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Google’s Growth Will Be In A Shift To Mobile

July 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google Inc  is the more properly positioned than any company to benefit from the shift to mobile, increased local advertising and wearables, analysts said after the search giant posted its 18th straight quarter of 20 percent-plus revenue growth.

At least eight brokerages raised their price targets on the stock on Friday by as much as $75, to a high of $745.

The company, which is also set to benefit from the so-called “internet of things”, said that second-quarter revenue rose 22 percent to $15.96 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $15.61 billion.

Growth was driven by the company’s core search business, YouTube and product-listing ads, which combined to drive three times as much mobile traffic for merchants compared with last year, Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.

Brokerage Jefferies maintained its “buy” rating and $700 price target on the stock.

Of the 46 analysts covering Google, 36 have a “buy” or a higher rating on the stock and 10 have a “hold”. There are no “sell” ratings, according to StarMine data.

Google earns most of its revenue from advertising.

The number of “paid clicks” by consumers on ads serviced by Google increased 25 percent year-on-year in the quarter.

However, the average price of the ads declined 6 percent as ad rates on mobile phones are typically cheaper than traditional online ads because of their smaller screens.

“Google is successfully transitioning its business from PC to mobile, and is arguably in a more favorable position in mobile than it was in PC, which should eventually be reflected in a higher multiple,” Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler wrote in a client note.

Google also owns Android, the world’s most-used mobile software, and YouTube, the most popular video-streaming service.

Other online companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc  are also revamping their advertising businesses to take advantage of the shift to mobile devices.

But Google has established unusually deep competitive “moats” around its business through scale, aggressive product innovation and substantial investment, RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a research note.

Google’s capital investment budget has topped $17 billion over the past five years, and the company has spent about $13 billion on research, according to analysts.

The company is also spending big to push into new markets with innovations such as wearable computers, ultra high-speed internet access and home automation – the “internet of things.”

 

 

Bank Of America Accused Of Using $300M Worth Of Illegal Software

July 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Bank of America illegally copied $300 million worth of Tibco’s enterprise software for use in a large-scale IT project at its Merrill Lynch subsidiary, Tibco alleges in a lawsuit.

The bank amassed huge quantities of Tibco software while it was still within the terms of a license agreement that expired in February 2013, then used the software for the project when it was out of license, according to the suit.

As of Tuesday, Bank of America hadn’t filed a response to Tibco’s suit, which was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. But a spokesman said the bank had done nothing wrong.

“We have a long history of positive relationships with our third party partners,” spokesman Mark Pipitone said via email. “In accordance with that, we have acted in good faith to observe the scope of Tibco’s license at all times, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves.”

Tibco’s lawsuit provides a detailed narrative of Bank of America’s alleged wrongful deeds.

The bank is a long-time Tibco customer, and an addendum to its 2010 license agreement allowed Bank of America to deploy various Tibco products for a further three years from that date, the suit states.

But the license had “specific restrictions” on how the bank could deploy and make copies of the software, Tibco says. The restrictions aren’t specified in the lawsuit, which says some terms of the companies’ agreement are subject to a confidentiality provision.

About six months after the bank’s license expired, Tibco discovered the bank was “rolling out a large integration initiative called Merrill Lynch One,” the suit states.

It was initially deployed to 400 advisors in September 2013, with another 14,000 set to be migrated during this year, according to the suit.

The bank does “not have licensed copies of the TIBCO Registered Software, and have instead made unauthorized copies and used the same for the Merrill Lynch One Project,” the suit alleges.

The alleged stockpiling of software during the three-year license period resulted in an accumulation of copies worth at least $300 million, it says.

 

Will Google’s Project Zero Succeed?

July 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Google has announced “Project Zero”, a dramatically-named initiative that looks to mitigate the risk of internet users getting hit by targeted cyber attacks.

