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Is The Mobile Space Drying Up?

May 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

According to Digitimes, heading into the second quarter of 2015, Taiwan touch panel makers have sudden got conservative outlooks and some are even predicting that their revenues will drop another 15-20 per cent.

he reason is that consumers don’t want game changing tablets and despite the claim that they are moving over to phablets instead the smartphone market is still pretty pants.

While Taiwan’s overall shipments are expected to grow in the second quarter, with makers expected to ship 41.579 million smartphone-use touch panels, increasing 23.5 per cent on quarter but decreasing 22.3 per cent on year. The 8.941 million tablet-use units, are up 7.2 per cent on quarter but down 15 per cent on year.

Tablet makers are hurting the most. Those who focus on the application such as TPK are expected to see a 15-20 per cent decline in revenues during the second quarter before rebounding in the second half of the year when product mixes are adjusted and new orders from customers arrive.

Young Fast Optoelectronics company chairman Pai Chih-chiang said that they were also having to face price competition and this will get worse.

Young Fast aims to reduce spending and cut costs in order to react to this trend, which arose largely due to competition from China. The company will also focus on developing larger-size products in addition to wearable solutions while increasing utilization rates, said Pai, adding it will lower its emphasis on consumer-based products.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Dropbox Releases ‘Universal App’ For Windows Phones, Tablets

May 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Dropbox previously released its cloud storage service on Windows phones and tablets, and on Tuesday the company followed up with a universal app that expands the feature sets for both types of devices.

The update automatically adapts to the user’s screen size and delivers a number of new features, including the ability for Windows Phone users to upload videos directly from their devices.

In the interests of multitasking, Windows Phone users can also now upload multiple files at once. And they can download files straight to their device or SD card, making the information available for offline access; there’s a way to mark files as favorites for offline use as well.

The new update also brings the ability to save and open files to and from Dropbox while working within other apps.

On Windows tablets, Dropbox users can now invite new members to a shared folder from their contacts list and manage folder settings from their device. New keyboard shortcuts for selecting and searching enable a faster workflow.

Now available free for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.0 or 8.1, the software promises better performance as well, according to Dropbox.

Separately Tuesday, Dropbox rolled out new features for its main service that target designers and others who work frequently with images. Specifically, it debuted a new image viewer for better online previews as well as better support for Photoshop, Illustrator and scalable vector graphic files. Users can now also preview PostScript images in their browser rather than having to download them first.

 

 

Asus To Offer The Zenfone 2 For $199

May 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Asus isn’t exactly known for smartphones in the U.S., but the company is trying to make a strong statement with the Zenfone 2, which packs more storage than similarly priced competitors.

The Zenfone 2, which has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, starts at $199. It will began shipping on Tuesday with Google’s Android 5.0 mobile operating system.

A model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage goes for $299, while the $199 model has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The smartphone is shipping as an unlocked device, meaning it will work with multiple carriers.

It has an Intel 64-bit Atom Z3580 processor code-named Moorefield and a PowerVR G6430 graphics processor, which is capable of handling 1080p video rendering.

The Zenfone 2 has a 5-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as two SIM slots.

Asus wants to make a mark in the U.S, and with this smartphone it hopes to find an audience, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, during a press event in New York.

The ZenFone 2 is already shipping in 15 countries worldwide. For the U.S. market, Asus has tweaked the smartphone with some new features including a better LTE modem.

Other features include 802.11ac wireless and LTE-Advanced capabilities. The device supports carrier aggregation, and LTE data transfers can touch up to 250M bps (bits per second).

This is also a big product release for Intel. The Zenfone is the second smartphone in the U.S. that uses one of its chips. It’s also Intel’s first smartphone in the U.S. with the XMM 7260 LTE modem. An Intel chip is already being used on Asus’s Padfone X Mini, which is primarily a 4.5-inch smartphone that turns into a 7-inch tablet with an accessory.

 

 

 

Will Tablets Stage A Comeback?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Analyst at IDC have consulted their tarot cards and are predicting that tablets will survive in the business area.

The overall tablet market in Western Europe remained challenged in the first quarter of 2015, declining 10.5 percent on year with shipments totaling 8.5 million units. The contraction, was the result of consumers realising that tablets were a fad and had no actually use at all.

But IDC sees a feature for the technology in the commercial space with volumes increasing 51.3per cent  from the same period in 2014. This is particularly in the area of 2-in-1s which are essentially a re-incarnation of netbooks with a touch screen.

