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Spotify Inks Licensing Deal With Sony Music

July 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Spotify has pulled together a licensing deal with a second major label, Sony Music Entertainment, according to media reports, setting the stage for a U.S. stock market listing by the music streaming leader.

Recently valued at $13 billion, Sweden’s Spotify is planning a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange later this year or in early 2018, sources told Reuters in May.

Sony agreed to reduce royalties that Spotify must pay in return for the streaming service restricting new albums to paying subscribers for two weeks before offering access to free users, the Financial Times reported, citing a single source.

Sony’s top artists include Adele, Beyonce and Shakira.

Spotify is also in talks with Warner Music Group , Billboard reported.

Favorable royalty terms are crucial for Spotify to attain profitability and to make it a viable long-term holding for investors.

The company reported a 349 million euro ($400 million) operating loss, a 47 percent increase on a year earlier, even as revenue grew 50 percent to 2.93 billion euros.

In April, it signed a multi-year licensing deal with Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, with a similar two-week release window for new albums and a break on the royalties Spotify pays Universal.

It also signed up digital agency Merlin, on behalf of more than 20,000 independent labels.

Last year, Universal held a 28.9 percent share of global music label revenue, Sony Music generated 22.4 percent and Warner 17.4 percent. Independent labels made up the remaining 31.3 percent, MIDiA Research data showed.

Spotify has fended off competition from rival Apple Music, with nearly double the number of paying subscribers.

In March, Spotify said it had more than 50 million paying subscribers and 140 million active users, including free listeners. Apple reported 27 million music subscribers last month, up from 20 million in December.

The company has faced boycotts from some top music artists who have complained its free services undercut the value of their work but the major label licensing deals have gone some way toward easing these tensions, according to analysts.

Spotify declined to comment. Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group did not respond to requests for immediate comment.

Toshiba Launches 4-bit NAND Flash Memory

July 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Toshiba has announced the latest generation of 3D flash memory, the 4-bit-per-cell, quadruple-level cell (QLC) technology NAND flash memory.

Thanks to the QLC technology, which features a 64-layer stacked cell structure, Toshiba managed to hit the world’s largest die capacity of 768Gb/96GB. This also enables a 1.5TB (terabyte) device with a 16-die stacked architecture in a single package, which is also a 50 percent increase in capacity per package compared to the earlier generation.

Since QLC NAND flash suffers from the same, if not worse issues as the MLC NAND, which is how to push data into a single cell without affecting the reliability and performance, it remains to be seen if SSDs based on QLC NAND flash memory will actually hit the cost/performance sweet spot.

We suspect that these drives will mostly be focused on data centers, where lower power consumption and footprint are a premium, but eventually we will see it in other markets.

According to Toshiba, samples of the QLC device started shipping earlier in June to SSD and SSD controller vendors for evaluation and development purposes while further samples will be showcased at the upcoming Flash Memory Summit 2017 in August.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Announces Return Of ‘Prime Day’ Sales Bonanza

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

If you missed last year’s sales extravaganza, Amazon has good news for you.

The e-commerce titan has officially announced its third annual Prime Day will be July 11. The sales day will include hundreds of thousands of deals worldwide and run for 30 hours, starting at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on July 10. As usual, these deals will be available only to Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year in the US and can sign up for £59 in the UK until July 3, for unlimited two-day shipping and other perks.

The sale will also expand to more countries to include Mexico, China and India, where Amazon launched its Prime membership program over the past year. The US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium and Austria are also included.

Amazon has found huge success creating the sales holiday in 2015 to mark its 20th anniversary. The company even broke its single-day sales record during Prime Day last year. But, as Amazon’s dominance continues to grow, Prime Day serves as another example of the online seller gobbling up more market share as traditional retailers file for bankruptcy or close stores. The company last year accounted for 43 percent of all online sales in the US, according to researcher Slice Intelligence.

Perhaps aware of its increased influence, Amazon mentioned in its announcement Wednesday that 40 percent of its “Lightning Deals” promotions on Prime Day will come from small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Since its first year, Prime Day has also gotten knocked for offering undesirable deals along with low inventories of the most popular items. Responding to that criticism, the company increased its stocks of big-name items last year and decided to embrace the sometimes oddball or unexpected nature of the deals offered. These changed seemed to work, with Adobe Digital Insights reporting that customer sentiments on social media was more positive last year than during the first Prime Day.

