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YouTube Introduces Fan Sponsorship Service

September 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

YouTube Gaming fans will now be able to directly donate money to their favorite eligible creators with sponsorships, the company announced.  A monthly $4.99 payment gives fans perks such as custom emoji and access to exclusive live chats. Fans can also purchase digital goods directly from the channels.

In order to be eligible, creators must be over 18 years old and have a Gaming channel which is monetized and enabled for live streaming. The channel must also have over 1,000 subscribers.

Early tests of YouTube Gaming sponsorships proved successful. According to the company, GameAttack, for example, makes most of its channel revenue through sponsorships and Super Chat (in which live stream participants can pay to pin their comments). And Rocket Beans got 1,500 sponsors on the first day.

YouTube on Tuesday also began testing out sponsorships with non-gaming creators on YouTube’s main app.

With the launch of sponsorships and the growth of other revenue-generating features such as YouTube Red and Super Chat, YouTube is ending paid channels, which offered monthly subscriptions for some channels but didn’t see much success. Less than 1 percent of creators use it today, according to the company.

Did Qualcomm Inadvertently Help Apple

September 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has published a blog post that praises itself and its Android partners for inventing all the industry firsts that Apple is claiming to have invented in its iPhone X.

These include wireless charging, dual-camera systems, OLED smartphone screens, edge-to-edge displays, and more features that the upcoming iPhone X has.

The blog is a reminder to Apple about how dependent the fruity cargo-cult is on Qualcomm technology.

Inventions from Qualcomm lay the foundation for so many technologies and experiences we value in our smartphones today — on Android and other platforms, Qualcomm said. One great example is Gigabit LTE. The latest Gigabit LTE-enabled Android smartphones can download content from mobile networks 135 times faster than the first Android phones could nine years ago, it continued. “Meanwhile, we’ve been inventing foundational technologies for Gigabit LTE for well over a decade.”

Apple and Qualcomm are currently embroiled in what’s turning into a vicious, global patent licensing dispute and its modems are at the centre of the dispute.

Apple believes it should be allowed to pay Qualcomm what it likes for the technology it invented and it should be allowed to make huge profits while other companies do all the research.

Qualcomm never mentions Apple by name in the blog – the closest the company ever comes is with this line: “Inventions from Qualcomm lay the foundation for so many technologies and experiences we value in our smartphones today – on Android and other platforms.” 

Courtesy-Fud

Nokia Set To Enjoy Benefits Of Smartphone Patents

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia will additional income from the current quarter after a ruling by an arbitration court on payments from South Korea’s LG Electronics for using its smartphone patents.

The Finnish company said it would also get a one-off payment, although it did not disclose any of the sums involved. The companies had started the arbitration in 2015.

“We believe that this award confirms the quality of Nokia’s patent portfolio. We continue to see potential for additional licensing opportunities,” said Nokia Chief Legal Officer Maria Varsellona in a statement.

 The ruling was made by the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Nokia has recently signed deals with larger phone makers Samsung Electronics and Apple, as well as China’s Xiaomi Technology.

Nokia’s patent unit had sales of 616 million euros (541.47 million pounds) in the first half of the year — just 6 percent of the group’s total revenue. However, licensing payments are highly profitable while Nokia’s core business, telecom networks, is suffering an industry-wide slump.

“Nokia has been quicker than expected to clinch deals in the patent side… The next interesting scalp will be Huawei,” said analyst Mikael Rautanen from research firm Inderes, with an “accumulate” rating on the stock.

He said, however, that the revenue of the LG deal will be clearly smaller than that from the Apple agreement, which he estimated to bring around 250 million euros ($298 million)annually.

Nokia sold its once-dominant phone business to Microsoft in 2014 but retained its patent catalog covering technology that reduces the need for hardware components in a phone, conserves battery life and increases radio reception, among other features.

LG has a global market share of around 4 percent in smartphones, according to Strategy Analytics.

Rovio To Move Forward With IPO

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Finnish mobile games giant Rovio has confirmed plans to publicly offer its shares through the Helsinki arm of NASDAQ.

The Angry Birds firm released a statement detailing its intentions, revealing that it is planning “a share issue of approximately €30m”, which equates to $36m. Shares will also be sold by Trema International Holdings – currently the firm’s largest shareholder – and “certain other shareholders”.

