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Notebook Sells Spike In August

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Figures just in for August show that there has been a spike in the sales of notebooks.

Beancounters at Digitimes research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and come to the conclusion that the top-5 notebook vendors and top-3 notebook ODMs saw their shipments rise 27 percent  and 31 percent a month in August.

While it could mean that the notebook recession is over, the beancounters think that the spike is due to inventory preparation for the year-end holidays in Europe and North America, Windows 10’s annual upgrade, and mass shipments of Intel’s Kaby Lake processors.

The winner on the notebook front is HP which released some new products in August that successfully widened the vendor’s shipment gap by nearly 700,000 units. The number two was Lenovo. HP stayed firmly as the largest notebook vendor in the month. Dell turned its focus to the consumer sector in August, but its shipments only grew a single-digit percentage on month.

Digitimes Research said that Asustek Computer and Acer both saw boosts of 10 percent  on-month growths in August.

With HP’s significant shipment growth in August, the top three ODMs, which are all suppliers of HP, together achieved higher on-month growth than the top five vendors combined, while ODM’s combined on-year shipment growth turned positive for the first time in the past 16 months.

Quanta benefited from HP’s orders the most in the month, growing nearly 40 per cent from July.

Courtesy-Fud

Super Carmaker McClaren Denies Rumors Of Apple Takeover

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mclaren-and-apple-150x150McLaren shot down a reports that Apple Inc had made an approach for the British Formula One team owner and supercar maker.

“We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment,” a McLaren spokesman said.

“As you would expect, the nature of our brand means we regularly have confidential conversations with a wide range of parties, but we keep them confidential.”

The Financial Times newspaper, citing three sources it said had been briefed on negotiations, had reported that Apple had made an approach for a strategic investment or a potential buyout.

It reported that the automotive group could be valued at between 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) and 1.5 billion pounds.

Reports have suggested that Apple, which had no immediate response to the Financial Times story, is working on a self-driving car. The iPhone maker has hired dozens of automotive experts over the past year and is exploring making charging stations for electric cars. Apple also invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing earlier this year.

The McLaren Formula One team is partnered by Honda, who provide the power units. The team is the second most successful after Ferrari in terms of race wins and titles but has not won a grand prix since 2012.

Google Launches AI Chat App Allo

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

allo-1-150x150Google-parent Alphabet Inc rolled out Allo, a messaging app that integrates Google’s search feature and a chatbot that uses machine learning to “improve” itself over time.

The new messaging service, which was unveiled in May, will compete with Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp and Messenger. The much-anticipated launch comes a month after Google rolled out Duo, its video calling app.

Allo features a chatbot powered by Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant like Apple Inc’s Siri.

Users can call up the assistant in a chat by typing “@google” followed by a search query and the results will be displayed in the chat itself.

“The more you use it, the more it improves over time,” Amit Fulay, group product manager, wrote in a blog post.

The app has a “Smart Reply” feature that suggests responses to chats and can be send with just a tap.

“If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you might see Smart Reply suggestions like ‘aww cute!’,” Fulay wrote.

Users can also use stickers and scribble on photos before sending them.

Allo will have end-to-end encryption only while chatting in “Incognito” mode. Whatsapp chats have end-to-end encryption.

Google has started rolling out Allo and said the app would be available worldwide in the next few days.

New Orders For Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Resume In U.S.

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-150x150U.S. mobile carrier Verizon Communications Inc has resumed taking orders for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, after having stopped sales of the device earlier due to fire-prone batteries.

Samsung has recalled about 1 million Note 7 smartphones in the United States, offering to replace or refund the flagship phones. Their susceptibility to catching fire – with more than 100 cases reported across the globe – has damaged the image of the South Korean company.

Globally, the world’s top smartphone maker has recalled at least 2.5 million handsets, in a major setback for the company that is looking to claw back market share from rivals, including Apple Inc  that recently released its latest iPhones.

Samsung halted new sales ahead of the recall as it prepared replacement Note 7 devices with safe batteries.

The new Note 7 phones have been approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for all purchases and exchanges, Verizon said on its website, adding it has the Samsung device available for sale starting Wednesday.

The largest U.S. wireless carrier warned that initial quantities could be limited.