In terms of product category, the share of 2-in-1s, albeit growing, remains in single-digit territory at 5.9 per cent. Nevertheless, the popularity of these devices continued to increase among consumers as well as enterprises, driving shipments up 44.4 per cent.

Chrystelle Labesque, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing said that the fact there were no major product launches, the beginning of 2015 failed to stimulate stronger consumer demand.

“Growth opportunity, however, clearly continues to come from enterprises and professional segments. Vendors have significantly expanded their product portfolio with devices optimized for business usage. Demand for 2-in-1 devices is gathering momentum driven by improved hardware offers as well as adjusted price points that are attracting private users as well as professionals,” she said,

Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing claimed that tablet usage for professional purposes was a reality.
“Deployment is no longer limited to a few early adopting countries or businesses. Adoption is far from being mainstream but we now see companies of all sizes choosing tablets and 2-in-1s to support their normal business activities.

The UK, France, Germany, and Northern Europe countries remain at the forefront of this trend as tablet adoption has become part of mobility and digital strategies in the private as much as public sector.

Windows 10 is likely to resolve most of the infrastructure legacy and integration problems that have so far hindered tablet and 2-in-1 adoption in some existing enterprises. The growth of the commercial segment is therefore expected to continue in the coming quarters, supporting overall market volumes in 2015 and beyond.”

Android devices account for the majority of the market thanks to the large number of vendors offering tablets running on this OS. The largest vendor, Samsung, under-performed the market in the consumer segment in the first quarter of 2015, but showed strong commercial results.

The rest of the market is represented by Windows devices, which posted strong double-digit growth for the third quarter in a row.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Imagination Calling Out ARM?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The war of words between Imagination and ARM is starting to become more colourful with the head of Imagination Technologies dubbing his rival a “big gorilla .”

Hossein Yassaie has accused ARM Holdings of exploiting its monopoly for chip designs that power the world’s electronic devices.

What is interesting is that both companies are British and both seem to be headed on a collision course.

Imagination moved into ARM’s heartland of producing central processing units (CPUs) for devices such as smartphones when it bought MIPS, of the United States, two years ago. It is better known for its PowerVR mobile graphics processors which are under the bonnet of the iPhones and MIPSembedded microprocessors.

But Hossein playing the monopoly card appears to be setting his company up as the little guy trying to take on a bigger rival.

Imagination Technologies announced the Warrior architecture in 2013 and was expected to push MIPS’ reach from embedded devices like routers and into smartphones and tablets. Nothing happened and Yassaie thinks it will take a big MIPS design win to get his outfit’s foot in the door.

He said that he had to keep such releases to himself because everytime Imagination makes an announcement ARM tends to focus on it.

Hossein has stated before that that ARM has managed to get where it is because it ran a monopoly but with MIPS it has that.

MIPS is getting traction, particularly from the likes of Google supporting 64-bit MIPS chips in Android L but it still has a long way to go.

ARM dominates the mobile SOC market, and Intel is fast becoming the second player in that market with its x86 designs like its Core M and Cherry Trail Atom. If anything Intel has more monopoly experience than ARM meaning that Imagination has to tackle an actual monopoly and someone who is used to establishing one.

What it will have to do is come up with a decent pricing strategy to kill off the rivals once and for all.

Courtesy-Fud

Occulus To Develop Virtual Reality Headset For Windows Only

May 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Mac and Linux fans you are out of luck. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, the headset that perhaps more than any other device has ignited public interest in virtual reality, will run almost exclusively on well-appointed Windows PCs, at least in the near future.

The process that most laptops use to output video doesn’t work with the Rift, and  Oculus has temporarily halted development for hardware running Apple and Linux. That’s the takeaway from the spec informationOculus published Friday detailing what type of computer would be compatible with its headset.

Graphics cards need to be equivalent to or more powerful than the AMD Radeon R9 290 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, while the processor needs to match or exceed an Intel i5-4590 chip, the virtual-reality headset maker said in a blog post. Systems need at least 8GB of RAM, two USB 3.0 ports and must be able to handle HDMI 1.3 video output. They also need to be running at least Windows 7 with Service Pack 1.

Having common specs will simplify the development process and allow programmers to create apps and games that offer a consistent experience, said Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock in a blog post. This is important, since hardware that isn’t up to par will deliver a negative experience, he said.

The specs will stay consistent, but in theory, the cost of components that support the technology will decrease over time, allowing a broader range of PCs to work with the Rift, Binstock said.

