Norwegian software maker Opera inked a deal to take over the browser building unit of Microsoft’s Nokia cellular phone unit and reported second-quarter earnings above expectations on Thursday, sending it shares sharply higher.
“We have signed a strategic licensing deal with Microsoft. We are basically taking over the browser building department in Nokia,” Opera Chief Executive Lars Boilsesen said. “This means that Opera Mini will become the default browser for Microsoft’s feature phone product lines and the Asha phones product lines.”
The deal will be profitable from the start, he added.
“All the current user base will be encouraged to upgrade to Opera Mini and all the new phones will come with Opera Mini pre-installed as a default browser. This is a great deal for us. We have dreamed of this for more than 10 years.”
In a separate statement, Opera said the licensing agreement applies to mobile phones based on the Series 30+, Series 40 and Asha software platforms.
“As part of the agreement, people who use the current browser for these phones, Xpress, will be encouraged to upgrade to the latest Opera Mini browser. Factory-new devices will have Opera Mini pre-installed.”
Snapchat Inc, creator of a mobile app that allows users to send messages that disappear within seconds, may be looking to expand its service to videos, news articles and advertisements, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
The California-based company is currently in talks with advertisers and media companies about a service called Snapchat Discovery, the Journal reported, citing sources.
Snapchat Discovery, rumored to debut in November, will show content and ads to Snapchat users, the Journal quoted the sources as saying.
At least a dozen media companies have shown interest in providing content for Snapchat Discovery, the Journal said.
Snapchat Discovery will allow users to read publications and watch video clips by holding down a finger on the screen, as they do with photos and other messages on the app, the report said.
Snapchat, popular among teenage users, was not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.
SMS Audio’s BioSport In-Ear Headphones, announced at an event will tell you. The headphones are good for people who work out as well as those who just want to check their heart rate, said Brian Nohe, president of SMS Audio, which was founded by rapper 50 Cent, who is the majority owner.
50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, wanted headphones with top-quality audio, fit, form and functionality, Nohe said. The rapper, along with New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who is the minority owner of SMS, were scheduled to appear at the event.
The headphones have sensors to measure the heart rate of users, drawing power from a smartphone through an audio jack. No batteries are required. SMS Audio is using technology from Intel in the headphones.
“Open the box, plug it into your smartphone device and it works,” Nohe said.
The earphones will ship worldwide in the fourth quarter this year. The price will be announced later.
The headphones will work with RunKeeper, a popular Android and iOS fitness application that assembles and tracks fitness data.
“The general marketplace is ripe for having more products in this area,” Nohe said. “We understood what was happening with wearable technology and what was going on with biometrics.”
The engineering challenge for Intel was how to draw power and transfer data through an audio jack. Intel also had to figure out the frequencies at which to handle data transfers. The goal was to deliver accurate heart-rate readings.
“It’s a seemingly easy thing to explain, but hard to implement,” said Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of the New Devices Group at Intel.
Intel didn’t want to use Bluetooth or other wireless technologies to transfer data, Bell said. Those technologies would require batteries and not fit well within the small size of headphones.
“The best technology is invisible. It’s as much form as it is function,” Bell said. “That’s the road we’re going down.”
Beyond tracking heart rate, headphones could also be enabled to capture more health information, the executives said. Other opportunities are being explored by SMS Audio and Intel.
“You don’t start a strategic alliance and become a one-trick pony,” Nohe said.
The headphone space has gotten attention lately because of Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats Audio, founded by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine.
The satellite will be blasted into space on an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Wednesday morning in a launch that has extra significance given a recent U.S. government decision to relax rules regarding the resolution of images that can be sold to companies like Google and Microsoft.
At present, commercial satellite operators are prohibited from selling images with a resolution better than 50 centimeters to customers other than the U.S. government, but with the launch of WorldView 3 that’s changing. From early 2015, the limit will be reduced to 30 centimeters, which is a fraction finer than the 31 centimeters that WorldView 3 can manage.
The change should mean better quality images on services like Google Earth and Bing Maps, and will also help DigitalGlobe’s other customers.
“Our imagery is used by a lot of state and local governments for urban planning,” said Kumar Navulur, director of next generation products at DigitalGlobe. He said the images are used to survey things like back yard swimming pools, but that’s not all.
The satellites capture images in visible and infrared light and these latter ones can be used to monitor the environment.
For example, one of the sensors can see the presence of chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plants and trees. By monitoring over time, an early warning of disease can be picked up. Trees tend to lose their chlorophyll as they are stressed and Navulur said the satellite’s sensor will detect that long before it’s obvious through color changes visible to the eye.
WorldView 3 adds new sensors that capture eight additional infrared bands, some of them useful to energy companies in the exploration of oil and gas, and to geological research. The satellite should also allow analysts to map not just the presence of trees but the type of tree — something that’s useful when figuring out the benefits of forests on carbon output.
