Japanese developers no longer are behind their western counterparts when it comes to third-party engines. He added that his engineers’ skill set can “now be compared with those of Western developers”.

While Nintendo will stick to using its own development tools when building games for its new hardware, its engineers are apparently trying to understand one of the most commonly-used game development engines.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Nintendo Taking A Risk With The Switch?

February 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

You know a company has had a rough set of results when its CEO needs to publicly state that they represent the lowest extent of a slump, with a bounce surely to follow; this being essentially the line that Nintendo boss Tatsumi Kimishima attempted to soothe worried investors with this week. It didn’t exactly work; Nintendo shares, which had been trading at their highest levels in five years, dropped back below the 23,000 Yen mark for the first time since last September. The figures reveal sentiment; investors aren’t sold on the Switch, don’t really know what to make of Super Mario Run, and while they’re generally more positive on Nintendo than they were a couple of years ago, they’re feeling jittery and nervous about the firm’s prospects.

As well they should. In fact, 2017 is likely to be a rollercoaster of a year for Nintendo investors, and those nerves are likely going to get more and more jangled as the year rolls on. The reason for that is simple; Nintendo is taking risks, and they’re not the kind of risks that it’s easy to calculate an over-under on. That makes them into the kind of risks that investors love and hate at the same time – but mostly hate. If Nintendo’s risk-taking pays off, it might soar, but there’s also a strong chance it’ll all come crashing down, and the worst part is, nobody can accurately assess what the risk of either of those scenarios, or anything in between, may be.

There are essentially two major risks Nintendo is taking on. The first, of course, is Switch. The company is hoping for Wii-like sales of the device; almost anything would be an improvement over the Wii U, of course, but in reality it probably needs to hit 40 or 50 million to be considered a genuine success, while anything below 20 million would be enough of a disappointment to cast a pall over the company’s entire future in the home console business. Switch is a high-concept device, quite unlike anything else on the market; from the control system it affords to the mixed-mode portable/home console design of the system, it’s a genuinely unusual piece of kit (far more so than the Wii U was) and that alone will undoubtedly inspire a lot of early adopters to pick one up out of sheer curiosity. It could ignite the imagination of a wide swathe of consumers and become a must-have entertainment device, like the Wii before it. It could equally prove attractive only to Nintendo’s fanbase and sink into much-loved but commercially disastrous obscurity like the Wii U.

My personal guess is that it’ll do far better than the Wii U, but come nowhere close to the success of the Wii, but I’m at pains to call that a guess and nothing more. Anyone demanding that their forecast of the device’s performance is of more worth than mere guesswork is, bluntly, a bit of a charlatan. Not only is the market into which Switch is launching extremely poorly understood at the moment (find me a single soul who predicted pre-launch that PS4, at this point in its lifespan, would be outselling the mighty PS2?), with vast new differences emerging between different global markets and demographic groups, the device itself also has no clear analogues to which we might look for guidance. The strength of the Switch is that it’s Nintendo doing something genuinely different and distinctive from its competition – a metric on which the Wii U, ultimately, failed. The weakness of Switch is that that means success or failure, though clearly influenced greatly by traditional factors like software support, is impossible to pin down with a probability calculation.

Having one big, risky venture on the go would be enough to make investors jumpy, but Nintendo has another one running in parallel. The company has been told for years by its investors that it should be involved in the smartphone market, and indeed its recently relatively buoyant share price is largely the result of its initial announcement of a partnership to do just that with DeNA in 2015, and the launch of Pokemon Go last summer. As the company’s titles roll out, though, things are getting a little more grounded and sober, and investors are perhaps recalling that the market they’ve told Nintendo to dive into is one of the riskiest in the business. The first game title created under the Nintendo-DeNA partnership (discounting Miitomo, which wasn’t considered a game, and Pokemon Go, which was simply Nintendo IP licensed out to a different developer, Niantic) was Super Mario Run, which has been largely well-received critically but hasn’t set the world on fire otherwise. Eschewing the F2P business model and the various hooks and enticements it offers for player retention was taken as reassuring by the company’s vocal core fans, but has seen Super Mario Run fade rapidly from consumer consciousness. After a backlash over its $10 price, which laid out just how uphill the struggle for premium-priced mobile games is, Mario Run has managed around a 5% conversion rate and $53 million in revenue so far.