Samsung said in a statement on Tuesday that it had shipped more than 500,000 new Note 7s to U.S. carriers and retailers and that affected users will be able to exchange their recalled phones starting by Wednesday at the latest. The statement did not specify when new sales would start.

Rival carrier Sprint Corp’s website also showed the Note 7 available for order, providing a list of stores where customers can pick up a new handset by appointment.

Samsung did not immediately comment on the U.S. sales plans.

The firm previously said it will resume new sales in South Korea starting Sept. 28 and that sales in Australia and Singapore would resume sometime in October.

 

Intel Goes Bullish

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

It is starting to look like the PC market is picking up and Intel has raised its quarterly revenue forecast for the first time in more than two years.

Shares in Intel as much as 4.1 percent to a more than 15-year high on the back of the news which indicates the PC depression might be finally coming to an end..

Sales in the company’s PC business declined three percent to $7.3 billion in the latest quarter. The unit includes sales of chips for mobile phones and tablets. But Intel said that the green shoots of recovery are here.

Firstly HP said last month that revenue in its computer business rose 7.5 percent in the third quarter from the second as sales of notebooks improved. At the time FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said commentary from Intel and HP suggested that PCs were “not as dead as people were thinking.”

Research firm IDC said in July global PC shipments fell less than expected in the second quarter, helped by strength in the United States.

Intel now says it expected third-quarter revenue to be $15.6 billion, plus or minus $300 million, compared with its prior forecast of $14.9 billion, plus or minus $500 million.

That implies the highest-ever quarterly revenue for Intel. Wall Street analysts on average were expecting $14.90 billion.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani said the pre-announcement was a good first step to the PC story stabilising at Intel. Shares of rival AMD were up about 1 percent, while those of Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) and HP were marginally higher.Shares in Intel had shot ip up 2.6 percent at $37.53

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Goes After Repeat Software Pirate In Court

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

microsoft-bldg-150x150Microsoft filed suit against a Wisconsin man for allegedly selling stolen Windows and Office activation codes, claiming in court documents that he is a repeat pirate who still owes the company $1.2 million from an earlier judgment.

In a complaint filed Sept. 8, Microsoft accused Anthony Boldin, of Brookfield, Wisc., of selling software activation codes to company investigators from four different websites he maintained. Two of those websites are now shuttered — only a message stating that the sites are no longer selling software remained Monday — but two others continued to operate.

The 25-character activation codes are a core component of Microsoft’s anti-piracy technology. Although the software can be copied an unlimited number of times, the keys individually lock a license to a device or a specific user. Minus a legitimate key — and thus, activation — Microsoft’s software retreats to a hobbled or even crippled mode.

Although Microsoft did not name the sources for the keys it said Boldin sold illegally, the firm pointed a finger at China. “Over the past several years, criminals in China and elsewhere have created a global black market for decoupled product activation keys that have been stolen from Microsoft’s supply chain,” the complaint stated. “The decoupled product activation keys end up in the hands of downstream distributors, such as Defendants, who then pass off the stolen keys to the general public as licensed software.”

According to that complaint, and other documents Microsoft lawyers submitted to a Wisconsin federal court, company investigators bought activation keys to licenses of Windows 8.1 and several versions of Office, some at significantly reduced prices, from Boldin’s websites. All the keys were illegitimate: Two were issued for use with academic programs in China, one was for Microsoft’s internal use, and four keys were stolen “tokens” assigned to an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for pre-loading software on a new device.

Microsoft also said that Boldin was well known to the company’s legal team.

“Microsoft sued Boldin in this Court on two prior occasions for violating its intellectual property rights (in March 2000 and again in December 2006),” the complaint read. “Notably, this Court entered two separate orders permanently enjoining Boldin from any infringing use or distribution of Microsoft software.”

Not only did Boldin continue to sell stolen or misappropriated activation keys, Microsoft alleged, but a $1.2 million judgment levied in the second case has gone unpaid.

Microsoft asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order preventing Boldin from illegally selling Microsoft software, and to expedite discovery so that the company may determine whether there are others in cahoots with Boldin and locate his financial accounts.

Did Apple Really Drop The HeadPhone Jack To Gain Space?

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

It seems that Apple did not remove the headphone jack to allow it to provide more space after all.

