Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

BlackBerry Says Device Business Is Top Priority

June 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd’s top priority this year is to make its devices business turn a profit, its chief executive said, even as it weighs the future of its hardware operation.

“The device business must be profitable, because we don’t want to run a business that drags onto the bottom line,” Chief Executive John Chen told investors at the company’s annual meeting. “We’ve got to get there this year.”

Chen has previously said a decision would be made by September on the future of the unit, which has suffered a sustained drop in sales in recent quarters.

But at the meeting, attended by around 100 people, he said he sees better opportunity in providing services that enable increasingly commoditized hardware to do more.

“I don’t personally believe handsets will be the future of any company,” he said.

BlackBerry, once the smartphone market leader before being displaced by Apple Inc and competitors run on Alphabet Inc’s Android platform, has worked to reposition itself as a software and service provider focused on device management for large organizations.

In its presentation to investors, the company said it expects the broader market for types of software it is producing to expand to $17.6 billion by 2019, from $525 million in 2012 and below $4 billion in 2015, powered by growth in medical, legal, financial and automotive industries.

But some of those in attendance were skeptical about BlackBerry’s ability to deliver on its strategic pivot.

“The first word that comes to mind is lackluster,” said one shareholder at the meeting who declined to give his name. “Time is running out.”

Chen reiterated that BlackBerry wants to grow its software revenue by 30 percent in this fiscal year, which he estimated would be double overall market growth, and to notch positive free cash flow.

BlackBerry is due to report first quarter results on Thursday.

Chen took up the CEO role in 2013 with a reputation as a turnaround artist. But the company’s stock has only risen modestly since then, with many investors waiting for signs the now-smaller company will be able to carve out new opportunities.

“I appreciate the strategy,” said Ken Tota, an investor in BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. He said he was optimistic a renewed focus on security could help reinvigorate BlackBerry over the next five years.

“It’s a niche, but it’s a worldwide niche,” he said.

 

 

Twitter Moves Further Into Video With New ‘Watch Mode’ Feature

June 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is looking to compete even more with Facebook. The platform is moving into video in a major way with 140-second clips in both Twitter proper and Vine, a new video section called Watch Mode, and video recommendations for other videos to watch. The network’s most popular users, like President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber, are getting a stand-alone app called Engage, which sounds a lot like Facebook Mentions.

Twitter is making video a huge priority by extending video length from 30 seconds to 140 seconds (staying on-brand, of course). Those longer videos are also coming to Vine, but don’t worry, the popular app for creating hilarious video loops isn’t changing its 6-second limit. Instead, you can post 140-second clips alongside your Vines.

You won’t have to watch these longer videos in-tweet. Now tapping on a video in your timeline will launch a new full-screen viewing mode with recommended clips surfaced just below. The same experience applies to longer videos on Vine.

The new features are rolling out soon on Twitter for iOS and Android.

Twitter Engage launched Tuesday on iOS to help video creators and other important people see metrics on their clips, including likes, retweets, mentions, and views. They can also see demographics for their videos and a feed of what their fans are talking about.

Unlike Facebook Mentions, Engage isn’t solely aimed at celebrities. But the two apps are similar in that they show mentions from so-called “influencers” and filter comments from fans.

Twitter has to try new things, especially since its user growth has stalled at 310 million monthly active users and Wall Street isn’t happy about it. To compare, Instagram just announced it has more than 500 million monthly active users, 300 million of whom check the app on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

Is IBM’s Watson Driving Cars?

June 22, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has put its Watson artificial intelligence (AI) tech into a 3D printed car, merging two tech trends to create a self-driving pseudo milk float.

The electric vehicle, dubbed Olli, can hold up to 12 people rather than a load of bottled cow juice, and can be seen on the streets of Washington DC, and soon Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas.

OK, so we know that driverless cars are pretty much a thing now, particularly as we spotted one near Google’s Mountain View HQ. But the smart thing about Olli is its use of Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive, a version of the cognitive computing tech that allows people to talk to the vehicle.

