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Poll Reveals Most Americans Not Interested In Buying Apple Watch

March 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc’s new smartwatch may face headwinds wooing consumers, with 69 percent of Americans indicating they are not interested in buying the gadget, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

However, the survey also showed limited awareness of the watch. The poll was taken after Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook debuted the product last week, and only about half of respondents said they had heard news of the timepiece in the last few days.

Also, in an encouraging sign for Apple, roughly 13 percent of survey respondents who did not own an iPhone said that they would consider buying one in order to buy an Apple Watch, which needs an iPhone to work fully.

Apple overcame skepticism about the iPad and iPod when they first debuted, but the survey suggests that the world’s largest technology company has work to do to make the watch ubiquitous.

The new watch, a test of Cook’s leadership, is the company’s first new product in five years, and it hits stores on April 24.

It allows users to check email, listen to music and make phone calls from their wrist. Apple will sell various versions, from a $349 ‘sport’ edition to a $17,000 18-karat gold timepiece.

Ipsos surveyed 1,245 Americans online between March 9 and March 13. The data was weighted to reflect the U.S. population and has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the poll.

More than half of respondents, 52 percent, agreed with the statement that smartwatches are a “passing fad.”

One-quarter of respondents said they were interested in purchasing the Apple Watch, but 69 percent said they had no desire, and 6 percent said they were unsure.

Initial demand for the watch is expected to come primarily from existing iPhone users, but its wider success is seen depending on whether developers create enticing apps tailored to the device, so-called killer apps.

 

 

Flash Drives To Become More Secure And Faster

February 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Flash drives in mobile devices are set to become faster and secure thanks to a new standard signed off by the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association.

eMMC version 5.1, will allow for a new mobile storage that will provide faster access. Flash drives based on eMMC 5.1 can handle 4K streaming and more data-intensive tasks.

Samsung has started making 64GB, 32GB and 16GB drives based on the new standard and is shipping units to customers, but has not said whether those drives will be used in the Galaxy S6 smartphone, which will be announced early next month at the Mobile World Congress trade show.

Samsung’s 64GB eMMC 5.1 has a random read performance of 11,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second) and write performance of 13,000 IOPS, compared to a rough performance of 7,000 IOPS for 64GB drives based on the previous eMMC 5.0 standard.

The speed improvements comes through some cache and data-streaming improvements.

There is also something called Secure Write Protection ensures only specific entities are able to access files and lock or unlock storage.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is The FBI Running The Pirate Bay?

February 9, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

The Rebirth of The Pirate Bay that we reported on recently could be a sham site set up by the FBI with the intention of snagging punters.

It could not be, but there are increasing suspicions that this is the case, and there were probably some clues at the time.

We reported on the Pirate Bay relaunch earlier this week, saying that there was some kind of divide between the members of the site.

The new service was considered to be something of a spin-off that had done away with a number of administrators in order to be more hands-off.

However, it has the hallmarks of something that is hands-on, according to Twitter messages from an account used by the Anonymous hacker collective.

Questions were raised about the new site, including the passing of the old admins and the decision to use Cloudflare integration.

In some cases people pointed to FBI-like flags. The use of Cloudflare suggests that user information might be exposed to the warrant-like demands of the surveillance agencies.

pic.twitter.com/ED8mZ1A1mZ

— TheAnonMessage (@TheAnonMessages) February 1, 2015

The Pirate Bay people have denied that the site is a puppet for the FBI and  have explained away the use of Cloudflare in a statement sent to TorrentFreak.

“We have seen that there has been some question to why we are using Cloudflare. This is only initially to handle the massive load on the servers. It will be removed shortly,” the statement said.

But, while the Pirate Bay is linked with the US-based Cloudflare it will be associated with the risk of national security investigations and warrants. Cloudflare has not commented.

TorrentFreak added in a later article that the Pirate Bay has moved away from its previous service provider, Trabia, and is now the guest of an unknown, or hidden, provider.

Taken together these things add up to a site that you may choose not to use. Of course, it might not be an FBI plant, and it might be the FBI, or someone else, that has started raising suspicions in order to keep people away from the magnetic phoenix. Take care out there.

