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HP Set To Offer New Cloud Service Called OneSphere

November 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

HPE is planning to announce a new product called OneSphere that could help companies track when employees use public clouds like Amazon Web Services.

HPE filed a trademark application late last month for OneSphere. The description of the product included with the application is wide ranging but has several references to hardware, and implies that OneSphere will help customers track and reduce the amount of money they’re spending on clouds like AWS.

The trademark application said that  OneSphere could move applications across computing environments – from AWS to a corporate data centre, for example.

The exploration of those areas is a rather a good idea but somewhat strange given that HPE chose to wind down its public cloud, which competed with the likes of AWS and Microsoft Azure in early 2016.

HPE is preparing to unveil OneSphere later this month.

HPE does use the term “cloud management” to market some of its software products. So the company isn’t looking to go in an entirely new direction. But HPE appears to be readying something that involves hardware, while most competing products for public cloud management have been software-only. Much of HPE’s revenue comes from hardware.

Since splitting off from HP,  HPE has offloaded a few of its previous properties, including its enterprise services business and non-core software holdings. Meanwhile, Microsoft has acquired a cloud cost management start-up called Adallom and incorporated the technology into Azure.

Courtesy-Fud

The ITC To Investigate Apple

November 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The United States International Trade Commission today announced that it has launched an investigation into allegations that Apple infringed on patents owned by Aqua Connect.

Aqua Connect and its subsidiary Strategic Technology partners filed complaints against Apple with the United States International Trade Commission and the District Court for the Central District of California accusing Macs, iOS devices, and Apple TVs of infringing on two of its patents.

The two patents in question include U.S. Patent RE46,386, “Updating a User Session in a Mach-derived Computer System Environment” and U.S. Patent 8,924,502, “System, Method and Computer Program Product for Updating a User Session in a Mach-derived System Environment.”

According to Aqua Connect, the patents relate to screen sharing, remote desktop, and terminal server technology. Aqua Connect says that it built the first remote desktop solution for the Mac in 2008, which Apple later built into its iOS and macOS products in the form of AirPlay and other functionality without permission.

Ronnie Exley, CEO of Aqua Connect said his outfit invented and built the first fully functional remote desktop and terminal server solution for Mac in 2008.

“Initially, the product had Apple’s full support. But years later, Apple built our technology into its macOS and iOS operating systems without our permission. These lawsuits seek to stop Apple from continuing to use our technology in their macOS and iOS operating systems.”

Aqua Connect’s complaint with the International Trade Commission asks for an exclusion order and a cease and desist order that would bar Apple from importing its products into the United States.

The ITC says it will be investigating “certain Apple Mac computers, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Apple TVs.”

Courtesy-Fud

SportsCenter Show Comes To Snapchat

November 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. sports broadcaster ESPN rolled out its flagship SportsCenter program on messaging app Snapchat on Monday, reimagining the show that provides sports highlights and commentary into a short-form series.

The new show deepens the relationship between ESPN parent Walt Disney Co and Snapchat parent Snap Inc.

The sports network, which has made Snapchat content since 2015, is trying to reach a younger audience, while the social media app, whose messages disappear after viewing, is adding more content in an effort to grow its user base beyond its core youth demographic.

The partnership is a two-year deal and Snap and ESPN will share revenues, Snap said, though it declined to give specifics.

SportsCenter will air twice a day on Snapchat during weekdays, and once a day on weekends. A roster of six hosts will give commentary and perspectives, including ESPN anchors Katie Nolan and Elle Duncan, and ESPN Radio host Jason Fitz, Snap said.

Sean Mills, Snap’s head of content programming, said SportsCenter helps round out the app’s stable of daily shows, which already includes news shows from CNN and NBC News, as well as an entertainment show called “The Rundown” from E! Network.

Along with daily shows, Snap launched a joint venture studio with NBCUniversal last month to produce scripted shows to air on the app.

Disney Plans To Take On Netflix With Streaming Service

November 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Disney’s future streaming service will face off with Netflix, the reigning streaming champ, with lower prices, CEO Bob Iger said in an earnings call earlier this week.

In August, Disney announced its plans to pull movies like “Moana” from Netflix and instead stream them along with future films like the sequel to “Frozen” on its own service, which will launch in 2019.

