Finnish mobile gaming company Rovio Entertainment, popular for its high-flying “Angry Birds,” is hoping to rebound from a tough 2014 and to expand in Asia by tailoring its games to draw local consumers.
After reporting a 73 percent drop in its 2014 earnings due to a decline in the licensing of the “Angry Birds” brand, and cutting about 110 jobs, Rovio is focusing on going local, the company’s chief commercial officer Alex Lambeek told Reuters this week.
“(We have the) building capability to scale into parts of the world where we haven’t been strong in the past and a big part of that is actually working with partners, not trying to do everything ourselves,” said Lambeek, who joined the company from Fox International Channels in April.
“Angry Birds,” which was released in 2009 as a mobile game and fast became a hit, allowed players to fling an array of birds at pigs using a virtual slingshot.
“Angry Birds 2,” released last month, adds more characters, high-definition scenes, options to pick which bird to fling and the ability to compete with friends.
China accounts for a third of the nearly 40 million downloads of “Angry Birds 2″ since July 30, making it the top market. That is in line with the first “Angry Birds,” which Rovio said has seen nearly one billion Chinese downloads, out of what the company says is a total of 3 billion game downloads since 2009.
For Birds 2, Rovio partnered with Chinese mobile gaming company Kunlun Inc to make changes within the prompts and language used to target the way Chinese players are used to gaming, Lambeek said.
Chinese customers “want to be spoken to and listened to in their own language with their own specific humor,” he said.
Rovio hopes the new game renews interest in the brand ahead of May 2016′s “The Angry Birds Movie.”
Qualcomm has announced its Snapdragon 620, a successor to the reasonably successful Snapdragon 615.
The new chip is Qualcomm’s first to feature a brand new quad core cluster of four Cortex A72 1.8 GHz cores and four more A53 based 1.2GHz cores.
The new Qualcomm chip supports dual channel LPDDR3 memory at 933MHz and the as yet unidentified next generation of Adreno graphics which will probably be branded as 5xx series. Qualcomm promises to support the latest graphics APIs, hardware tessellation and geometry shading.
The new SoC, which targets the mainstream phones, comes with support for Cat 7 speeds of up to 300 Mbps down/100 Mbps up via 2×20 MHz carrier aggregation in the downlink and uplink on LTE FDD and LTE TDD. The SoC supports LTE Broadcast, LTE multimode dual SIM and VoLTE with HD Voice and SRVCC and comes with Qualcomm VIVE 1-stream 802.11ac, Qualcomm IZat location services, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth Smart 4.1.
The chip supports Quad HD 2560×1600 screen, and Miracast for up to 1080p wireless displays, 4K@30fps capture, 1080p@120fps capture with Hardware HEVC (H.265) encode and decode. Those with dual ISPs can support up to 21MP ZSL @ 24fps and 930MP/sec throughput, local tone mapping and enhanced AF.
The higher end Snapdragon 820 comes with four Hydra based cores and 14nm manufacturing node. We are not sure what function the mainstream Snapdragon 620 processor will have for Qualcomm.
If you look more carefully at Snapdragon 620 you will notice that this chip is a declocked version of Snapdragon 810, but it comes with Cortex A72 instead of Cortex A57. This promises to bring the performance close to Snapdragon 810 to the mainstream market phones in early 2016.
Snapdragon 820 is expected to be the performance leader in Qualcomm land and we expect to learn a bit more about the chip this week.
Qualcomm is set to unveil its new Snapdragon 820 SoC on August 11 in LA and more details are being leaked than you would see at a Welsh leak recipe contest.
It appears that the new Snapdragon 820 will have the catchy title MSM8996 and it promises some significant performance improvements in key areas. We already know that it will not be catching fire, but it also has a 40 per cent GPU performance increase with its A530 GPU.
The device is also claimed to have a 30 per cent power improvement with 64b of shared virtual memory with the CPU.
Another big area of improvement is the Hydra CPU, which claims a 35 percent improvement compared to the Snapdragon 810.