Passengers can ask Olli the evergreen ‘Are we there yet?’ and it will answer, hopefully in a mildly exasperated voice. It’s basically a bit like Knight Rider‘s KITT only less stylish and without The Hoff.

However, Olli is not just a chatty car as the Watson IoT tech helps it to learn as it ferries people around and gathers data from over 30 sensors around the chassis.

The Olli was designed and built by Local Motors. Co-founder John B Rogers Jr, who has one of the most American names we have ever written, said: “Olli with Watson acts as our entry into the world of self-driving vehicles, something we’ve been quietly working on with our co-creative community for the past year.

“We are now ready to accelerate the adoption of this technology and apply it to nearly every vehicle in our current portfolio and those in the very near future. I’m thrilled to see what our open community will do with the latest in advanced vehicle technology.”

Several tech and car companies now working on driverless cars, and the roads could become an automotive robot battleground as Google’s self-driving cars compete with Mercedes’ autonomous automobiles.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Does Qualcomm Need Apple?

June 21, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The fanboys aka the Apple Press has been running down Qualcomm since its favourite company announced it was buying chips from Intel, but there are good reasons why the American chipmaker should not care that much.

As we have been saying for ages, Jobs’ Mob is no longer exclusively going with Qualcomm to provide modem chips for the upcoming iPhone 7. The deal, while large, is tailored for some of Apple’s partnerships. Intel gets AT&T phones and Qualcomm remains the supplier for Verizon network phones and for China.

The press has been claiming that it is terrible news for Qualcomm. But it appears Qualcomm knew it was coming and had already factored in the loss of the business into its results. The reason Qualcomm is not losing any sleep over the deal is because the most Intel is going to get is a third of the iPhone modems. This is what in financial terms is considered a “pisser” but hardly a reason to jump off any buildings over.

Other good things are happening to Qualcomm which more than balance out what has been lost to Intel. Firstly its latest Snapdragons are selling extremely well and secondly the shine is starting to go off its number one rival MediaTek.

For a while, naysayers have been predicting that MediaTek was going to sink Qualcomm. In fact there was even a suggestion that Qualcomm should get out of chipmaking and become a patent troll.

MediaTek had been luring away Qualcomm customers with cheaper chips, which combined with Apple, Samsung and Huawei making their own chips was creating a perfect storm of doom.

Now there is a suggestion that MediaTek’s growth wagon might have stalled. MediaTek’s sales fell 9.4 per cent annually last quarter to $1.7 billion. Its operating margin halved from 16 per cent last year to eight per cent. The reason was due to higher expenses across the board. This meant that its net income fell to $136 million. MediaTek is still more profitable than Qualcomm’s chipmaking division has a wafer thin 5 per cent last quarter.

Analysts expect MediaTek to post double-digit sales growth fuelled by rising demand for 4G smartphone chips in China. But its margins are also expected to keep contracting due to tough competition from Qualcomm and Spreadtrum.

Another risk for MediaTek is its dependence on China. Taiwan just got rid of the pro-unification KMT party, which controlled the presidency for the past eight years, in favour of the pro-independence DPP party.

MediaTek needs direct investments from mainland China to fight off Qualcomm, but it is finding that the Taiwanese government is blocking that sort of investment cash.

All this is giving Qualcomm a fighting chance in the area where it makes a lot of its cash. Sure its margins might be lower, but it still making more money. Enough so that it does not have to worry about losing a small about of dosh to Intel.

Courtesy-Fud

 

AT&T Expands Wi-Fi Calling To LG G4

June 17, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T revealed that it will support calling over a Wi-Fi network from the LG G4 phone, with other Android devices to follow.

Wi-Fi calls recently became available to customers usingiPhones and other iOS 9.3 devices on all four major U.S. carriers, which includes AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. That iOS update first became available March 21.

Wi-Fi calling is ideal for places were there is limited or no cell coverage. Many indoor spaces don’t provide good cellular connections, so Wi-Fi calling is a suitable alternative. Travelers abroad can reduce roaming costs by using Wi-Fi calling as well.

