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Samsung Acknowledges Screen Rotation Issue With Galaxy S6 Edge Phones

April 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has finally acknowledged there is a screen rotation problem on a “very limited” number of Galaxy S6 Edge devices, which went on sale April 10.

The company said a solution is already available, but didn’t disclose whether it is related to the device’s hardware or software or both.

In a statement issued by email to Computerworld, a Samsung spokeswoman said: “Samsung is aware of an issue affecting screen rotation on a very limited number of Galaxy S6 Edge devices and a solution is already available. Owners who believe their device may be affected should call 1-800-SAMSUNG for support.”

The problem cropped up on the first day that Edge sales began 12 days ago. Dozens of users reported last week and this week on various online forums that photos they had taken with the phone and many apps would not rotate into landscape (horizontal) mode and were stuck in portrait (vertical) mode.

Some users said they returned the faulty Edge devices to the wireless carrier retail stores to get another Edge device, then found the auto-rotate problem cropped up, again, on the new phone.

The issue has also been reported on Edge devices on carriers outside the U.S., including New Zealand and Hong Kong. One user, Leon Chan, claimed on Android Forums on April 17 to have exchanged his Edge device three times due to the auto-rotation issue, but planned to get the cousin device, the regular Galaxy S6, the fourth time around. “I called Hong Kong Samsung and they seem to be unaware,” he wrote several days before Samsung issued its statement acknowledging the problem.

AT&T and Sprint both referred Computerworld to Samsung for comment on the concern. T-Mobile said it hasn’t seen any auto-rotate problems with Edge devices. Verizon didn’t respond to a request for comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Apple Watches To Arrive Ahead Of Schedule

April 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Some Apple Watch buyers who were told that they would have to wait until June to receive their new gadgets will get them sooner, according to a statement made by Apple.

When online pre-orders for Apple’s first smartwatch started on April 10, many customers were surprised to see delivery times as far out as June instead of on April 24, when the devices officially go on sale.

On Wednesday, Apple notified some buyers that they would not have to wait so long after all.

“Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on the available supply and the order in which they were received,” Apple said in a statement.

An Apple spokesman declined to say how soon the company would ship the watches or how many customers would be affected.

The Cupertino, California company previously predicted that demand would exceed supply at product launch. It has not said how many watches its customers have pre-ordered.

In a note to clients on Wednesday, FDR analyst Daniel Ives estimated Apple would take over 2 million pre-orders for the watch and ship 20 million of them in 2015.

“The longer-term consumer adoption curve for the Apple Watch remains a major ‘hot button’ question among tech investors as broad customer feedback is yet to be seen,” Ives wrote.

 

Samsung Projecting 70M Galaxy S6, Edge Phones To Be Sold

April 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has recently described the first week of Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge sales as “impressive” and predicted overall sales for both devices will break a record, passing 70 million globally for both.

That projection, offered by an unnamed Samsung executive in a recent Korea Times report from Seoul, would be welcome, indeed, after the company’s problems selling the Galaxy S5.

A Samsung spokeswoman could not immediately confirm the sales estimate. Both phones went on sale April 10 in the U.S. and other major markets.

The 70 million in sales for both phones would compare to reported sales of 70 million for each of the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 phones. The Galaxy S5′s sales fell 40% below expectations, as measured last November, leading to an executive shakeup.

Samsung has been using the Edge device as a kind of promotion for both phones, which are reportedly sold to carriers in a ratio deal: When a carrier buys 10 Galaxy S6 phones to resell, the carrier gets the right to buy five Edge phones to resell.

The Edge is the first smartphone with two curved front display edges on either side, something Samsung expected would be a crowd pleaser. Some reports have said there were a record high 20 million pre-orders for both new phones and that some retailers sold out within a day of availability.

Samsung is apparently seeing good early sales despite user complaints of a problem with the auto-rotate feature on some Edge devices. Some images and apps remain stuck in the portrait mode (vertical) and won’t rotate as they should to landscape mode (horizontal), according to dozens of users in forums.

Samsung and U.S. carriers have offered no public explanation for the problem or its fix, nor have they said how many units are affected. Some customers have returned an Edge device only to have a second one fail. Sprint referred all queries on the matter to Samsung, while Verizon and AT&T have not commented.

 

Is Nokia Re-entering The Mobile Phone Market?

April 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia unloaded its mobile phone business to Microsoft last year, but now one of Nokia’s remaining business units is considering a return to the consumer mobile phone market next year.

Nokia Technologies, which controls thousands of technology patents, plans to re-enter the mobile phone market in 2016, according to unnamed sources cited by Re/code.

Such plans would be ambitious, especially given the super-competitive global smartphone and feature phone market. It isn’t clear precisely what Nokia Technologies is up to, and at least two analysts are skeptical it will work.