When Apple killed off the speaker jack its CEO Tim Cook said, “that jack takes up a lot of space in the phone, a lot of space. And there’s a lot of more important things we can provide for the consumer than that jack.”

OK fair enough, so what did Apple do with the extra space? Well it turns out that the latest tear down carried out by iFixit found that Apple was doing nothing with the extra space it gained from getting rid of the headphone jack.

It wrote that in place of the headphone jack, is a component that seems to channel sound from outside the phone into the microphone. In other words, Apple has not put anything into the space at all, just some acoustics holes, which lead nowhere and molded plastic.

We somewhat cynically suggested that the reason that Apple got rid of the headphone jack was nothing to do with providing new functions on the iPhone 7. Instead we see it as a way to prop up its wireless headphone business .

It does appear that the tear down confirms this as it is unlikely that the iPhone 7 needed this fake plastic grill and acoustic holes. It appears to be a rather costly feature for the user who will now have to fork out a fortune for new headphones.

Courtesy-Fud

iPhone 7 Plus Outselling Smaller Version

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

iphone-7-plus-150x150Early data from U.S. sales of Apple’s latest iPhones suggested that the larger 7 Plus was outselling the smaller 7, according to market research data.

Of the iPhone 7 online pre-orders during the initial 48 hours of availability, 55% were for the 5.5-in. iPhone 7 Plus; the remaining 45% were for the 4.7-in. iPhone 7. That was the first-ever flip to the Plus size in the three annual cycles since Apple offered a big-screen iPhone in 2014.

According to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Slice Intelligence, U.S. buyers of the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus two years ago leaned toward the former in a split of 65% to 35%. The gap narrowed last year with the 6S and 6S Plus, when the smaller iPhone 6S accounted for 59% of the total, and the 6S Plus with 41%.

Slice based its data on a sampling of approximately 4 million U.S. consumers. Those people have opted in to Slice’s services or apps — including the same-named shopper’s assistant app for iOS and Android — or those of partners which license the firm’s technology, and so give Slice access to their email inboxes. Slice sniffs through the inboxes, then spots and copies emailed receipts for online orders.

Apple does not disclose the sales splits between iPhone models — or the various versions of its other hardware for that matter — but instead tallies all iPhones into a single number for each quarter.

Slice’s data hinted at a larger gross revenue number for Apple in the U.S. this launch cycle: The iPhone 7 Plus sells for $120 more than the iPhone 7.

Not surprisingly, Slice’s email receipts also showed that the iPhone’s new Black and Jet Black colors were the two most popular for pre-order customers, replacing the now-extinct Space Gray, which had been the top choice for the last two years. Nearly half of all iPhone 7 and 7 Plus orders (46% to be exact) were for the Black, said Slice, with another 23% were for the Jet Black.

Jet Black, a new highly polished finish, has been in short supply, high demand, or both: Apple ran out of that color almost as soon as pre-orders opened on Sept. 9. Currently, a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus will ship to U.S. buyers sometime in November, according to Apple’s e-mart, while a Jet Black iPhone 7 will ship three to five weeks after ordering.

 

PC Market Showing Signs Of Life

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

pcs-150x150The PC market is showing some signs of growth, with Intel boosting its revenue guidance based on improved chip shipments.

The chip maker has raised its revenue guidance for the third quarter to $15.6 billion, plus or minus $300 million, an improvement from $14.9 million, plus or minus $500 million.

That’s due to PC makers replenishing laptop and desktop inventory, which means Intel is shipping out more chips. It’s likely in anticipation of the holiday season, when PC shipments rocket.

“The company is also seeing some signs of improving PC demand,” Intel said in a statement.

In the second quarter of the year, PC makers slowed down chip orders and were clearing out existing stock of laptops and desktops. PC shipments declined by 4.5 percent during that period, according to IDC.

Shipments of gaming PCs, 2-in-1s and Chromebooks are driving PC shipments. Microsoft’s free upgrade offer to Windows 10 has also ended, which means users are more likely to buy new PCs to get Windows 10.

Meanwhile, new laptops with Intel’s Kaby Lake chips are now available. All the top PC makers have announced new 2-in-1s and laptops with Intel’s new chips. New Kaby Lake chips for gaming PCs will be announced in January.