Courtesy-TheInq

New Internet Browser Vivaldi Launches

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Well known software developer Jon von Tetzchner has launched a new internet browser, offering an interface for high-volume users who “have problems fitting all their open tabs on one screen”, he said in a Reuters interview.

Known as Vivaldi and available on desktop computers from Tuesday, the browser’s initial launch covers the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

“A mobile phone and a tablet version are in the pipeline. We are working on it, but they won’t be out until they’re ready,” said von Tetzchner, who owns 90 percent of the company’s shares and has paid for the development.

“At some point it will need to fund it self and to reach that point we will need a few million users. I have no doubt that we will reach that number quite easily,” he added.

With features like personalized notes, bookmarks with small screen shots and speed dials with options for multiple groups and folders, Vivaldi hopes to attract high-volume users.

Despite tough competition from the likes of Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Corp’s Firefox and Opera Software’s browser, von Tetzchner believes there is still room for more.

“We welcome everyone, but this is first of all a browser for people who expect and need more,” he said. “There is without a doubt a demand for this type of browser even though I don’t expect it to take more than a few percent of the total market.”

Vivaldi has signed a few affiliation deals ahead of the launch and is in talks with several potential partners for functionalities like search and online shopping.

“We have made several deals and have started a dialogue with others. But because some of these are potential competitors, we’ve wanted to go live with the browser first.”

Named after the 18th century composer Antonio Vivaldi, the name carries an inescapable reference to von Tetzchner’s previous role as co-founder and long-time head of browser and mobile phone technology firm Opera Software.

 

LTE-Advanced Leading To Faster 4G Speeds

January 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile device owners around the world are getting faster wireless broadband as LTE-Advanced and smartphones that can take advantage of the technology finally start to take off.

A year ago, LTE-Advanced was only available in South Korea, but it’s now available in 31 countries (including Australia, France, Germany, U.K. and the U.S.) and more are on the way, according to industry organization GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association).

“There is a lot of activity at the moment,” said Alan Hadden, president at GSA.

LTE-Advanced is a collection of different technologies, but the one mobile operators are implementing first is called carrier aggregation. It lets operators treat up to three radio channels in different frequency bands as if they were one and send data to users at higher speeds.

Bandwidths at up to 300Mbps are possible, though not all LTE-Advanced networks and devices can muster that. For example, Apple’s new iPhones use a version of carrier aggregation that tops out at 150Mbps, and not all operators have the spectrum to offer that.

However, regardless of which version of LTE-Advanced a network or device supports, the technology offers users higher speeds than ever before.

Chances are greater that you’ll get access to LTE-Advanced if you live in a big city. For example, U.S. operator AT&T has so far upgraded its network in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Honolulu, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Houston.

The technology has been held back due to a lack of supporting devices, but that will change this year thanks to a greater variety of modems from Qualcomm and Intel.

 

 

Micron Debuts Consumer Oriented SSDs

January 8, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Micron’s consumer subsidiary brands Crucial and Lexar have been pitching their stalls for 2015 with a number of CES 2015 announcements.

Two consumer solid state drives (SSD) top the bill. The Crucial MX200 has read/write speeds of 555MB/s and 500MB/s, and 100k/87k individual operations per second.

It features the company’s new Dynamic Write Acceleration to further speed up write and transfer, and has endurance of five times the average SSD.

Accompanying it, the Crucial BX100 is, relatively speaking, a budget model but still boasts an impressive 535/450MB/s read/write. It is the first drive from the Micron stable to feature the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller.

Two new DDR4 memory module types arrive under the Ballistix sub-brand. The Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 and Ballistix Tactical DDR4 offer speeds of 2400MT/s and 2666MT/s, the latter aimed at the gamer wanting to squeeze every last drop out of their machine.

Crucial will also be bringing a standard range of 2133MT/s DDR4 SODIMM to market for the more casual user.

Finally, Lexar is bringing a range of microSDHC and microSDHC UHS-UII cards under the Lexar Professional 1000x moniker.