The company is also doing more this year to better organize deals and make it easier for customers to track and shop for sales.

Amazon will be continuing its “countdown deals” in the run-up to Prime Day, offering sales starting today. Those include discounts on memberships for Amazon Music Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited and Audible.

Will Tesla Be Next To Join The Already Crowded Music Streaming Business?

June 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Move over, Spotify. Eat it, Apple. Later, Tidal. Tesla wants to join the club.

That’s at least the latest from Recode, which cites music industry sources saying Tesla has held talks with all the major labels about licensing for a proprietary music streaming service.

What isn’t clear is when and if Tesla will rev this effort up, so to speak, or how broad it will be. Will this be just for its cars or for anyone with a phone?

Tesla, in a statement, didn’t address the rumor directly, but instead said its goal is, “to simply achieve maximum happiness for our customers.”

“We believe it’s important to have an exceptional in-car experience so our customers can listen to the music they want from whatever source they choose,” the company said.

Sony Music Entertainment, one of the industry’s major record labels, declined to comment. Meanwhile Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Of course, Tesla has a long history of going it alone. The all-electric car company created special software and chargers, despite already existing options. The company even created its own software to manage its manufacturing centers.

Can Apple’s HomePod Compete With Amazon’s Alexa

June 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Back in May, we wrote that Apple was preparing to release a Siri-based smart home speaker that would take on competition from Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo series, Google Home, and Harmon Kardon’s recently announced Cortana-based smart speaker.

On Monday during the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller took the stage and introduced the device as the Apple HomePod. On the surface, the name sounds almost nothing like a high-fidelity music device, but under the hood the unit features a number of multitasking commands all natively powered by Siri’s voice control algorithms.

Based on reports from the WWDC show floor, the HomePod’s audio output has been described as “full, wide, and heavily sculpted” and “amazingly loud for such a small speaker”. The company has tuned its speaker profile to provide deep thumping bass, bright vocals, and absent of any flats or distortions. We are guessing that Apple has tuned into the expertise it gained from its acquisition of Beats back in May 2014, which was intended to raise its competitive outlook in the music streaming business. This time around, it has developed a smart hub speaker that will not only raise the stakes in the voice assistant category, but seems to perform in the upper tier category for an audio product.

“It’ll sound right to lots of people,” says Wired’s David Pierce.

As it stands, Microsoft is the only company in the voice assistant market that has placed an emphasis on balanced, richer sound with the Invoke, manufactured by Harmon Kardon. That device is likely to include a propriatory DSP audio technology that delivers a similar 360 degrees of room filling sound, complete with echo and noise cancellation features.

Spatial awareness, Apple Music integration, daisy-chaining support

The HomePod measures under seven inches tall and features a large, Apple-designed woofer, a custom array of seven beamforming tweeters. Just as Amazon supports daisy-chaining multiple Echo devices together in multiple rooms, Apple will let users wirelessly connect multiple HomePods together to create a whole home surround system, only using Siri instead of Alexa. Each HomePod uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio levels, providing more directional control that doesn’t require repositioning several times to hear every tonal pitch from an originally mastered audio track.

The speaker, it’s claimed,  is  compatible with the entire Apple Music library and will be able to answer advanced Siri questions, including the ability to look up drummers and pianists. Of course, the device’s Echo-like features will allow users to send text messages, access sports and weather, and close the curtains without any music interruptions.

HomeKit compatibility

The HomePod is compatible with Apple’s smart home platform HomeKit, which lets users operate their thermostats, dim the lights, set sprinkler timers, and perform routine appliance switching functions. To make this possible, however, all connected HomeKit devices will need to have a special MFi (Made for iDevices) chip installed for machine-to-machine security. This is Apple’s way of not only getting partners to stump up royalty fees, but ensuring that any home automation products can’t be tampered with from the neighbor’s smart hub device a few blocks down the street.