Started by a group of Google security researchers with the mission of ridding the world of security dangers such as zero-day attacks, Project Zero will hire “the best practically-minded security researchers”, Google said, promising to contribute all of their time “toward improving security across the internet”.

The group was put together after certain Googlers started spending “some of their time on research that makes the internet safer, leading to the discovery of bugs like Heartbleed,” said Google researcher Chris Evans in a blog post.

“We’re not placing any particular bounds on this project and will work to improve the security of any software depended upon by large numbers of people, paying careful attention to the techniques, targets and motivations of attackers,” Evans explained. “We’ll use standard approaches such as locating and reporting large numbers of vulnerabilities.”

Evans said that Project Zero will also conduct new research into mitigations, exploitation, program analysis, and anything else that the researchers decide is a worthwhile investment.

The Googlers at Project Zero will commit to doing their work transparently, with every bug discovered being filed in an external database. They will also report bugs only to the software’s vendor and no third parties.

“Once the bug report becomes public, typically once a patch is available, you’ll be able to monitor vendor time-to-fix performance, see any discussion about exploitability, and view historical exploits and crash traces,” Evans said. “We also commit to sending bug reports to vendors in as close to real-time as possible, and to working with them to get fixes to users in a reasonable time.”

Not to long before the announcement of Project Zero on Tuesday, Google came under fire from European Union courts, which have forced the firm to forget certain people’s irrelevant or outdated online histories. Within days of the court order going into effect, EU citizens were begging Google to have their pasts expunged, at the rate of 10,000 requests per day.

However, it has since emerged that the buried webpages haven’t been technically disabled, nor have they been erased, security Firm Sophos reports.

“Regardless of what the directive is being called, courts technically didn’t grant Europeans the right to be forgotten. Rather, it gave them the right to be relatively obscured, by having eligible pages flagged so they don’t show up in search results,” said Sophos in a blog post.

“The data is still out there. And now, a newly launched site is archiving the forcibly de-indexed pages, in the name of opening up to the internet as a whole the discussion regarding what should or should not be ‘forgotten’.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Apple Touch ID Patent Falters

July 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple’s application to trademark the name ‘Touch ID’ for its fingerprint scanning technology has been rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Apparently the name already belongs to an outfit called Kronos, a US-based company that makes workforce management software.

The USPTO pointed out that granting Apple the patent for Touch ID may create confusion among potential users. Kronos’s Touch ID technology is also related to fingerprint recognition and has been doing rather well. It has had the trademark since 2001, while Apple’s application was submitted in January this year only.

The iPhone maker has six months to respond to the letter and provide an alternative. If Apple fails to do so, its application will be considered abandoned by the US patent office and the company will have to rename the feature. The Tame Apple Press gets all moist about the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which was billed as the “killer ap” on the iPhone 5S.  It is going on the iPad range in October.

The fact Apple could not be bothered to check the name was trademarked before it stuck it in the iPhone5S is probably going to cause it some problems. After all it had a few difficulties with the iPad name.

Courtesy-Fud

Oracle To Release A Whopping 115 Security Patches

July 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Oracle announced plans to release 115 security patches for vulnerabilities affecting a vast number of its products, including its flagship database, Java SE, Fusion Middleware and business applications.

The update includes fixes for 20 weaknesses in Java SE, all of which can be exploited by an attacker remotely, without the need for login credentials, Oracle said in an announcement prior to Tuesday’s patch release.

Some 29 fixes are for Oracle’s Fusion Middleware suite, with 27 able to be exploited over a network without the need for authentication. Affected middleware components include BI Publisher, GlassFish Server, HTTP Server, JDeveloper, WebCenter Portal and WebLogic Server.

Six other patches are for Oracle’s database. Two of the vulnerabilities can be exploited remotely without login credentials.

Another seven patches target Hyperion, one of Oracle’s BI (business intelligence) products.

The update also includes fixes for security weaknesses in a range of Oracle applications, including E-Business Suite, Siebel CRM, PeopleSoft, Oracle Retail Applications and Primavera.