This confirms ongoing reports that Rovio would consider an IPO, something the studio said was a possibility back in June. Last month, the rumours strengthened with suggestions that the IPO could raise $400m, valuing the company at $2bn.

The aim of the IPO is to enable Rovio to continue its growth, give it access to capital markets and “broaden its ownership base”, as well as build on the company’s brand awareness.

Throughout the statement Rovio refers to itself as a games-first entertainment company, although it also draws attention to the success of last year’s film The Angry Birds Movie and its ongoing merchandise business.

Rovio also notes that, as of June 2017, its games have been downloaded more than 3.7bn times, with an average monthly active userbase of 80m during the second quarter of this year.

CEO Kati Levoranta reiterated that the studio’s most recent releases – Angry Birds Evolution, Battle Bay and Angry Birds Match – have also outperformed all previously launched titles in select key performance indicators, giving Rovio cause to be optimistic about the IPO. Last month, Rovio revealed these releases had helped double its quarterly earnings year-on-year.

“Today, Rovio is stronger than ever and is well positioned in the fast growing mobile gaming market with our diversified games portfolio, proven game development talent and operational excellence as well as our large existing user base.  I am confident in our games-first strategy,” said Levoranta.

“The contemplated IPO and listing are an important milestone in developing Rovio into an even stronger games-first entertainment company.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Deezer Takes On Giants Of Music Streaming

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

From Brazilian gospel to Puerto Rican reggaeton and Dutch hip-hop, music streaming company Deezer is making waves all over the globe looking for markets where it can survive and thrive against Spotify and Apple.

The French firm has little hope of success going toe-to-toe with its far bigger rivals in the mass-market realms inhabited by the likes of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

Instead, it is focusing on local music genres in fast-growing, often non-English language markets, areas where it believes it can steal a march. It is targeting local listeners while also looking to position itself for a global audience as a “cool”, non-mainstream alternative.

As part of this strategy, launched this year and called Deezer Next, it is dispatching local teams of “editors” to identify talent in niche genres and create original content, Netflix-style.

The aim is not only to differentiate its catalog but also to reduce its reliance on the record labels that take the lion’s share of streaming services’ revenue. It has 40 editors globally and is looking to recruit more.

Deezer Chief Executive Hans-Holger Albrecht said he would target selected markets in Latin America, Asia, and Africa where Spotify was not already predominant. They include Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, Colombia, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.

“I strongly believe in the localization of content,” he told Reuters. “While Spotify is mainly playlist-focused, we are betting on local differentiation, and this has helped us become number one in gospel in Brazil.”

But finding a path to profit represents a formidable task for the loss-making company.

It has a similar “freemium” to market leader Spotify, whereby it attracts users by offering advert-supported free access and charges a monthly fee of about $10 for the full service. However, it has only 12 million active users – about 9 million paying – compared with Spotify’s 60 million paying subscribers, and brings in just a tenth of the Swedish firm’s $3 billion annual revenue.

Deezer, controlled by billionaire investor Len Blavatnik, is nonetheless sinking tens of millions of euros into this local music drive. Its strategy is based on a bet that music streaming will continue to grow rapidly to eventually eclipse all other forms of music listening.

The paid streaming market is expected to grow 16 percent to $28 billion by 2030 in terms of annual revenue, according to Goldman Sachs

“Streaming is a very young market, with just about 10 percent penetration globally, so there is a lot of potential still,” said Albrecht.

Roku Prepares For Initial Public Offering

September 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Roku is gearing up to go public.

The streaming device maker is seeking $100 million in its initial public offering, according to a filing Friday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The company will be listed on NASDAQ under the ticker ROKU.

Roku, which makes popular streaming devices like the Roku PremiereRoku Express+ and Roku Streaming Stick, said it’s seizing on the cord-cutting trend. “TV streaming’s disruptive content distribution model is shifting billions of dollars of economic value. Roku is capitalizing on this large economic opportunity,” reads the filing.

Roku may not be as recognizable a name as some of its streaming box competitors, which are all monolithic tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon, but its products routinely slay in CNET reviews and in sales.

In the filing, Roku said it had more than 15 million active accounts, and that its users streamed over 6.7 billion hours of content on its platform in the first half of this year, a 62 percent increase from the first half of 2016. Earlier reports hinted that Roku planned to go public this year.