The Snapdragon 820 will support 4k60 entertainment and high-speed data connectivity.
There are rumours that there will be a QFE3100 Envelope Tracking system this will not speed up mail in the criminally slow Italian Post Office, but should create a lower power and a thermal footprint. A dedicated low power sensor is integrated for always on use.
Another major upgrade compared to the older SoC is a switch from 20nm to 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. We are still expecting the Xiaomi Mi5 to be the first one to use it.
For $200 a month and starting Aug. 10, AT&T said it will offer a combination of high definition and DVR (digital video recorder) services for up to four TVs as well as unlimited talk and text for four wireless lines and 10 GB of shareable wireless data. The carrier said the package represents a savings of $600 over the first year.
Of course, customers don’t have to use their smartphones or tablets to receive video content wirelessly, but AT&T predicted they will with the new All in One plan.
“We’re going to deliver more TV and entertainment choices to more screens—when and where customers want it,” noted Brad Bentley, chief marketing officer for AT&T Entertainment and Internet Services.
Demand for wireless video has been pushing the expansion of network switches, wireless routers and faster 4G LTE networks nationwide at a growth rate that will continue to explode.
The announcement came just two weeks after AT&T bought DirecTV, expanding its existing U-verse pay TV service to reach 55 million Americans, making it the largest pay TV provider in the world. AT&T also has 132 million wireless subscribers and connections in the U.S. and Mexico.
New DirecTV subscribers will be able to gain immediate access to video programs on compatible mobile devices via an app as soon as they leave one of 2,000 AT&T retail stores selling the service. They will have wireless access even before the TV service is installed at their homes or other locations.
While the new combined billing plan is apparently targeted mainly toward consumers, it will inevitably affect businesses that support workers who use their personal devices for work in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment.
In a statement the bean counters claim that chips have been through a long evolution process that will only continue into the future.
The report said that FinFET technology design chips are the breakthrough that could be monumental for the leaders in the field and those producing them.
Some believe the FinFET transistor structure promises to rejuvenate the chip industry by rescuing it from the short-channel effects that limit device scalability faced by current planar transistor structure, the report said.
The JPMorgan analysts said that with the ability to achieve higher performance designs at lower power, there will be a long string of FinFET-related equipment investments in the coming years.
FinFETs are estimated to be up to 37 per cent faster while using less than half the dynamic power or cut static leakage current by as much as 90 per cent.
It also thinks that any shareholder wanting to make a bob or two should invest in the three companies that are making them.
Despite reporting solid first-quarter earnings that were above consensus, and giving guidance that was in line with expectations, the stock has continued to underperform.
The difference between whether a firm is making FinFETs or not could be the best way of telling if a firm is going to do well.
JPMorgan analysts see continued FinFET capacity expansion and transition to 3D NAND, with DRAM spending remaining strong next year.
The PC maker Quanta Computer’s has reported a surprise hike in the sales of notebooks. According to the company its notebook shipments reached 3.4 million units in May, up 6.25 per cent on month from 3.2 million units in April. Quanta’s notebook shipments are estimated to grow 10 per cent sequentially to reach 10.89 million units in the second quarter. The outfit said that it will ship 4.29 million notebooks in June. Things might get even better in July when Windows 10 is scheduled to be released. The Tame Apple press is doing its best to play down the release, claiming that it is uncertain if the new operating system is able to attract consumers to purchase new PC devices. Part of this is because Redmond is allowing consumers to freely upgrade their existing PCs to Windows 10, making purchasing a new PC no longer important. Quanta is dependent on notebooks for 70 per cent of its revenues. The rest of its 14.1 per cent on-month revenue growth in May was mainly contributed by Apple Watch orders which could lead to tears if this market dries up. Courtesy-Fud
Acer held a news conference not for a new consumer product, but to promote an upcoming miniature PC that will be sold to developers.