Oracle Virtualization will get 15 fixes, eight of which target vulnerabilities that can be exploited over the Internet without login credentials.

Finally, some 10 fixes will ship for MySQL. None of the related vulnerabilities can be attacked remotely without authentication.

Oracle releases patches on a quarterly basis. The last update, in April, delivered 104 fixes.

 

Google, Dropbox Team Up To Ward Off Patent Trolls

July 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google, Dropbox and a few other high-tech firms have devised a new way to help protect themselves against patent trolls.

Patent trolls, or “non-practicing entities,” are companies that buy up old patents and try to monetize them by accusing others of infringement. They usually request a one-off licensing fee to end a lawsuit, something many companies reluctantly pay because it’s cheaper than defending the claim.

The practice has become a significant problem in the high-tech field, in part because of the complex nature of modern software and hardware.

In an attempt to stop it, six high-tech companies have banded together to launch the License on Transfer Network, or LOT Network.

Members of Lotnet retain full ownership and licensing rights of their patents, but they agree to provide each other with a royalty-free license should any of the patents ever be sold.

That means if Dropbox, for instance, sells a patent on data storage to a third party, Google and the other members will first receive a license to the technology. That should insulate them from any lawsuits brought by the patent’s new owner.

Besides Google and Dropbox, the launch members include SAP, Canon, Asana and Newegg. They hope the agreement will reduce the nuisance of patent trolling.

“The LOT Network is a sort of arms control for the patent world,” said Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents at Google, in a statement. “By working together, we can cut down on patent litigation, allowing us to focus instead on building great products.”

The group is offering membership to other technology companies.

 

Apple’s iWatch Will Have Multiple Screens, Designs

June 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc plans to introduce smartwatches with multiple screen sizes and designs this fall,  according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Taiwan’s Quanta will begin mass production of Apple’s first smartwatches from July, in time for an October launch, several sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal on Friday also cited sources saying Quanta would manufacture the device.

One of the sources told Reuters on Thursday that Apple expects to ship 50 million units of the so-called iWatch within the first year of the product’s release, although these types of initial estimates can be subject to change.

The smartwatch will come with a slightly rectangular display that likely measures 2.5 inches diagonally, the source added. The watch-face will protrude slightly from the band, creating an arched shape, and feature a touch interface and wireless charging capabilities, according to the source.

Another source told Reuters that LG Display Co Ltd is the exclusive supplier of the screen for the gadget’s initial batch of production.

The iWatch will also contain a sensor that monitors a user’s pulse. Singapore-based imaging and sensor maker Heptagon is on the supplier list for that feature, two sources said on Thursday.

Apple’s smartwatch will follow similar devices by Samsung, Sony Corp, Motorola and LG Electronics Inc – gadgets that tech watchers say have not been appealing or user-friendly enough for mass adoption.

But the market is growing fast. Data firm IDC estimates that worldwide shipments of wearable computing devices, including smartwatches, will triple this year over 2013.

 

Microsoft Releases Special Browser Just For Developers

June 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Developers can test drive new features of the next version of Internet Explorer using a test edition Microsoft has released for their use.

The Internet Explorer Developer Channel, which can be downloaded for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1, runs independently of the user’s copy of IE, allowing programmers to test the newest browser features without disrupting their current browser settings.

The Internet Explorer Developer Channel will offer an early version of IE while it is still being worked on by Microsoft programmers. Developers can preview features planned for the upcoming editions of the browser to help them better build Web applications and pages that use the new capabilities.

Microsoft also hopes that developers will offer feedback, so the company can better implement the pending features.

The developer version offers a sandbox-like testing environment so it does not interfere with the user’s IE browser profile. The browser does not run as quickly as the standard edition of IE and because it is a beta version, should not be used in production environments.

With the test version, Microsoft is replicating the fast development environments used by other browser makers.

