There is a spat brewing between Apple and its long term supplier Sharp. Sharp has been making Apple displays for ages and has an entire plant dedicated to this purpose. The manufacturing gear now belongs to Apple and Sharp wants to buy the equipment back for $293 million.
Apparently, Sharp wants to diversify its production and shift away from supplying only to Apple. Jobs’ Mob is amenable to the idea of selling the facilities but only if Sharp never sells anything to Samsung. Samsung mostly utilizes OLED screens in most of its products, so there is little for Apple to worry about. However some devices still use LCD screens and might have Sharp gear under the bonnet.
An agreement has not yet been reached and it seems unlikely as the manufacturer is not keen on accepting the blatant anti-competitive behaviour or as Apple would say “shrewed negotiation ability.”
Sharp does not want to piss off Apple. It is busy producing iPhone 6 screens for Apple and the Kameyama Plant No. 1 which is the one that Sharp wants to buy back, flat out.
The most successful wearable devices will be ones that can operate without a phone, and AT&T will have at least one of them by the end of this year, the man who manages the carrier’s partnerships said.
“It needs to be an independent device. It needs to do something different for the end user, for people to buy it en masse,” said Glenn Lurie, AT&T’s president of emerging enterprises and partnerships.
A likely place to start could be wearables for wellness, such as a device that knows when your workout’s begun, holds your music, and lets you post information about your performance to social networks, he said. “I think you’ll see devices like that this year,” Lurie said.
The hottest devices will be able to work both on their own and with a phone, Lurie said. They’ll also have to be simple to use, a bar that no wearable has crossed yet, he said.
Once wearables start talking to LTE on their own, the sky’s the limit of what consumers will take with them, Lurie said. “Just like tablets, it’s going to all of a sudden explode.”
Cars will be another hot category of connected devices, with natural-language commands letting drivers do many things, he said.
“We believe technology in a car can make the car not only a safer place, but a place where you can do everything you can do today with your smartphone in your hand,” Lurie said. But there are hurdles left to be crossed: Cars will need to be able to talk to both Android and iOS phones without those phones coming out of the driver’s pocket. And as cars age through several generations of mobile technology, their software will have to be upgradable over the air. “The car is going to become a smartphone with four wheels.”
Lurie has overseen AT&T’s new businesses and partnerships for years, going back to the carrier’s blockbuster deal to carry the Apple iPhone exclusively for five years. Speaking before the audience at the MobileBeat conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, he wasn’t giving away any secrets about what manufacturers are showing off to AT&T.
“The things I’m seeing are pretty darn exciting,” Lurie said.
Google is working on bridging the gap Chromebook laptops and Android mobile devices, making app and data exchange seamless, said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, during a speech at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.
Users will be able to run Android applications such as Vine, Evernote and Flipboard on mobile devices or Chromebooks, Pichai said. In an on-stage demonstration, the applications were transferred from a smartphone to Chromebook.
“We’ve been working on this project for a while,” Pichai said. “We want this to be intuitive for users.”
Other demonstrations highlighted how the Chromebook was linked to Android smartphones. A Chromebook showed notifications about an incoming call and text message on a smartphone, and also showed an alert that the smartphone battery was low. This is similar to how smartwatches display notifications and music playlists from Android smartphones.
Chromebooks are primarily aimed at users who do most of their computing on the Web. A handful of smartphone-like features such as Google Now have been added to the Chromebook, whose users are also able to download movies from Google Play to watch offline.
Chromebooks have larger screens than Android mobile devices and one challenge is to port touchscreen mobile applications to Chromebooks for use with mice and keyboards, Pichai said.
Developers may have to modify code to work on different screen sizes and input mechanisms. Google hopes to make it easier for developers to change code so the applications can be adapted for Android and Chrome interfaces, Pichai said.
The feature updates will be delivered to Chromebooks later this year, Pichai said.
The Android and Chrome OSes are based on Linux, but are built as different operating systems. Google will continue to make adjustments to the OSes so mobile devices and PCs can connect and work seamlessly, Pichai said.
“We are investing a lot more in this area,” Pichai said.
YouTube is making a foray into radio with a weekly show on satellite radio service Sirius XM that will feature the online video website’s most popular and emerging artists, the companies said on Thursday.
The show called The YouTube 15 will be hosted by Jenna Marbles, one of YouTube’s most popular stars whose videos on how to talk to your dog and other snippets from her life drew more than 13 million subscribers to her channel.
YouTube’s radio show will debut July 11 on the SiriusXM Hits 1 channel, which plays pop, R&B, rock and hip-hop.
It is the first time YouTube, owned by Google Inc, has partnered with another platform on a show about music.