Laptop owners who hoped to use the Rift are out of luck, at least for now. Many laptops have external video outputs connected to an integrated GPU (graphic processing units), said Binstock said. However, in those scenarios the video output is handled by “hardware and software mechanisms that can’t support the Rift,” he added.

Reviewing a laptop’s spec would not reveal this information, and Oculus is working on a method “to identify the right systems,” Binstock said.

 

Is Qualcomm Making A Deca-Core Snapdragon?

May 15, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It appears that MediaTek’s move to bring out an octa-core processor has disturbed the mighty Qualcomm.

When the MT6797 SoC came out, there was much mirth amongst MediaTek’s rivals but it turns out that Qualcomm has followed suit after all.

Qualcomm’s version is called the Snapdragon 818, which will probably be a deca-core CPU. Word on the street is that the chip will depend on four low-1.2GHz Cortex-A53 power cores, two middle-range 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores, plus four high-power cores of the 2.0GHz Cortex A72 type. It will supports LPDDR4 RAM and will run the Adreno 532 GPU.

This should mean that it can run LTE Cat-10 when that hits the shops. The chip will use 20nm process technology.

If the rumors are correct then it means that the 818 SoC will be slower than MedaTek’s new chip.

Qualcomm is yet to confirm the existence of this piece of silicone, so it is all just rumors. However if it is true, it does mean that MedaTek’s effort was a lot more important than many of its rivals admitted.

Courtesy-Fud

CoroNet Software Detects Fake Wi-Fi Networks

May 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

An Israeli company has designed a product that it claims is capable of determing if a mobile device connects to a fake cellular base station or Wi-Fi access point, potentially protecting critical data from falling into the hands of hackers.

Two large European carriers are testing the product, which is expected to come to market in early 2016, said Dror Liwer, chief security officer and co-founder of CoroNet, based in Be’er Sheva, Israel.

CoroNet’s software addresses one type of attack that was long thought to be too expensive to conduct. It involves creating a fake base station that has a stronger signal than a real one. Mobile devices are designed to connect to the station with the strongest signal.

Once a device has connected, it’s possible for a hacker to figure out a person’s approximate location and possibly steal data or listen to calls.

Such attacks were thought to be only possible by governments and intelligence agencies, but the software needed to create a base station,OpenBTS, is open source, and the cost of the needed hardware has dropped dramatically, Liwer said.

In the U.S., there has been increasing concern over police departments using such devices, sometimes referred to as IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) catchers, without court approval.

A technically skilled person could probably build a fake cellular tower for around $350, while a non-technical person could assemble one for around $1,500, Liwer said. For enterprises with sensitive data, the lower barrier to intercepting mobile communications poses yet another risk to data.

CoroNet’s software is a lightweight agent that runs on an Android or iOS device or on a laptop. It is programmed to detect behaviors and characteristics of a base station, as well as those of Wi-Fi networks.

It turns out that fake ones leave a lot of clues that they’re probably bogus. Liwer said there are many signs that CoroNet analyzes.

 

 

 

Apple Products Still Dominant For Enterprise Users

May 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple products are still the most popular mobile devices among enterprise users, but competitors are erasing the company’s lead, especially in the tablet market.

Those are the findings from enterprise mobility management vendor Good Technology, which issued a report that measured mobile device activations among its business customers. Good says its technology serves more than 6,200 companies.

In the first quarter of 2015, 72 percent of all smartphones activated globally ran iOS. Compared to 2014′s fourth quarter, that’s a 1 percent decrease. Android device activations, meanwhile, reached 26 percent, increasing 1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014. Windows Phone activations remained steady at 1 percent, the same as the previous six quarters, said the report.

Apple lost significant ground in the tablet market. In the first quarter of 2015, iPads had an 81 percent market share in activations, down from 92 percent in the year-ago quarter, according to the report. Tablets running Android and Windows increased their market share to 15 percent and 4 percent, respectively. According to Good, Microsoft Surface devices, which Microsoft manufactures, as well as Windows tablets sold by third-party makers, were both in demand.

The iPhone 6 was the most popular smartphone for businesses, comprising 26 percent of all smartphone activations in the first quarter of 2015. The Samsung 5 was the most activated Android smartphone. Together, 28 of the top 30 selling smartphones came from either Apple or Samsung, the report said.

The industries with the most iOS activations were education (83 percent), the public sector (80 percent) and financial services (76 percent), the report said. Android activation was prevalent in the tech (47 percent) and energy (44 percent) industries.

