Spotify has had its knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for an email that contained an uncensored “f” word.
The promotional email had the subject line, “Have you heard this song by Lily Allen? Give it a try. F-ck You”.
Contextually, the phrase refers to the song “Fuck You” on Lily Allen’s album “It’s Not Me, It’s You”, and the suggestion was genuine, generated automatically based on the listener’s previous selections.
Unfortunately, this particular Spotify customer chose to take it the wrong way and made a complaint to the ASA, which announced it would uphold the complaint on Wednesday.
Defending against the claim, Spotify said it “believed there was a clear difference between deliberate language use such as that and the context in which it was used in the ad” and that “…around 36 million recommendations were sent to users by e-mail every month and therefore over the years a significant proportion of its users would have had the same song recommended to them”.
However, the ASA had not received any other complaints, Spotify said. Upholding the complaint, the ASA ruled that it “considered the use of ‘Fuck’ was likely to cause serious offence to some recipients of such e-mails and therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code”.
Although no action is taken in isolated instances like this, the ASA chose to uphold the complaint “to ensure [Spotify's] future advertising contained nothing that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence”.
But what songs had this customer been listening to that would trigger this recommendation? Perhaps he or she is a fan of Cee Lo Green or the Dead Kennedys?
Spotify has responded to criticism of the royalty amounts it pays to music artists.
Music industry figures including Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke have long called for fellow artists to boycott the Swedish music streaming service, which Yorke described as “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse”.
In launching the new Spotify For Artists website, Spotify has been proud to boast that it has paid out more than $1bn, over half of which it has paid in the past year. However, digging deeper the truth emerges that this equates to between $0.006 and $0.008 per play.
That’s fine if you’re Lady Gaga or Beyonce, but for musicians at the grassroots level this represents a massive hole in their finances. Or to put it in perspective, it would require a five piece band to be played 5,477 times just to be able to buy themselves a round of drinks. For a new, untested and undiscovered artist, that simply isn’t enough to get by.
A play on Great Britain’s BBC alternative radio station 6 Music nets an artist approximately five cents. Not a king’s ransom, but a huge amount compared to Spotify’s rates. In contrast, Bandcamp, the service designed to allow artists to self release their music, lets artists set their own prices for music, or even leaves it up to consumers to pay what they believe the work is worth.
This is the way that the internet is supposed to empower artists. The internet has made it possible for anyone to be a star, or at least make a living from their music, if they are good enough.
But accepting the payment of these tiny amounts of money is actually far worse for the industry than so-called ‘piracy’, because copyright infringement will always be considered wrong, while streaming for fractions of pennies normalises the practice of underpaying for creative talent and creates the kinds of gatekeepers that have made the giant music industry companies such a cartel. A cartel that is starting to implode.
Intel has confirmed that it is working on 64-bit Bay Trail Atom chips for Android tablets, which are likely to debut in 2014.
Apple’s iPhone 5S was the first commercial mobile device to ship with a 64-bit chip, and this was quickly followed by the iPad Air. Samsung soon spoke up about its own 64-bit chip plans for 2014, and it looks like Intel is the latest to get caught up in the hype.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich told attendees at an investors meeting on Thursday that the company is working on 64-bit chips for Android, adding that it likely will release the chips after its Bay Trail 64-bit chips are released for Microsoft Windows 8.1 devices early next year.
Krzanich said that Android tablets with Bay Trail Atom 64-bit chips could become available starting at $150, according to PC World, around £95 for us Brits.
So, what might this mean for Android tablets? 64-bit chips are capable of supporting more than the 4GB of RAM that 32-bit chips are limited to, which in turn will make for more graphically intense gaming and 4K Ultra HD support.
Intel didn’t reveal when we’ll be seeing the first 64-bit Bay Trail Android tablet, but the firm usually has a large presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, so we could see the first 64-bit Android devices as early as January 2014.
Intel’s comments are part of its effort to recover from its recently stagnant PC chip sales, with the firm admitting during its investors meeting that it cannot make the same mistakes again.