The PC, called the aBeing One, will arrive in the third quarter, and is aimed at developers working in the IoT area. It’s designed to connect to smart home and wearable products, and act as a hub that can analyze incoming data from the devices.
The PC vendor has spoken to many IoT companies looking for an affordable hardware system they can develop on, said Robert Wang, a general manager with Acer.
“Fast-moving IoT developers keep running into this issue,” he said after Acer’s news conference. “Now they can buy from us.”
It’s a big change for the vendor, given that it once focused on selling consumer notebooks. However, with PC sales sagging and competition rife in the mobile devices area, the company has been shifting toward enterprise products.
That emphasis was apparent at this week’s Computex show in Taipei. Acer notebooks and tablets were still on display, but equal billing was given to itscloud computing business, which is starting to power IoT devices, not only from Acer, but also its clients.
In addition, Acer is hoping to pave the way for more third-party IoT devices. It has partnered with Canonical to install a version of Ubuntu on its aBeing product, so that the hardware can serve Ubuntu developers working on smart connected gadgets.
AT&T Inc is preparing to bring connected car users exclusive content such as videos and games that can be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year, AT&T’s senior vice president of emerging devices Chris Penrose said.
“It’s no different than being able to hook onto a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere and get access to content you already subscribe to and get unique content that you could only get in the back of the vehicle,” Penrose said.
AT&T has signed up eight automaker partners, including General Motors Co, Audi AG and Ford Motor Co, to hook up cars with Internet access. The goal is to offer free or paid content exclusively for connected car users and sell more data, Penrose said in a recent interview.
AT&T is talking to its auto industry partners and content companies to bring new content like “special” shows or gaming levels on phones and tablets in connected cars, Penrose said. This would be in addition to subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix that users can already stream on mobile devices.
Most Americans already own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning to connected cars and devices for growth. Besides being the essential pipes that deliver data, telecom players such as AT&T are looking to extract revenue from content.
GM has begun testing new content on its OnStar in-vehicle service best known for connecting drivers to live operators for directions or emergency help.
The subscription-based service, which also sells data to drivers, has special offers and some exclusive content on apps such as Famigo, an educational app for kids, and TumblebooksTV, a children’s digital books app. It also has retail partnerships with Dunkin’ Donuts and travel booking site Priceline.com for location-based deals.
AT&T is exploring business models that include revenue share for data, content and advertising with automakers, content and retail partners, Penrose said without sharing specific details.
AT&T is working with automakers to design a landing page or a portal for users to log in to access content, get vehicle service updates and buy data, he said.
It appears that MediaTek’s move to bring out an octa-core processor has disturbed the mighty Qualcomm.
When the MT6797 SoC came out, there was much mirth amongst MediaTek’s rivals but it turns out that Qualcomm has followed suit after all.
Qualcomm’s version is called the Snapdragon 818, which will probably be a deca-core CPU. Word on the street is that the chip will depend on four low-1.2GHz Cortex-A53 power cores, two middle-range 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores, plus four high-power cores of the 2.0GHz Cortex A72 type. It will supports LPDDR4 RAM and will run the Adreno 532 GPU.
This should mean that it can run LTE Cat-10 when that hits the shops. The chip will use 20nm process technology.
If the rumors are correct then it means that the 818 SoC will be slower than MedaTek’s new chip.
Qualcomm is yet to confirm the existence of this piece of silicone, so it is all just rumors. However if it is true, it does mean that MedaTek’s effort was a lot more important than many of its rivals admitted.
The company noted this milestone in mobile computing in a blog post.
“Billions of times per day, consumers turn to Google for I want-to-know, I want-to-go, I want-to-do, and I want-to-buy moments,” wrote Jerry Dischler, Google’s vice president of product management. “And at these times, consumers are increasingly picking up their smartphones for answers. In fact, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the U.S. and Japan.”
That, he added, presents what he calls a “tremendous opportunity” for businesses to reach people through this new touchpoint.