Apple’s HomePod will not come cheap, with a price of $349 (£270 / AU$465) when it releases it later in December in the US, UK and Australia. By contrast, Amazon’s Echo has been selling at $180 since its introduction in 2014, while Google’ Home sells for $130 and the Harmon Kardon Invoke will likely debut at or below $200 to stay competitive with Google and Amazon. Now that Apple has made its announcement, however, Microsoft may change its price structure, depending on how it views the HomePod in relation to its own premium audio offering.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Launches Bookstore In New York City

May 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon’s will open its newest Amazon Books location, the company’s first in New York, Thursday in the Shops at Columbus Circle, across from Central Park.

“We talk about this as a physical extension of Amazon.com,” said Jennifer Cast, Amazon Books’ vice president, as she showed a few reporters around the store Tuesday. “So you’ll see that we incorporate features that customers love from Amazon.com in various places.”

The 4,000-square-foot space is part of the expanding portfolio of store concepts that Amazon is developing in hopes of cracking into physical retail, with each idea offering its own Amazonian twists. There’s the cashier-less convenience store called Amazon Go; the AmazonFresh Pickup twist on the grocery story, in which you order online and then fetch from the store; and college “bookstores” that don’t store any books.

Amazon is likely hoping to build up its retail presence so it can keep up its massive growth, especially because more than 90 percent of US retail sales still happen in stores. But all this work is coming at a particularly grim time for the broader world of physical retail. At least 10 traditional retailers have filed for bankruptcy protection so far in 2017, and others have announced store closures and layoffs. A major culprit of all this upheaval is Amazon, which convinced more people to shop online. So it’s not without irony that the e-commerce pioneer is now pushing into brick-and-mortar.

“We know that customers like to touch and feel and be in a store, particularly for books. We’ve heard for the past decade that customers want to be able to experiment with our devices and ask questions and try them,” Cast said when asked about Amazon’s new move into physical stores, “and so it just makes sense for us to do this.”

She declined to say whether the stores are profitable but said that the intention is to make money from them, not just to build these spaces as elaborate Amazon billboards.

The Columbus Circle location is Amazon’s seventh bookstore, coming about a year and a half after the first Amazon Books opened in the company’s hometown of Seattle. A total of 13 Amazon Books locations will be open by year’s end, including another Manhattan location on 34th Street, the company said. In comparison, there are about 630 Barnes & Noble bookstores.

Amazon Books’ unique features include a lack of price tags on the shelves. Instead, customers can use the Amazon shopping app on their phones to scan nearby bar codes to find prices, reviews and other information. The company also relies on its wealth of shopping data to create different sections, such as Page Turners, which are books Kindle readers finish in three days or less. There are also only about 3,000 titles in the store, so the only books that make the cut are those that get at least a four-star customer rating or are anticipated new releases.

There’s also a section in the front showing off a bunch of Amazon’s own gadgets, including Fire tablets, Echo smart speakers and Fire TV game controllers.

Amazon is still experimenting with its stores, trying out a bunch of ideas to see what sticks. It should be an uphill battle for the company to outdo incumbents like Macy’s and Target and Barnes & Noble, which have been at this game for a much longer time. But if it finds the right mix of tech and retail, that could spell even more trouble for traditional stores.

European Union Anticipates More E-commerce Anti-trust Violation Investigations

May 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The European Union plans to initiate more antitrust investigations into e-commerce companies after a two-year inquiry uncovered practices that restrict competition, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

In its report following the initial inquiry, the European Commission said there was an increased use of contractual restrictions to control product distribution, which could be in breach of EU antitrust rules.

“Certain practices by companies in e-commerce markets may restrict competition by unduly limiting how products are distributed throughout the EU,” Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The e-commerce sector inquiry is part of the European Commission’s campaign to overhaul the bloc’s digital market in a bid to boost growth and catch up with the United States and Asia.

“The insight gained from the sector inquiry will enable the Commission to target EU antitrust enforcement in European e-commerce markets, which will include opening further antitrust investigations,” the Commission said.

The EU executive also found that manufacturers increasingly use selective distribution systems where products can only be sold by pre-authorized sellers, giving them more control over distribution and price.