Speaking to investors on Thursday, Kraznich predicted that sales of Intel based tablets will quadruple next year, to more than 40 million.
The company wants to load mobile devices with its Zeroth processor, which is being designed to mimic a human brain, Jacobs said, during a speech at the company’s annual investor meeting in New York. The chip can learn human patterns and anticipate actions, which could make interaction with mobile devices easier.
“This is the beginning of devices that are smart,” Jacobs said. “It is a far-out research project, but it works.”
The Zeroth chip is designed around neural systems and mimics the brain’s structure and operation through circuitry and algorithms.
Brains are “low-power, highly parallel systems,” Jacobs said. The size of a brain is one aspect of learning capacity, so Qualcomm will build smaller brains for smaller devices, and larger brains for larger devices, Jacobs said.
Qualcomm is one of the world’s top mobile chip makers. Its Snapdragon chips are used in many of the top smartphones and tablets.
The Zeroth chip can dynamically rewire to sense, understand and act on input from information sources. Qualcomm has already shown a robot equipped with Zeroth that was able to make correct decisions based on progressive learning and input.
Zeroth’s computing mechanism is a step up from current computing methodologies, which require set programming by humans to generate results. Current computers also have scaling issues tied to power consumption.
“Instead of preprogramming behaviors and outcomes with a lot of code, we’ve developed a suite of software tools that enable devices to learn as they go and get feedback from their environment,” wrote Samir Kumar, Qualcomm’s director of business development, in an October blog entry explaining the Zeroth processor.
This is not the first effort to reverse engineer the brain into silicon. IBM is trying to develop a neuromorphic chip through its SyNAPSE program anddemonstrated a prototype chip in August 2011. Intel has also proposed a neuromorphic chip design. The Human Brain Project, funded by the European Union, aims to re-create the spiking neurons and synapses phenomena in brains on silicon chips within a power budget of 1 watt.
Even now, phones are learning a lot based on patterns, Jacobs said, but Zeroth chips could help build more sophisticated devices.
“We are investing in a lot of cool technologies,” Jacobs said.
The company announced in a Google+ that it’s rolling out a new voice command that will let users call up songs or tracks to listen to on Google Glass. In the next few weeks, Google will update Glass prototypes with the ability for users to pull up music simply by saying, “OK, Glass, listen to…”
“You can access your tracks from Google Play Music, including the millions of songs on All Access,” the company wrote in its post. “To all our Glass Explorers, sit tight. You’ll be able to dive into music on Glass soon. Look for an email in the next few weeks with more details.”
The company also unveiled stereo earbuds that have been designed specifically for Glass. Google is billing the earbuds as lightweight and “uniquely engineered” to give users quality sound, while also letting them hear their surroundings.
While earlier this year Google, which has been getting ready to launch a Glass app store, had been saying Glass would officially ship later this year, they’re now saying the computerized eyeglasses will ship next year.
A product like Glass needed to have a music feature, said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. “Music is just a given for all mobile devices,” he added. “It’s not an advantage, but lacking it is a disadvantage.”
This latest announcement is just part of the process of getting Glass ready to ship in 2014.
“Well, they’re still building the product,” said Gottheil. “It’s not ready for prime time but it’s getting there… Google is still experimenting with Glass.”
Google announced late last month that it plans to increase the number of people testing the Glass prototypes by inviting current users to invite three friends to do the same.
The new users will have to pay the $1,500 price tag for the computerized eyeglasses, but they’ll be able to join the original 8,000 Glass testers.
Intel launched its Bay Trail-M ultra low voltage processors for netbooks and mobile devices over the weekend. According to CPU World the new mobile CPUs, branded this time as Celeron and Pentium, can manage twice the CPU performance, and up to three times faster graphics.
They do all that while using the same amount of juice as their “Cedar Trail” predecessors. Most chips have higher clock speeds than N2805, N2810 and N2910 SKUs and come with Burst Performance technology. They can operate at a higher maximum operating temperature which makes them easier to cool. Finally, in addition to 4 N28xx/N29xx Celerons Intel also released Pentium N2920.