Iger said:”I can say that our plan on the Disney side is to price this substantially below where Netflix is. That is in part reflective of the fact that it will have substantially less volume. It’ll have a lot of high quality because of the brands and the franchises that will be on it that we’ve talked about. But it’ll simply launch with less volume, and the price will reflect that.”

Iger went on to say that the company’s main goal starting out will be to attract as many subscribers as possible, diverting at least some of the wind out of Netflix’s sales.

Disney-owned brands include Pixar, Lucasfilm (of Star Wars), Marvel Studios (think of all those “Thor” and “Avengers”-themed shows and films) and the ABC television network. While Marvel shows developed for Netflix are expected to stay on that service, such as “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” features like “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will likely move to Disney’s service.

Disney first signed a deal to stream content through Netflix in 2012.

 

Is Bitcoin’s Rising Value Finally Over?

November 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Bitcoin fell below $7,000 on Friday to trade more than $1,000 down from an all-time high hit earlier in the week, as some traders dumped it for a clone called Bitcoin Cash, sending its value up around a third.

Bitcoin has been on a tear in recent months, with a vertiginous sevenfold increase in value since the start of the year that has led to many warnings the bitcoin market – now worth well over $100 billion – has become a bubble that is about to burst.

 It reached a record high of $7,888 around 1800 GMT on Wednesday after a software upgrade planned for next week that could have split the cryptocurrency in a so-called “fork” was suspended.

But it has quickly retreated from that peak, falling to as low as $6,718 around 1330 GMT on Friday. It later recovered a touch to trade around $6,880 by 1645 GMT, but that was still down almost 4 percent on the day.

“The market realized that the price rise was an over-reaching, so people started selling… (and) there are many long and short positions that amplify price movements.”

As bitcoin tumbled, Bitcoin Cash, which was generated from another software split on Aug.1, surged, trading up as much as 35 percent on the day to around $850, according to industry website Coinmarketcap.

Twitter 280-Character Tweets Go Worldwide

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microblogging website Twitter Inc, known for its iconic 140-character tweets, officially announced that it would roll out 280-character tweets to users across the world.

Twitter said it ran a test on 280-character tweets in September that showed users spent less time editing their tweets and were less likely to abandon them.

User posting in languages including Japanese, Korean and Chinese, which do not face the issue of “cramming”, will continue to have a limit of 140 characters, Twitter said.

The company did not say when it would start allowing users to post 280-character tweets.

Snapchat Launches Re-design

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc is redesigning its disappearing-message app Snapchat hoping to attract a broader audience, going back to the drawing board as Wall Street clobbered it for another quarter of slowing user growth.

The Venice, California-based firm, whose March stock market debut was the hottest of any tech stock in years, reported revenue and user growth for the third quarter well below Wall Street expectations as it struggles to compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram.

Snap has disappointed investors each quarter of its brief existence as a public company.

User growth in the last three months was well below what investment analysts expected. Daily active users rose to 178 million in the third quarter from 173 million in the second quarter. Analysts had expected 181.8 million, according to research firm FactSet.

Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said the company was launching the redesign after hearing for years that Snapchat was difficult to understand or hard to use.

“We are going to make it easier to discover the vast quantity of content on our platform that goes undiscovered or unseen every day,” Spiegel told analysts on a conference call.

The 27-year-old CEO said there was a “strong likelihood” the redesign would be disruptive in the short term, but said Snap was willing to take the risk for long-term gain.

Such a radical change so soon after an IPO is unusual.

Snap is not the only social media company looking to revive growth by changing its look. Microblogging service Twitter Inc said on Tuesday it would roll out 280-character tweets to users across the world, double the length of its iconic 140-character tweets.

Asked on the analyst call what Snapchat’s redesign would look like, Spiegel said the company had been studying the evolution of mobile content feeds such as Twitter streams and the Facebook News Feed and saw room for a “personalized content service.”

Spiegel said the company next year would also build more tools for people to share with broad audiences beyond their friends, the type of public broadcasting common on Instagram and Twitter.

“It seems like a significant amount of change in a short period of time,” analyst Rich Greenfield of BTIG told Spiegel on the call. He asked what led to the shifts.

Spiegel said Snap needed to evolve rapidly. “We’re just not afraid to make changes in the long-term interest of the business,” he said.

Snapchat Popularity Waning, Growth Slows

November 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Snapchat’s growth has come to a near crawl.

Snap, the company behind the social network, saw daily active users climb by 5 million in the third quarter — just 3 percent growth from the second quarter and 17 percent from a year ago — bringing the total to 178 million.