Roku declined to comment beyond the filing.

Will Asian Chipmakers Pass Intel

August 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Not everyone is mourning the slow death of Moore’s Law and Chinese chipmakers could use the period to catch up with their Western rivals.

According to Shang-yi Chiang, a former TSMC executive VP and co-chief operating officer, China’s semiconductor industry could have a chance of strengthening its position.

Chiang, who now serves as an independent non-executive director for Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC) thinks every cloud has a silver lining and that can be applied to the current state of Moore’s Law.

Talking to Digitimes,Chiang said that Moore’s Law will reach its physical limits in a decade. The existing innovation will allow the industry to enter the 3nm generation, but more technical breakthroughs will be required to bring us down to sub-3nm processes.

This gives China a good chance of making significant progress in the development of its local chipmaking industry, Chiang indicated.

He said it was time for Chinese chipmakers to lay out their strategies for developing technologies in the post-Moore’s Law era, which may help them catch up with their bigger international peers, Chiang said.

Chiang suggested that developing homegrown CPUs was essential for the country as it provided national security, and went beyond economic considerations.

There are already homegrown CPUs developed in China, such as Loongson- and ShenWei-series computer processors, Chiang identified. Improving the chip performance is an issue, and expanding the chip sales substantially is another, Chiang said.

He admitted that developing its own chips was tricky but worth it. He wanted CPU developers, foundries, backend houses and system vendors to cooperate and develop jointly their own platform for servers and other computing systems.

Such a move will also drive the local industry development, and pave the way for China to expand its chipmaking influence in the global marketplace, Chiang said.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Sony Facing Another Class Action Lawsuit

August 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

A US Federal Court has approved a class action lawsuit against Sony for ‘deceptively advertising’ its Xperia smartphones and tablets as “waterproof”. 

The lawsuit, first reported on by The Verge, alleges that Sony’s Xperia devices have been misrepresented as “waterproof” as they are not designed for or capable of ordinary underwater use and are more on the “water-resistant” level of protection.

“Sony exploited certain international water resistance ratings in order to launch a deceptive marketing campaign promoting the devices,” the lawsuit claims. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Sony’s dodgy “waterproof claims”. Back in 2015, the Japanese firm warned buyers of its Xperia Z5 that, despite having advertised the smartphone as ‘waterproof’, getting it wet could void the warranty.

The class action seeks a 12-month warranty extension for recently purchased devices or a reimbursement of up to 50 per cent off the affected device’s suggested retail price, which means owners of an Xperia Z4 Tablet, for example, could receive a $300 reimbursement.

However, The Verge notes that “this may not be the final value the company is liable to refund”, as Sony will still need to settle with the court again on 1 December and agree on final terms.

The lawsuit is also calling for Sony to make changes to its packing, labelling and advertising. 

Devices included in the class action include the Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z3 Tablet, Compact Xperia Z4 Tablet, Xperia M2 Aqua, Xperia M4 Aqua, Xperia ZR Xperia Z Ultra Xperia Z1, Z1s, Z1 Compact Xperia Z2 Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3+, Xperia Z3+ Dual, Xperia Z5, and the Xperia Z5 Compact.

The class action only applies to customers in the US. Those eligible and interested in taking part of the claim can sign up here by 30 January 2018. Affected customers will need to have a record of their interactions with Sony or they will not be eligible.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is HTC Gearing Up To Go On The Auction Block?

August 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Signs are emerging that HTC may be in trouble.

The Taiwanese company is exploring its strategic options, according to a report by Bloomberg. That’s business code for shopping itself around because of financial woes. The options range from selling or spinning off its VR arm into a separate business to actually selling the entire company outright, with Google as a possible suitor.

It’s been a long and steady fall for HTC, which was one of the early pioneers of Android phones and a major player in the mobile business. But with Apple and Samsung nudging the competition on premium phones and upstarts like OnePlus and Xiaomi introducing slick budget phones, it’s getting hard to stay interested in HTC phones.

HTC’s newest bet was on virtual reality and its Vive VR system, a partnership with gaming company Steam. But that doesn’t even seem to be working out.

The Vive on Monday got a $200 price cut to boost sales. IDC estimates HTC has sold about 190,000 units in the first quarter, placing it in third place in the VR market behind Samsung (489,000 in the same period) and Sony (429,000 units).