“Wi-Fi calling is a feature that customers want, so that’s the most important reason for carriers to do it,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.

T-Mobile advertised Wi-Fi calling as a replacement for inconsistent cellular service as early as 2007 before getting a permit from the Federal Communications Commission to do so.

AT&T explained that its Wi-Fi calling requires a compatible device and a postpaid wireless account set-up for HD Voice as well as the Wi-Fi connection.

Users on AT&T’s Wi-Fi calling system can make and receive calls and texts and keep the same phone number. The bill for a call is based on the number being called. For AT&T customers, making a call on a U.S. number to another U.S. number is free, even if the customer is overseas, according to an AT&T blog and a separate online description.

 

 

UberEATS Launches In London

June 17, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ride-hailing company Uber debuted its meal delivery service app UberEATS in London on Thursday, the second European city where users will be able to order food to their home, entering a burgeoning British market.

The service, which is currently available in 17 cities around the world including Paris, will compete with rivals such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, which have advertised heavily in the capital in recent months.

Britons will be able to download the app on their iPhone or Android handset from midday on Thursday and order meals from restaurants which will be delivered by Uber drivers.

Deliveries will be made to customers in central London from over 150 eateries between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. with plans to expand further away from the center in the coming weeks.

Uber has faced months of protests from drivers of the capital’s long-dominant black cabs but earlier this year transport bosses rejected options which could have imposed strict new restrictions on how it operates.

 

VMware Launches TrustPoint, Aims To Enhance Network Security

June 15, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

VMware is aiming to help businesses get a better handle on the security of the computers their employees use. The new TrustPoint product the company announced Monday uses software to make it possible to track and manage computers easily and quickly, without taking up a whole bunch of data.

The software allows companies to detect what devices are on their networks, along with which ones are being managed by IT. That helps businesses understand if they have machines operating outside the reach of their security systems, which could be a problem for protecting company data.

In addition, businesses will also be able to use TrustPoint to handle operating system imaging with VMware’s technology, so it’s easier for them to patch systems that are managed with TrustPoint.

It’s all part of VMware’s ongoing push into the enterprise endpoint management market, which has proved increasingly popular as employees bring their own devices to work and security threats have intensified.

TrustPoint is powered by technology from Tanium. In addition to detecting unmanaged devices, TrustPoint can block those devices from connecting to company networks, so they don’t get access to key data.

Computers running TrustPoint communicate with other devices near them that are running the software, so that it’s possible for a group of computers to all get a software update by having pieces of it pushed to several different devices using TrustPoint. Once the pieces of the update have been downloaded, TrustPoint can coordinate the transfer of information between computers so that each one gets a complete update.

VMware has said that TrustPoint is particularly well-suited to rolling out Windows 10, which more and more companies are gearing up for. As part of that transition, the system can upgrade a device with a consumer Windows 10 license to Windows 10 Enterprise, so people can use other administration tools to manage it, too.

 

 

 

 

Apple Pay Being Updated To Allow Online Purchases

June 15, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Consumers will soon be able to make purchses with Apple Pay over the web from a Mac desktop or laptop, with the transaction being authenticated via a buyer’s fingerprint scan on their iPhone or a touch on their Apple Watch.

The new Apple Pay capability will be released as part of the free, rebranded (from OS X) macOS Sierra upgrade coming sometime this fall, Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering, announced at the Worldwide Developer Conference held in San Francisco on Monday.

Currently, shoppers can pay for merchandise using Apple Pay via an app on an iPhone or Apple Watch at hundreds of thousands of point-of-sale merchants in the U.S. and five other countries — Canada, the UK, Australia, China and Singapore. Hong Kong, France, Spain and Switzerland are getting the service soon, Apple said recently.

Although a leader in mobile payments, Apple Pay, as well as other other mobile payment technologies, have not caught on as well as expected.