Then there are new dual-core Bay Trail-M microprocessors like the Celeron N2806, N2815 and N2820 which can operate at frequencies from 1.6 GHz to 2.13 GHz, when going downhill had the wind is behind them. They also have the maximum burst speed ranging from 2 GHz to 2.39 GHz. The processors come with 1 MB L2 cache, Ivy Bridge graphics clocked at 311 MHz and up to 756 MHz, and support for DDR3L-1066 memory. The N2806 has 4.5 Watt TDP while the N2815 and N2820 have 7.5 Watt TDP. All of the Celeron N28xx processors are priced at $132.
Two new quad-core microprocessors are Celeron N2920 and Pentium N3520. The CPUs have 2 MB L2 cache, and run at 1.86 GHz and 2.17 GHz respectively, with burst frequencies reaching 2 GHz and 2.42 GHz. Both parts integrate Ivy Bridge graphics, that can be clocked as high as 854 MHz. The Celeron can deal with DDR3L-1066 memory, and the Pentium supports 1333 MHz memory data rate. They fit into 7.5 Watt power envelope. The official prices of Celeron N2920 and Pentium N3520 are $132 and $180.
Ben Widawsky of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center published the initial kernel driver support for Broadwell.
Intel is pushing the preliminary hardware support into Linux 3.13 and hopes to stabilise it and push additional features for Linux 3.14. The big idea is that Broadwell support in Linux 3.13, should be as good as Haswell. This means that Fedora 21 and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS — and other H1’2014 Linux distributions should be able to support the next-generation Intel hardware.
Intel is doing better than AMD at getting its chips into the Open Source arena. Stable open-source support only arrived post-launch for major new GPU introductions. Intel has done better than Nvidia too where the open-source support is still largely left up to the reverse-engineering Nouveau community.
Over the weekend 62 patches to the Linux kernel were sent for enabling Broadwell support by Intel’s Direct Rendering Manager driver. Intel is expected to release the libdrm and intel-gpu-tools support in the coming days. Stage two will involve the i965 Mesa DRI driver changes plus the xf86-video-intel DDX driver for X.Org support.
The report by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation was released on Monday. The results are based on a the survey of more than 5,000 U.S. adults including Twitter and Facebook users.
Twitter users who consume news on the platform – defined as information about events and issues that involve more than just family or friends – represent only 8 percent of the U.S. adult population.
Almost half of all U.S. adults on Facebook use the social media platform founded by Mark Zuckerberg to consume news as well, according to a study from the Pew Research Center released two weeks ago. But that group represent nearly one-third of all U.S. adults.
Twitter has about 200 million users worldwide, while Facebook has 1 billion.
The survey also underscores how young people consume news because almost half of Twitter news users are between the ages of 18 and 29.
Breaking news or topics of interest can explode on Twitter with millions of tweets covering events ranging from the Newtown, Connecticut shootings to the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.
Twitter just named NBC News digital executive Vivian Schiller as head of news to act as a liaison between Twitter and news organizations.
The network known for short messages of up to 140 characters is preparing to make one of the most closely watched initial public offerings later this week. It raised the price range for its IPO by 25 percent earlier on Monday, valuing the company at up to $13.6 billion.
At the moment Samsung is building 3GB LPDDR3 modules and they are starting to show up in some of its products. However, Samsung’s 3GB modules use six 20nm-class 4Gb chips, so 3GB modules based on SK Hynix 6Gb chips could get there with just four chips, ending up somewhat smaller and cheaper.
The new SK Hynix chip is rated at 1,866 Mbps and it can handle a maximum of 7.4GB/s in single channel mode. In dual channel mode the chip can hit 14.8GB/s. The chips are already sampling to potential customers.
Samsung is also working on 6Gb LPDDR3 chips that should end up in its 3GB modules and its high-end mobile products.
Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich thinks a new, very unproven technology called “extreme ultraviolet lithography” (EUV) could be the answer to dealing with Moore’s law.