Mozilla offers nightly builds of the next version of the Firefox browser under development. Google also offers developer versions of its Chrome browser.

Microsoft plans to issue frequent updates to the test version of IE, announcing them through the DevChannel.Modern.IE developer resource site.

Microsoft’s browser also comes with F12 Developer Tools, designed to help debug and optimize Web pages and Web applications.

 

Vodafone Shows Interest In ‘Connected Cars’ With Latest Purchase

June 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Vodafone is acquiring an Italian car electronics maker for 145 million euros ($197 million), hoping to leap ahead in the race to connect more products to the internet and offset slowing growth in its core mobile phone business.

Telecoms and technology firms are looking to tap an expected surge in demand for so-called machine-to-machine (M2M) communications – or using the internet to get products from cars and washing machines to turbines and medical equipment to carry out more tasks, more efficiently.

Cars are at the forefront of the new industry, as manufacturers strive to add new features such as streaming music, playing audio books, navigation aids and security improvements to their vehicles.

Only about 10 percent of vehicles currently have built-in connectivity to the internet, but that number is expected to rise to more than 90 percent by 2020, according to British consulting firm Machina Research.

Vodafone said on Monday it had agreed to buy Cobra Automotive Technologies, which provides products aimed at improving car security, telecommunications and vehicle tracking for the automotive and insurance industries.

“The combination of Vodafone and Cobra will create a new global provider of connected car services,” said Erik Brenneis, Director of M2M at Vodafone.

“We plan to invest in the business to offer our automotive and insurance customers a full range of telematics services.”

Other mobile operators are also investing in the M2M industry – also known as “the internet of things” – looking for new sources of income as stiff competition and regulation slow growth in their core market.

For example, Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, spent $612 million in cash in 2012 to buy Hughes Telematics, which sells products including GPS tracking, communications and safety features in cars.

 

Disney Gaming Studio Makes A Profit

June 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Mickey Mouse outfit Walt Disney expects global retail sales from its 10-month-old Infinity video game to reach $1 billion.

Disney launched Infinity in August to help turn around its interactive gaming unit, which lost $1.4 billion from fiscal year 2008 to 2013. In an overhaul in March, the division laid off about one-quarter of the workforce, cut the number of games it develops and focused its advertising more on the fast-changing mobile market.

A month ago, Disney reported global retail sales of $550 million for Infinity. Sales of the game helped the interactive unit post a $14 million profit for the quarter that ended in March. Jimmy Pitaro, president of the company’s interactive unit said that Infinity will be a billion-dollar franchise. It is expected to do even better when the game’s next version, “Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes” is launched. Infinity lets users play with characters from Disney and Pixar films such as Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and Lightning McQueen from “Cars.” The 2.0 version that will be launched in the fall brings in Marvel heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man and Spider-Man.

Still Infinity has not done as well as its rival Activision Blizzard “Skylanders” franchise which has made $2 billion in revenue.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Acquires Skybox Imaging for $500 Million

June 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google stands to gain huge amounts of geographic data for information as wildly diverse as the health of farm fields and congestion of parking lots, by acquiring the super-smart satellite imaging and analytics company Skybox Imaging.

The companies said Tuesday that Google was paying US$500 million cash to acquire 5-year-old Skybox, which claims to have made the world’s smallest high-resolution imaging satellite, which collects a range of images and video of the world’s daily goings-on.

The deal has not yet closed and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Google, in its announcement, said that Skybox will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Google already uses satellite imagery for its Maps and Earth software, but the data can be between one and three years old.

But the possible applications of Skybox’s technology go way beyond Maps. “Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief — areas Google has long been interested in,” Google said.

Those are oft-cited goals at Google now. The company said the same thing after it recently acquired Titan Aerospace, which makes drones that fly at 65,000 feet to beam Internet access to underserved parts of the world.

Skybox’s technology, like Titan’s, may also hook up with Google’s Project Loon, an experiment involving high-altitude balloons for Internet access.