Putting Apple Pay on Mac computers will greatly expand the number of purchases made with the service, analysts said. It will also put Apple in competition for web payments with companies like PayPal.

“Extending Apple Pay to the web is a really big deal because up to this point, there have been no secure methods to buy over the web that used biometric technology without sending your credit card information to the e-tailer,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

To use the service, an Apple Pay on-screen button will be available at a participating online retailer when a person shops via a Safari browser, Apple said in a statement. Apple showed dozens of participating retailers on a slide during the WWDC presentation.

 

 

Mozilla Establishes Fund To Audit Open-source Code

June 14, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

A new Mozilla fund, named Secure Open Source, will provide security audits of open-source code, following the discovery of critical security bugs like Heartbleed and Shellshock in key pieces of the software.

Mozilla has set up a $500,000 initial fund that will be used for paying professional security firms to audit project code. The foundation will also work with the people maintaining the project to support and implement fixes and manage disclosures, while also paying for the verification of the remediation to ensure that identified bugs have been fixed.

The initial fund will cover audits of  some widely-used open source libraries and programs.

The move is a recognition of the growing use of open-source software for critical applications and services by  businesses, government and educational institutions. “From Google and Microsoft to the United Nations, open source code is now tightly woven into the fabric of the software that powers the world. Indeed, much of the Internet – including the network infrastructure that supports it – runs using open source technologies,” wrote Chris Riley, Mozilla’s head of public policy.

Mozilla is hoping that the companies and governments that use open source will join it and provide additional funding for the project.

In a trial of the SOS program on three pieces of open-source software, Mozilla said it found and fixed 43 bugs, including a critical vulnerability and two issues in connection with a widely-used image file format. “These initial results confirm our investment hypothesis, and we’re excited to learn more as we open for applications,” Riley wrote.

The SOS fund “fills a critical gap in cybersecurity by creating incentives to find the bugs in open source and letting people fix them,” said James A. Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in a statement.

The SOS is part of a larger program, called Mozilla Open Source Support, launched by Mozilla in October last year to support open source and free software development. MOSS has an annual budget of about $3 million.

To qualify for SOS funding, the software must be open source or free software, with the appropriate licenses and approvals, and must be actively maintained. Some of the other factors that will be considered are whether a project is already corporate backed, how commonly is the software used, whether it is network-facing or regularly processes untrusted data, and its importance to the continued functioning of the Internet or the Web.

 

 

 

 

Apple’s Next iPhone Will Use Intel Modem Chips

June 13, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc’s next iPhone will use modems chips from Intel Corp, taking the place of those made by Qualcomm Inc in some versions of the new smartphone, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Intel’s modem chips will be in iPhones used on AT&T Inc’s U.S. network and some other versions of the smartphone for overseas markets, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

However, iPhones sold in China will use Qualcomm chips, and iPhones on Verizon Communications Inc’s network will also stick with Qualcomm, Bloomberg added.

Qualcomm’s shares fell 1.7 percent on Friday, while Intel’s stock was up 0.3 percent. Apple shares were down 0.5 percent in morning trading.

On an earnings call in April, Qualcomm Chief Executive Officer Steve Mollenkopf said he was assuming that a major customer would switch to multiple suppliers.

An Intel spokeswoman declined to comment on the story. Qualcomm and Apple were not immediately available for comment.

 

Has The Bubble Busted For Smartphones?

June 13, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Uncategorized

After sliding its slide-rules, flicking its abacus, and counting its toes, the bean counters at Gartner have decided that the smartphone business bubble has burst splattering in the face of those who depend on it.

Big G says the market will shrink from 14.4 per cent growth in 2015 to just 7 per cent in 2016 — with only 1.5 billion smartphone units being shipped globally this year. Compair this with 2010, when Gartner notes the market grew 73 per cent.