Windows device activations, meanwhile, stood out in the retail and entertainment and media markets. In retail, Windows tablets claimed a 5 percent market share while in the media and entertainment industry, 7 percent of device activations were for Windows Phone.

 

 

MediaTek Shows Off Helio X20

May 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek has announced a 10-core processor which it claims is the world’s first mobile processor with three processor clusters.

The Helio X20 is expected to make its way into devices in early 2016, and will “revolutionise” mobile processors, according to MediaTek.

This is down to its ability to reduce power consumption significantly by altering the number of cores working at any one time depending on the power needed to complete tasks.

MediaTek said that this has been made possible by the firm’s new Tri-Cluster CPU architecture that has three processor clusters each designed to handle different types of workloads more efficiently.

“If a user needs heavy performance, [the Helio X20] will invoke 2, 4, 8 cores, intelligently looking at the workload to decide how many it needs,” said MediaTek’s senior director of corporate sales for EMEA, Chet Babla, in a briefing with The INQUIRER.

“There will be a dramatic drop in power consumption compared to big.LITTLE architecture because of this.”

The Tri-Cluster CPU consists of one cluster of two ARM Cortex-A72 cores running at 2.5GHz for high performance, and two clusters of four ARM Cortex-A53 cores, one running at 2GHz for medium loads and one running at 1.4GHz for light activities.

MediaTek has also integrated a CorePilot 3.0 heterogeneous computing scheduling algorithm which controls which threads are allocated to the cores.

CorePilot 3.0 schedules the tasks for all CPUs and GPUs while managing power and thermal effects so that extreme performance can be attained while creating less heat.

This is said to reduce power consumption by 30 percent compared with conventional dual-cluster architectures on top of the increase in energy efficiency thanks to Helio X20′s supported ARM Mali-T880 GPU.

“With the integration of MediaTek’s WorldMode Category 6 LTE modem with carrier aggregation and upgraded CorePilot 3.0 advanced scheduling algorithm, the Helio X20 is set to revolutionise the mobile processor industry and address the global demand for flagship mobile devices,” MediaTek said.

The Helio X20 also has several features designed to increase device display performance and multimedia experiences.

These include support for dual main cameras with a built-in 3D depth engine for a faster shot-to-shot experience, multi-scale de-noise engines for higher quality images, a 120Hz mobile display refresh rate for crisper and more responsive browsing, and an integrated ARM Cortex-M4 low power sensor processor to support always-on applications such as MP3 playback and voice activation.

Courtesy-TheInq

AT&T To Offer Its First Branded Tablet

May 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T is gearing up to offer its first branded tablet, even though global shipments of the devices are beginning to wane.

The Trek HD tablet will be available from the company as of Tuesday for as low as $49.99 with a two-year mobile contract. Buyers can also choose to pay a total sum of $200 over 20 months.

AT&T already offers a host of tablets from companies including Apple, Samsung, LG, Asus and others. The Trek HD would be its cheapest model outside of the refurbished LG G Pad 7.0, refurbished Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 and new Asus MemoPad 7 tablets, which are offered for free as part of its mobile contract plans.

The Trek HD, which has an 8-in. screen and Android 5.0, code-named Lollipop. The tablet offers eight hours of battery life.

AT&T considers it to be an entry-level tablet. The device runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, which also has an integrated LTE modem. Other features include 16GB of storage, a micro-SD slot, a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera.

 

 

 

Is TSMC The King?

May 13, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

TSMC looks certain to keep its foot firmly on the throat of 28nm chip production, according to a new study.

Digitimes said that it looks like competition from Samsung Electronics, Globalfoundries, UMC and SMIC will not be enough to upset TSMC’s rule.

TSMC started its commercial 28nm process five years ago and now accounts for over 75 per cent of the global 28nm foundry market. In addition, the 28nm products also contributed 30 per cent to TSMC’s total revenues in 2014.

Initially 28nm capacity was triggered by rising demand for application processors for smartphones and tablets. TSMC had clients including Qualcomm, MediaTek, Apple and Nvidia.

Vlients from the mobile device sector will continue to fill TSMC with 28nm orders in 2015, but the SSD market is expected this year is likely to give another wave of demand for 28nm.

Controller chips for SSDs are to officially migrate into the 28nm process in 2015, and TSMC has an advantage to solicit more orders from SSD vendors.

TSMC has reportedly snapped up SSD controller chips orders from Marvell Technology, Phison Electronics and more recently from Apple. Thus, TSMC will see its share in the 28nm process market remain high and contribution of the 28nm products to its sales further increase in 2015.