And it could give Google a big leg up against Facebook, which has its own drones for Internet and other projects.

But Skybox’s technology is impressive by itself. By analyzing its images and video, the company provides intelligence on all sorts of industries and activities on Earth — data that Google could eventually incorporate into any number of its products.

Skybox, for instance, looks at changes in the number of cars in a retailer’s parking lot, or the size of stockpiles of natural resources in ports, to provide financial trading intelligence.

“The time is right to join a company who can challenge us to think even bigger and bolder, and who can support us in accelerating our ambitious vision,” the Mountain View, California-based Skybox said in its announcement.

 

Silent Circle Secured ‘Blackphones’ Coming Soon

June 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The Blackphone security-focused smartphone will deubt in three weeks and “a few thousand” have already been sold through pre-orders, executives from the device’s makers say.

Encrypted communications provider Silent Circle and manufacturer Geeksphone introduced the Blackphone earlier this year to give users a way around data collection by governments and private companies. The US$629 device, made by a Swiss joint venture called SGP Technologies SA, runs a custom Android-based OS and was designed from the ground up to prevent hacking. It will offer secure and private voice and video calls, text messaging and file exchanges, as well as anonymous Internet use, the companies say.

Through partnerships with service providers in Europe and in North, Central and South America, the companies have commitments to deliver millions of phones, Silent Circle President and co-founder Phil Zimmerman said on Tuesday at MIT Technology Review’s Digital Summit in San Francisco. KPN, which has already said it will sell the Blackphone in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, is committing to hundreds of thousands of phones, he said.

The device, along with Silent Circle’s service, offers end-to-end encrypted communications from one Blackphone to another. Even if one person doesn’t have a Blackphone, communication will be encrypted from the phone to Silent Circle’s servers.

Silent Circle doesn’t hold the encryption keys itself, so it can’t give governments access to users’ communications even if asked, Zimmerman said. The phone also keeps carriers and app providers from collecting user information, he said.

“If you get a free service like Facebook, there’s a catch. … If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product,” Zimmerman said. “What we’re doing here is, we’re making you pay for the product.” Growing awareness and concern about data-collection practices should help to expand demand for the phone, he said.

The Blackphone is designed to protect users from “driftnet fishing” for user information by organized crime and government entities such as the National Security Agency, but it can’t defend against targeted attacks, according to Zimmerman. “If NSA really, really wants to get into just your phone … they’re going to get into your phone,” he said.

The companies will update the phones to protect against any vulnerabilities that may be discovered in the future, Geeksphone co-founder Javier Aguera said.

 

Acer Unveils 8-in. Iconia Android Tablet

June 2, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Taiwanese PC maker Acer is unveiling an 8-inch Android tablet, scheduled to arrive in the third quarter.

The Iconia Tab 8, announced on Friday, features 1920 by 1200 pixel resolution and an Intel Atom quad-core Z3745 processor code-named “Bay Trail.” It follows Acer’s announcement of two smaller 7-inch tablets, the Iconia One 7 and Iconia Tab 7, a month ago.

Both those tablets have a screen resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels, and were meant to target lower-end consumers. In the case of the Iconia One 7, the device uses an older Intel “Clover Trail” processor, and has a starting price of $129.99.

The pricing for the Iconia Tab 8 was not disclosed, but Acer wants to build affordable tablets with great value, said Maverick Shih, president of the company’s tablet business, last Thursday.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the features you can find in high-end products,” he added in an interview.

The Iconia Tab 8 weighs 360 grams and has a metallic back cover along with anti-fingerprint coating on its display. The tablet runs Android 4.4 and promises 7.5 hours of battery life when watching videos.

Acer made no mention of its memory features, but the device has a microSD card slot to add more storage. The PC maker also declined to name which markets the product will be available in. But Acer’s Shih said mainland China has become a big focus for its tablet business.