Intel is hoping that EUV should allow Intel to continue to make its chips smaller, faster, and more efficient. So far while the technology has been there it is proving tricky to get into a commercial production scale. Hope grew high for EUV in 2009 when Dutch firm ASML unveiled a light source that could reliably produce wavelengths of light appropriate for it. Intel decided to invest $4.1 billion in ASML last summer but actual news on the new process has been thin on the ground.
Intel has said that it is working on 10nm transistors by 2015 and 7nm in 2017 and Intel won’t confirm that it will be using EUV to get there. If EUV works chips that make 7nm seem unimpressive should be with us by the end of the decade. If Intel cannot get EUV to work then it will have done more than wasted a lot of cash. It will have upheld Moores Law and resulted in a stalling in the production of chips for years.
The company announced the cuts as it reported third-quarter revenue that was nearly flat from last year’s third quarter, at US$2.15 billion. That was up just 0.8 percent from $2.13 billion a year earlier. The company also posted net income of $316 million, compared with a loss of $251 million in last year’s third quarter.
Broadcom said the restructuring, which its board approved on Sept. 25, is aimed at cutting costs as well as better focusing the company’s spending on key initiatives. The cost-cutting also includes lease terminations, the company said.
The layoffs will include about 350 employees that Broadcom took on through its acquisition of LTE chip technology from Renesas Electronics, which was completed on Oct. 1. As many as 425 Broadcom workers will also be cut because their jobs became redundant after Renesas was absorbed into the company. But the layoffs will also include up to 375 employees to be cut from across all of Broadcom’s regions and business functions, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the company. That resulted from a regular review of the company’s resource allocation, President and CEO Scott McGregor said on a conference call following the financial report.
Also on the call, McGregor said the company expected short-term challenges including softness in its wireless connectivity and broadband access businesses.
In early September, the company announced it would pay an estimated $162 million for LTE assets from Renesas that it would ship starting early next year. Among other things, the deal will allow Broadcom to ship its first multiband, carrier-validated LTE system-on-a-chip product for mobile devices. It also acquired intellectual property for emerging LTE technologies including VoLTE (voice over LTE) and carrier aggregation, which lets operators combine spectrum bands to boost capacity.
In recent months Intel’s new CEO Brian Krzanich and President Renee James made several interesting statements, signalling to Wall Street that the chipmaker gets it – it has to do more in mobile.
With smartphone shipments expected to hit one billion per year as early as next year, Intel’s newfound love of mobile chips is hardly surprising. In recent months Intel told the world that it’s now treating Atom just like Core, which means Atom will no longer look like an unwanted stepchild. On the face of it this is good news for shareholders and investors, but scratch the surface it doesn’t look too encouraging.
As a result, most analysts expect Intel to post lacklustre results on Tuesday, which is hardly surprising given the state of the PC market, which is still the bulk of Intel’s core business. Analysts expect revenue of $13.47 billion, 0.1 percent higher year-on-year, but earnings per share are estimated at $0.53, or 8.6 percent down over last year. But negative EPS forecasts aren’t the biggest problem facing Intel. Most analysts agree that 2014 won’t be much better, but there are some factors that indicate even these bleak forecasts might be too optimistic.
The first Bay Trail products are starting to appear and initial performance reports are encouraging, but they are just that – encouraging rather than groundbreaking. Benchmarks seem to indicate that Bay Trail-T tablets end up marginally slower than Qualcomm 800 and Tegra 4 based devices, which are a bit older, too. With prices ranging from $32 to $37, the first batch of Bay Trail chips also cost a bit more than their ARM competitors, but a direct comparison is not possible as ARM players don’t disclose the unit prices of their chips.
Furthermore Intel still lacks integrated LTE support, which means Bay Trail isn’t going to score big phone design wins. Intel hopes to roll out its first LTE enabled products next year, but there’s still some ambiguity. For example, Intel discrete modems are still built on TSMC silicon and it could be a couple of years before they end up on the die of an Intel SoC built in an Intel fab. While Intel could roll out the first two-chip solution next year, it’s highly unlikely that it will have a proper integrated solution before 2015.