The show is aimed at exposing listeners to a curated selection from the vast library of YouTube music videos, said Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer for SiriusXM.
The selection of songs will reflect “what’s trending and very popular” to familiarize listeners with top hits on YouTube, he said. “Equally importantly, you are going to hear new and emerging music that many people for sure will not have heard.”
Google Glass currently comes with 1GB of RAM, but to improve performance Google will begin shipping a new version with 2GB of RAM, it said in a post to Google Plus.
The announcement angered some existing Glass owners. Some demanded a free upgrade to the 2GB version in comments on the posting. Others said they would be willing to pay a small fee for an upgrade, while one acknowledged that if further hardware updates were planned, it wouldn’t make sense for Google to upgrade all users each time. “Getting a final consumer version would be swell though,” he added.
Google does not plan to upgrade existing users’ devices, it said.
“Throughout our open beta program, you can expect to see us make changes here and there. We won’t be swapping devices, but you’ll continue to see improvements with our software updates,” a Google representative said in a comment on the posting.
The company does replace broken or defective Google Glass devices, however, prompting Google Plus user Jake Weisz to identify a loophole in the no-upgrades policy. “If defective Glass units get free upgrades to 2GB, you will see a lot of ‘defective’ models this month,” he wrote.
In May, Google broadened its Explorer Program, making Glass available in the U.S. to anyone over 18 years old for $1,500. Before that, users who wanted to buy Glass required an invitation from Google. On Monday it extended the offer to U.K. residents over 18, who can purchase Glass for $1,700.
Google is upgrading the Glass software as well as the hardware. It is adding an easier way to frame shots for photos, with the addition of L-shaped corners bracketing the image in the viewfinder screen, and adding two new Google Now cards, one to remind users where they parked their car and another to let them know when packages are arriving.
The company also announced 12 new Glassware apps from partners, including Shazam, a music recognition app that can be triggered with the words “OK Glass, recognize this song,” and 94Fifty Basketball, a training aid that works with a sensor-equipped basketball to offer feedback after each shot.
Yahoo Aviate is the product of the company’s acquisition of Aviate earlier this year, through which it obtained an app for personalizing the home screen on Android phones based on what users are doing.
Aviate’s app had been in closed beta. The app is available globally for Android phones in English, with some new features.
The app’s developers have been focused on organizing people’s apps based on any number of signals. Walk by a gym and fitness apps might pop up. Driving in your car might bring music apps like Spotify to the fore.
Yahoo’s version of the app has features to make it more useful, including alerts for weather changes, and a way to connect to conference calls with a single tap.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has spoken out on the company’s efforts to offer more in the way of “contextual search,” with Aviate comprising a key element in that pursuit.
But Aviate exists in a crowded field of apps offering personal assistant-like functions, such as EverythingMe and EasilyDo. Plus, trying to predict what people really want is hard, and could be annoying if not done right.
Apps like Aviate also compete to a degree with Google Now, Google’s mobile tool for iOS and Android that provides different information likes sports scores and news headlines based on data signals specific to the person.
T-Mobile US Inc said it’s offering at least a million mobile phone users the chance to use an Apple Inc iPhone in a free one-week trial of the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier’s network with unlimited access.
The announcement is the latest promotion from T-Mobile, which last year shook up the industry by unbundling service fees from device costs, a move other carriers soon followed.
In cooperation with device maker Apple, customers can sign up online, receive a free iPhone 5s in two days and pay no charges unless the phone is broken or not returned at aretail store one week later.
“We believe every Verizon, and every AT&T customer should cheat on their carrier and enjoy every minute of it,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere, speaking at a T-Mobile event in Seattle that was broadcast on the Internet. The carrier’s “seven-night stand” campaign asks consumers to allow the company to “woo you with our powerful data strong network” for the week.
T-Mobile’s aggressive discounting won it more subscribers in the first quarter of 2014 than any of the top wireless carriers combined. But the company’s price slashing cost it $151 million in lost revenue in the first quarter.
The company also said on Wednesday that music streaming from eight major music providers, including Pandora and Spotify, will no longer count against the data allowance included in consumers’ subscriptions.
“Streaming music is a showcase of what makes our network different. We can handle it,” said T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert.
T-Mobile customers use 69 percent more data than Verizon, and 100 percent more data than AT&T, according to the company.
The company also launched a music streaming service called ‘unRadio’, in partnership with music provider Rhapsody, which is free of advertising and will be included for customers who have unlimited high speed service. The service will also be available for $4 a month to all other subscribers.
The move follows a January AT&T announcement of a discounted subscription to Beats Music for family plan members, and a similar partnership between Sprint and Spotify in April.