The news about mobile search overshadowing desktop searches means we’ve officially entered a “mobile-first” world, according to Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research.
“Instead of using our PCs at home and augmenting them with mobile, we are mobile first, so no matter where we are or what we are doing we can find the information we need right then and there,” he added. “The phrases “I’ll take care of that when I get back to the office,” or “I’ll take care of that when I get home,” have been eradicated from our vocabulary.”
This week’s announcement puts Google’s recent mobile search changes into context.
Early last month, Google announced it was changing the algorithm it uses for mobile searches to give websites designed to be mobile friendly better positioning in search results.
Websites that aren’t designed to run well and look good on mobile devices simply won’t get good placement in search results — neither on mobile devices nor on desktops.
“The fact that Google is prioritizing mobile sites means Google’s ads need to be oriented around mobile,” said Kerravala. “I think it is changing what Google does with ads, meaning ads are going to need to become more localized.
The largest manufacturers of the machinery used to make semiconductors, Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron of Japan, have dumped a merger plans.
The proposed $10 billion deal was announced in September 2013, but it had nearly been impossible to come up with a deal which the US antitrust authorities would approve.
Part of the problem was that it would have combined two of the three largest players in a sector crucial to the production of chips.
Chip foundries are becoming expensive to build, even as prices for chips are falling. Pressure on suppliers of chip-making machinery is intense.
By joining forces, Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron hoped to streamline research and development operations and benefit from greater manufacturing scale.
They had also planned to save tens of millions of dollars in taxes by incorporating the new company in the Netherlands.
It was the second big technology merger deal to collapse in a week over antitrust concerns. Comcast abandoned its planned $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable in the face of skepticism from the Department and the Federal Communications Commission.
If Applied Materials, the larger of the two chip-equipment companies, had been allowed to take over Tokyo Electron, it would have been the biggest acquisition of a Japanese corporation by an American company outside the financial industry.
“Since these vulnerabilities affect default installations of WordPress, they naturally have a much wider reach, both on the public internet and in internal, intranet installations.”
The vulnerability also has similarities with one reported by Cedric Van Bockhaven in 2014, patched this week after 14 months.
Qualcomm has released a new Trepn Profiler app for Android which will profile Snapdragon processors and tinker with them.
The Trepn Profiler app identifies apps that overwork the CPU or are eating too much data. The app will pinpoint which of the apps drain the battery faster.
All data that will be obtained by this app can provide information you need to know which program is slowing down your phone.
Most Android phone users will not give a damn, but developers will find it useful. Those who are interested in testing roms, custom kernels, and their own apps can use the data gathered by the Trepn Profiler.
Developers can measure optimisation and performance on Snapdragon-powered mobile devices. Data are real-time include network usage, battery power, GPU frequency load, and CPU cores’ load. Key features also include six fast-loading profiling presets, and an advanced mode to manually select data points and save for analysis.
The Advanced Mode allows profiling a single app or device, offline data analysis, and increasing of data collection interval. This special mode also allows longer profiling sessions, displaying two data point in one overlay, and viewing of profile data.
All up this should enable developers to come up with more Snapdragon friendly apps.
In addition to offering bedside tables, floor- and table lamps, desks and simple charging pads, IKEA is also selling a DIY kit that lets users embed wireless chargers into furniture of their choice.
The furniture, and other items in IKEA’s wireless charging collection, ranges in price from $9.99 to $119.
The Wireless Charging collection will be rolled out globally, with U.S. stores seeing availability beginning in late spring, IKEA said today in a statement.
“With smartphones becoming such a natural part of our lives, we wanted the charging part to become a natural part of our homes,” Holly Harraway, IKEA’s lighting sales leader, said.
The furniture uses the most popular wireless charging specification, Qi, which is supported by brands such as Samsung and Energizer and has gotten an extension to its specification allowing it to charge devices at short distances
Users can check whether their mobile phone is compatible with the Qi standard at the Wireless Power Consortium’s this website.