This is a bit of a problem for more reasons than one. Many analysts don’t dig deep enough, some of these technical issues go under the radar – so they stick to Intel’s promise of LTE in 2014. Quark is also being overhyped, although it won’t generate any significant revenue over the next few years. Many analysts also believe x86 support is still a big deal, and to some extent it is, but the relevance of x86 is often exaggerated and it is diminishing as we speak. That is why Intel is talking up hybrids, or 2-in-1s – because legacy x86 support is a lot more important for hybrids than regular tablets. In smartphones, x86 support is as useless as a Facebook share button on a porn site.
However, this is where it gets interesting, because Intel is also promising $99 Bay Trail tablets. Back at IDF, Krzanich said Intel’s new tablet platform would “go below $100 by Q4 2013,” giving the impression that Intel can do dirt cheap tablets as well. We are not sure that it can, not unless it subsidizes them with heaps of cash, and we all know how well that went with Ultrabooks.
As for phones, Intel is still dead in the water and this won’t change anytime soon. Apple is quite happy designing its own custom chips and having them built by the lowest bidder. Samsung is going for off-the-shelf IP and manufacturing its Exynos 5 chips in 28nm, and it will hit 20nm soon. Qualcomm dominates the market and Intel can’t erode its lead over the next couple of product cycles. Even if Intel comes up with competitive smartphone chips in a year or two, who will they be for? Apple won’t buy them, neither will Samsung. This would leave Intel in an awkward position of fighting over scraps with heavy hitters like Qualcomm and a range of smaller ARM players like Nvidia and MediaTek.
This is hardly a viable long-term mobile strategy. Intel is basically doing the only thing it can – and doing the only thing that can be done and calling it a strategy doesn’t really make for much of a strategy.
The independent gaming scene has been growing by leaps of bounds, so it makes sense that the events designed to celebrate it are keeping step. This weekend’s IndieCade Festival in Culver City, California (on the West side of Los Angeles) is the largest in the event’s seven-year history. IndieCade founder and CEO Stephanie Barish said the event is expecting to draw more than 5,000 people to Culver City, which has a population around 39,000.
Much like the indie scene it promotes, the show has also been getting increased attention from the mainstream gaming industry of late. Sony has been a primary sponsor of the event for years, but the 2013 show sees Nintendo chip in for the first time, with Microsoft returning to the list after taking 2012 off. Activision is also on the list of sponsors, as well as Epic Games (for the Unreal Engine), Unity, and 20 more companies. Barish said some of the event’s more recent sponsors saw how Sony benefitted from its overtures to independent developers and have been following suit.
“[Sony has] put four or five years of effort now into the indie development sector and it’s really paid off for them,” Barish said. “Developers are really interested in meeting with them. They see there are possibilities, that Sony has proven [indies] can do well and are treated well. More and more the fact that independent games are interesting to a broader public is becoming apparent to the larger publishers. As well, there’s a huge creative energy and force and momentum coming out of the independent sector, and they don’t want to not be part of the future.”
That future is a big part of the attraction for IndieCade. Attendees to this year’s show will be able to try out a handful of games on upcoming hardware like the Oculus Rift and PlayStation 4. In all, IndieCade 2013 features 36 “official selections” for the festival, with dozens more games on show. Barish expects that crop of games to not only produce some of the next big hits, but also draw attention to the next crop of important developers. In the past, she said IndieCade has served as a coming out party for indie hits like Braid and Everyday Shooter, or developers like Telltale Games (who would go on to create the multiple Game of the Year award-winning The Walking Dead series). It’s also been a place to debut games that think outside the set-top box, like Johann Sebastian Joust, a six-player game that uses music and PlayStation Move controllers, but no screen.
“It’s really important for the mainstream to see what’s at the cutting edge, and we just continue to bring things in that are more cutting edge, that are more different than publishers or other mainstream things would even think to look at yet,” Barish said. “We’re really a window into what’s going to happen.”
Among this year’s selections are That Dragon, Cancer (a narrative-driven game set in a children’s hospital over three years), Perfect Woman (a “strategic dancing game” for the Kinect), and [code] (a PC game in which players delve into ersatz programming code to solve puzzles). While some of the IndieCade games will almost certainly prove to be lucrative for their creators, Barish stressed that isn't the only way to measure their success.