That trails the 300 million daily users on rival Instagram stories. Instagram’s parent, Facebook, boasted a year-over-year 16 percent growth rate, but off a base of more than 2 billion users.

The numbers illustrate the fact that Snapchat still faces stiff competition from Facebook and Instagram. While Snapchat has been successful in attracting younger users, it remains a mystery to a broader audience. Its array of filters and the idea of disappearing messages presents an intimidating barrier for people trying it out.

On the other hand, Facebook’s Instagram Stories continues to grow at an impressive clip.

“One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said Tuesday in a prepared statement, adding that the company is planning a redesign to make the application easier to use.

“We don’t yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application,” Spiegel said. “We’re willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial long-term benefits to our business.”

More bad news: Snap also took a $40 million charge to write-down unsold Spectacles.

The company reported a loss of $443.2 million, or 36 cents a share. Excluding one-time items, Snap lost 14 cents a share, narrower than the average analyst estimate of a loss of 15 cents a share, according to Yahoo Finance.

A year ago, the company lost $124.2 million, or 15 cents a share.

Snap’s revenue rose more than 60 percent to $207.9 million, but still fell far below analysts’ expectations of $239.5 million.

Twitter Introduces Revamped Rules Regarding Abusive Behavior

November 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is changing the rules for how it expects its users to behave following criticism of how the platform enforces its policies.

The new rules, which Twitter unveiled last Friday, don’t alter the fundamentals of its previous rules but rather seek to clarify its policies and enforcement. The updates incorporate feedback from the company’s global Trust and Safety Council to include more details and examples to provide greater context.

“We have worked on this clarified version of our rules for the past few months to ensure it takes into account the latest trends in online behavior, considers different cultural and social contexts, and properly sets expectations around what’s allowed on Twitter,” the company said in a statement.

The update comes roughly two weeks after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that the social network would be rolling out changes to how it monitors content and protects its 328 million users from online bullying and harassment. Abuse is nothing new to Twitter users, but the platform has been under increased pressure since October’s  #WomenBoycottTwitter protest, which urged people to forgo tweeting for a day to prod Twitter into improving how it vets content.

Friday’s revisions address areas including self-harm, graphic violence, adult content and spam. But the greatest attention will be on abusive behavior. The company explains that when evaluating alleged abuse, it will consider whether the “behavior is targeted, if a report has been filed and by whom, and if the tweet itself is newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest.”

The company has come under criticism for how it handles abusive behavior on the site, particularly in relation to how it deals with tweets from President Donald Trump. Many have wondered why some of his tweets aren’t being deleted by the social media platform, despite their apparent violation of Twitter’s rules.

One particular tweet in October was interpreted by many as a threat of violence against North Korea’s leadership. Twitter acknowledged that Trump’s tweet had caused an uproar but said it was allowed to stay because of its “newsworthiness.”

Twitter’s media policy Help Center page has been updated with examples of content the company considers to be “graphic violence” or “adult content.” Twitter said the policy will be updated again on Nov. 22 to incorporate examples of prohibited hateful imagery

Twitter said it will discuss its enforcement options in a separate update on Nov. 14.

Sprint, T-Mobile Ends Merger Talks

November 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc announced they have discontinued merger talks to create a stronger U.S. wireless to rival to market leaders, leaving No. 4 provider Sprint to engineer a turnaround on its own.

The announcement marks the latest failed attempt to combine the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers, as Sprint parent SoftBank Group Corp, and T-Mobile parent, Deutsche Telekom AG, show an unwillingness to part with their prized U.S. telecom assets.

The companies’ unusual step of making a joint announcement on the canceled negotiations could indicate they still recognize the merits of a merger and could keep the door open for potential future talks.

The companies said they ended talks because they “were unable to find mutually agreeable terms.”

A combined company would have had more than 130 million U.S. subscribers, behind Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.

John Legere, president and chief executive of T-Mobile, said in the statement that the prospect of combining with Sprint was compelling but “we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile’s shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record.”

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said that even though the companies could not reach a deal, “we certainly recognize the benefits of scale through a potential combination.”

Claure said Sprint has agreed it is best to move forward on its own with “significant assets, including our rich spectrum holdings, and are accelerating significant investments in our network to ensure our continued growth.”