The report showed that almost 60 percent of digital content providers have agreed with the copyright holders for music, films and TV shows, for example, to geoblock, namely restricting consumers’ access to products and services based on where they are located.

Some licensing practices may also make it more difficult for new online business models and services to emerge, the Commission said.

EU antitrust scrutiny of the pharmaceutical, energy and financial services industries over the past decade prompted investigations into companies in all three sectors.

Amazon Unveils Echo Show, To Go On Sale In June

May 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc has unveiled Echo Show, a touchscreen device that will allow users to make video calls and watch clips from CNN, the latest in the company’s series of popular Echo voice-controlled speakers.

The device, which will go on sale in June for about $230, will feature Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled aide, that can be used to play music, order an Uber or turn on the house lights.

Echo Show will allow video conferencing between users having an Echo device or the Alexa app. It is the first to support the feature, which is absent in similar devices offered by rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s unit Google.

“Putting a semi-permanent ambient device in the home that can make and receive video calls is an interesting evolution which should prove compelling,” said Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson.

The launch of the Echo Show is Amazon’s latest effort to make Alexa a key part of its customers’ lives and dominate the nascent voice-powered computing market.

“What we’re seeing is Amazon using its smart original foray into and early dominance of this space as a beachhead to spread into lots of other areas,” Dawson said.

A study by research firm eMarketer showed that Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices will claim a 70.6 percent share of the U.S. market this year, well ahead of Google Home’s 23.8 percent share.

Amazon unveiled a voice-controlled camera, the Echo Look, last month alongside an app that recommends outfits for users.

The launch comes a day after Microsoft Corp said it was developing a voice-activated speaker in collaboration with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s unit Harman Kardon.

Amazon’s Alexa Dominates Voice-controlled Speaker Market

May 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc is dominating the niche market for voice-controlled speakers, according to data from research firm eMarketer.

The e-commerce giant’s Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices will claim a 70.6 percent share of the U.S. market this year, the study found. The speakers feature Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled aide, which users can tell to play music, order an Uber or turn on the house lights.

That puts it far ahead of Alphabet Inc’s Google Home, a similar gadget that has a 23.8 percent share, and less successful offerings from other tech companies.

The number of active U.S. users will more than double for the devices this year, to 35.6 million, eMarketer said.

The report underscores Amazon’s progress in making Alexa and its speech-recognition technology an integral part of customers’ lives. More users means more data that can improve Alexa’s understanding and could make it a top platform for voice, like Windows is for desktop.

Amazon does not disclose Echo sales figures but has said it had trouble keeping the product in stock. Device sales and extra revenue from shoppers placing orders via Alexa could generate $10 billion for Amazon by 2020, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney said in a recent note. And that does not include potential revenue from others using Alexa as a platform.

Google’s share is expected to grow, though. Tests by analysts have shown the technology underpinning the Google Home to match or be superior to competitors. A survey by Mahaney found the device’s brand awareness in the United States already equaled 80 percent of Alexa’s, despite being on the market for fewer months.

The statistics from eMarketer focused on speakers and left out other virtual assistants: notably, Apple Inc’s Siri and Microsoft Corp’s Cortana. More than 60 million in the United States will use virtual assistants at least once monthly in 2017, the report said. That’s over a quarter of U.S. smartphone users.

Is Digital Rights Management On The Way Out?

May 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Two years ago, Cory Doctorow joined the EFF’s campaign to eliminate DRM within eight years and he claims that he is on target to do that thanks to tractors

Talking to the DEF CON hacking conference, Doctorow said that the farmers and the Digital Right To Repair Coalition have done brilliantly and have a message which is extremely resonant with the political right as well as the political left.

The entertainment industry seems to oppose extending the DMCA to tractors and if Big Content, which is very proprietary towards laws that protect DRM, thinks that it is silly then it acknowledges that there are cases were DRM is bad.

“They really feel that they lobbied for and bought these laws to protect the business model they envisioned. For these latecomer upstarts to turn up and stretch and distort these laws out of proportion has really exposed one of the natural cracks in copyright altogether,” he said.

Doctorow one good thing which will come from Brexit, is that the UK will renegotiate and reevaluate its relationship to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other directives.