The WPC with its Qi specification is up against two other industry organizations with their own wireless charging protocols: the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP.
The Qi spec transfers 5 watts of power for enabled mobile devices, such as the Galaxy S4 and S3, Nokia Lumia 1020, LG G2, Motorola Droid Maxx and Mini and the Google Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet.
If a smartphone does not have native wireless charging capability, such as an iPhone, users can purchase a VITAHULT charging cover (for Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy only), or other Qi-enabled covers for use with the IKEA wireless charging furniture.
After less than two years at the helm of Zynga, Don Mattrick is on the move again. He’s picking up the best part of $20 million on his way out the revolving door, so don’t feel too bad for him, but after his catastrophic mis-management of the Xbox One’s development and launch, his failure to lift Zynga out of its post-IPO slump looks like yet another blot on the extremely expensive copybook of the former Microsoft executive.
There will be plenty of I-told-you-so’s over this news, but in truth, it wasn’t so predictable. Mattrick always looked like a better fit for Zynga than he was at Microsoft; the balls-up he made of the Xbox One could be attributed, if we’re feeling charitable, to having sensibilities far more in-tune with a broad mass-market than with the core audience a launching console needs to please. As such, the social- and (latterly) mobile-focused Zynga should have been a more suitable challenge for him; and indeed, while the company’s performance under his tenure hasn’t exactly been good, or even mediocre, there have been some important bright spots, most notably the (clever) acquisition of mobile specialists NaturalMotion, and the (achingly slow, but getting there) transition away from browser-based games to mobile platforms.
That the company’s performance in terms of finances and share price alike failed to pick up under Mattrick’s tenure, though, is something easily presented as an outright failure; and after the mess he made at Microsoft, it would be straightforward to roll our eyes at the spectacle of yet another overpaid exec with bugger all knowledge about games being given an enormous sack full of $100 bills with which to break his falls after a gentle defenestration from his latest failure. That’s not entirely an unfair characterisation, but not entirely fair either, I suspect, because no sooner was Mattrick out of the CEO’s chair than Zynga founder and former CEO Mark Pincus had his backside back in the seat – and that, to me, sets off all sorts of alarm bells.
For a CEO to depart and to be instantly replaced is not entirely unusual, but it does raise some eyebrows; for a CEO to depart after a short and unfruitful period, only to be replaced instantly by the company founder whom they replaced in the role, strongly suggests that the company founder never actually took their fingers out of the pie. The reasons for Pincus leaving the CEO’s role were pretty clear; he was broadly seen by investors as a millstone around the company’s neck, his dictatorial nature, inflexibility and tendency to make stupid, inflammatory statements in public being pretty damaging to a firm struggling to recover from an overheated IPO. That he’s been waiting in the wings for Mattrick to depart raises troubling questions over just who has actually been running Zynga for the past two years; it’s not hard to imagine Mattrick finding his hands tied by the presence of a highly opinionated and influential founder who never actually wanted to let go of the reins in the first place, something which might explain a good deal about the tardy pace of Zynga’s turnaround.
The markets, unsurprisingly, reacted to the news by dumping Zynga stock; the founder who was doing a miserable job of being CEO has stepped back up to replace the new guy who was also doing a poor (but better) job of being CEO? It’s a net negative, not merely because for all his faults Mattrick was broadly considered a better CEO than Pincus, but because it suggests that the upper echelons of Zynga’s management are in absolute disarray.
Still, though; even this latest dump of Zynga’s stock is only going to bring the company back to depths it already plumbed back in February… and in December… oh, and last October, too. Zynga is bumping along the bottom, and has been since mid-2012, in share price terms. It looked like it might climb off the floor around the start of 2014, but since the middle of last year it’s traded at around $3 and under; frankly, the depths to which it can fall off the back of this executive-revolving-door farce are severely limited by the fact that it’s already at rock bottom. That’s because Zynga’s real problems, although they may well start from its dysfunctional management, are much more deeply rooted. The company hasn’t had a hit in years – even more problematically, it has never had a bona fide, honest to god hit on a mobile platform. It bought some smaller developers with mobile hits, and then failed to grow or develop them (in some embarrassing cases, they flopped almost immediately after being purchased). FarmVille, a game franchise whose existence you had entirely forgotten until I just mentioned its name at the start of this sentence, remains the jewel in Zynga’s crown. The “Games” section on Zynga’s website reads embarrassingly like a blow-by-blow account of games everyone seemed to be into for a few months, years ago.