The cards come in capacities between 32GB and 128GB and, with transfer speeds of 150MB/s, are almost twice the speed of their predecessor and are aimed at full HD, 3D and 4K video.

Like many brands this year, Crucial/Lexar has elected to push increased speed and performance over capacity to cope with the demands of ultra-high definition pictures.

That said, it remains the only consumer-facing company to offer a 256GB USB stick, the S73, launched at CES 2014.

In September, the company also released a full size Professional Micro SDXC 2000 with transfer speeds of 300MB/s.

In addition to the announcements of new hardware, Crucial has unveiled a new hardware tool known as Crucial Storage Executive designed to allow users to maintain and manage SSDs, including firmware upgrades and efficiency management, in one place.

 

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Amazon Prime Gained Millions Of New Subscribers Over Christmas Holiday

December 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc said on Friday it added more than 10 million new members to its Prime shipping and digital content service over the holidays and intends to offer one-hour shipping to more cities in 2015.

Amazon considers its $99-a-year Prime membership, which confers free two-day shipping and streaming of select movies and songs, essential to driving its growth and margins. It was unclear, however, how many of the 10 million new members were just taking advantage of a standing 30-day free trial offer.

The Internet retailer has never disclosed the precise number of Prime subscribers, except to say it is in the tens of millions. Analysts estimate it is growing at a rapid clip, and the company continues to try and spice it up with new content.

Amazon said customers ordered more than 10 times as many items via same-day delivery this holiday season, compared with a year earlier. It did not reveal figures for Prime Now, the novel one-hour delivery option unveiled for parts of New York City’s Manhattan borough just this month.

“We are working hard to make Prime even better and expanding the recently launched Prime Now to additional cities in 2015,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Amazon also said nearly 60 percent of its customers shopped via a mobile device this holiday, and total holiday sales through its smartphone app doubled this year. That may reflect “showrooming,” when customers browse physical stores but make their purchases online.

“Mobile continues to accelerate the secular shift from offline to online purchases,” said R.W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian. “Consumer use-cases for last-minute shopping, in-store purchases and price comparison continue to expand.”

 

 

Sony To Slash Mobile Phone, TV Product Lines

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japan’s hemorrhaging technology giant Sony Corp plans to slice its TV and mobile phone product line-ups to cut costs, counting on multi-billion dollar revenue surges for its buoyant PlayStation 4 and image sensor businesses over the next three years.

Having lost ground to nimbler rivals like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in consumer electronics, Sony said on Tuesday its goal for TV and smartphones is to turn a profit, even if sales slide as much as 30 percent.

“We’re not aiming for size or market share but better profits,” Hiroki Totoki, Sony’s newly appointed chief of its mobile division told an investors’ conference. A poor showing by its Xperia smartphones has weighed heavily on recent earnings and Sony said more detail on plans for the unit will be unveiled before end-March.

Under its new three-year electronics business plan, Sony said it was aiming to boost sales for its videogame division by a quarter to as much as 1.6 trillion yen ($13.6 billion). It said that will be helped by personalized TV, video and music distribution services that should lift revenue per paying user.

At its devices division, which houses its image sensor business, Sony said sales could increase 70 percent to as much as 1.5 trillion yen. Sony’s sensor sales are already robust, with Apple using them in its iPhones while Chinese handset manufacturers are increasingly adopting them.

In a similar event last week for its entertainment units, the conglomerate said it was aiming to lift its movie and TV programming revenues by a third over the next three years.

 

 

Apple To Bundle Beats Music Into iOS

November 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc will bundle the subscription music service it acquired from Beats into its iOS operating system early next year, according to an article by the Financial Times.

The inclusion of the paid-for Beats service in an iOS software update, which would instantly make it available on millions of iPhones and iPads, could happen as early as March, the daily reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The move will mark the company’s first big push into subscription music, at a time when downloads from its iTunes are in decline, the paper said.

The service, which is likely to be rebranded under the iTunes label, will compete with music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud.

Google Inc said last week that YouTube is rolling out a long-awaited paid monthly music subscription service called YouTube Music Key.