The sensors also allow the company to monitor the presence of water vapor, aerosols, clouds, ice and snow in the sky — something that can be used to perform accurate color correction so images taken under different conditions have a more consistent look.
DigitalGlobe counts the U.S. government as its most important customer. That includes the U.S. military which, even though it has satellites of its own capable of even greater resolution, turns to DigitalGlobe for images that will be shared with allies or the public.
Facebook updated its Android app this week, adding support for smartwatches running Google’s Android Wear software.
Facebook software engineer Ian Lake announced the news – rather bizarrely on Google+ – saying, “I’ve been a big fan of Android Wear since its announcement so one of the things I’ve done quite a bit of at Facebook is ensure that Android Wear is actively considered when adding new features and we take advantage of what features are provided.”
The updated Facebook for Android 9.0 app allows Android smartwatch wearers to embrace their inner David Hasselhoff, having added support for users to voice reply to messages by barking at their wrists. The Android Wear app will also raise notifications on a smartwatche screen, from which a wearer can use to “like” or “reply” with a single tap.
“Really happy to be shipping Android Wear features and even more excited that some of my coworkers are also getting interested about Android Wear,” Lake added.
The updated version of Facebook Messenger is available to download now from Google Play.
Facebook’s addition of Android Wear support comes just days after rival app Whatsapp did exactly the same thing.
Whatsapp’s app tailored for smartwatches allows users to view stacked notifications, reply to messages using voice and respond with a number of preloaded replies, including “yes”, “lol”, or “see you soon”. This is also available to download now, but is available only at the Whatsapp website.
Since Edward Snowden revealed that the US government is spying on everyone, there has been a boom in the sales of expensive “difficult to hack” phones. Two products new products in the last five weeks show how the market place for off the grid communications is growing.
First one there was the Blackphone, a handset which started shipping on June 30 for $629, and last week there was an app called Signal which appeared last week. Blackphone and Signal use encryption developed by world-class cryptographers and developers who hate the US government.
Signal maker Open Whisper Systems wrote on its blog that in an environment of increasingly pervasive surveillance, it wanted to make it as easy as possible for anyone to be able to organize and communicate securely. Blackphone uses Silent Circle, that allows users to send encrypted voice calls and texts to one another. Silent Circle’s software is already available for iPhone and Android phones, but the company says Blackphone uses a sexed up version of Android that makes it harder for hackers to take control of the phone and listen in.
Signal maker reports that the software had 70,000 downloads on the first day, probably because the service is free.
The Japanese company, which already supplies batteries for Tesla, said it was analyzing the demand for batteries before deciding on an amount to invest in the joint venture. It had earlier said it would invest in stages and that any expenditure this year would be small.
“We have not yet decided exactly how much we will invest and when,” said Chief Financial Officer Hideaki Kawai.
“However, Tesla is a very important partner to us and discussions are continuing. We need to look very carefully at auto demand and respond appropriately so of course that means taking a step-by-step approach to investment,” he added.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday that Panasonic would initially invest around 20 to 30 billion yen ($200-300 million) into the factory and would ultimately invest about $1 billion.
Demand for batteries from the U.S. premium eco-car maker has been a boon for Panasonic as it tries to expand its business as an industrial supplier, especially to the auto sector, and reduce its reliance on volatile consumer markets.
Under the agreement, Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land while Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the equipment, machinery and other manufacturing tools, they said in a joint statement.
Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has said that he expected Panasonic to become the main partner in the Gigafactory, which the company says will be able, when fully operational in 2020, to make more lithium-ion batteries in a year than were produced worldwide in 2013. It is currently looking at three new sites to locate the plant.
OkCupid, a top U.S. dating website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said, weeks after Facebook Inc similarly admitted to misleading users in a psychological study.
“When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are,” co-founder Christian Rudder wrote in a blog post. “Even when they should be wrong for each other.”
Conversely, couples told they were bad matches, even when OkCupid’s algorithm showed the opposite, were less likely to exchange four messages. Exchanging four messages is an OkCupid measure for gauging romantic interest.
In the post, titled “We Experiment on Human Beings!” Rudder explained the tests helped the company refine its product. He did not respond to an email asking how many users were tested.
“Most ideas are bad,” he wrote. “Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”
An IAC spokeswoman said OkCupid planned to continue with the experiments, which are known in the business as A/B testing.
But experimenting on users without their consent could cost the company credibility, said Irina Raicu, director of the Internet ethics program at Santa Clara University.
“They are messing with emotions and with communications,” she said. “That’s different than other things we are A/B tested about.”
The experiment drew heavy criticism online. In a tweet, University of Pennsylvania computer scientist Matt Blaze suggested a few new clauses for online user licensing agreements:“We reserve the right to induce despair” and “You agree that there will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.”
The portable antenna connects to a smartphone via a Bluetooth Low Energy link. Once connected, users with either an iOS or Android app can then send text messages through the antenna. (The recipient must also have a goTenna, and consequently the product is sold in pairs.)