Intel also has started shipping Pentium and Celeron chips, both aimed at low-cost laptops, based on the same architecture and code-named Apollo Lake. Many Chromebooks are based on Apollo Lake chips.

 

Sony Aims To Extend Content For Its Virtual-Reality Headset

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

playstation-vr-headset-150x150Sony Corp plans to extend content for its dedicated virtual-reality (VR) headset into non-gaming areas such as TV and film, and has no plans to join the burgeoning market for smartphone-based headsets, its gaming division chief said.

Andrew House, Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc’s chief executive, said in an interview that he was already in talks with media production companies to explore possibilities for the PlayStation VR headset, due for release on Oct. 13.

“We are talking about years into the future, but these are interesting conversations to start having now,” House said.

House’s gaming division has been one of Sony’s main sources of profit in recent years as sales of TV sets and other once-core electronics goods decline in the face of price competition.

As smartphone gaming now encroaches on the console market, Sony has opted to seek growth through innovations such as VR. However, analysts have said non-gaming content is necessary to broaden the appeal – and profitability – of VR.

Sony’s VR headset works in conjunction with its PlayStation 4 games console and will retail at a price lower than Facebook Inc’s Oculus Rift and HTC Corp’s Vive headsets that require more expensive personal computers to run.

But smartphone-powered headsets will be far cheaper and more portable because they use the smartphone screen as the display.

There are well over 100 smartphone-based VR headsets from 65 developers already on the market, according to Lux Research. Alphabet Inc’s Google will add to that number with its Daydream VR platform that works with its Android mobile operating system.

Sony’s House argued that smartphones would not be capable of achieving the highest quality VR experience.

“We are focused on great gaming VR experiences,” he said. “I haven’t seen a cellphone or mobile-based VR experience that really gets our content teams excited.”

House said, beyond gaming, Sony is looking into TV and film and will also concentrate on seeking “ways of bringing much more static experiences to life” in areas such as museums and planetariums.

Sony has said it is working with more than 230 developers globally, and expects over 50 titles by the end of the year, include non-gaming content such as cartoons and music, karaoke and landscape videos.

 

Windows Apps Make It To The Microsoft App Store

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

microsoft-windows-store-150x150Developers now have the ability to add their Windows desktop apps to people shopping through Windows 10’s app store thanks to Microsoft’s latest update.

It’s a move powered by Project Centennial, which lets developers take older Windows apps (known in Microsoft parlance as Win32 apps), port them to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and then sell them on the Windows Store.

Making it easier for developers to port those apps to the Windows Store may help grow the catalog of apps available to users at a time when Microsoft is pushing the store as a new and better way to get software for Windows 10 devices. Several companies have Centennial-powered apps rolling out over the next few days, including Evernote, which ported its Windows desktop app to the store.

“We’re excited to bring our full-featured Evernote app to the Windows Store,” Seth Hitchings, Evernote’s vice president of engineering, said in a press release. “The Desktop Bridge vastly simplifies our installer and uninstaller.”

Evernote previously had a Windows Store app, but it didn’t have all of the features of its Win32 desktop app.

Project Centennial was first announced at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in San Francisco earlier this year. At that time, Microsoft executives said that there were 16 million Win32 apps out on the market, so this launch marks a major expansion of what the Universal Windows Platform can do.

To help with that, Microsoft is making its Desktop App Converter available to developers in the Windows Store, so it’s easy for them to stay up to date with changes to Project Centennial.

On top of that news, Microsoft is also working with the companies behind InstallShield, WiX and Advanced Installer to help build in UWP conversion with Project Centennial into their usual development workflow for building Win32 apps. In addition to building an MSI installer for older versions of Windows, those tools will also help developers build a UWP app that can be pushed to the Store.

 

Volkswagen Ventures Into Cyber Security For Connected Cars

September 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

vw-logo-150x150Volkswagen  is joining forces with the former head of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency to develop a firm specializing in cyber security systems for Internet-connected cars and self-driving vehicles, the partners said in a statement on Wednesday.

The new company, CyMotive Technologies, will be 40 percent owned by the German automaker and 60 percent by Yuval Diskin and two former colleagues who also had senior posts in the Shin Bet.