"There's definitely a desire for the Cinderella story, but having seen so many of the games, they're really good," Barish said. "So even if they're not commercially successful, they're impacting the way mainstream games are designed, the directions and the trends for those."
The trend for IndieCade looks to be continued growth. This year saw the event spawn an IndieCade East sister show in New York City, a second installment of which is confirmed for February 14-16, 2014 at the Museum of the Moving Image. Beyond that, Barish said there has been talk about expanding the festival even further with a European event.
Chip makers including Broadcom and Renesas Electronics are putting more focus on in-car entertainment with faster processors and networks for wireless HD movies and navigation, aiming to keep drivers informed and passengers entertained.
With PC sales slipping and the mobile device market proving highly competitive, chip makers are looking for greener pastures in other sectors like in-car entertainment and information.
From Renesas comes the R-Car M2 automotive SoC (System-on-a-Chip), which has enough power to handle simultaneous high-definition navigation, video and voice-controlled browsing.
The SoC is meant for use in mid-range systems. It features two ARM Cortex A-15 cores running at up to 1.5GHz and Renesas’ own SH-4A processor plus the PowerVR SGX544MP2 from Imagination Technologies for 3D graphics. This combination helps the M2 exceed the previous R-Car H1 with more than three times the CPU capacity and approximately six times better graphics performance.
Car makers that want to put a more advanced entertainment system in their upcoming models should go for the eight core R-Car H2 SoC, which was announced earlier this year. It is based on ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture, and uses four Cortex-A15 cores and another four Cortex-A7 cores.
The H2 will be able to handle four streams of 1080p video, including Blu-Ray at 60 frames per second, according to Renesas. Mass production is scheduled for the middle of next year, while the M2 won’t arrive in larger volumes until June 2015.
Broadcom on the other hand is seeking to drive better networking on the road. The company’s latest line of wireless chipsets for in-car connectivity uses the fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless standard, which offers enough bandwidth for multiple displays and screen resolution of up to 1080p. Use of the 5GHz band for video allows it to coexist with Bluetooth hands-free calls on 2.4GHz, according Broadcom.
Broadcom has also implemented Wi-Fi Direct and Miracast. Wi-Fi Direct lets products such as smartphones, cameras and in this case in-car computers connect to one another without joining a traditional hotspot network, while Miracast lets users stream videos and share photos between smartphones, tablets and displays.
The BCM89335 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart Ready combo chip and the BCM89071 Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart Ready chip are now shipping in small volumes.
A chipmaker with the unpromising name Applied Micro Circuits appears about to cane Intel’s energy saving server chip business. According to the Mercury News AMC is close to getting its chip on the market and analysts claim that it could really damage Intel.
Raymond James analyst Hans Mosesmann has described Applied “a significant threat” to Intel. It might only have $195 million in annual sales and 649 employees but Intel will lose market share just when it does not need the competition. The sorts of chips it will lose ground on will make up most of Intel’s data-centre products, which account for 20 percent of its total sales last year. Chipzilla was hoping that market would counter the slowdown in its sales of PC chips, which provide 64 percent of its revenue.
Applied Micro apparently tailored its chip designed to cloud set-ups before it really took off. Traditionally it made chips for data storage and communications equipment, such as routers and wireless base stations. This formed the basis for CEO Paramesh Gopi, who became Applied Micro’s CEO who wanted to push into the cloud-server chip sector.
Applied Micro’s uses low-power processors based on a design from the British firm ARM. Dubbed X-Gene the chip has enhancements to boost its performance over the standard ARM blueprint, making it the most likely immediate threat to x86. Bernstein Research analysts concluded in a recent report that “we see some risks for Intel” when the chips hit the market. Sergis Mushell of research firm Gartner agreed that Intel could be vulnerable.
Linley Gwennap, a chip expert with the Linley Group predicted that Chipzilla would be trying to throw every trick in the book at them to get them out of the market.