Google, which has pushed its Daydream software as its platform for VR, could use HTC’s hardware know-how. But the search giant previously attempted to run a mobile hardware company in Motorola and ultimately sold it to Chinese PC giant Lenovo.

HTC and Google declined to comment on this report.

AT&T May Be Planning On Ditching Home Security Business

August 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T Inc is mulling over options for its Digital Life home security business, including selling it, as it seeks to pay down debt following its planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc, people familiar with the matter said.

The sale would be an about-face for AT&T, which entered the U.S. home security market with the introduction of Digital Life in 2013. The service offers customers sensors and cameras so they can monitor their homes and pets on their phones.

Digital Life accounted for a tiny fraction of AT&T’s $163.8 billion in revenue in 2016. It is estimated to have between 400,000 and 500,000 customers and may fetch close to $1 billion in a sale, the sources said.

While this would do little to reduce AT&T’s debt, which totaled $143.7 billion on June 30, the sale could be a prelude to more divestitures, the sources added.

 They requested anonymity because the deliberations are confidential. AT&T declined to comment.

“AT&T will carry an incredible debt load (after the Time Warner deal closes), which is a risky proposition for a company with declining revenues,” MoffettNathanson research analyst Craig Moffett said in an email. “They will almost certainly have to find assets to sell to appease the bond rating agencies.”

AT&T has said it expects the Time Warner acquisition to close by the end of the year. The deal is currently under antitrust review by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Digital Life reaches 80 U.S. markets, including large cities such as Chicago and New York, but it has not matched the scale of U.S. cable company Comcast Corp’s rival service. Comcast introduced its Xfinity Home service in 2012 and said this year that it was approaching 1 million customers.

Cable operators turned to home security services a few years ago for a new revenue stream and as a way to rebuild margins whittled away by swelling programming costs.

Buyout firms and home security companies may show interest in the AT&T unit, the sources said. Private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC, for example, bought home security company ADT Corp for about $7 billion in 2016 and merged it with smaller U.S. peer Protection 1.

Mobile Equipment Maker Ericsson Prepping For Massive Layoffs

August 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile telecom equipment maker Ericsson may eliminate nearly 25,000 employees outside Sweden as part of its savings program, Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reported on Thursday, citing unidentified sources at the company.

Ericsson said in July it would accelerate measures to meet a target of doubling its 2016 underlying operating margin of 6 percent and that it aimed to reach an annual cost reduction run rate of at least 10 billion crowns ($1.2 billion) by mid-2018.

Ericsson has said actions will be taken primarily in service delivery and common costs while research and development would be largely unaffected.

The company faces mounting competition from China’s Huawei and Finland’s Nokia as well as weak emerging markets and falling spending by telecoms operators with demand for next-generation 5G technology still years away.

Svenska Dagbladet said it was not clear whether the planned layoffs included employees within its media operations, which are up for strategic review and seen by analysts as likely to be sold by the group.

“Ericsson has not communicated which specific units or countries could be affected. It is too early to talk about specific measures or exclude any country,” Ericsson said in a statement on its website.

Ericsson has around 109,000 employees.

Angry Bird’s Rovio Returns To Profit, Possible IPO

August 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Finnish mobile games and animation studio Rovio Entertainment Ltd announced that its sales in the first half of the year nearly doubled following the success of “The Angry Birds Movie.”

First-half revenue rose to 152.6 million euros ($179.7 million) from 78.5 million a year earlier, while adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization increased to 41.8 million euros from 11.0 million a year ago.

Following years of falling earnings, job cuts and restructuring, Rovio returned to profit in 2016 as the 3D Hollywood movie release revived the Angry Birds brand and gave a boost to game sales.

First-half revenue from games increased by 76 percent to 117.9 million euros. Rovio’s main titles include “Angry Birds 2,” “Angry Birds Friends” and the new multiplayer game “Battle Bay.”

This year’s growth is also due to movie revenues that had not shown in Rovio’s numbers previously.

The company is now planning a sequel to the Angry Birds movie with Columbia Pictures, scheduled for release in 2019.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Rovio was planning a possible initial public offering.

Rovio, which had earlier said a listing could be possible in the future, declined to comment.

Will The U.S. ITC Really Investigate Apple

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The International Trade Commission has announced that it will launch an investigation into Apple following allegations from Qualcomm that its devices violate six of its patents.