“The UK enjoys a really interesting market position if it wants to be the only nation in the region that makes, exports, and supports DRM-breaking tools,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Toshiba Out Of The Woods?

April 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Toshiba Corp’s shares finally recovered this week after Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that Apple is considering a multi-billion-dollar investment into the company’s semiconductor chip business.

Back in February, Toshiba revealed that it had been considering a split of its memory chip business into a separate company to help make up for a $6.56 billion write-down of its US nuclear equipment operations. In late December, the company’s shares fell more than 45 percent after revealing that it was balancing a four-part effort to get back to a profitable state.

The following month, Foxconn and TSMC both partnered up to place bids on shares of Toshiba’s memory business in an attempt to challenge Samsung’s dominance of the flash memory market. The collaboration team has been serious about its talks with Toshiba, but is not trying to force anything to happen.

Apple wants 20 percent stake in Toshiba’s chip business

Now, the latest reports from NHK suggests the fruit-themed toymaker also wants more than 20 percent stake in Toshiba’s chip business, while somehow convincing Toshiba to maintain partial stake and keep the business under US and Japanese regulations, according to anonymous sources. Without subverting existing negotiations, the Cupertino company has considered a plan where Foxconn would own around a 30 percent stake of the NAND flash business so as not to interrupt global market competition over Japan’s semiconductor industry.

Prior to Apple’s announcement, Toshiba has so far narrowed down the field of memory unit bidders to four companies, according to sources. They include Broadcom, SK Hynix, Foxconn, and Western Digital.

Attention is now on company auditor, Tokyo Stock Exchange

On Thursday, Toshiba’s shares were down 4.8 percent after declining as much as 8.1 percent during morning trade. Experts have cautioned that the company is now in a warning zone of losing its listed status on the stock exchange, as it faces increased financial risk at its Westinghouse nuclear subsidiary. According to Financial Times, the Tokyo Stock Exchange is now attempting to decide whether the company’s internal controls comply with its listing criteria. Toshiba has proposed several improvements following its $1.3 billion accounting scandal in 2015, but if they are deemed insufficient by the exchange, then its shares could be delisted and the company would ultimately transition into a private entity.

Besides the foreign investor lawsuit that arrived on behalf of its accounting malpractices, Toshiba’s accounts were notable in part because its independent auditor, PwC Aarata, did not certify their accuracy. One analyst at Citigroup claims that Toshiba’s disagreement with its auditor was likely to “heighten concern” about its shares being delisted. Robert Rostan, a former Deloitte auditor, says “It is extremely rare for an independent auditor to not sign off on a client’s accounts, let alone a public industrial giant like Toshiba.”

Despite the financial risk posed by its flagship nuclear projects, Toshiba insists everything on the balance sheets is under control. Aside from a very tangible delisting risk, it will be left to the mercy of Toshiba’s many financial creditors to garner up enough support in solidarity for the weathered company.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Touts New Power Saving Feature In Windows 10

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft is touting operating system-wide power efficiencies in a recent preview of Windows 10, claiming that the technology will reduce notebook battery consumption by 11% on laptops equipped with the newest processors.

The technology, temporarily tagged as “Power Throttling,” was enabled on all copies of Windows 10 Insider build 16176, which Microsoft released Friday. Insider is the beta program Microsoft runs for both enthusiasts and businesses. The latter rely on Insider to learn how the OS will change for the next feature upgrade, as well as for testing the upgrade prior to deploying the final code when it is shipped several months later.

“With ‘Power Throttling,’ when background work is running, Windows places the CPU in its most energy efficient operating modes — work gets done, but the minimal possible battery is spent on that work,” Bill Karagounis, director of program management for Insider, said in a post to a company blog.

The CPU throttling is triggered on an app-specific basis by a detection system Microsoft integrated with the OS, said Karagounis. Like other such technologies, Microsoft’s is meant to recognize foreground tasks — such as active apps — as well as persistent applications, like music streaming applications, then give them full access to the processor. Other apps, or even individual processes within an app, that are classified as “background,” are restricted in how they impact the CPU’s power usage. For instance, they may not be allowed to kick the processor into its higher-frequency, higher-power, higher-consumption mode.