T-Mobile’s massive price discounts have led to a restructuring of pricing plans across the wireless industry, as carriers unbundled service plans from the cost of devices.
U.S. carriers saw 3.2 exabytes of data traffic run across their networks, the CTIA said in its annual report on the U.S. wireless industry. An exabyte is 10×18 bytes or, put another way, a billion gigabytes.
The figure represents a 120 percent increase from the 1.5 exabytes carried in all of 2012, the group said. The CTIA is the Washington, D.C, -based lobbying group that represents the industry and it conducted the survey among its members. The data refers to traffic carried over licensed spectrum.
With 336 million subscriptions in the U.S., that figure works out to an average of 801 megabytes per subscriber line per month.
A large proportion of that data was video. While the CTIA didn’t survey members on video traffic, Cisco recently said its networking data pointed to a total of 2.2 exabytes in video data being carried by mobile networks last year. That’s an average of 563 megabytes per subscriber line per month.
U.S. customers spent 218 billion minutes per month talking on their wireless devices, which works out to an average of 650 minutes per month per line; sent 153 billion text messages per month, or 457 messages per line; and 10 billion multimedia messages, or 30 per line.
On the network side, carrier networks grew slightly as the roll out of 4G services continued apace across the country. At the end of 2013, the entire U.S. wireless network consisted of 304,360 cell sites, a rise of around 2,500 on the year. The CTIA put annual capital expenditure by wireless carriers at $33.1 billion.
Google Inc’s YouTube said that it will begin offering a paid streaming music service, amid criticism that its existing, free video website might block the music videos of labels that do not agree to its terms.
YouTube has partnered with “hundreds of major and independent” music labels for the new service, the company said in a statement, confirming long-running rumors that the world’s most popular online video website will offer a paid music service.
The news comes as some music trade groups have criticized YouTube’s plans to potentially block the content of certain labels from appearing on YouTube’s free, ad-supported Website unless they sign deals to participate in the new, subscription streaming music service. The deals that YouTube is offering are on “highly unfavorable, and non-negotiable terms,” according to a news release issued by the Worldwide Independent Music Industry Network last month.
YouTube declined to comment on the terms of the deals, but said in a statement that the new service would provide new revenue for the music industry.
“We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind – to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year,” YouTube said in a statement.
YouTube has already signed deals for the paid service with 95 percent of the music labels that it previously had deals with for its existing, ad-supported music video website, a person familiar with the matter said. Blocking certain music labels’ videos from appearing on YouTube’s free website might be necessary in order to provide a consistent user experience for the paid service, the person said.
The YouTube service is expected to launch at the end of the summer and will allow users to listen to music without any ads, according to a person familiar with the situation. Among the other features expected are the ability to listen to music offline and the ability to listen to an artist’s entire album instead of just individual songs, as is currently the case on YouTube, the person said.
Streaming music services such as Spotify and Pandora are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, as digital music downloads decline. Apple Inc announced plans to acquire streaming music service and premium headphone maker Beats for $3 billion last month.
Google launched the $9.99-per-month Play All Access subscription music service in 2013. The forthcoming YouTube paid music service could potentially work in coordination with the Play service so that consumers aren’t forced to subscribe to two separate services, the person familiar with the situation said.
SanDisk announced that it has acquired flash storage vendor Fusion-IO for a cool $1.1bn on Monday, as it looks to target enterprise data centres.
Recent rumours claimed that Fusion-IO, a firm that specialises in NAND flash PCIe hardware and software tools that are used in data centre servers, was in the market for a buyer. That buyer, we now know, is Sandisk, which announced plans to throw $1.1bn at the firm in order to accelerate its growth in the enterprise market. Sandisk said it will pay all $1.1bn, or $11.28 per share, in cash, and that expects the deal to close in the second half of fiscal 2015.
With Fusion-IO under its wing, Sandisk claims it will speed up its efforts in enabling the flash-transformed data center, which will help it make a bigger name for itself in the enterprise market.
Sandisk CEO and president Sanjay Mehotra said, “Fusion-IO will accelerate our efforts to enable the flash-transformed data centre, helping companies better manage increasingly heavy data workloads at a lower total cost of ownership.
“Customers will benefit from the addition of Fusion-IO’s leading PCIe solutions to Sandisk’s vertically integrated business model. We look forward to working with the world-class engineering and go-to-market teams from Fusion-IO to provide high-value solutions to customers around the world.”
Fusion-IO chairman and CEO Shane Robison added, “Fusion-IO’s innovative hardware and software solutions will be augmented by Sandisk’s worldwide scale and vertical integration, enabling a combined company that can offer an even more compelling value proposition for customers and partners.”