Apple, which bought music streaming and audio equipment company Beats in May for $3 billion, could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

 

Is ATT & Verizon Selling Your Information?

November 5, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Verizon appears to be collecting personal data on its clients and selling it to advertisers. Wired and Forbes have claimed that the two largest mobile phone carriers in the United States, Verizon and AT&T, are adding the tracking number to their subscribers’ Internet activity, even when users opt out

Howver the data can be used by any site to build a dossier about a person’s behaviour on mobile devices including which apps they use, what sites they visit and for how long. MoPub, acquired by Twitter in 2013, bills itself as the “world’s largest mobile ad exchange.” It uses Verizon’s tag to track and target mobile users for ads, according to instructions for software developers posted on its website. AT&T insists its actions are part of a test. Verizon says it does not sell information about the demographics of people who have opted out.

However it appears Verizon is service, called Precision Market Insights, has become popular among ad tracking companies that specialise in building profiles’ of user behaviour and creating customised ads for those users. Companies that buy the Verizon service can ask Verizon for additional information about the people whose unique identifiers they observe. An executive from an ad tracking company Run told an industry trade publication that his outfit was excited about how carrier level ID, lets him track with certainty when a user, who is connected to a given carrier, moves from an app to a mobile Web landing page.

In addition, in a promotional video for Verizon’s service, ad executive Chris Smith at Turn, touted “the accuracy of the data,” that the company receives from Verizon. Advertisers who don’t pay Verizon for additional information still receive the identifier only Verizon changes the identifier to make sure that an outsider can’t build a profile. Vodafone, a British telecom, admitted it inserts a similar identifier into some mobile traffic but it was not by default and the outfit did not routinely share information with the websites our customers visit.

ProPublica found a handful of Vodafone identifiers in its logs of website visitors and more than two thirds of AT&T and Verizon visitors to ProPublica’s website contained mobile identifiers.

There seems to be no way to opt out either. Google has proposed a new Internet protocol called SPDY that would prevent these types of header injections. Of course, the US telecom companies are lobbying against it and this probably explains why.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Acquires Rooftop Media, Expands Digital Content

October 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc is set to acquire online comedy service Rooftop Media, a small deal that underscores the Internet retailer’s broader ambition of becoming a media and entertainment powerhouse.

Amazon is persisting in buying content to round out its service, with designs to take on Netflix Inc and other online digital media services. But that increasing spending has helped keep the company in the red, inviting criticism from investors.

Audible, the audiobooks service it bought in 2008 for $300 million, is picking up the 10-person company for an undisclosed sum. Audible founder and Chief Executive Donald Katz said in a statement on Monday the company had been attracted by Rooftop’s content as well as its pool of comic talent.

Rooftop records comedians at clubs across the country and licenses the digital rights to thousands of hours of comedy, which is broadcast either live or later on demand. The company’s media partners include Apple Inc and Yahoo, and it also works with streaming services such as Sirius XM,  Spotify and Pandora.

Its content now becomes part of Audible, itself a fast-growing seller of online audiobooks, and vastly increases Rooftop’s audience, said Rooftop Chief Executive Officer Will Rogers.

Amazon is expected to continue acquiring digital content at a rapid clip. In past years, it began investing heavily to branch out from its online retail roots, delving into Hollywood-style content production as well as developing a line of tablets, smartphones and set-top boxes to accelerate the sale of digital content.

 

 

Pandora’s Listeners Decline

October 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Pandora Media Inc, owners of the leading Internet radio service, reported a lower-than-expected increase in listeners in the third quarter, sending the company’s shares down 6 percent in extended trading on Thursday.

Pandora said it had 76.5 million active listeners as of Sept. 30, an increase of 5.2 percent from a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected 76.7 million, according to market research firm StreetAccount.

Total listener hours rose to 4.99 billion from 3.99 billion, but again fell short of the average estimate of 5.02 billion.

Pandora’s profit and revenue both beat market expectations, however, as more people listened to streamed music on their mobile phones.

Mobile revenue increased 52 percent to $188 million, while local advertising revenue rose 118 percent to $41.8 million.