Power Throttling works only on Intel processors with that firm’s Speed Shift, a feature of sixth-generation and later CPUs, including “Skylake” and the newer “Kaby Lake.”

Recognizing that most personal computers are laptops and that battery longevity is a major factor in productivity, Microsoft has aggressively promoted Windows 10’s power savings, notably in the boosterism behind Edge, the OS’s default browser.

The Redmond, Wash. company isn’t working in a vacuum: Other operating systems also try to eke out more battery life by scaling back CPU use. Apple’s iOS, for instance, switches to a low-power mode when an iPhone or iPad battery reaches about 20% capacity. Among other things, the iOS mode halts background app refreshing and stops automatic email fetching.

Microsoft first added Power Throttling to Windows 10 in January, saying that it had turned it on for a subset of Insider-equipped devices as an experiment and promising to provide an update in mid-February. That update never appeared, hinting that Microsoft pulled it from inclusion in the then-upcoming Creators Update, the feature upgrade released April 11.

The first opportunity most users will have to apply Power Throttling will be with 2017’s second feature upgrade. Microsoft has not revealed a release timetable, but most experts expect it to appear this fall.

Bose Headphones Accused Of Spying On Users

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Bose Corp spies on its wireless headphone owners by using an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, and violates their privacy rights by selling such data without permission, a lawsuit charged.

The complaint filed by Kyle Zak in federal court in Chicago seeks an injunction to stop Bose’s “wholesale disregard” for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app from Apple Inc or Google Play stores to their smartphones.

“People should be uncomfortable with it,” Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, said in an interview. “People put headphones on their head because they think it’s private, but they can be giving out information they don’t want to share.”

Bose did not respond on Wednesday to requests for comment on the proposed class action case. The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company has said annual sales top $3.5 billion.

Zak’s lawsuit was the latest to accuse companies of trying to boost profit by quietly amassing customer information, and then selling it or using it to solicit more business.

After paying $350 for his QuietComfort 35 headphones, Zak said he took Bose’s suggestion to “get the most out of your headphones” by downloading its app, and providing his name, email address and headphone serial number in the process.

But the Illinois resident said he was surprised to learn that Bose sent “all available media information” from his smartphone to third parties such as Segment.io, whose website promises to collect customer data and “send it anywhere.”

Audio choices offer “an incredible amount of insight” into customers’ personalities, behavior, politics and religious views, citing as an example that a person who listens to Muslim prayers might “very likely” be a Muslim, the complaint said.

“Defendants’ conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights,” the complaint said.

Zak is seeking millions of dollars of damages for buyers of headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.

He also wants a halt to the data collection, which he said violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.

Dore, a partner at Edelson PC, said customers do not see the Bose app’s user service and privacy agreements when signing up, and the privacy agreement says nothing about data collection.

Edelson specializes in suing technology companies over alleged privacy violations.

Will Acer See Growth From Gaming PCs?

March 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to a recent report from top executives at Acer, the company expects to experience double-digit growth this year in the gaming PC and low-cost Chromebook markets, with most of the growth being generated from Chromebooks in particular.

The company currently offers the Chromebook CB5 series based on Intel Celeron dual-core chips and 2GB of RAM for $249, the Chromebook 14 series based on Intel Celeron quad-core chips and 4GB of RAM for $259, and the Chromebook CB3 series based on Intel Celeron dual-core chips and 2GB of RAM for $169. Other alternatives include the 11.6-inch Flip Convertible Chromebook based on Intel Celeron dual-core chips ant 4GB of RAM for $249.

Chromebook demand coming from Australia

This category of thin-client, Linux-based laptops is expected to give the company a boost as it takes on competition from ASUS, HP, Dell, Lenovo and others, though it currently manages to hold the most Chromebook product design wins for the year so far.

In particular, Acer says there is an increased demand for Chromebooks from Australia – a sign that the applications for Chromebooks have been expanding, and more markets are starting to show demand for the devices. According to company CEO Jason Chen, the North American market for these thin-client devices is at 30 to 35 percent, while in Europe and Australia it is around 50 percent.