The device uses the 151MHz-154MHz frequencies, with range depending on location. In a densely populated place like Manhattan, that range could be less than a mile. In more open spaces, up to 50 miles is possible. The antenna, which takes a USB-delivered charge, will store messages and hold them until a connection can be made.
Businesses employ a range of backup communications technologies, including long-range satellite phones and ham radios, as well as shorter range walkie-talkies. The goTenna could serve as an alternative to a walkie-talkie — and even offers some advantages over other options. For example, its messages are encrypted and private, a separate device isn’t needed, and people can use the goTenna system with their smartphone interface.
The goTenna also has the ability to “shout” a message by delivering it to all goTenna users who have opted in to receive a broadcast.
“That fact that we are totally decentralized means that in many ways it can be a backup to your backup,” said goTenna CEO Daniela Perdomo, who co-founded the company with her brother, Jorge Perdomo, goTenna’s CTO.
In addition to using goTenna as an emergency tool, Perdomo said people could use the technology as a means of communicating while they’re traveling, when they’re taking part in outdoor recreation activities, or when they’re involved in any type of situation that requires private communication. The antenna uses a Lithium-ion battery and is estimated to last two to three days with normal use, or as long as 30 hours if it’s on continuously.
Perdomo said the outages created by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 prompted her to imagine ways smartphones could be made to directly communicate with other phones.
The goTenna will ship in late fall, but a pair of the devices can be preordered for $149.99.
Top executives at Dell and BlackBerry Ltd scoffed at the threat posed by the alliance, arguing the tie-up is unlikely to derail the efforts of their own companies to re-invent themselves.
“I do not think that we take the Apple-IBM tie-up terribly seriously. I think it just made a good press release,” John Swainson, who heads Dell’s global software business, said in an interview with Reuters in Toronto last week.
PC maker Dell and smartphone maker BlackBerry are in the midst of reshaping their companies around software and services, as the needs of their big corporate clients morph.
Swainson, who spent over two decades in senior roles at IBM, said, “I have some trouble understanding how IBM reps are going to really help Apple very much in terms of introducing devices into their accounts. I mean candidly, they weren’t very good at doing it when it was IBM-logoed products, so I do not get how introducing Apple-logoed stuff is going to be much better.”
While conceding that Apple products hold more allure, Swainson said they lack the depth of security features that many large business clients like banks covet.
IBM and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.
BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen similarly downplayed the threat of the alliance in an interview with the Financial Times, likening the tie-up to when “two elephants start dancing.”
Oracle has launched a service to deliver data from the cloud collected from multiple sources in order to drive business intelligence and decision-making.
Initially the firm is delivering products using data from marketing and social media, letting enterprise customers use this information for business benefit without having to worry about its source or management.
Oracle’s Data as a Service (DaaS) is a suite of offerings that are intended to provide data that can simply be plugged into any relevant application the customer requires. It is being delivered as part of the Oracle Cloud, alongside the firm’s existing infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) offerings.
The first offerings are Oracle DaaS for Marketing, giving users access to a vast array of anonymised user-level data gathered from many sources; and Oracle DaaS for Social, which delivers enriched social media data providing intelligence on customers, competitors and market trends.
According to Oracle Data Cloud GM Omar Tawakol, the service enables customers to separate their own data from existing application siloes, enrich it with data from external sources, and then feed it into a variety of different applications to drive more informed decisions.
Takawol said the platform is based on Oracle’s leading data products, combined with assets Oracle gained through its acquisition of data marketing firm BlueKai earlier this year.
“We believe this is the next revolution in how applications can become more useful, by being enriched with data not just from that application itself, but from others within the enterprise and from outside the boundaries of the organisation itself,” he said.
But Oracle’s proposition is more than just providing a raw data feed for customers to subscribe to: the firm claims that it can deliver cleaned-up data to comply with data-protection and privacy regulations across the globe, and can also aggregate social data by identifying the same users across different social networks.
In effect, Oracle appears to be offering a service similar to the US government’s PRISM intelligence-gathering platform, but intended for business intelligence and marketing purposes.
Speaking at Oracle’s launch event, Ovum analyst Tom Pringle said that the timing is right for such DaaS offerings to come to market, but warned that it is early days for this kind of service and that potential pitfalls lay in the way, such as privacy concerns.
“Data has moved out of the IT department and into the boardroom, so it is now front and centre for organisations around the world. As more and more business processes have shifted into becoming online services, DaaS becomes a natural extension of that,” he said.
But privacy and legal rights are “growing in the public consciousness”, Pringle said, and warned that any misstep over use of harvested public data could pose a “danger to the reputation” of the business involved.
“It’s still early days for what is basically an entirely new category of service, and what path it will take is not clear,” he said.
Oracle DaaS for Marketing is available now in a new subscription model, while Oracle DaaS for Social currently has limited availability, the firm said. Oracle did not specify pricing for the new services, and had not responded to requests from The INQUIRER at the time of writing.
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.”
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.
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’.”
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.