To be clear – that’s not bad, it’s just unremarkable, and not really what investors had hoped for when they pushed Nintendo towards mobile. The company’s next launch, Fire Emblem Heroes, arrived this week and uses the more established business model for mobile titles; a few months down the line we’ll also have an Animal Crossing title on mobile. The thing is that despite the popularity of these franchises and the pedigree of their development teams, their success simply isn’t assured – even the very best mobile developers have had trouble replicating their greatest successes or even being consistently successful with their titles. Many of the world’s biggest mobile game companies are essentially sustained by one huge, evergreen game, and show no evidence of knowing how to bottle that lightning; the reality is that it’s a hugely fickle, difficult market where, even if you produce a brilliant game, external factors (including a pretty big dose of luck) play an inordinately large role in success. Nobody should doubt the quality of the games Nintendo will launch on smartphones, but nobody should consider a gigantic commercial hit to be a sure thing, either.

All that being said, the point here isn’t that Nintendo is going in the wrong direction; it’s that it’s facing a risky, bumpy year ahead, and that’s going to play merry hell with the firm’s relationship with its investors. Since, unfortunately, the media remains convinced that stock markets are magically possessed of grand insights unattainable to mere humans, like a modern-day Oracle of Delphi – where the reality is that stock markets, in their short-term motions at least, are just the sum total of a load of largely not terribly well informed people charging around in blind mob panics – we’re going to see a lot of context-free stories this year about Nintendo’s share price plunging or recovering as the balance of risk seems to sway one way or the other. The reality behind that is that at least in the next few months, the actual nature of that risk profile is going to be utterly obscure to everyone – even to Nintendo itself.

Right now, the wrong direction for Nintendo would be the direction it was headed in two years ago; competing head-to-head with Sony and Microsoft with a home console that was poorly differentiated from the competition; pretending smartphones hadn’t upended its market; making some of the best software in its history for some of the least-played hardware on the market. The right direction is one that changes that path, and change means risk – especially when the only avenues of change available to you involve innovation, untested ideas, and a tough, poorly understood market.

Buried in Nintendo’s statements this week is cause for great optimism; the success of Pokemon Sun/Moon, which are already among the best-selling installments in the series, was built upon the use of Pokemon Go as a marketing and awareness vehicle, allowing Nintendo to reactivate older consumers of the franchise and change the demographic profile of its audience. As a test run for its future strategy of building struts of mutual support between mobile and console titles, it’s been damned near flawless; sure, it got lucky with a timely implementation of AR tech and a lovely marriage of IP to gameplay, but the underlying business strategy has also played out as well as could be hoped. These are the things to watch for in the next year. Ignore the markets; with any company as highly exposed to risk as Nintendo is right now, share price movements will be exaggerated and hypersensitive, even to rumour and falsehood. Watch, instead, for evidence that Nintendo’s actual plans – the things it wants to sell, the consumers it wants to cultivate and the ways it wants to link together its IPs across platforms and approaches – are coming together or falling apart. Only that will tell us whether Nintendo is really going to bounce back, or if Kimishima’s certainty that it’s already hit rock bottom is going to be tested.

Courtesy-Fud

Nintendo Plans To Add Virtual Reality To The Switch

February 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Virtual reality will be coming to the Nintendo Switch – just as soon as the company is convinced people can play it for longer periods of time.

The news comes from an interview between Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima and Nikkei, as translated by Dr Serkan Toto, CEO of Tokyo-based consultancy Kantan Games. According to Toto’s tweets, Kimishima said Nintendo is studying VR now but will hold off until users can “play for hours on end without problems”.

Nintendo has been extremely cautious about virtual reality, partly due to ongoing reports of nausea and headaches among early adopters. The platform holder’s US president Reggie Fils-Aime also said the technology is “not fun” and “not social”.

However, patents emerged back in December for a virtual reality accessory designed to be used with the Nintendo Switch, suggesting the platform holder is at least preparing to make its new console VR-enabled.

Meanwhile, Kimishima has also detailed prices for Switch’s paid online service, suggesting Nintendo plans to ask for 2,000 to 3,000 yen per year.

3) Nintendo plans to introduce yearly and monthly paid plans for the online service. Again, price range is 2-3,000 yen/year (.70-.50).

— Dr. Serkan Toto (@serkantoto) February 2, 2017

As Toto observes, that translates to between $17.70 and $26.50, or £13.95 and £20.89 for the UK.

Little is know about the paid service yet, save that it will be required for online multiplayer titles and that subscribers will receive a free NES or SNES game every month. Some of the latter will also have online multiplayer added.

While the price point makes Switch’s paid service cheaper than those of PlayStation and Xbox, it will be interesting to see whether consumers deem there to be enough value to signing up. Both PlayStation and Xbox also offer free games every month, often major AAA releases from the past year, and thanks to strong third-party support the number of online multiplayer titles subscribers gain access to is much higher.

The Nintendo Switch launches worldwide on March 3rd, and VG247 reports that Kimishima is confident it will reverse the platform holder’s recent fortunes, with the president claiming Nintendo’s fiscal performance will only improve from here.