“People loved Nokia [in previous years], but I am not sure consumers will think that this is the same Nokia,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research for Kantar WorldPanel ComTech via email. “From a business perspective, it will be hard to see how they can be competitive against white box players.”

It is also hard to see how devices will fit into Nokia’s overall business strategy, she said. Milanesi assumed the devices would be built on the Android platform, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

“The Nokia brand is a well-recognized brand, but I would think their re-entering the phone market is not going to happen,” added Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.

“They certainly will be fighting an uphill battle,” said Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at IDC. “Nokia doesn’t have the brand catchet it once had and the phone market has gotten increasingly competitive as Chinese vendors like Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, etc., continue to gain share of wallet and mind, while driving down prices.”

Under terms of the $7 billion sale to Microsoft, Nokia can’t sell any phones under the Nokia brand through 2015 and can’t license the brand until the third quarter of 2016.

So far, it doesn’t appear that Nokia would manufacture any phones, but would instead design products and license those designs and the Nokia brand to other companies. The N1 Android tablet from Nokia Technologies was licensed to a Chinese manufacturer under that scheme.

 

 

Samsung To Make Qualcomm’s New Snapdragon Chip

April 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. chip maker Qualcomm Inc plans to have its next-generation Snapdragon 820 mobile processors to be made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, tech news website Re/code reported, citing unnamed sources.

The move comes after Samsung opted to use its own Exynos processors for the recently launched flagship Galaxy S6 devices instead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, prompting the U.S. firm to cut is financial outlook for the year.

Samsung and Qualcomm declined to comment on Re/code’s report. The report, dated April 20, did not say whether Qualcomm was looking at other manufacturers for the 820 processor besides Samsung.

The report suggests gathering momentum for Samsung’s system chips business, which investors and analysts expect will swing to profit this year. That could be negative for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), which analysts say has gotten the bulk of Qualcomm’s orders for high-end chips.

Samsung’s 14-nanometer manufacturing technology gives the firm an edge over rivals such as TSMC, as smaller chips are more energy-efficient and deliver better performance. Investors and analysts say the superior technology will lead to more outside orders for Samsung’s contract manufacturing business and further boost earnings.

Media reports say Samsung will make processors for Apple Inc’s new iPhones expected to launch later this year, and the firm also recently added Nvidia Corp as a contract manufacturing client.

 

 

Google’s Loon Close To Launching

April 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google says its Project Loon is nearing the capability to produce and launch thousands of balloons to provide Internet access from the sky.

Such a number would be required to provide reliable Internet access to users in remote areas that are currently unserved by terrestrial networks, said Mike Cassidy, the Google engineer in charge of the project, in a video post.

The ambitious project has been under way for a couple of years and involves beaming down LTE cellular signals to handsets on the ground from balloons thousands of feet in the air, well above the altitude that passenger jets fly.

“At first it would take us 3 or 4 days to tape together a balloon,” Cassidy says in the video. “Today, through our own manufacturing facility, the automated systems can get a balloon produced in just a few hours. We’re getting close to the point where we can roll out thousands of balloons.”

Trials are currently underway with Telstra in Australia, Telefonica in Latin America and with Vodafone in New Zealand, where the video appears to have been largely shot. Maps tracking the path of balloons over the country are seen at several points in the video.

At a European conference in March, a Google executive said the balloons were staying aloft for up to 6 months at a time.

At some point they do come down, and Cassidy says the company has developed a system to predict where they will land and to retrieve them.

It has also worked on a reliable launching system.

Google hasn’t provided any details about what a commercial roll-out of the technology might look like.

 

 

 

Mozilla’s Firefox Coming To iPhone

April 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mozilla will offer Firefox for Apple’s iPhone “soon,” according to a company announcement of an open marketing position.

As the senior mobile marketing manager, the candidate will “lead marketing for Firefox on both Android and iOS,” the listing stated, adding that “a new Firefox for iOS application [will be] arriving soon.”

Mozilla, which had previously staunchly declined to create a version of its iconic browser for iOS, changed its tune last December, when a company manager said that the open-source developer would “get Firefox on iOS.”

Although Mozilla confirmed that it was working on Firefox for iOS, at the time it gave no hint of a timeline. “We are in the early stages of experimenting with something that allows iOS users to be able to choose a Firefox-like experience,” Mozilla said in a Dec. 2 blog.

The phrase “Firefox-like experience” was crucial: Apple allows only those browsers into the App Store that are built atop its own rendering and JavaScript engines, WebKit and Nitro, which power Safari. Mozilla relies on its own technologies for both. Firefox on iOS, then, will be a user interface (UI) layer atop WebKit and Nitro.