“Before, we didn’t really value the Chinese market enough,” he said. To change that, the company has started a new China-based team focused on tablets, he added.

 

 

Trade Commission Urges Feds To Regulate Data Brokers

May 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Firms known as data brokers collect and sell information about “nearly all” U.S. consumers, making potentially harmful conclusions about people largely without their knowledge, U.S. regulators said on Tuesday.

The Federal Trade Commission urged Congress to pass legislation that would enable consumers to learn more easily how data brokers collect, use and sell their data, to correct it or to opt out of the process, especially when it comes to sensitive information such as about their health status.

The commission’s report relied on information shared by nine data broker companies, which do not interact directly with consumers but collect data to inform other companies’marketing efforts, to verify consumers’ identity or to detect fraud.

The companies were Acxiom Crop, Corelogic Inc, Datalogix, eBureau, ID Analytics, Intelius, PeekYou, Rapleaf, and Recorded Future.

“You may not know them, but data brokers know you. They know where you live, what you buy, your income, your ethnicity, how old your kids are, your health conditions, and your interests and hobbies,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

“This is an industry that operates in the dark… The sheer magnitude of what’s taking place I think is quite astonishing.”

The review did not find illegal activity from the brokers but raised concerns about the scope of collection, the way brokers segment consumers into broad racial, socio-economic and even political categories, and how those “troubling classifications” could harm consumers.

The FTC found that data brokers collect and sell – to advertisers and each other – billions of data points about nearly every U.S. consumer, gathered through retailers, social media, Census figures, magazine subscriptions and other sources.

Through this vast trove, consumers are classified by race, income, age, health conditions and other categories like “financially challenged,” which include single parents; “rural everlasting,” which are single people over the age of 66 with “low education attainment and low net worth”; or “urban scramblers,” which include a high concentration of low-income Latinos and African Americans.

While such data can help advertisers better target potential buyers, it could also prompt discrimination by directing some consumers to inferior customer service or offering different prices for the same goods, the FTC said.

For instance, such categories could lead to some consumers seeing ads for subprime loans while others see ads for credit cards, or insurance companies could use marketing categories like “bike enthusiast” or “diabetes interest” to screen consumers.

Democratic U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Edward Markey of Massachusetts in February introduced a bill that seeks to give consumers more control over data collection.

 

 

 

Despite Big Losses, Sony Says TV Unit Not Going Away

May 23, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Corp make seek an equity partner in its TV unit, which has racked up losses every year for a decade, but the Japanese consumer giant was not entertaining selling or exiting the business, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Sony plans to turn its struggling TV business into a separate entity – Sony Visual Products Inc – within a few months to boost transparency.

The splitting off of its TV unit had fired up speculation about a sale, which CEO Kazuo Hirai sought to dispel.

“We are not thinking about selling our TV operations or shutting them down or anything like that,” he said.

“We’re doing business in the competitive environment of a market. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an equity tie-up, but right now we are not doing business under the assumption that would happen.”

Hirai, speaking on Thursday at a briefing outlining Sony’s annual strategy, acknowledged TV sales could fall below the company’s forecast for an industry-beating 20 percent rise this fiscal year.

He said, however, that Sony had restructured the business so it could withstand external shocks.

“We’re aware of criticism that the TV target of 16 million units this fiscal year is too high,” he said.

“Even if those risks on volume are borne out, we’ve put in place the capacity to minimise the impact on profitability in the TV operations.”

Sony, roundly criticised for its habit of making overly optimistic forecasts that it repeatedly fails to meet, has pledged that a blast of restructuring in its electronics division this year will return the troubled unit to profit.

 

The company said it would be possible to expand operating profit threefold in the 2015/16 business year to 400 billion yen, with its aggressive restructuring expected to yield annual cost savings of 100 billion yen.

Hirai’s newly appointed Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida said the company did not plan to change the focus of its electronics division away from the three core businesses of mobile, imaging and games through the next fiscal year at least.