The company also expects shipments of its gaming PCs to increase this year thanks to more stability in component prices over the past few months. In 2016, several market factors combined to have a significant impact on the global supply chain for NAND flash components, small and medium-sized color TFT panels, and premium panels using wide-angle IPS technology.

In other news, the number two executive at Acer’s EMEA regional department, Marco Wang-Adresen, is expected to leave the company after six years, in order to take the same spot at Lenovo at the beginning of next month.

Acer gaming PC products enter US military bases

In addition to the company’s existing online and retail channels, its gaming PC products have also begun to enter retail channels at US military bases worldwide. Over the past decade, the US Army has adopted a variety of games to simulate training environments in an effort to reduce infrastructure costs, lower time on a limited number of ranges, and shoot less ammunition. In 2015, the Army spent more than $27 million on virtual training devices, and the idea is that Acer and others can sell gaming PCs to perform training operations inside tighter timing restraints.

Since last summer, the company has been pushing its non-PC product lines aggressively as well, including its StarVR panoramic virtual reality headset featuring two 5.5-inch displays and a 210-degree field of view. The company also has a partnership with IMAX to establish fifteen VR experience centers worldwide, including two initial centers in Los Angeles and Manchester, UK.

While non-PC product lines account for a smaller portion of the company’s overall sales, it expects to make other devices such as its Windows Mixed Reality headset a priority when the first developer units ship later this month. The company will have several areas of growth to work with this year aside from Chromebooks and gaming PCs, so we can expect stock prices to change as component supplies pick up once again and more units begin shipping worldwide.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Shows Off Optane SSD

March 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Over the weekend, Intel pushed ahead with the release of its first consumer and enterprise SSD based on 3D XPoint technology, with latency rates roughly one hundred times lower than NAND flash alternatives that have dominated the market since 2007.

The first Optane-branded storage device is called the Optane SSD DC P4800X, which the company says is designed to be used either as high-performance storage or as a caching device in data centers. The card features a capacity of 375GB, with latency of under 10 microseconds (10µs), along with 550,000 random 4K reads, 500,000 random 4K writes, and an overall endurance rating of 12.3 petabytes written (PBW).

3D XPoint memory is about 100 times lower latency than NAND flash, sits right under DRAM (faster), but really puts some pressure on the data center market in terms of access times and endurance ratings. Intel claims that the low latency and high endurance can yield between eight and 40 times faster responses under large workloads, especially for database applications, while consistently outperforming NAND-based technologies.

Originally, the company’s plan was to release 16GB and 32GB Optane storage products under the Intel Optane Memory 8000p series. These units were capable of reaching up to 300,000 random 4K reads and 120,000 random 4K writes, and up to 1,600MB/s sequential reads and 500MB/s sequential writes. The release date for these smaller configurations is currently unknown but are still scheduled for release sometime later this year.

The first noticeable benefit to using Optane as a storage product for enterprise users is the option to significantly upgrade the overall capacity of onboard RAM. For instance, Intel’s dual-socket Xeon systems can support up to 3TB of DRAM but are able to accommodate an additional 24TB of Optane storage. Quad-socket systems, on the other hand, can accommodate 12TB of DRAM and an additional 48TB of Optane storage.

Not cheap – $1,520 at launch, compatible with Kaby Lake

The Intel Optane P4800X 375GB PCI-E add-in card will initially be a very application-specific product for “creative professionals” and enterprise users who need low-latency caching at every point in their systems – from onboard CPU cache, to storage, to DRAM. The other usage model will be for enterprise users who need substantially more memory available to their systems, even at a slightly higher latency cost. The company will initially release the 375GB PCI-E model at $1,520 with limited availability, followed by 375GB and 750GB U.2 models in Q2, and a 1.5TB PCI-E add-in card in the second half of the year.

We expect these modules to be compatible with current Z270 chipsets along with upcoming X299 chipsets due in fall.

Optane DIMMs come next year

This year, Intel is sticking to Optane products in the PCI-Express form factor, but next year plans to make the technology more flexible to performance and enterprise users in the form of individual Optane DIMMs. Pricing and spec options on such modules has yet to be discussed, though the technology available in both formats is expected to significantly boost applications that require large amounts of raw memory consumption.

Courtesy-Fud

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