There might – might – be light at the end of the tunnel. It would be easy to dismiss Zynga’s new Great Hope, the action strategy title Dawn of Titans, as absolute folly; the “Clash of Clans” market, so utterly saturated that top games in the category have ended up spending millions on Superbowl commercials to try and soak up the last remaining dregs of the market, is a horrible place to be launching a new product. Dawn of Titans, though, is just branded and presented a little like Clash of Clans; the game itself looks quite different, and most of all, it’s from the genuinely brilliant NaturalMotion. If I were to pick the most likely source of a Zynga renewal, it would be NaturalMotion; one can only hope that, in a similar manner to the Activision / Blizard relationship, Zynga’s management has the good sense to let NaturalMotion do their jobs and keep their paws off to the greatest extent possible.
Still; the fate of a company is a big thing to rest on one development team, no matter how talented. What Zynga needs is a hit, undoubtedly. What it really, really needs is hits – plural. Once upon a time, there was a formula for social gaming success, based on just the right balance of compelling game design (yes, Farmville really was compelling in its own way), pulling the right social levers, monetising intelligently and with a light touch, and spreading through some fairly nakedly unpleasant viral approaches on Facebook. Mark Pincus got that formula down perfectly; that is, thus far, the only thing that Zynga has ever executed perfectly. That formula, of course, is part of the history books now; it doesn’t work any more and never will again.
The new formula that Zynga needs to discover is actually a much trickier one, one which game companies have struggled with for decades; the formula for making great games people actually want to play and actually want to recommend to their friends. The CEO who could potentially turn Zynga into a company where that happens would have to create an environment of intense creativity and freedom, utilising the short development cycles, rapid prototyping and start-up style Minimum Viable Product soft-launching strategies enabled by mobile platforms to let creators exercise their imaginations and try many different ideas in search of the hits; a CEO who truly valued creativity and understood how to let it thrive. Mark Pincus wasn’t that CEO first time around. He’s going to have to work hard to prove that Pincus 2.0 is any better.
The new Braswell chips include new Celeron and Pentium processors, which will support both Chrome OS and Windows, said sources familiar with Intel’s product plans. More details on Braswell will be shared at the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen this week.
New Chromebooks running Braswell are expected in the coming months from top PC makers, as well as from low-cost manufacturers China who might bring the price point down to less than $200. Braswell will also appear in low-cost Windows laptops, desktops and tablets.
Intel first announced the Braswell chips a year ago, but shipments were delayed due to problems with the company’s 14-nanometer manufacturing process.
Chromebooks, favored by some who do most of their computing on the Internet, are powered by a range of Intel or ARM processors. Most Chromebooks priced starting at $200 to $300 have aging Celeron processors based on the Bay Trail architecture, which Braswell will replace. The fastest and most expensive Chromebooks such as Google’s Chromebook Pixel have Intel’s Core chip, which packs more horsepower than Celeron or Pentium processors.
The new Celeron and Pentium chips could also be Intel’s answer to last week’s release of sub-$200 ARM-based Chromebooks from Haier, HiSense and Asustek. Chromebook shipments are rising in a flat PC market, and have become a new battleground for Intel and ARM, who also compete in servers and mobile devices.
Braswell should deliver better graphics performance, though battery life may not get a boost. The chips may be a good fit for Chromebooks, in which the speed of a wireless connection is most important with the bulk of processing happening not locally but on remote servers hosting applications. That may change as Google is making available more applications that work offline.