Failure to clinch an agreement leaves SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, a dealmaker who raised close to $100 billion for his Vision Fund to invest in technology companies, with the need to find another option for Sprint.

Sprint is in the middle of a turnaround plan and has sought to strengthen its balance sheet by cutting costs. But industry analysts have expressed concern that the company, weighed down with total debt of $38 billion, has few financial options. Even though its customer base has expanded under CEO Claure, growth has been driven by heavy discounting.

Claure said in August that while Sprint could sustain itself, cost savings from a transaction were significantly better than remaining a standalone entity.

Analysts said an end to talks to T-Mobile would leave debt-laden Sprint without the scale needed to invest in its network and to compete in a saturated market.

Sprint has sought to strengthen its balance sheet by cutting costs. To shore up cash over the past two years, the company has already mortgaged a portion of its airwaves and equipment through sale leaseback deals.

Mark Stodden, telecom analyst at Moody‘s, said “To really take the kind of next step from a business that has been stabilized to a business that has been growing is going to require a new more intense investment phase.”

T-Mobile is a better position than Sprint as a standalone company, analysts have said. German majority owner Deutsche Telekom, which owns roughly 65 percent of the U.S. carrier, was the first major carrier to eliminate two-year contracts, a shift quickly embraced by consumers and copied by competitors. The company has also badgered rivals with its unlimited data plans.

Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges said in a statement on Saturday that T-Mobile has a “strong basis for growth in the upcoming years.”

Facebook Profits Soar, Undeterred By Russian Controversy

November 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc quarterly profits beat expectations and revenue as it pushed further into video advertising, showing no sign of financial damage from the controversy over how Russia used the social network in an attempt to sway voters in the 2016 U.S. election.

The company’s shares, which hit a record earlier in the day, initially rose in after-hours trading, but later fell into negative territory. They have gained almost 60 percent this year.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg condemned Russia’s attempts to influence last year’s election through Facebook posts designed to sow division and repeated his pledge to ramp up spending significantly to increase the social network’s security, something he said on Wednesday would affect profits.

 “What they did is wrong, and we are not going to stand for it,” Zuckerberg said of the Russians, on a conference call with analysts.

Facebook is at the center of a political storm in the United States for the ways it handles paid political ads and allows the spread of false news stories. U.S. lawmakers have threatened tougher regulation and fired questions at Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch in hearings this week.

Facebook, in a series of disclosures over two months, has said that people in Russia bought at least 3,000 U.S. political ads and published another 80,000 Facebook posts that were seen by as many as 126 million Americans over two years. Russia denies any meddling.

Facebook’s total advertising revenue rose 49 percent in the third quarter to $10.14 billion, about 88 percent of which came from mobile ads.

Analysts on average had expected total ad revenue of $9.71 billion, according to data and analytics firm FactSet.

Apple Boasts That iPhone X Pre-orders Are ‘Off The Charts’

October 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc swatted away concerns of muted demand for its iPhone X on Friday, saying pre-orders for the 10th-anniversary phone were “off the charts”.

The company’s shares, which have fallen steadily since it announced in early September it would launch two iPhones within two months, rose nearly 3 percent in response.

Pre-orders for the much-anticipated 10th-anniversary phone started from 12.01 am PT (0701 GMT) on Friday.

 “We can see from the initial response, customer demand is off the charts,” an Apple spokeswoman told Reuters.

“We’re working hard to get this revolutionary new product into the hands of every customer who wants one, as quickly as possible.”

IPhone X’s launch follows weeks of concerns among analysts about the production of the new phone, which for the first time includes new facial identification software to replace the fingerprint used on previous phones.

Analysts have cautioned that production of the phone was below target, due to difficulties in producing the TrueDepth camera system, which houses sophisticated cameras and sensors making it possible to unlock the phone using Face ID.

Wireless carriers in the United States and Canada have reported slow third-quarter customer upgrades.

Major promotions on the iPhone X from U.S. carriers have yet to materialize, and in some cases, the offers have been even less generous than what was available for the iPhone 8, said Walter Piecyk, an analyst at BTIG in a research note on Thursday. The base price for the phone is $999.

He noted that Sprint Corp’s iPhone X promotion of $350 in savings for trading in an eligible device was the most aggressive but still lower than what it offered for last year’s launch of the iPhone 7.

However, electronics retailer Best Buy Co is charging shoppers an extra $100, if they wish to buy an unactivated iPhone X outright.