Courtesy-Fud

Hallmark Launches First eCard App

May 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Hallmark, one of the world’s oldest and best-known greeting card companies, launched its first Hallmark eCard app for the iPhone and iPad last week.

The new app, which will eventually make it to Android devices, isn’t just about ecards. It’s part of a broader mission within the Hallmark eCard division to help users connect more deeply through mobile devices and social networks than they do today, said Dan Kessler, general manager of Hallmark eCards.

“We’re talking about depth versus breadth” of social communications, Kessler said an interview. “If you post ‘Happy Birthday’ on somebody’s Facebook wall, at the end of the day you’re really just a number, a little red number at the top of somebody’s Facebook page. What we’re trying to provide artistically and technologically is a way to communicate more deeply.”

Facebook, WhatsApp and other social networks often provide social interactions without much meaning, he said.

“We’re entering a golden age for the greetings business,” Kessler said. “There’s an ongoing backlash against soulless communicating, and people are going back to a time of where it matters to say ‘Happy Birthday.’ I could just write it on somebody’s wall or [instead] send a card or an ecard.”

Kessler’s description of a ‘golden age’ might be an exaggeration. Still, there’s little question that mobile devices are opening a big door for ecards, said Natasha Rankin, executive director of the Greeting Card Association in Washington, which has 150 members, including Hallmark and American Greetings as its largest members.

“As with every company, Hallmark is recognizing wisely that to stay relevant, expanding into mobile is essential,” Rankin said in an interview. “There’s definitely an expansion toward leveraging technology.”

Ecards are still relatively small compared to paper cards, with about $274 million in revenues for U.S. ecard companies, according to the analyst firm IBISWorld.

 

 

 

Chinese Smartphone Vendors Pivot Towards High-end Devices

May 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

When ZTE unveiled its latest phone, the Z9, the Chinese company wasn’t embarrassed to reveal its high price.

The cutting-edge device will retail in China starting at 3499 yuan (US$574), which is far more than the cost of low-end handsets that have flooded store shelves, and turned China into the world’s largest smartphone market.

For years, Chinese handset vendors have been competing in the local market by offering cheap products that most people can afford. Prices have continually gone down, as rival companies have sought to undercut one another with Android phones at 599 yuan (US$96) or even lower.

But with the market already saturated with cheap devices, some of these vendors are starting to focus on pricier phones, and hoping that Chinese consumers will buy them.

ZTE rolled out the Z9 through its Nubia brand, which has so far not been used on low-end handsets. Nubia phones were developed to create a premium product line, said the brand’s senior vice president Felix Fu in an interview. He’s betting that the market wants more choice in the high-end segment.

“Consumers wanting to upgrade to something better is a big trend in China,” he said. “More consumers are willing to spend more, if it will buy them a product with better value.”

Chinese phones are sometimes stereotyped as being inexpensive, but shoddy devices. The Z9, however, is different. It uses a rarely seen bezel-less screen, fitted in a sleek metal frame.

ZTE isn’t alone in trying to offer high-end phones. Fast-rising Chinese handset maker Xiaomi is perhaps best known for offering low-cost Android Phones. This week, it will start selling its priciest handset, the Mi Note Pro. which will retail at 2999 yuan (US$483), and comes with a 2560 by 1440 pixel screen and 4GB of RAM.

Lenovo, on the other hand, reintroduced the Motorola brand in China as a way to target consumers with larger wallets. The Moto X, for example, starts at 2999 yuan(US$483) and the Moto X Pro at 4299 yuan ($692).

Chinese handset makers don’t want to settle at making low-end products and instead strive to become quality brands, said Wang Jingwen, an analyst with research firm Canalys.

 

 

 

 

Chipmakers Advocating MIPS Open Source Moves

May 12, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm Atheros, Lantiq (part of Intel) and Broadcom have joined the Prpl Foundation.

For those who came in late Prple is the organisation set-up by Imagination Technologies to support open-source software on the MIPS architecture.

The big names follow CUPP Computing, Elliptic Technologies, Imperas Software, Kernkonzept and Seltech joined the foundation at lower levels.

In a statement the Foundation said that the newcomers to the prpl Foundation’s board of directors will participate at the executive level and appoint representatives to the technical steering committee and to engineering groups including the security.

So in other words the key players will be advocating an open source approach to MIPS.

Prpl, is open to other architectures, and focuses on “datacenter-to-device portable software and visualized architectures”, it said. Initial domains oem its hit list are: datacenter, networking, storage, connected consumer, embedded and IoT.

Courtesy-Fud