The move, arguably procedural, means that the ITC will formally investigate Qualcomm’s complaint, rather than dismiss it outright.

“The US International Trade Commission has voted to institute an investigation of certain mobile electronic devices and radio frequency and processing components thereof,” the ITC said.

“The products at issue in the investigation are mobile electronic devices – such as the iPhone 7, and specific components for such

Qualcomm’s complaint alleges that iPhones, which are made in China, should not be allowed to be brought into the United States if they infringe on its patents, and if the chipmaker has its way, the ITC would ban imports and sales of Apple’s handsets.

At the heart of the matter is Apple’s use of cellular baseband processors made by Intel, with Qualcomm arguing that iPhones Intel’s 4G wireless chips are effectively using six Qualcomm patents “unfairly” and “unlawfully”.

Unsurprisingly, Qualcomm said it is “pleased” with the ITC’s decision to investigate Apple.

“Qualcomm is pleased with the ITC’s decision to investigate Apple’s unfair trade practices and the unauthorized importation of products using Qualcomm’s patents,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm.

“We look forward to the ITC’s expeditious investigation of Apple’s ongoing infringement of our intellectual property and the accelerated relief that the Commission can provide.'”

Apple, when asked for comment, pointed to this prior statement from June: “Qualcomm’s illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry.

“They supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products – effectively taxing Apple’s innovation.”

Last month, Intel filed its own statement with the ITC, claiming that Qualcomm’s request for the regulatory agency to intervene was “a transparent effort to stave off lawful competition from Qualcomm’s only remaining rival.”

Courtesy-TheInq

SoundCloud Receives Funding, Lives To See Another Day

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

SoundCloud, the world’s most popular streaming music app, but one that has been plagued by money-losing strategies, said it received new funding on Friday, insulating it from potentially running out of cash this year.

The company, which laid off 40 percent of its staff in July, said in a blog post that the financing was raised from media-focused investment bank Raine Group of New York and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek.

It did not disclose the amount or its terms. Raine and Temasek were not immediately available for comment.

One source familiar with the investment said it amounted to around $170 million (144 million euros), as reported on Thursday by online news site Axios, which had obtained the deal’s term sheet.

The company said that as part of the new investment, digital media veterans Kerry Trainor and Michael Weissman, respectively the former chief executive and chief operating officer of online video service Vimeo, would take the same roles at SoundCloud.

The arrival of the former leaders of Vimeo – one of the biggest online video rivals to Google’s YouTube and Facebook- raises the prospect SoundCloud may evolve beyond audio streaming in a more music video-oriented direction.

SoundCloud founder and former CEO Alexander Ljung has agreed to step aside to become chairman of the board, it said. Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Eric Wahlross will remain at the company as chief product officer.

In July, SoundCloud fired 173 employees and closed its London and San Francisco offices to focus on Berlin and New York. A spokeswoman for SoundCloud said last month it remained fully funded into the fourth quarter while declining to comment on what lay beyond.

“The investment will ensure a strong, independent future for SoundCloud, funding deeper development and marketing of its core tools used by millions of audio creators – musicians, DJs, producers, labels, managers and podcasters,” SoundCloud said.

Microsoft’s Surface Tablets Not So Reliable, Says Consumer Reports

August 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The breakage rate for Microsoft Corp’s Surface devices significantly outpaces that of other manufacturers’ laptops and tablets, Consumer Reports said, adding that it was removing its “recommended” designation for Surface products.

The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday.

“If you are very concerned about how long your products are going to last, it might be better for you to go with a brand that has a higher predicted reliability,” Jerry Beilinson, electronics editor at the consumer goods testing publication, said in an interview.

Microsoft disputed the study, saying the company’s return and support rates differ significantly from the Consumer Reports study.

“We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation,” the company said in a statement.

According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said.

Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said.

Microsoft entered the hardware market with its first Surface tablet in 2012. Since then, the company has released a series of new Surface tablets and laptops, including the well-reviewed Surface Pro, which launched in May.

The Surface devices serve as a face for the company and exemplify how Microsoft’s manufacturing partners can build hardware around the Windows 10 operating system. However, Surface is a small part of Microsoft’s overall revenue, and Surface revenue has declined year-over-year for the past two quarters.

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