 If customers order the phone on an installment billing plan, they will pay the same price charged by Apple and the carriers.

“Our prices reflect the fact that no matter a customer’s desired plan or carrier, or whether a customer is on a business or personal plan, they are able to get a phone the way they want at Best Buy,” Best Buy spokeswoman Carly Charlson said.

“Our customers have told us they want this flexibility and sometimes that has a cost.”

Can nVidia Put Fully Autonomous Cars On The Road In Four Years

October 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net, Technology

Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang said artificial intelligence would enable fully automated cars within four years, but played down a demand for its chips from cryptocurrency miners.

Huang told the assorted throngs, riff-raff and great unwashed who attended a company event in Taipei: “It will take no more than four years to have fully autonomous cars on the road. How long it takes for the vast majority of cars on the road to become that, it really just depends.”

He said that cars are not the only thing which could be automated – many tasks in companies that can be automated… the productivity of society will go up.

But Huang joined peers taming expectations of strong revenue growth from a wave of interest in cryptocurrencies. AMD predicted this week that there will be some levelling off of cryptocurrency demand.

“Revenue for us in crypto is over $100 million a quarter. For us, it’s a small percentage… It’s obviously not a target market”, Huang said.

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that use encryption techniques for security and can be traded. Miners use computers to process cryptocurrency transactions, and they are rewarded with additional cryptocurrency.

Courtesy-Fud

Walmart Piloting Self-scanning Robots In Some Stores

October 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Wal-Mart Stores Inc will debut shelf-scanning robots in approximately 40 stores to replenish inventory faster on its shelves and save store employees time when products run out.

The company has been piloting such robots in a handful of stores.

“If you are running up and down the aisle, and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn’t do that job very well and they don’t like it,” Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King told Reuters.

The robots are about 2 feet in size and come with a tower on their backs that is fitted with cameras, which scan aisles to check stocks, missing items and if products have been left in the wrong place by customers.

They are 50 percent more productive, can scan shelves three times faster than their human counterparts and significantly improve accuracy levels, King said. Store employees are only able to scan shelves about twice a week.

Out-of-stocks are a big challenge for retailers, which miss out on sales every time a shopper is unable to find a product on store shelves.

Viacom Eying Mobile As A Way To Gain Younger Viewers

October 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Viacom Inc is experimenting with a new tactic in its multi-front effort to win back younger U.S. viewers ditching expensive cable TV packages: seeking deals directly with mobile phone networks.

Media companies and mobile networks are increasingly dependent on each other for content and distribution. AT&T Inc’s pending $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc, for example, is a means for the No. 2 wireless carrier to own the content that its mobile users want to stream.

New York-based Viacom already has mobile agreements in other countries. Now, it is in talks with U.S. carriers to see if it can execute a similar strategy, Viacom Chief Executive Bob Bakish told Reuters in an exclusive interview recently.

 The company is setting up a division that ultimately will have at least 100 people to produce short-form shows that are more easily watched on mobile phones, he said.

“There are hundreds of millions of mobile users in the U.S. who are in the nascent stages of consuming content on their devices and certainly are in the nascent stages of doing it on a pay basis,” Bakish said.

Bakish declined to say which carriers his company has approached.

The stakes are high for Viacom and its traditional TV rivals, which need to find new sources of revenue as they grapple with shrinking cable subscribers and fees from distribution deals.

“Ten years ago, Viacom would never have wanted to do anything like this because they wouldn’t want to jeopardize their relationships with the traditional distributors,” said Terry Denson, a media consultant and former head of content at Verizon Communications Inc. “The balance of power has shifted as the opportunity for growth lies with newer distribution platforms like social media, smartphones and tablets.”

While U.S. mobile carriers are interested in content, it is unclear if they will pay for Viacom’s shows. But Viacom can no longer bank on future fee increases from the traditional cable and satellite distributors. Earlier this month, after fractious talks, it agreed to lower fees so its networks would feature on all cable bundles offered by Charter Communications Inc’s Spectrum.

That makes dealing with mobile carriers, which it has done elsewhere, more attractive.

In Japan, Viacom has two deals with mobile companies for its MTV and Nickelodeon apps. In the 18 months since launching, mobile consumption of Viacom’s MTV Hits, a music video service available on AbemaTV, a free, ad-supported web-based mobile service, has surpassed its MTV Japan TV channel, Viacom said. The two share ad revenue.

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