Mozilla’s Github repository for iOS Firefox confirmed that.

The reasons for Mozilla’s renewed interest in iOS likely stemmed from Firefox’s decline in browser user share. Over the last 12 months, Firefox has shed 31% of its desktop user share by metrics vendors’ Net Applications count, and now has less than half the share of Google’s Chrome.

Mozilla has put its shoulder behind other mobile initiatives. But Firefox OS, an open-source mobile operating system based on the browser, has not yet gained significant traction and its Firefox browser for Android hasn’t moved the needle. According to Net Applications, Firefox’s usage share on mobile was just 0.7% last month, or about one sixty-sixth that of Safari.

 

 

 

Apple Pay Headed To Canada

April 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc is gearing up to launch its electronic payments service in Canada in November, the first international expansion of Apple Pay, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The iPhone maker is in talks with Canada’s six biggest banks, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank , Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada, the people told the Journal.

The banks are open to an agreement, but are not happy with Apple’s fee proposals and are worried about security vulnerabilities like the ones that U.S. banks experienced, the Journal said, citing the people.

It was still unclear if all six Canadian banks would launch Apple Pay at the same time, the Journal said.

Apple launched the service, a mobile payment app that allows consumers to buy things by holding their iPhone6 and 6 Plus devices up to a reader, in the United States in October.

 

Microsoft Unveils Office Touch Apps For Windows Phones

April 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp has finally rolled out a long-awaited suite of touch-friendly Office apps that allow Windows phone users to work on Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents on their phones with touch commands and to transfer them easily between devices.

Test versions of what Microsoft is calling its Office Universal apps are available to download immediately and full versions will be available by the end of the month, Microsoft said.

Many Office users have waited months for Microsoft to introduce the apps, which adapt their look and commands to the device being used, whether Windows Phone or tablet.

Microsoft, in a departure from tradition, has already released similar touch-friendly Office apps for Apple Inc’s  iPad and iPhone, and for tablets running Google Inc’s Android.

The company’s reasoning was that those popular devices, which have dominated mobile computing, represented a bigger and more lucrative market for its Office products than its own Windows mobile devices.

Basic functions are free for everyone, but for advanced editing features, users must pay for a subscription to Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Office.

Microsoft is set to release a new version of Office for desktop PCs, and a new version of Windows, later this year.

 

 

IKEA Launches Wireless Charging Furniture Collection

April 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

IKEA has rolled out its Wireless Charging collection of furniture, which has built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers for compatible mobile phones.

In addition to offering bedside tables, floor- and table lamps, desks and simple charging pads, IKEA is also selling a DIY kit that lets users embed wireless chargers into furniture of their choice.

The furniture, and other items in IKEA’s wireless charging collection, ranges in price from $9.99 to $119.

The Wireless Charging collection will be rolled out globally, with U.S. stores seeing availability beginning in late spring, IKEA said today in a statement.

“With smartphones becoming such a natural part of our lives, we wanted the charging part to become a natural part of our homes,” Holly Harraway, IKEA’s lighting sales leader, said.

The furniture uses the most popular wireless charging specification, Qi, which is supported by brands such as Samsung and Energizer and has gotten an extension to its specification allowing it to charge devices at short distances

Users can check whether their mobile phone is compatible with the Qi standard at the Wireless Power Consortium’s this website.

The WPC with its Qi specification is up against two other industry organizations with their own wireless charging protocols: the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP.

The Qi spec transfers 5 watts of power for enabled mobile devices, such as the Galaxy S4 and S3, Nokia Lumia 1020, LG G2, Motorola Droid Maxx and Mini and the Google Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet.

If a smartphone does not have native wireless charging capability, such as an iPhone, users can purchase a VITAHULT charging cover (for Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy only), or other Qi-enabled covers for use with the IKEA wireless charging furniture.

 

 

 

 

 

Altera Shareholders Not Too Happy With Intel’s Merger Offer

April 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Several key Altera shareholders have forced the company back to the negotiating table to discuss the merger with Intel.

Talks with Intel broke down over the price, which Alteria management felt was too low. Cadian
Capital Management and TIG Advisors, have told Alteria to stop mucking about and talk turkey with Chipzilla.

In letters to Altera’s management, shareholders have raised concerns about the company’s ability to create value on its own that matches Intel’s offer, Bloomberg reported.

The company has agreed to resume takeover talks with Intel.

Some other large investors also have also sent letters, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Intel’s offered $50 per share range while Altera’s shares are currently worth $43.86 and valued at $13.2 billion. The stock has surged nearly 27 percent since merger talks was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in March.