Despite its huge user base, Pandora faces stiff competition from Spotify, Apple Inc’s Beats online streaming service, Google Inc, and Amazon.com Inc in the fast-growing music streaming business.

 

 

Twitter To Allow Users To Stream Music

October 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc  will allow users to play podcasts, music and other audio clips direct from their timelines, or message feeds, by using a  new feature designed in partnership with Berlin-based audio-streaming service SoundCloud.

The online messaging service introduced what it dubbed “Audio Card,” through which users can listen to a variety of content whilst browsing their timelines.

For starters, Twitter has promised audio from SoundCloud’s partners, which include such diverse sources as NASA, the Washington Post, CNN, David Guetta, Coldplay and Warner Music.

But it’s trying to snag more content partners in future, Twitter said in a recent blog posting.

Twitter didn’t say how Audio Card might evolve, except to stress that it offers musicians a chance to post exclusive clips.

“Many more musical artists and creators will be able to share exclusive, in-the-moment audio to millions of listeners on Twitter,” the company added.

Twitter’s new feature comes after rivals from Apple Inc to Google Inc have jumped into the business of music-streaming, considered the fastest-growing segment of a music market dominated by iTunes.

Twitter had reportedly been in discussions to acquire audio-sharing website SoundCloud, which has been called the Youtube of music, as far back as June.

 

Twitter To Allow Money Transfer Via Tweets

October 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

One of France’s largest banks is partnering with social network Twitter Inc. to allow its customers to transfer money via tweets.

The move by Groupe BPCE, France’s second largest bank by customers, coincides with Twitter’s own foray into the world of online payments as the social network seeks new sources of revenue beyond advertising.

Twitter is racing other tech giants Apple  and Facebook to get a foothold in new payment services for mobile phones or apps. They are collaborating and, in some cases, competing with banks and credit card issuers that have run the business for decades.

The bank said last month it was prepared to offer simple person-to-person money transfers via Twitter to French consumers, regardless of what bank they use, and without requiring the sender know the recipient’s banking details.

“(S-Money) offers Twitter users in France a new way to send each other money, irrespective of their bank and without having to enter the beneficiary’s bank details, with a simple tweet,” Nicolas Chatillon, chief executive of S-Money,  BPCE’s mobile payments unit, said in the statement.

Payment by tweets will be managed via the bank’s S-Money service, which allows money transfers via text message and relies on the credit-card industry’s data security standards.

BPCE and Twitter declined to provide further details ahead of a news conference in Paris later today to unveil the service.

Last month, Twitter started trials of its own new service, dubbed “Twitter Buy”,  to allow consumers to find and buy products on its social network.

The service embeds a “Twitter Buy” button inside tweets posted by more than two dozen stores, music artists and non-profits. Burberry, Home Depot, and musicians such as Pharrell and Megadeth are among the early vendors.

Twitter’s role to date has been to connect customers rather than processing payments or checking their identities.

 

 

Beats And Bose Cancels Lawsuit, Settles Headphone Dispute

October 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A high-profile patent fight over noise cancelling headphones between Bose Corp and Beats Electronics ended on Friday with both sides settling the case out of court.

The terms of the settlement were not being disclosed, a spokeswoman for Bose said in an email, adding only that the dispute had been “resolved.”

Bose, which makes high-end sound systems and headphones, filed the case last July in federal court in Delaware, alleging Beats had willfully infringed upon five of its patents in its Studio and Studio Wireless line of headphones.

Privately held Bose said it had lost profits and sales as a result and was seeking unspecified damages from Beats, which Apple Inc acquired this year for $3 billion.

A document filed with the court on Friday said both sides would dismiss the case and bear their own costs and legal fees.

The two companies also asked the International Trade Commission to suspend its investigation into the matter. Bose had asked the commission to block the import of Beats’ noise-cancellation products from China, where they are manufactured.

Beats headphones have become popular with music fans since the company was founded by rap mogul Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine in 2006. Besides headphones, Beats has also entered online music streaming, competing with the likes of Pandora and Spotify.

A representative from Beats was not immediately available for comment.