However the signs have been obvious for about a year. Mature Western markets saturated, China’s growth engine slowing as demand has topped out and other markets unable to afford the higher margin gear. The smartphone has come to the end of its ability to provide new technology too with companies only able to offer incremental upgrades. Carriers are moving away from subsidizing upgrades which means that them wasting their own profits to prop up the likes of Apple are over.

In emerging markets it says the average lifetime of premium phone is between 2.2 and 2.5 years, while basic mobiles have an average lifetime of three years and up.

Gartner sees the biggest remaining opportunity for smartphone growth in India, noting that sales of feature phones — aka dumbphones — accounted for a majority (61 per cent) of total mobile device sales last year, leaving plenty of scope for upgrades as smartphones continue to become more affordable.

It is estimating 139 million smartphones will be sold in India this year, growing 29.5 per cent year-over-year. It notes the average selling price of mobiles in the country remains below $70, and it expects smartphones priced under $120 to continue to contribute around half of overall smartphones sales there this year.  Apple’s hope that it can save its flailing business numbers by selling into India show the complete lack of understanding of how that market is working. It is tending to favor small local smartphone makers like Intex.

China is going to offer Apple no help either Gartner is expecting “little growth” in the region in the next five years. IT says it is “saturated yet highly competitive” market. Smartphones represented 95 per cent of total mobile phones sales last year.

Gartner analyst Annette Zimmerman said that “non-traditional” vendors in China could do well and thinks that by 2018 at least one such phone maker will be among the top five smartphone brands in the country.

“Chinese internet companies are increasingly investing in mobile device hardware development, platforms and distribution as they aim to grow their user bases and increase user loyalty and engagement,” she said.

The Sub-Saharan African region is also couched as an attractive region for smartphone vendors, with smartphone sales only overtaking mobile phones sales there for the first time last year. Nokia brand licensee and newly formed smartphone OEM HMD will want to take note, given it has paid for the right to build feature phones (and smartphones) bearing the previously iconic Nokia brand name.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple Rolls Out A Revamped App Store

June 10, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc announced a series of long anticipated enhancements to its App Store, but the new features may not ease concerns of developers and analysts who say that the App Store model – and the very idea of the single-purpose app – has seen its best days.

The revamped App Store will let developers advertise their wares in search results and give developers a bigger cut of revenues on subscription apps, while Apple said it has already dramatically sped up its app-approval process.

The goal is to sustain the virtuous cycle at the heart of the hugely lucrative iPhone business. Software developers make apps for the iPhone because its customers are willing to pay, and those customers, in turn, pay a premium for the device because it has the best apps.

The store is now more strategically important than ever for Apple as sales of the iPhone begin to level off and the company looks to software and services to fill the gap. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on a recent conference call that App Store revenues were up 35 percent over last year.

But the store is also a victim of its own success. Eight years after its launch, it is packed with more than 1.9 million apps, according to analytics firm App Annie, making it almost impossible for developers to find an audience – and increasingly difficult for customers to find what they need, as some 14,000 new apps arrive in the store each week.

“The app space has grown out of control,” said Vint Cerf, one of the inventors of the internet and now a vice president at Alphabet Inc’s Google, who was speaking at a San Francisco conference on the future of the web on Wednesday. “We need to move away from having an individual app for every individual thing you want to do.”

 

 

The IoT Move Appears To Be Short On Security

June 8, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The IOActive IoT Security Survey has shone a light on the shoddy side of connected devices and warned that all those things you’ve welcomed into your home will let you down at some point.

They are vulnerable because they connect to things, and anything that can be connected can also be interrupted and interfered with.

The one in 10 number comes from a panel of senior security professionals interviewed by IOActive about the rise of the IoT. These people are concerned that security is lacking in everything from wearables to household appliances.

Half of respondents believe that under 10 per cent of IoT products offer adequate ass coverage, while a staggering 85 per cent believe that less than half of products are secure.

Around two thirds felt that the security was probably better than you get on other products, but we don’t care about them right now.

“Consensus is that more needs to be done to improve the security of all products, but the exponential rate at which IoT products are coming to market, compounded by the expansive risk network created by their often open connectivity, makes IoT security a particular concern and priority,” said Jennifer Steffens, chief executive of IOActive.