He said the Switch’s unique features mean it could sell as well as the Wii – which means Nintendo is targeting sales of around 100m. Regardless of whether or not it reaches that, hopes are high that it beats Wii U’s disappointing lifetime sales of 13.5m.

Courtesy-GI.biz

With The Switch On The Horizon Nintendo Go Black

February 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Former playing card maker Nintendo has managed to make its first profit in four quarters thanks to its mobile gaming division.

For those who came in late, like Nintendo, the game maker did not want to touch mobile gaming with a 10-foot barge pole because it would cannibalise its portable console market. However it looks like it was wrong.

However it warned that there might be trouble ahead as there are lower game downloads for its consoles.

Operating profit reached $284 million in October-December, which is 3.7 percent lower than the same period a year earlier but better than the cocaine nose-jobs of Wall Street expected.

For the year ending March, Nintendo cut its operating profit forecast by a third due to lower game software downloads for its consoles.

Nevertheless, projected income from investments and a weaker yen allowed it to almost double its net profit forecast.

In the nine months through December, the games maker said it earned $93,903,200 from mobile gaming, accessories and related merchandise, including from its first Nintendo-branded mobile game, Super Mario Run. The figure was up from $ 36 million in the same period a year earlier.

Super Mario Run, featuring the princess-rescuing Italian plumber, has reached about 78 million downloads since 15 December, Nintendo said.

But the game has also received a high number of reviews from users complaining mainly about its $9.99 one-time cost, with less than 10 percent of users paying to unlock all features. Most mobile games are free to play and charge small payments for special features.

Nintendo has said it plans to release around 3 mobile games a year, with two titles – Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem – planned for the coming months.

Still, it continues to regard mobile gaming primarily as a means of luring players to its mainstay consoles. Nintendo’s president, Tatsumi Kimishima, said at a news briefing on Tuesday that the games maker plans to move up production plans to meet orders.

Courtesy-Fud

Will The Nintendo Switch Be A Success?

January 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Smart money is on the Nintendo Switch being a lemon, but it seems that the maker of toilet branded consoles is making lemonentry mistakes on its launch.

Firstly, there is a lot of confusion over what the Nintendo Switch can do. Multiple account support was teased in a photo posted by indie developer Nicalis on Twitter but then this was pulled and people shut up about it.

Now Kotaku have confirmed that the system does support up to eight multiple users but really people should not have to be digging for that information right now.

Nintendo’s colourful Miis will be making a return and Mii characters can be used to represent a user profile, but are not required. They can still be used in games if developers choose to include them.

This is a new detail which for some reason Nintendo forgot to mention at its presentation in Tokyo. Some think this is because they are too closely associated with the Wii era, but others are think Nintendo is daft for forgetting to mention it. After all they are a function which the console will have and a sales point.

But the biggest problem for the console is that for some reason Nintendo forgot to sort out support for video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Video.

Streaming video is available on practically anything and would be an important feature of any entertainment centre, so why did Nintendo forget to include it? Apparenly they were spending all their time “making the Nintendo Switch system an amazing dedicated video game platform, so it will not support any video streaming services at launch,” a spokesperson said.

Such apps are “being considered for a future update.” To be fair the Wii U was not a great video streaming set-top box, but then again that console was also disappointing.

Courtesy-Fud

Panasonic Sets Sights On Self-driving Technology

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Panasonic Corp is looking to deepen its partnership with electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc beyond batteries and into self-driving technology, as the Japanese conglomerate continues pivoting towards the automotive business.

The electronics maker has placed automotive applications at the center of a growth strategy that targets corporate clients at the expense of low-margin consumer goods, where low-cost Asian rivals have diminished the dominance of Japanese firms.

Panasonic is the exclusive supplier of batteries for Tesla’s Model S, Model X and upcoming mass market Model 3, and plans to contribute $1.6 billion to Tesla’s $5 billion battery factory.

 “We are deeply interested in Tesla’s self-driving system,” Chief Executive Officer Kazuhiro Tsuga said in an interview on Thursday. “We are hoping to expand our collaboration by jointly developing devices for that, such as sensors.”

One candidate would be so-called organic photoconductive film CMOS image sensors currently under development at Panasonic, which enable high-speed sensing of moving objects without distortion, Tsuga said.

Panasonic aims to add such technology to an automotive business that also includes cockpit displays and navigation systems. It targets annual sales of 2 trillion yen ($17.43 billion) for that business in the year through March 2019, from 1.3 trillion yen in the year ended March 2016.

As well as automotive, Panasonic and Tesla work together in solar energy. The Japanese firm last month said it plans to invest more than 30 billion yen in a Tesla factory making photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.

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.

 

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