Sandisk will hosted a call on the buyout on Monday, where they explained more about the deal.
Amazon.com Inc rolled out a streaming music service on Thursday that comes free with its $99-a-year Prime membership program, but offers a smaller selection of recent hits than rivals Spotify and Apple Inc’s Beats Music.
The new feature, named “Prime Music,” allows subscribers of the $99-a-year program to stream or download more than a million songs without added fees or interruptions from advertisements.
This is one of many steps Amazon has taken in recent months to broaden the appeal of Prime, which includes perks such as free two-day shipping, after increasing its price to $99 from $79.
But the selection on Amazon’s streaming service is less robust than Spotify and Beats, which both offer more than 20 million songs. Amazon will also have fewer new songs and will not include songs from Universal Music Group Inc’s catalog, which includes work from artists Kanye West and Lady Gaga.
Amazon’s head of digital music, Steve Boom, acknowledged those shortcomings, but added that because the service is free with Prime, it offers more bang per buck than standalone streaming services that can cost $10 a month.
“If there are a few tracks you want to buy, the cost of doing that in our store will be dramatically less than paying $120 a year for, frankly, a lot of music people don’t listen to,” Boom said in an interview.
Amazon’s own data shows that a “substantial” portion of the 25 million to 30 million songs sold on its website are never purchased, he said. He declined to elaborate.
Universal, the world’s largest record company, and Amazon are still in negotiations about the service, he said, declining to elaborate on the negotiations or its sticking points.
Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and other smaller labels have signed on to the Amazon service. In some of its deals with labels, Amazon will have to wait up to six months after songs are released to add them to its service. In other cases, Amazon will be able to add new songs immediately.
The new service is a reflection of Amazon’s aggressive push into new areas such as digital content and hardware. Next week, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is expected to unveil Amazon’s first smartphone during an event in Seattle.
Tango, the popular mobile messaging app, said that it has reached agreements with media companies including AOL and Vevo to distribute content in a new effort to differentiate itself in the hotly contested mobile messaging sector.
Tango said its 200 million users worldwide will be able to browse new “Channels” for entertainment, news, sports and other categories to discover articles, videos and songs. Content providers so far include music streaming service Spotify, AOL properties including the Huffington Post and Dailymotion, the video repository.
For Tango, the media partnerships are critical for its ambitions to become an online media hub – and a differentiating feature from other messaging services such as Whatsapp, the startup acquired by Facebook Inc in a $19 billion deal this year.
Whatsapp, for instance, has focused exclusively on improving its text-based messaging service, while China’s Tencent Holdings service WeChat touts the games it offers.
Tango co-founder Eric Setton said having unique and rich content would provide a unique draw for users. At the same time, Tango’s messaging service provided the ideal platform to distribute content for media companies, he argued.
“People realize that less and less time is spent on Web browsers, and all of the rest of the time is in apps,” Setton said in an interview. “We have a role to play here, in the distribution of content and the discovery of content because content producers need a way to get into bigger and bigger apps.”
Facebook’s Whatsapp acquisition in February – the largest in history for a venture-backed company – cast a spotlight squarely on the promise and potential value of mobile messaging apps.
Tokyo-based Line Corp, one of Asia’s fastest growing messaging services, is considering an initial public offering this year, according to media reports.
Tango has been watched closely in Silicon Valley circles particularly after it received an investment exceeding $200 million from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in March, effectively cementing its ties to the Chinese e-commerce giant.
Intel has announced a new family of products aimed at the automotive industry. Intel’s platform is designed for entertainment, navigation and there are some “smartcar” features, too.
The first product is basically a board with an Intel processor on top, but its real value is in the software, not hardware. Intel is developing a Linux-based environment for auto applications and it does not appear to have much in common with Intel’s previous efforts in the field. Intel’s extensive experience in bringing new x86 platforms to market and backing them with the necessary software is unmatched. In addition, Intel should have no problem offering support for a wide range of software platforms down the road.
Significant investment, potentially huge market
Intel Capital started making significant investments in the automotive space two years ago, with the creation of the Intel Capital Connected Car Fund, a $100 million fund tasked with accelerating development in the automotive niche.
The automotive infotainment market is growing at a healthy rate. There is no consensus on the CAGR, but most research firms put it in double digit territory. Growth is picking up, too. GSMA believes the market will grow threefold in just five years, eventually hitting $38 billion by 2018.
The automotive niche is getting a lot of attention from leading chipmakers such as Texas Instruments and Nvidia. In fact, Nvidia is in the process of reshaping its SoC strategy to better tap this market, shifting focus away from smartphones in the process.