“According to Gartner, 21 billion connected things will be in use by 2020. It’s important for the companies that develop these products to ensure security is built in. Otherwise hackers are provided with opportunities to break into not only the products, but potentially other systems and devices they’re connected to.”

The problem is that security is not considered early enough in the design process so it has to be dealt with later, or presumably not at all. Steffens explained that a security stitch in time saves nine.

“Companies often rush development to get products to market in order to gain competitive edge, and then try to engineer security in after the fact,” she said.

“This ultimately drives up costs and creates more risk than including security at the start of the development lifecycle.”

 

 

Courtesy-TheInq

 

BMW Overhauling R&D To Focus on Self-driving Cars

June 6, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

BMW is revamping and re-focuing its research and development activities to concentrate on self-driving cars, board member Klaus Froehlich told Reuters, a move which includes a refresh of its “i” sub-brand of carbon-fibre based electric vehicles.

The company is updating its zero-emission vehicles after a lackluster response to its only fully battery-powered car, the i3, which recorded only 25,000 sales last year. By contrast, Tesla already has more than 370,000 orders for its Model 3.

To help improve sales, BMW is increasing the battery range of its i3 city vehicle by 50 percent this year.

Its next full-fledged new electric car model is not due until 2021, but the Bavarian auto maker is also planning to build a new version of its i3 electric car to be released by 2018, a source familiar with the matter said.

“It is a sportier brother for the i3,” said the source, who declined to be named.

Rival Tesla is due to release its Model 3 in 2017, and as rivals Porsche and Audi are working on all-electric cars for release by 2019.

A new BMW flagship model with autonomous driving capabilities will follow in 2021. As a result, Froehlich is increasing the proportion of software and technology experts.

Today, software engineers make up just 20 percent of the 30,000 employees, contractors and suppliers that work on research and development for BMW. Within the next five years, BMW wants to raise that proportion to 50 percent of overall R&D staff.

In an interview at the company’s headquarters in Munich, BMW board member Klaus Froehlich, who is in charge of development, said he reorganized company-wide research and development in April.

“It is now in ramp-up stage. We call it Project `i Next’.”

As part of its push in autonomous driving, BMW is hiring experts in machine learning and artificial intelligence. It is also integrating the functions of existing computer-driven assistance systems like cruise control, emergency braking, lane-keeping support and automatic parking.

 

 

Slate Tablet Market Continues Downward Spiral

June 6, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Demand for slate-shaped tablets is losing steam even faster than expected.

For all of 2016, global tablet shipments will drop by 9.6% over 2015, market research firm IDC forecast this week, marking the second straight year of decline. In March, IDC had forecast a decline of 6% for this year.

The decline will occur even when newer detachable tablets, often called 2-in-1s, are included with slate tablets, IDC said.

“The impact of the decline of slates is having a bigger impact, faster than we thought. They are not coming back,” said IDC analyst Jean Phillippe Bouchard in an interview.

But Bouchard was quick to add that slates are not disappearing entirely. There will continue to be a robust market for small slate tablets, under 8 inches, that are sold for less than $125 by Amazon and others, primarily for use by children.

“There will also continue to be a slate market for commercial uses in healthcare, education and hospitality, so there are a lot of use cases for slates saying that slates are not going away,” he said. “There will still be a need for slates but not as great as in 2010.” IDC said well over 100 million slate tablets will ship annually through 2020.

As IDC and others have said in the past, slate tablets have saturated the market. “Everyone wanting a slate has one, and there’s very little reason to replace it or upgrade it,” Bouchard added.

IDC pegged the total tablet market of both slates and detachables at 207 million units shipped in 2015, but that figure will decline to about 187 million in 2016. IDC didn’t release its forecast for years beyond 2016, but said the market will continue to decline in 2017 before having a “slight rebound in 2018 and beyond, driven by detachable tablet growth.”