Cadian was Altera’s 10th-largest shareholder, with a 2.77 percent stake. TIG owns about 1.5 percent of Altera’s outstanding shares, one of the people told Bloomberg.  It looks like what will  be Intel’s biggest buy out is back on again.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Has A Team Devoted To Making Screens For Apple Devices

April 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics Co has put together a standalone team of about 200 employees to work exclusively on making screens for rival smartphone maker Apple Inc’s products, Bloomberg reported, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The team at Samsung Display Co, which provides screens for iPads and MacBooks, helps develop products and is only allowed to share information about Apple’s business within the group, Bloomberg said.

The team, formed on April 1, also helps with sales and Apple is now the biggest external customer for Samsung components, Bloomberg said.

Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock and a Samsung Display spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Samsung and Apple last year agreed to drop all patent litigation outside the United States, scaling down a protracted legal battle between the smartphone rivals.

The legal battle between the smartphone rivals began in the United States in 2011 when Apple accused Samsung of copying its iPhone designs. Samsung countered that Apple was using pieces of its wireless-transmission technology without permission.

 

 

Sprint Offering In Home Technology Set-up Service

April 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Dealing with a highly competitive market, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint is offering to deliver and set up phones, tablets and other connected devices for free at homes, offices and other locations chosen by the customer.

The offer is limited to eligible upgrade customers, but starting in September, new customers in selected markets will be able to choose the new Direct 2 You option, when buying online or through call centers.

Launching in the Kansas City metropolitan area on Monday, the program will be expanded across the country using about 5,000 branded cars and employing 5,000 staff by year end. A rollout in Miami and Chicago is scheduled for April 20.

Deliveries, however, will be confined to specific zones in the cities.

The bid by the carrier to bring “in-store experience” to homes and offices includes delivery of the phone and setting up the device by a Sprint-trained expert. The representative will transfer content from the earlier phone, and provide a tutorial and offer tips on the use of the new device.

The operator’s representative will also use the visit to give a quote for the existing phone under the Sprint Buyback offer.

Sprint said it developed the service based on customer research and insights that indicated “the need for a revolutionary service like this one.” Customers will be alerted to the offer to upgrade their phone by text or email.

Sprint’s move comes as the company planned to set up 1,435 co-branded stores at RadioShack stores. The company said its aim is to help consumers get phones in the most convenient way. “If it’s a personalized delivery — we can do that now. If it’s about a great in-store service, we can provide that as well,” according to a company FAQ.

 

 

Activist Investors Calls For Breakup of Qualcomm

April 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Activist investor Jana Partners is urging Qualcomm Inc to consider spinning off its chip unit from its patent-licensing business to boost the chipmaker’s sagging stock price, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a quarterly letter that will be sent to Jana investors on Monday.

Jana, one of Qualcomm’s largest shareholders, is also calling on the company to cut costs, accelerate stock buybacks and make changes to its executive pay structure, financial reporting and board of directors, the newspaper said.

Qualcomm said last month it would buy back up to $15 billion of shares and raise its quarterly dividend. The company also said it would continue to return at least 75 percent of its free cash flow to shareholders annually.

In the letter, Jana said the buyback is a positive step but Qualcomm needs to do more to capitalize on its strong position in the chip market. It said Qualcomm’s chip business is essentially worthless at the company’s present market value, the Journal reported.

While the majority of Qualcomm’s revenue comes from selling so-called baseband chips that enable phones to communicate with carrier networks, most of its profit comes from licensing patents for its widespread CDMA cellphone technology.

Earlier this year, Qualcomm’s longtime customer Samsung Electronics Co opted to use an internally developed processor for its new Galaxy S6 smartphone rather than Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon mobile chip.

Jana executives and Qualcomm’s management have held private discussions since late last year, the Journal said, citing a person familiar with the conversations. In the letter, Jana described the talks as constructive.

 

 

 

Apple Seeking Exclusive Streaming Deals With Musicians

April 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc has reached out to more than a dozen musicians, including British band Florence and the Machine, hoping to sign exclusive deals for some of their music to be streamed on Beats, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company is in talks with Florence and the Machine to give Apple limited streaming rights to a track from their album set to be released in June, Bloomberg said.

Apple has also approached Taylor Swift and others about partnerships, the report said.

Apple declined to comment.

Beats Music will be re-launched in coming months. There will be a $9.99-a-month subscription for individuals and a family plan for $14.99, according to sources, Bloomberg said.

Music streaming service Tidal, launched last month by rapper Jay Z, is also trying to convince artists to sign exclusive deals for their content, to fend off competition from services such as Spotify and Google Inc’s YouTube.

Apple bought audio equipment and music streaming company Beats for about $3 billion in May 2014, hoping to catch up in fast-growing music streaming industry.