The mobile market is overheating and growth is slowing down. As a result new niches such as wearables, IoT, home automation and automotive platforms are attracting more investment.
Speeding up time-to-market
Intel is touting speed as its key differentiator. The chipmaker believes it can drastically reduce infotainment development time, allowing carmakers to bring their solutions to market faster than the competition. Intel claims it can reduce development time by more than a year and cut costs by as much as 50 percent.
It is not just about music and navigation. Smart cars are the next big step and Intel wants to be a part of the self-driving car revolution.
“Our goal is to fuel the evolution from convenience features available in the car today to enhanced safety features of tomorrow and eventually self-driving capabilities,” said Doug Davis, Intel VP, IoT group.
In spite of the mobile boom witnessed over the past decade, most cars in showrooms today are ‘dumb’, not to mention older vehicles on the road. It is not just about making parallel parking a breeze. Smart automotive platforms promise to deliver huge improvements in terms of efficiency and safety. Convenience is just one small part of the puzzle.
The social network is in the hot water again, this time for an upcoming feature that will allow it to listen in on its users via their smartphone’s microphone. But the backlash might reveal more about people’s declining trust in Facebook than about the feature itself.
Facebook said last week it will soon introduce “a new, optional way to share and discover music, TV and movies.” If users allow Facebook to access their microphone while they’re writing a status update, the company will identify the content playing in the background and automatically include it.
“That means if you want to share that you’re listening to your favorite Beyonce track or watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones, you can do it quickly and easily, without typing,” Facebook said at the time. The feature will be made available on Android and iOS in the coming weeks.
Some users were quick to flag it as a potential privacy violation and shared warnings — on Facebook, naturally — about its impending arrival. An online petition has also circulated, urging Facebook to kill the feature. It had received more than 500,000 signatures by Friday afternoon, according to a counter on the site. That’s a lot of concerned people, though a fraction of Facebook’s total base of 1.2 billion.
The petition claims the app will allow Facebook to “listen to our conversations and surroundings through our own phones’ microphone.” It calls it a “Big Brother move,” a “threat to our privacy” and “downright creepy.”
But the protest may say more about people’s confidence in Facebook than about the technology itself. There are already popular apps like Shazam andSoundHound that use the smartphone microphone to identify songs, but those apps haven’t been subject to a similar backlash.
For sure, Facebook’s app goes further. It identifies a broader range of content, including TV shows and movies. And it will share what people are listening to or watching in their status update — if they ask it to.
But Facebook insists it has no interest in recording what you’re saying. In response to the concerns, it updated its blog post to clarify that “Facebook isn’t listening to or storing your conversations.”
The company says the feature records only a 15-second clip, that it converts to an “audio fingerprint” and sends to its servers where it tries to match it to fingerprints of movies and TV shows. “By design, we do not store fingerprints from your device for any amount of time,” Facebook said. And the fingerprints don’t include enough data to convert them back into the original audio, it added.
During April, about one in every six people who went online surfed the Web using a mobile browser, according to Net Applications. Mobile browsing’s climb of more than 5 percentage points in the last 12 months represented a growth rate of 48%.
Most of the rest of those who went online in April did so armed with a desktop browser installed on a personal computer.
The shift toward mobile has hurt Mozilla most of all: Firefox’s total user share — the combination of both desktop and mobile — was 14.1% for April, its lowest level since Computerworld began tracking the metric. That was only slightly ahead of Apple’s Safari and significantly behind Google’s Chrome and Android browsers.
Mozilla’s dilemma continues to be its inability to attract a mobile audience. Although the company has long offered Firefox on Android, its share was so small that Net Applications did not even note it last month. And Mozilla’s Firefox OS, a browser-based mobile operating system that has garnered limited support, didn’t show up in the analytics company’s numbers, either.
Mozilla’s case hasn’t been helped by a steady drain on its desktop user share, which in April slipped to 17% of all desktop browsers, down from 20% a year earlier.
Hot on Mozilla’s heels in April was Apple, whose combined desktop and mobile browser user share reached 13.1%. Almost two-thirds of that was credited to Safari on iOS, the mobile operating system that powers iPhones and iPads. While Safari on iOS continued to shed share last month — it’s long been under attack from the glut of Android-powered devices used around the world — the increase in mobile browsing’s popularity was enough to actually boost its combined user share from September 2013, the last time Computerworld visited the topic.
But Google has become the clear winner in the mobile browsing sweepstakes. Its old-stock Android browser has held steady while Chrome has grown by leaps and bounds as new devices come online armed with the browser, which is available for download from Google Play. In the last 12 months, Chrome’s user share of mobile has soared 447%.