The statement did not say how much Volkswagen would invest in the venture, which has an office in a suburb of Tel Aviv and will also open one in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Building on its expertise in technology, Israel has emerged as a leader in the race to keep cars secure and prevent the nightmare scenario of a hacker commandeering your vehicle.

International groups including Harman International Industries and IBM have already bought local companies or invested in research centers.

“To enable us to tackle the enormous challenges of the next decade, we need to expand our know-how in cyber security in order to systematically advance vehicle cyber security for our customers,” said Volkmar Tanneberger, Head of Electrical and Electronic Development at Volkswagen.

Diskin has been consulting on cyber security in the private sector since retiring from the Shin Bet in 2011 and will serve as CyMotive’s chairman.

 

Samsung To Restrict Battery Charging In Galaxy Note 7 Smartphone

September 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd , which has urged owners of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone to return them due to fire-prone batteries, said it will push out a software update in South Korea that limits the devices’ charge to 60 percent.

The move comes as Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, also ran local advertisements apologizing for a recall that is unprecedented for a company that prides itself on its manufacturing prowess.

It has not decided whether to implement similar software upgrades limiting battery charging in markets other than South Korea, a company spokeswoman said.

The software update, which will be automatic, will begin at 2 a.m. local time on Sept. 20, Samsung said in a statement.

The firm has sold 2.5 million Note 7 phones in 10 markets including South Korea and the United States that are subject to the recall.

Samsung plans to begin offering replacement phones with safe batteries on Sept. 19 in South Korea.

A series of warnings from regulators and airlines around the world has raised fears for the future of the flagship device, pushing Samsung shares lower.

Will Samsung Ditch The Headphone Jack Too?

September 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-heaphoneaThe Apple Press is telling the world that Samsung is so impressed with Jobs’ Mob’s “brave move” to purge the headphone jack it is set to copy it.

However the basis of the story is one written by Digital Music News which interviewed some unnamed sources.

“News of Samsung’s strategic planning was supplied to Digital Music News this week from a pair of sources operating out of South Korea, both of whom are involved in the broader supply chain of Samsung’s smartphones. Both requested total confidentiality and limited identifying information, fearing sharp reprisals from Samsung, whose power within the South Korea technology and broader community is considerable and widely feared.”

The sources feared Samsung’s hit men so much that they declined from offering details on the actual proprietary ports and jacks under consideration.

But what they appear to be talking about is something connected to the development of the USB-C jack, which is already present on Motorola’s Moto Z and Moto Z Force devices. Those devices do not have a 3.5mm jack, and are far thinner. They also don’t have the problem of being wireless.

The cunning plan is that Samsung’s proprietary jack would be designed with all Android manufacturers in mind, with easy and cost-free (or extremely low-cost) licensing to encourage adoption.

This claims Digital Music News will kill off Beats and Apple because both would be too proprietary to be useful. Samsung’s phones would be proprietary but would see a greater adoption.The article does not mention that Samsung is going to go all wireless, in fact it does not appear to imply that it is copying Apple at all.

Courtesy-Fud

Nvidia Unveils AI Computer System For Self-driving Cars

September 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

nvidia-150x150U.S. chipmaker Nvidia Corp has unveiled a smaller and more efficient artificial intelligence computer for self-driving cars, saying it would power Baidu’s mapping and autonomous vehicle technology.

Chinese web services company Baidu will deploy Nvidia’s new Drive PX 2 as its in-vehicle car computer for its self-driving system, Nvidia said in a press release as‮ ‬it‮ ‬unveiled the computer at the GPU Technology Conference in Beijing.

As more carmakers develop plans for self-driving technology to roll out in their vehicles in the next decade or less, Nvidia is trying to lower the barriers to entry, providing powerful computers to help automakers enter the market.

Earlier this month, Nvidia and Baidu announced a partnership to develop a full self-driving car architecture from the cloud to the vehicle using both companies’ expertise in artificial intelligence (AI).

Nvidia said its new Drive PX 2 computer uses 10 watts of power and is half the size of the original version, launched in January. That solves a problem faced by carmakers incorporating self-driving technology – how to pack the punch of AI, which helps cars make decisions, into a compact computer suitable for production-ready vehicles.

Configured with a single processor, the Drive PX 2 fuses incoming data from sensors and uses deep neural networks to produce a complex picture of objects around a vehicle.

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